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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn

The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

LEAVE NO TRACE — Heather Vivian from Respect Marquette County educates on the impacts of outdoor recreation as part of the organizations mission of protecting natural resources.
Leave No Trace 101 workshop promotes protecting natural resources
Benjamin BuresDecember 1, 2023

Religion: Get the *$#% out of my politics

Can you trust me? Sure you can; I do have a beard, after all.

And that’s not just me talking. According to a 2010 study by the Journal of Marketing and Communications, people view those with facial hair as more trustworthy than those who are clean shaven. That’s right, I’ve got science on my side.

But my long-standing allegiance with science has a few major pitfalls. I’m not allowed to believe in cool things like dragons, unicorns and an omniscient being that watches our every movement from behind the clouds.

And, unfortunately for me, it is this world view that tosses me in with one of the most consistently untrusted groups in America … atheists.

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Being atheist, or believing that there is no god, has drawn negative stereotypes for centuries. Believers often accuse nonbelievers of lacking the moral fortitude that comes along with conventional religion.

Now, I’m not going to argue that I have the best record with morality, but to say that all atheists are rambunctious drunkards and vandals isn’t right either. We’re people, just like anyone else.

To say that atheists are oppressed in America would certainly be a stretch. After all, unlike some other minority groups, we choose to be this way. We don’t have separate drinking fountains and we can certainly get married (although being married by a judge certainly lacks the romance).

But during this election cycle, the issue of religion has consistently made headlines. Candidates such as Rick Perry have made appealing to Christian Evangelicals their selling point. Herman Cain has even been quoted as saying he wouldn’t hire someone based on their religious background.

Basic principles of religious freedom live in our country’s roots. In an election, as in everything else, religion (or lack thereof) shouldn’t matter in a free society.

But time and time again, politicians argue with one another over who better represents America’s Christian Evangelical “family” values. Why is this still an issue in America, when most other countries around the world have embraced a secular government?

Americans’ general disdain for atheists can be dated back to our founding as a country. The first European settlers in America came here to escape religious persecution from across the Atlantic.

Quakers, Catholics, Puritans all had one thing in common: they were religions based off the teachings of Jesus Christ. America as we know it was founded by devout Christians who were fleeing an increasingly secularized Europe.

Aside from our annoyingly skeptical life outlook and our devilish tendency to eat our newborn babies whole, why do Americans still hold non-believers in such contempt? Almost every other minority group has gained significant ground towards equal civil rights in the past half-century, with the exception of atheists.

According to a Gallup poll in 2010, while at least 90 percent of Americans would have no problem with a black, female, Catholic or Jewish president, 49 percent said they would not vote for an atheist.

Ironically, non-belief is one of the fastest growing religions in America. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 16 percent of Americans are now unaffiliated with a religion. Atheism has the numbers to work with, but not a lot of support among those numbers. To many Americans, atheism is still a swear word.

In the 21st century, most old fashioned Christian religions have melted together as far as public tolerance goes. Methodists can be the neighbors of Lutherans, vote for a Catholic and have their children taught by Baptists.

Comparative to past generations, there is a remarkable amount religious tolerance shown by American voters. Minor religions such as Islam and Buddhism are represented in Congress by roughly the same proportion as their populations in the United States. Nonbelievers, however, are left in the dust as far as representation goes: in the 112th Congress, not a single politician was unaffiliated with a kind of religion.

With the number of non-believers drastically increasing around the world, it may only be a matter of time before we get some kind of an acknowledgment in our political culture.

Until then, I’ll be forced to hide my religious views behind the scientifically credible layers of my infallible facial hair.

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