Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anti-Atheist Bigotry: A Call for Research

I have been thinking, recently, about the value of some experiments that would look at the effects of religious prejudice in various types of decision-making.

Create a folder about a person and fill it with relevant information for, for example, a political appointment, a parole hearing, an assessment for an award or grant, a military commendation, a grade for a school paper.

Take the same folder and alter a few basic facts, but leave the rest of the information exactly the same. Specifically, while the original folder mentions membership in and participation in various religious activities, the counterpart folder mentions membership in and participation in equivalent secular organizations.

Then, give these folders to evaluators and look at the results.

See what effect religious belief will have on the evaluations that people give different candidates.

For example, write up a senior paper for high school. Put it in a folder with the student's personal evaluation. In one case, the student is described as a President of the school's Bible Club. In the other, he is a member of the school's Atheist and Freethinkers' Club. Then, look at the grades the teachers give the students.

Or, better yet, write a report in which the students are being recommended for disciplinary action, and one is soliciting an impartial opinion on what level of punishment would be appropriate. In one folder, put a letter from a pastor testifying to the student’s character. In the other, put a comparable letter from the head of a local atheist organization.

Or, create a resume and job application for a candidate who is seeking a job. Give that resume and job application to some hiring managers and see if they will accept the candidate for an interview. Then, hand out a folder that is identical except the candidate’s religious affiliations are replace with atheist affiliations, and look at the results.

One study that I am particularly interested in would involve folders showing two candidates for state legislature or some other minor political office and ask people to read through the material and decide which candidate they would vote for. Then, create two folders identical to the original folder except one of the candidates is made to be an atheist. Everything else is the same.

This will allow somebody to say that he against a candidate for some reason other than his atheism. However, the research should tell how important atheism is as a matter of fact.

Again, the same types of studies can be set up for military review boards who are recommending soldiers for promotion or commendation, parole hearings, loan applications, anything where one person gets to sit in judgment of others, and look at what the results are.

I have my predictions as to what those studies will turn out. I predict that this research would show that being an "out" atheist puts one at greater risk of being denied jobs, promotions, bonuses, social recognition (such as awards), grants, political appointments, public office, a not-guilty verdict at a trial, a lighter sentence where punishment is judged appropriate, a favorable result at a parole hearing, an A on a high-school paper (though possibly not college).

I would like to see some empirical data on just how much bigotry exists against atheists in this country.


Luke said...

I suspect that if you chose atheist subjects and had them evaluate files (some of whom were made to be explicitly religious), you might very well see the same effect.

RichardBarnes said...

Luke is quite right, although I do not call myself "atheist" - a term only required of theists to refer to people such as me - there are many who consider me such. It is true, if given a set of candidates for a job with equal qualifications other than their theistic beliefs or non-theistic beliefs, I would choose the non-theist. This is because I truly hold to the supposition that the observational and thinking skills of a theist are somehow flawed or developmentally delayed. For any job or important position, observational and thinking skills are paramount. I do not believe it an unfair act to choose a non-theist over a theist assuming all other qualifications are equal. If, even with theistic belief, the theist's qualification outshines those of the non-theist, I would of course find it difficult not to award them the position, however, I would still be right in giving at least some benefit of doubt to the non-theist based on the fact their essential personality suggests greater potential.

This is all hypothetical and, like all hypotheticals, somewhat removed from real context - context, of course, being everything.

I will say this - simply because rationality - factual accuracy and logical consistency - is always to be preferred over irrationality, to discriminate against the theist for being a theist at least has the good potential of a reasonable argument to support its position.
I don't believe those who discriminate against non-theists for being non-theists can rightly or necessarily say the same.

Regardless of an individual's qualifications - perhaps think Barack Obama - there is still much to be said against their competence for holding such irrational theistic beliefs.

vjack said...

The methodology you describe is fairly common in social science research. I am positive that countless studies of this variety have been conducted in which race and/or gender are varied. I would be somewhat surprised if nobody has done it with religion, but if not, you are right that this type of research would be valuable.

anton said...

Decisions to hire an ivy-league educated WASP Christian of white skin is "defensible". Few personnel managers go out on a career limb by recommending employment of someone who is "different". Atheists usually are successful because they do not make religious beliefs an issue and in all other ways, appear to be just like the next guy. The comfort zone enjoyed by the majority of atheists has been around for thousands of years. That fact alone is perhaps the strongest reason why Atheists avoid creating a "social" organization of their own -- their neighbours, friends, co-workers, or kids might spill the beans.

Judy Weismonger said...

In this nearing birthday of the imaginary jesus, the Christians need to show us their love.

My Christmas Letter of Good Cheer to Christians:

Long before you silly, confused, lying, obfuscating, faking frauds created your NEW religion 2000 years ago (by voting jesus in as a god in 325 AD by the Nicene Council)---Winter Solstice was celebrated for at least 5000 to 8000 years before you upstarts stole the celebration, up to and including appointing the birth of jesus as the same day as Winter Solstice, Dec 25th (which conveniently was also the birthday appointed to two other gods, Apollo and Mithra).

So...when we say...Happy Winter Solstice...the traditions and acknowledgment of when the life-giving SUN is farthest from the earth and thus begins the realignment of the earth and the Sun back to being closer to us...so plants can live, we can grow food and eat, the earth warms up, water flows, and Spring is on the way...sustaining life on this planet, it is really significant. Your religion has completely ignored life on this planet which is very important. Winter Solstice means something real.

