A tale of MySpace, ignorance and intolerance – set against a background of anti-atheist US public opinion. A 2007 Gallup poll showed that a Black President was “more likely than mormon or atheist”. I know the poll is a year old, but the recent furore over MySpace deleting the Atheist & Agnostic group (as discussed here on the Bad Science forum and here on the Richard Dawkins dot net site) reminded me of it. I think that perhaps one reason MySpace could ‘get away with’ deleting a group for 35,000 atheists and agnostics is that the social climate in America is biased against those that do not believe in God. If only 45% of Americans would be willing to vote for someone who is atheist, what chance do the nonreligious have in the US?
Here at Wired, there’s a piece on “International Delete Your MySpace Account Day” that states that
According to an article on News.com.au, Rebekah Horne, vice president of Fox Interactive Media and MySpace in Australia and New Zealand, bit back at the international event, saying: “This Delete-Your-MySpace day is just about being controversial. MySpace is still the biggest social networking site in the world.”
Yes. It’s just about being controversial. Nobody is doing it because MySpace bowed to pressure from ignorant, intolerant bigots and deleted a social networking group for atheists and agnostics – people are simply showing off and trying to be controversial. Right. And Fox News is fair and balanced. Of course, not all those deleting their account would have been atheist. Most of them were probably deleting their MySpace account because MySpace is shit – the pages never display properly, half the people on there have already gone and joined Facebook and MySpace has got more spam than a roadside butty van.
On a more upbeat note, I’m glad to see that MySpace hasn’t banned the new group Stop Deleting Atheists. Yet.
Less encouraging is the decline of a secular democracy that once boasted Thomas Jefferson as president and now has candidates like Mike Huckabee, who has been variously described as Idiot, Hatemonger or Fascist.
To be fair, Britain isn’t exactly perfect either. I’m not aware of any UK opinion polls equivalent to the US poll I cited earlier, but we do have (ahem) one or two politicians whose religious beliefs inform their political views. I mean, for a start there’s Nadine Dorries who, after her involvement with the Minority Report (not the film, sadly) appeared on the Bad Science Blog. Then there’s Jacqui Smith and her support for faith schools. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, of course, waited until he had left office before he officially converted to Catholicism lest the voters think him “a nutter”. Luckily we now have the pragmatic and prudent Gordon Brown. Oh.