'We're Not Scary': Atheists Seek Understanding - NBC 7 San Diego

'We're Not Scary': Atheists Seek Understanding

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Podcasters Seek Understanding for Atheists

    A recent poll shows 40% of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports. (Published Friday, March 18, 2016)

    In an election year, it’s often hard to know what to believe, and what not to believe. But what if a candidate doesn’t believe in God? It’s an issue that has America pretty much split. Some non-believers though would like you to believe they’re just ordinary folks.

    Podcasting from Studio City, California Emery Emery and Heather Henderson are on a mission to normalize atheists and stand up for their rights.

    “We’re not scary people, we don’t worship Satan,” Emery told NBC 7. “We dismiss that just like we dismiss all the deities. We just don’t believe in deities – that’s it! There are people who won’t even vote for someone who admits to being an atheist.”

    According to a 2015 Gallup Poll 40% of Americans said they would not vote for a well-qualified atheist Presidential candidate if one were nominated by their political party.

    Dr. Michael Shermer is the founding publisher of ‘Skeptic’ magazine and a columnist for ‘Scientific American.’ He’s the author of several bestsellers, including ‘The Believing Brain’ and ‘The Moral Arc.’

    “The Gallup poll showing that 40% of Americans would not vote for somebody who is an Atheist for President, who is otherwise qualified is disturbing for sure, but it’s better than it used to be, it used to be 65% just a few years ago,” Shermer said.

    Shermer believes that trend will continue fueled by a force so powerful that nothing on Earth has ever stopped it – young people.

    “In any case, I think that’s going to change even more quickly because of the millennials, it is people born after 1981,” he added. “The percentage of those who have no religious affiliation at all is a third. That’s a huge voting bloc. That is sizable. That is tens of millions of Americans.”

    Another powerful voice in the Atheist community is a master magician, bestselling author and the larger, louder half of ‘Penn and Teller.’

    Jillette recently hosted an event for the United Church of Bacon, a group of atheists, skeptics and those who support them, some 13,000 strong worldwide.

    “Whenever I talk about the United Church of Bacon, people go ‘the United Church of what?’ We are a real church. It’s a church with a funny name, but a very serious mission,” Heather Henderson explained.

    Their stated message is to promote the separation of church and state and equal rights for all.

    “The big misconception about atheists and atheism is that we don’t believe in anything, or that we have no morals and that’s just not true,” Henderson told NBC 7. “ Most of us are very nice people.”

    “What I’m talking about is the long-term expansion of civil rights and equal treatment under the law and the declining rates of discrimination and bigotry against all people,” Shermer agreed.

    Even to a non-believer one thing is certain. Whatever the millennials are about to set into motion will be hard to stop.
    Shermer and Henderson and the rest of their supporters are at least proving one thing: With friends, music and a sense of community even atheists can enjoy a little slice of... well, you get the idea.

    The latest numbers from the Pew Research Center, show nearly 23% of US citizens consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or ‘nothing in particular.’