Your dream world and delusional religion, cannot plant crops, sustain life, or even acknowledge the importance of the SUN....since you are all life-haters...and are in reality suicidal self-hating creatures, who worship a neo-god who also committed suicide....

It is not Merry Whatever as one of you sarcastic xians said, chagrined at Xmas no longer being as important or "real" as it once was considered to be. Dec 25th is again being acknowledged as one of the most important days of the year known for at least 5 millenium. But, no never mind...the suffering of your imaginary jesus and gawd have to be more important than all other religions or CELEBRATIONS OF LIFE...

Instead of celebrating life, you xians worship death and just can't wait to join this multiple-god trio including a "ghost"....in eternity...doing who knows what...how boring. OK then, I say...do it....Make the 25th of December the day that you join jesus....in heaven, or where ever your delusional and insane brain takes you. Since you are saved...then joining jesus in heaven...will be just a mere step into the harmonious, ever boring after world of your brainless religious invention.

In fact...use the 25th of December...to have cruci-fiction parties....get those crosses out, nail each other to the cross....SUFFER just like jesus did....my oh my what a role model you have chosen to worship i.e. some nearly naked, bloody, beaten up dead guy in a diaper hanging on a stick who intentionally committed suicide by cop (Roman Soldier)...

PS: I would never, ever ask or approve of anyone "dying for me," or "committing suicide" for any reason so I can go to some imaginary, unknown place in the sky...and I find an entire religion based on this "belief" out right insane. The backwards of mental hospitals are full of people like you...who have done various and hideous things to themselves and others in the name of god and jesus....including drowning all of their children in a bath tub because god told them to (Andrea Yates).

If you do a Google search, or go to YouTube.com....you can take lessons on how to drive nails into your palms and feet just like some nut case Filipinos do every year. They almost got it right...problem is they don't hang on the stick long enough to end up like jesus...they just do it for only a short time, long enough to get enough attention from the crowds to satisfy their sick egoes.

Oh yeah, even you dumb xians don't even get cruci-fiction right...in real cruci-fictions by the Romans, nails were driven through the wrists....not the hands, because the many, small bones in the hand can separate by supporting the weight of the body, causing the crucified to fall off the cross and just hang upside down by their feet and flop around like a gaffed fish....so do it right...drive those Christian Nails right through the wrists...and hang there...and see if god saves you. And the more you suffer, you will know that this is what jesus wants you to do...so do it. Show us your love, show us how much you are suffering for us. Jesus is going to be so proud.

In the 21st Century....christianity is right up there with other bizarre practices, such as female genital mutilation, piercing nipples, lips, eye brows, noses, tongues, and other parts of the genitalia, or tatooing "Mother" across one's back...and other defacements of the human body. And, such practices are all supremely painful...making the sufferer "feel" as if they are doing something really unique, worthwhile, and wonderful...so join them, start nailing each other to the cross every year. Get on with your orgy of suffering "for us," and...do it right, after all jesus did it, so, why you too?

Just how much you xians hate yourselves and are willing to suffer because of self-hate, including hate for all of human life (the sin of carnality) depends on how hypocritical the xian is in reality. Real xians can't wait to die. You xians state frequently, that you are "born sinners"...you are born evil, you are not even worthy of kissing the hem of jesus "dress,"

And,...the rest of you fake your self hate, when in reality, you are full of narcisscistic, hysterical, egotistic need to dominate others, and psychologically use blackmail, extortion and threats, including instilling guilt and shame to manipulate other unsophisticated, and vulnerable human beings. Therefore, to better "sell" xianity like used car salesmen,using the most base emotions and manipulations, you xians need to crucify yourselves as a witness to your "faith" and an example of how much "christian love" means.

In reality, whereby you xians then want the rest of us to worship your suffering....its all about YOU...and getting attention. Afterall, the word "christian" means little christ...so be a little christ and crucify yourselves just like jesus did. Show us by example....what we should do, show us your love.

Xianity is all about insecurity, fear, lack of self esteem or a sense of worth of your own life and the life of others...Your religion is an example of the LUDDITE fear of progress, and the need to self destruct into annialistic mindlessness of which you just think you are going to enjoy---Forever.

Freud and other philosophers of psychology have noted there are two main drives in human beings...the drive to Live, and the drive to Die....The Christian Religion has taken the drive to DIE and encased it in an art form and an orgy of self hate, and the worship of suicide and self mutilation....well OK then...stop whining around telling everyone we should be just like you...show us by example, what you really worship and believe.

Every one of you xians...should re-enact the cruci-fiction on yourselves....show us how much you love and emulate jesus...jesus is afterall, the example you follow, so do it...crucify yourselves.

I can't wait...be sure to get someone to take pictures or a video and put it on YouTube.com...don't let the Filipinos be better xians then you.

Judy Weismonger--Atheist Activist Against Religious Insanity

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Atheists are the bigots. Atheist are a hate group. you don't care about facts and you don't want data. When you are given data you laugh at it, ignore, dismiss, insult, ridicule. That's all atheism is a gang of Brown shirts roaming the streets looking for Jews to beat up. Only now it's roaming message boards looking for Christians not physiologically abuse. You are bullies, you are thugs you are not thinkers.

Eneasz said...

JL - thank you for revealing to me the error of my ways. I have been convinced by your diatribe, and will now recant my atheism and accept your god (I'm assuming Jesus? Please correct me if I'm wrong, I wouldn't want to accidentally be worshipping the wrong god) as my personal savior.