Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Bright People

It was with some amazement today that I read Gina Piccalo’s article on atheists – she published it back in July, but I only just caught up with it in our local World Focus supplement.

I get the feeling she was controlling herself strongly when writing this article – so that she wouldn’t laugh. Do people really class atheists in the same category as paedophiles? Are American politicians really concerned to garner the atheist vote? Can an 8-year-old realistically call herself an atheist? Can a group called Godless Americans separate church and state – isn’t that some kind of oxymoron? Are atheists truly living in a perilous climate?

Maybe I’m just naïve when it comes to atheists, but I don’t see them coming under attack. And they seem to have forgotten that the most outspoken atheist of the 20th century, Madalyn O’Hair, had no qualms about attacking – and viciously, at that. Seems the boot’s on the other foot, according to these rather more wimpy atheists.

I think, however, the moment of high hilarity in the article comes when we read that rather than being called unbelievers, or the godless, or atheists, these people want to call themselves ‘Brights.’ Brights? What the heck does that describe? Are we going to have yet another solid English adjective taken over and given a completely different meaning (and turned into a noun at the same time), in order to satisfy a minority, as ‘gay’ was?

I note that one of the Brights’ major aims is: to educate society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of all such individuals. Maybe I live in a different part of the world to these much-maligned American Brights, but here in New Zealand, where the majority of those in power don’t seem to believe in anything much at all in the religious or supernatural department, pretty much the last thing an atheist has to suffer is fear of persecution.
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