It's funny how, as a UU, I tend to forget how despised atheists are. Among UUs, and indeed among my friends, being an atheist is perfectly acceptable, being a pagan is an adorable eccentricity, and being a Conservative Christian is the really unusual thing.
I don't realize that outside my social bubble, it doesn't work that way. For example, I nod along with my theistic friends' complaints that people think they are weird for believing in God so often that I tend to forget that it is illegal for atheists to hold public office in at least one place where I've lived. (Is this law unconstitutional? Sure. But it's not like an atheist is getting elected there anytime soon anyway so nobody's bothered with a test case.)
I first thought of this when I saw "Steven Pinker and Rebecca Goldstein, America's brainiest couple, confess that belonging to one of America's most reviled subcultures doesn't mean they believe scientists can explain everything" as the header on a story for Salon. Reviled subculture? Atheism.
That story sparked my interest, but I got busy and forgot about it. Today, again on Salon, a college student has written to the advice columnist asking for advice about how to "Come out" as an atheist to a family that won't accept it.
When I was a reporter, I was told not to let anyone know that I wasn't a Christian or a lot of them wouldn't talk to me. When you're a reporter, lots of people in town not talking to you will eventually cost you your job. I've known pagans who weren't even in the public eye who still had to keep their faith a secret for fear of employment consequences.
Anyway, I'm thinking about that today, and thinking about how theists in UUism frequently complain, essentially, "If I talk about how I'm a theist, people won't like me. If I preach about what I want to preach, people will complain because people like different things."
One would think being allowed to run for office would be some small consolation.