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Anti-Atheist Media Bias?

April 26, 1998

By Jeffery Jay Lowder

[Wall Street Journal]

If one were to believe the claims of many political and religious conservatives, America's media regularly reports the news from a secular or even anti-Christian point of view. Yet religious viewpoints are regularly given space or airtime in the media; by comparison, nontheistic viewpoints are given little, if any, consideration.

If there is any doubt about this, consider a recent Wall Street Journal editorial about the Campus Freethought Alliance:

GOD ROUTS ATHEISTS
Think the campuses have been lost to Godless PC academics? Ask an atheist. They've just organized themselves into the Council for Secular Humanism [sic] to promote atheism on campus. Why? Because they feel under siege from the explosive growth on campus of religious groups, according to this week's Chronicle of Higher Education. Even Harvard's atheists feel suppressed. Harvard junior Derek Araujo said, "Religious extremists have demonized atheism to the point where declaring one's non-belief is like admitting to eating babies." An Ohio State atheist reports "getting odd looks for saying we don't believe in a god." What can one say? Maybe, halleluja. (The Wall Street Journal, "Weekend Journal" Friday, April 17, 1998, p. W13)

Actually, the Council for Secular Humanism has been around for years. The editor of the Wall Street Journal meant to refer to the recent formation of the Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA), which is sponsored by the Council for Secular Humanism. And the CFA is not an atheist-only organization; agnostics and other freethinkers are also welcome to join.

These errors notwithstanding, we now have in print for all to see, the incredible depth of bigotry practiced by America's top business journal against atheists. It is as if atheists cannot live moral lives, and must be content to suffer the most abject prejudice at the hands of the religious majority.

The editor of the Wall Street Journal would hardly dare print a headline saying GOD ROUTS JEWS, or GOD ROUTS SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS...yet she feels no compunction whatsoever in using this kind of language against the Campus Freethought Alliance and atheists in general.

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  • "Easter Special: Happy Easter, Dr. Laura!" by Judith Hayes (">The Happy Heretic", Easter Special 1998)
    "From 'The X-Files' to 'Touched by an Angel' to 'Reader's Digest' to 'Life' magazine, we are bombarded with the supernatural passing as fact."

  • "Where Are the Secularists?" (1998) (Off Site) by Paul Kurtz (Free Inquiry, Volume 18, Number 1)
    According to Paul Kurtz, "today there are few if any magazines devoted to secular rationalism."

  • "Touched in the Head by a TV Angel" (1997) (Off Site) by Wendy Kaminer (Free Inquiry, Volume 18, Number 1)
    "Since its debut in 1994, 'Touched by an Angel' has attracted a huge TV audience - an estimated 25 million people - and it has won critical acclaim. CBS Entertainment President Leslie Moonves has explained that the show appeals to the 'reverse cynicism' that is apparently sweeping the nation. Cynicism is commonly used as a synonym for skepticism, and Moonves is probably right that 'reverse skepticism' - in other words, gullibility - accounts at least partly for the success of the show."
  • "Cheap Shots: Atheism Is Villain in Kentucky School Shootings" (1997) (Off Site) (American Atheists Flash Line, 5 Dec 97)
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