Our Humanity, Naturally

A club for humanists

Why Oprah's Anti-Atheist Bias Hurts So Much

By suggesting atheists are incapable of awe, Oprah contributes to an unfair prejudice. Read More

The Oprah Brand

The Oprah brand which rode to fame during the 80s and 90s was based on miracles, God, love, empathy, sympathy, family and charity. She played the American public like a violin, and God played an important role in Oprah Winfrey's rise to fame, money and power. Her viewership was based on suburban married women who couldn't seem to get enough of Oprah.

God hasn't fared so well recently, his popularity is diminishing, and other groups outside of middle America have found their voice(thank you Internet). Oprah, however, is still pecking at the same bar in her Skinner Box. She might do well to hire some new Public Opinion specialists that can advise her better before she opens her mouth.

well said!

well said!

Oprah

Who gives a crap what Oprah says. Her opinion doesn't matter. She's a TV personality and nothing more. It's not surprising that she's uneducated and ignorant. Nobody should listen to her. Her opinion is not worth any more than Snookies' opinion from Jersey Shore.

Well her opinion matters more

Well her opinion matters more than yours. Atheism is trash. Oprah hit the nail on the head with her comment.

You are the medeival fucktard 'sheep'

Why is this guy allowed to breed?

In your wildest wet dreams, knuckledragger.

All gods are figments of fetid human imagination and have no effect on intelligent, educated humans any more.

Awe, is it truly possible

Obivously Oprah's comments have insulted some. This is sad and regretful. But lets look at the definition:

a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.
"they gazed in awe at the small mountain of diamonds" (from google).

So taking the reverential out of the sentence Atheists definitely can feel wonder (ie Carl Sagan as asserted above). Fear in a classical sense is a fair bit more respectful, less scared then the modern definition.

Now placing reverential back in the equation (which may not be apart of everyone's definition of Awe). I find it hard to see how an atheist could have that kind of relationship with biological randomness. I am a christian so the highest power in my life is god. When I look on awe at something I see a creation. I see something to be valued, I see something great and beautiful and mind blowing.

I truly do not know if all atheists believe that the world is a biological accident. So I apologize, but that is all I have to go off. But going off that definition I can see how atheists can have some sense of Awe but definitely not the same sense that a religious person would have. As one believes that the item behold-ed is created with purpose, the other is looking on randomness.

"biological randomness" You

"biological randomness"

You seem to have the all-to-common misunderstanding that evolution is random. Evolution proceeds very slowly but it is farther from randomness than creationism. The incremental steps from species to species are all very evident when you look at the genetic DNA sequence.

You, and Oprah, are entitled to your belief, but not at the expense of others, which is the mistake that Oprah made with her comments.

There is more wonder in a single cell than in all the religions man has ever created.

if I may add...

And atheists can view it without fear.

Your idiotic comment

Actually, no, it doesn't matter more, Anonymous. Your silly faith has rendered you a complete idiot and makes you sound like someone has been hitting you on the head with a hammer.

atheism is trash??

atheism is trash?? christianity is trash!! a bunch of hypocrites!!!

Wrong!

She's an idiot and apparently so are you!

Did you even read the

Did you even read the article? It clearly explained why her negative opinion *DOES* matter. That was the whole point.

The celebrity suck-off is her "brand".

The OP's complaint basically seems to be that Orca didn't do it quite right this time.

This misses the larger point that her and her vast ilk are engaged in a criminally irresponsible use of our airwaves and our time, feeding everyone a steady diet of this crap on every channel.

Invidiousness

I can't thank you enough for this excellent post, David.

Yesterday in a discussion forum I posted a criticism of Oprah's comments, and was roundly condemned for imagining a nonexistent slight by persons who ironically happen to be a members of an oppressed minority.

Atheists are now the sole remaining minority in America for whom such open bigotry remains perfectly socially acceptable.

I completely agree with you that the invidious nature of her comments are much more dehumanizing and harmful than the usual "Atheists are all immoral!" statements, that most thoughtful people quickly dismiss.

I can't tell you how often I've been on the receiving end of nearly identical comments as Oprah's, and all by supposedly progressive persons. Personally, I think we should shift much more of our attention from the Christian right to the "Spiritual Left."

Minority status in America

I must disagree with you Bo Gardiner, however, understand your train of thought here. I believe that whatever 'minority' group you are identify with, you believe that they are the last of the minorities that are discriminated against justly.

I am a lover of the free will giving, world creating, lover of the masses, dying on the cross - Jesus Christ. What I love the most is that you are able to believe what you choose and He still loves you! Your beliefs are your beliefs as mine are mine (we live in a great country). I may not be able to understand why choose to believe what believe, and I am ok with that.

The group I identify with is the overweight people of the society. Fat people are looked down upon by ALL different types of people - believers/atheists, black/white, short/tall, old/young. I have this position because I identify with this group. I don't identify with blacks because I am not black. I don't identify with atheists because I am not an atheists.

Really, we should all strive to accept the people around us and think about their feelings prior to talking. Unfortunately, for many of us Oprah has been given this format to spew her thoughts to the masses and I simply turn the channel. I choose not to watch her or anything on her network. You could do the same!

