Atheism less acceptable than homosexuality? You are far more likely to be imprisoned or executed (or just persecuted or killed) for being gay than you are for being an atheist. In Saudi Arabia, it's a tie. In the Sudan, atheism just might save your life - just don't make any Christian noises. If you're a Catholic Timorese, you've got lots of death in your family. The world is full of Christian martyrs and Matthew Shepards. Atheists, at least heterosexual ones, have little to fear.

Christian martyrs aren't the only martyrs - that's why they're "Christian martyrs". There were plenty of martyrs at Tienanmen Square as well, for instance. Survey results also show that 104% of Merkins believe in God; my anecdotal evidence shows that only 11.4% actually live as if they believed, i.e. I'm not a big fan of such surveys. Discrimination is Not OK. And not Christian. I've dealt with persecuted gays but never with persecuted atheists - gimme an "atheist martyr" node.

In America, saying negative things about religion raises very few eyebrows unless the speaker is someone who holds public office. It seems to be a given in this country that politicians must mouth vague religious platitudes regardless of their actual beliefs or practices - the Reagans never even went to church, for cryin' out loud.

However, let someone like Ted Turner announce in a speech that "Christianity is for losers" or that the Ten Commandments should be edited to remove the bit about adultery, and most people will simply shrug. (The exception being, of course, those who take their religion seriously.) This in spite of the fact that Ted Turner has much more influence over how we transmit our culture's values to the next generation than, say Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.

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