This paper focuses on a specific group of atheists and describes a summary of the specific event, an institution that demeans and retreats them and laws that are in their favor as well against. This paper further includes social standing-demographic variables that states what percent of atheist are found where in the world. Finally, the paper applies symbolic interactionism on the group of atheists.
Summary of specific incident
The incident dates back to 2011 when at Bastrop High School a graduation ceremony was planned. It was announced that a prayer would be given in that ceremony. Damon Fowler, a high school student, who is an atheist stood against the prayer. He complained that the planned government-sponsored prayer in the public schools for an upcoming graduation is unconstitutional and legally forbidden. Mostly when complaints are registered the identity of complainer is kept confidential, but things go contrary. The complaint was accepted at first, and the school was agreed to cancel the prayer, but someone leaked that Fowler is behind the complaint. Thus, teachers and students started demeaning him publically. He was physically beaten and given even death threats. His parents also expelled him from own home. His parents ended all relations with him and refused to support him in any way i.e. financial or moral. Fowler was made sure about the cancellation of the prayer but was given by a student at the ceremony anyway, and it was a big attack against atheist students especially Fowler.
People commented against him in various aspects, some said he is a coward, and some said that his religious group must pressurize him to convert and save his soul from the fire of hell. Some said that he was doing this all just to be famous in the public. One person clearly mentioned that if Fowler does not want the prayer then he should stay at home instead of attending the graduation ceremony. This all happened because the majority of students and teachers at the school wanted that unconstitutional thing to happen, alone Fowler could just complain, and he did.
Religion – A social institution
Religion is a set of beliefs and practices that humans integrate into life and spend entire life, according to those beliefs and practices. In this world, every religion condemns all other religions. In the same way, all religious people condemn atheists. Various studies show that atheists are the most hated minority on the globe. The group of atheists is always remained subject to critics, derision and discrimination (Hammer, et al. 43–67). A company name Atheist Shoes in Berlin revealed an interesting fact in its informal study. It sent two packages to the same address with United States Postal Service. One package was sealed with a branded tape that includes companies name, Atheist Shoes and another one with plain tape. The same procedure was applied to other 178 packages that were sent across the United States. The package with branded tape took more three days to arrive at the address than the others packages with plain tape.
Discrimination of people can make sense but with packaging delivery, a very strange thing. Another interesting event happened in Hampton, Iowa where Godfather’s Pizza was offering a two-dollar discount just to the customers who said, “Jesus died for me.” In Mississippi, a restaurant offered a 10% discount to those customers who shop with the church bulletin. In addition, in Texas an auto shop was offering oil change at a cheaper price to those customers who recite a Bible verse.
Various other examples are available around the globe that how people offer rewards to religious people and discriminate atheists. In some parts of the world, people even do not like to sit with an atheist. They treat them with hate and make them feel that are the worst creatures on the earth.
Laws that protect and affect the group
On 1 April, in the United States, Madison passed an order to put a ban on discrimination against the non-religious people. The order gives them the same protection as other people live there regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation and other reasons. It is the first ever city in the nation that has added the atheist to protected groups list though expanded anti-discrimination bill.
In an event in Bangladesh, seven atheists were sentenced to a ten-year jail order because they published articles on a website against "Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.” According to a report that 13 Muslim countries have passed a law that any people who express atheism or rejects Islam that is an official religion of the state, would face execution. Along with Muslim nations, few democratic countries in the West also have issues orders to jail those people who express no belief in God. The rules for advertisement are also against atheists. A judge declared a violation of free speech rights against the Central Arkansas Transit Authority and denied them to start an ad campaign on city buses. However, religious organizations have complete freedom to launch ads, in which they could express their view openly.
The Constitution of the State of Arkansas clearly states in its Article 19 Section 1 that a person who denies the existence of God cannot bear any official position in civil departments of the state. He would not have any competency to become a witness in any court. In some countries such as India, police often show reluctance to look into murders of atheists that religious fundamentalists do without any fear; on the contrary, they feel that they have done the right thing.
Social standing-demographic variables
Various studies have been carried out in order to explain demographics of atheism. The conclusion of accepted by the majority shows that about two to eight percent of world's population comprises of self-identified atheists, while, people who consider them irreligious comprise ten to twenty percent of world’s population. A study carried out by Gallup International concluded that 13% of interviewed people expressed that they were convinced by atheists, but have not become atheist themselves yet. The majority of Atheists and non-religious people are found in Scandinavia and East Asia specifically China. If a total atheist and the non-religious population is divided into a percentage that 76% will be found in the Pacific and Asia. While, from remainder, 12% in Europe, 5% in North America, 4% in the Caribbean and Latin America, 2% in Saharan Africa and almost less than 1% in North Africa and Middle East. Now Africa and South America have remained, calculations tell that atheists in these areas are in single digits.
In the United States of America, 68% of the population believes in God; however, 12% are atheists. In England 42.5% of the population are pure religious; however, 25% has no religion. In South Africa, 15.1% of total population has no religion while the remainder is involved in religious practices.
The Number of atheists is being increased day by day; some people listen to other atheist and some study in depth. These practices lead people to compare material things to spiritual. When comparison tells that the material is everything and spiritualism is just an illusion, they become atheists. A Higher number of atheists have been found developing countries; however, in developed countries the number is being increased day by day. Most people leave religion because they do not understand it and want a free life.
The symbolic interactionism is a way to evaluate everyday life with symbols that people use to interact with each other. Most atheists are found practicing things like other people. Normally no one can identify anyone’s religious thoughts or beliefs by just watching routine works. Unless one sees another person, doing a specific practice that is associated with particular belief. Atheists also interact with people as religious people interact. Besides that, there are some exceptions like those that religious people may greet by saying some religious words and atheists do not do so. Some religious people wear clothes and carry symbols that reflect their religion, but nobody can identify an atheist with any physical symbol. On special religious occasions such as Easter and Christmas, atheists can be easily identified because they do not participate in such activities as well as consider them time wasting (Zuckerman 949–971).
Further, religions have specific institutions for marriage and other practices. While atheists do not have, such institutions and this can make a difference sometimes. Unlike any religion or spiritual beliefs, atheists have no concepts of certain practices that can make their life securer or more relaxed. Religious people pray for the peace of mind and prosperity in the world and hereafter, a number of other practices are carried out by them. While atheists do not have any spiritual source that can provide them peace of mind.
The world is dominated by religious groups, and every religion discriminates the other religion. Far from the concept of religion, atheists live in this world. They are more discriminated by religious people. Religious people offer various rewards to people of their belief discriminating atheists. Even laws do not allow an atheist to call themselves atheists. The Number of atheists is being increased around the globe. Unlike religious people, atheists do not have any belief or spiritual concept. Despite that, they cannot be easily identified by their daily practices.
Hammer, Joseph H et al. “Forms, Frequency, and Correlates of Perceived Anti-Atheist Discrimination.” Secularism & Nonreligion 1 (2012): 43–67. Print.
Zuckerman, Phil. “Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions.” Sociology Compass 3.6 (2009): 949–971. Web.