I'm not quite following what

I'm not quite following what it is you disagree with, Nikki. My statement about the status of atheists in America is not a matter of opinion: studies and surveys back it up, as the author links to. Overweight people have little trouble running for public office and winning at all levels of government; many have been Presidents. You don't have our issue of near-zero political representation, so intrinsic to ensuring civil rights. However, I partially stand corrected: it's still considered widely socially acceptable to openly insult overweight people, and that should change.

Honestly

I use to agree with "just live and let live" and turn the channel. I have to say that since 9-11, I do not agree with that concept at all. Religion can be very dangerous. It is very plausible that if countries who embrace religious extremism are allowed to build nuclear weapons, it might end our world as we know it. Once you allow yourself to make decisions on faith or "God told me to do it", it can have grave consequences for the rest of the world.

not disagreeing just voicing an alternative opinion

yes atheists are still deemed publicly acceptable to belittle and bully etc but i wouldn't say the only one, especially in america homosexuals have very similar problems and this is not as someone said me just feeling like i'm being outcast because i am part of the minorities because although i am an atheist i am not gay but i stand firmly against any persecution of any group minority or otherwise

I don't live in the USA but

I don't live in the USA but I've visited many times and watch a lot of their media. I certainly do not think it is acceptable to publicly belittle and bully gay people. Yes there are homophobic people and I'm sure they have a far worse time of it than atheists but Oprah would never dream of making anti gay statements and I'm sure no other media outlet would. That is the definition of public.

In the UK there are anti gay bias laws and it is illegal to discriminate verbally or in any other way against gays. however a paper recently published an article accusing atheists of all being mentally ill. It went onto claim they are cheap and heartless human beings who die young, alone and unloved. Can you imagine the outcry if a newspaper said this about gays.

"Yes there are homophobic

"Yes there are homophobic people and I'm sure they have a far worse time of it than atheists but Oprah would never dream of making anti gay statements and I'm sure no other media outlet would. That is the definition of public."

I know a lot of gay atheist people here in Australia. Gays however can be believers too. Penny Wong who has just been appointed to lead the Labor opposition in the Senate is an Anglican. An out lesbian, she is the first person to come out while still in parliament. Penny has a partner who is the mother of their child that was born in 2011.

I'm a secular humanist myself and doing a polling booth reaction handing out Secular Party of Australia how to votes, there are a lot of bigoted Christians out there that do not support equal rights for all. I have found that as long as they have their right to believe it's ok for them to be bigoted against who they like. Yes there are secular christians but I have never met any.

As far as atheist people being mentally ill I think they are only trying to divert attention away from their own delusion. It is just like them saying that atheism is a religion so it can be easily argued against. Atheism is a religion like off is a television channel.

As far as I know, no state

As far as I know, no state bans overweight people from holding public office. My state, Mississippi, does. And others do too.

Public Office

Thank you for sharing Isabelle, I didn't know that. However, I don't believe that an overweight person, well I should say I don't believe an overweight woman would make it to that level of government to begin with, but perhaps I am a bit sensitive to it.

There was that Republican in

There was that Republican in Arizona who was elected to state wide office and then her husband poisoned her.

I've seen plenty of

I've seen plenty of overweight Mississippians in office, including your last governor. I am from MS myself, and have lots of relatives there. If there is a law on the books banning overweight people, and it's being enforced, they're leaving out at least half the state as potential candidates, I'd think. I am also overweight, so I'm not dissing--just stating facts which pretty much apply to the entire country.

No, in Mississippi you can't

No, in Mississippi you can't hold office if you are an Athiest.

Discrimination against the overweight vs atheists.

Nikki D, I am an overweight atheist. There are many overweight people among my friends and family, but very few atheists. At least as far as I know, there are very few atheists, because very few of them have "come out" publicly. Overweight people are indeed discriminated against (and it's abominable), but not to the degree that atheists are discriminated against.

Of course, those of us who are overweight cannot hide our fat, but many of us try to hide our atheism for many reasons. One of those reasons is to avoid hurting family members who take comfort in the thought that they will see their loved ones (including us) in heaven. Naturally, those who think that atheists are immoral and have no sense of awe and wonder would also think we are incapable of feeling empathy for other people--empathy which is often not extended to us by the the very people who think that we are immoral.

However, I've come to the conclusion that in order to help change society's unfair and inaccurate views of us, atheists in countries where coming out is not a death sentence (it is in many, and in some of those countries, American Christians and politicians help fund and support death sentences for atheists) will have to come out more often, despite the very real consequences (potential loss of family, friends, jobs, etc.).

Of course, we atheists haven't done anything to cause the antagonism toward us to begin with, but when we stop hiding, people will be confronted more often with the good and decent lives we lead. We will also give comfort and community to other atheists, and hopefully create more of a political openness to atheists in government.

Yep, degrees

If you're fat they think you're weak and lazy.

If you're an atheist they think you're dangerous.

Let's be honest, if you are

Let's be honest, if you are fat you ARE weak and lazy, at least to some degree. Otherwise you wouldn't be fat...

That is patently untrue. Many

That is patently untrue. Many are overweight due to medical conditions and various chemical imbalances. I'm somewhat overweight, but very active and exercise regularly. My excess was cased by the medications I'm on.

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Dave Niose is an attorney, activist, and writer. He is president of the Washington-based American Humanist Association.

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