Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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This Week: On Your Sleeve

Becky, Bridget, and Sean delve into the damaging philosophies of abstinence-only school sex ed presenters, share excitement over the upcoming March for Science, and consider when atheists should publicly visually identify themselves as such. We're also unhappy with local hate crimes.
 
27.12 March 19, 2017 01:08:41
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I am glad you talked about the Atheist response to the Muslim Ban. I live near the Dulles International Airport, and when I saw the news about the ban and its cruel and tumultuous and counterproductive implementation, I got more and more upset. I went on Reddit r/atheism...and there were some awful opinions about the morality of this ban - many people said that this would stop terrorists coming in. Even people who were against the ban strongly felt that Atheists should not publicly take a side. I obviously disagreed. The fact is that these refugees are people ESCAPING Muslim terrorism, and I felt they should be supported, even though I had no real idea at that moment of anything I could do.

As background information, I have interacted with many, many Muslims over the years. My experience with American Muslims is that they have a very progressive attitude toward other people's rights, even if they are strong believers themselves (which many are not.) And here is my recent experience to support that:

As I kept watching the news that day, I kept getting more and more upset, and feeling powerless. I finally got so upset that decided to go to Dulles. I quickly made a sign (it said "Atheists support Muslim Immigrants - Welcome!") and went over to the airport, thinking that there might be a handful of other protesters there I could stand with. I was pretty nervous about being there alone with an Atheist sign, I almost turned around a couple of times. But wow, what a great feeling when I got there and saw that there were at least 200 or 300 protesters, maybe more. I got emotional to see that there were so many good people who do not hate others. It was such a friendly and welcoming crowd. Everyone was talking to each other. Free delicious halal food and drinks showed up and everyone was so united.

Surprisingly to me, I constantly kept getting people of Muslim background coming over to me because of my sign. At LEAST 2 dozen, probably more, who said my sign was their favorite. They wanted pictures with me and my sign, and hugs and to talk for a minute. Many leaned in to me and said softly that secretly they don't believe either. This is evidence that there are a lot of non-believing nominal Muslims. They want to be in the US where they have freedoms.

Also surprising to me, several Christians wanted to take pics with me and their "Christians support Muslims" signs. I had at least 6 or 7 interesting, respectful conversations with Christians who had never knowingly interacted with an Atheist before. Several of them were obviously uncomfortable or nervous, but made the point to stretch themselves to talk to me. All the conversations went well, and the Christians said how happy they were to have met me.

And I met other Atheists! Several made it a point to come over and thank me for my sign. Mostly I got A LOT of thumbs up from people who made a point to catch my eye. Reporters and bloggers also interviewed me or wanted pics. You have to understand that it was jam packed in there - but people kept pushing through the crowd to come over to me because of that "Atheists support Muslim Immigrants" sign.

I know many people feel that they cannot be vocal or public about their atheism, but that sign with its positive message (and maybe my friendly smile) earned so much good will for our community that I will definitely be more out about my atheism in the future. And I want to encourage others to be as well.

Thanks for all you do! And I encourage you to continue to use your platform to fight against the anti science, anti reality, and pro-cruelty actions of our current political leadership.

Lee from Virginia

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