HotAir flags another unsurprisingly short-sighted move by American Atheists: petitioning to change the name of a street — “Seven in Heaven Way,” named for seven local firefighters who died heroically on 9/11 — because it apparently signifies the State’s adoption of the Christian “Heaven” as an official public belief.
For once, HotAir is partially right! This is a ridiculous demand, for its tone-deaf effrontery to the majority, and its blatant misunderstanding of how thoroughly modernity has mainstreamed formerly religious words like “heaven.” (If you’re under any preconception about the routinization of religiosity, I give you DJ Sammy. Or, in the alternative, rewatch Battlestar Galactica, and remind yourself that a reference to “angels” could just as easily be an idiotic plot point as an invocation of Christian seraphim.)
But let’s flip the question, assume atheism qualifies as a unitary belief system, and ask whether other Americans are as overly sensitive about their belief systems, to wit, their religions.
- Men and women of religious faith, usually Christians, insist that life begins at conception. As such, a doctor receiving state funding cannot so much as mention the word “abortion” to a patient. The Supreme Court agrees.
- Gay marriage offends the delicate sensibilities of mainline Christians — why, their kids might have to learn that being gay is a thing! (YouTube) This general queasiness is enough for most to justify denying millions of Americans the right to have a family.
- Fundamentalists view it as their sovereign right to force the entire country to celebrate Christian holidays. Naturally, then, those stores who dare to offer generic “happy holidays” greetings find themselves faced with ridicule, and even boycotts.