I lived in the Bible Belt when I was an atheist. Was I discriminated against? I don’t know. Maybe. I do know that the service industry jobs I applied for were always happy that I was willing to work on Sundays. Discrimination was a term I never thought about in regards to myself. I guess I was more self-sufficient and confident than today’s atheists. Definitely more so than those who live in Portland, Oregon. Apparently, the 42 percent of Portland residents who identify as atheist, agnostic, or a religious “none” have been suffering under a great wave of persecution in their city, because Portland has passed an ordinance protecting their rights.
Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz submitted the ordinance for consideration early in February. It has since been passed unanimously and will go into force starting on March 29. The Portland Tribune reports that Cheryl Kolbe, president of the Portland chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, speaking from Commissioner Fritz’s office, exclaimed:
This change says that Portland chooses to make certain that non-believers receive the same protection from discrimination as those in any form of religion. This is very affirming for those of us who are atheist, agnostic or any other form of non-belief. It is the right thing to do.
Setting aside the absurd notion that atheists and those who claim to be religious nones are being persecuted in Portland, of all places, where they make up the largest identity group by percentage, it’s helpful to ask what rights this ordinance protects? I mean, I don’t live in Portland. I live in Arlington, Va., which is not exactly a friendly place for conservative Christians. Yet, if I were to be punched in the face because of my religious beliefs, my assailant would be arrested (ask the leftist dude in Berkeley how punching a conservative has worked out for him). If I were to find myself on the receiving end of verbal abuse, I would have legal recourse to shut it down. Not to mention that most people wouldn’t stand for it. If the roles were reversed and I punched an atheist in the face, I would be arrested, even if I had committed the assault in the Bible Belt. Laws already exist that are intended to keep citizens from harassing and assaulting each other.
However, the Portland Tribune points out that “Polls consistently show that many Americans do not trust and would not elect an atheist as President, nor believe they should have the opportunity to teach in public school.”
Okay. For one thing, I’m fairly confident that the vast majority of leftists would refuse to vote for me for POTUS solely because I am a conservative Christian — a Southern Baptist, to boot! And I do not feel the least bit discriminated against. Going a step further, I would be appalled if people were required to ignore my religious affiliation if I were to run for public office. Private individuals should have the right to support or reject candidates based on their own values. Not to mention that ordinances like the one that was just passed in Portland (and the first one that was passed in Madison, Wisc.) cannot control people when they step into the voting booth. I mean, there are ways to effectively police people’s thoughts, but I would highly discourage our society from treading down that path.
While I’m no legal eagle, I’m pretty confident that existing regulations prohibit municipalities from denying atheists jobs as teachers. Frankly, public school systems have demonstrated a stunning disregard for the preferences of parents. Parents who don’t want to have an atheist teaching their children are spitting into the wind if they choose public schools over private schools or homeschooling.
Portland’s new ordinance is nothing more than virtue signaling and a call for leftists to continue their efforts to reshape this country into a progressive paradise (see my link above about effectively policing people’s thoughts).
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that atheism is less about what we confess with our mouth and more about what we confess with our life. Psalm 14:1 explains, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”
Checking off the “correct” box on census forms, many Americans claim to believe in God. Sadly, they live in a manner that demonstrates that they don’t really believe in God. At least not the God of the Bible. They’re what theologians refer to as “practical atheists.” In other words, their actions do not demonstrate any level of understanding of who God is, much less the desire to submit to Him. They live in service to themselves while ignoring God’s command to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, submitting to His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. They’re the fool who declares his atheism in his heart. I’ll say this for Portland’s atheists: at least they’re honest and declare it with their lips.