Why Oprah's Anti-Atheist Bias Hurts So Much

Unfair prejudice is most shocking not when it comes from expected sources - a KKK leader, for example, or a skinhead - but when it comes from a respected mainstream spokesperson who supposedly reflects enlightened contemporary values. Thus, brace yourself for Oprah Winfrey, as she disparages millions of atheists by telling her audience that, in her opinioin, atheists are incapable of awe.

In the interview she is chatting with endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who recently swam from Cuba to the Florida at age 64. Nyad unhesitatingly identifies as an atheist when asked about her beliefs, then adds that she sees no contradiction between her atheism and her ability to experience awe, or in her words to "weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity."

Oprah, however, apparently found this description unsettling, for it seems that in her view atheists must be cold, emotionless rationalists. "Well I don't call you an atheist then," Oprah responded to Nyad's disclosure. "I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery, then that is what God is."

What is most alarming about Oprah's revelation is that she doesn't even realize its invidiousness. Atheists, to her, don't feel that deep, emotional connection to the universe. She has drawn a circle that includes people of all faiths, but excludes atheists, thereby confirming negative attitudes toward nonbelievers.

To those among Oprah's legion of loyal viewers who may have held anti-atheist prejudices, this now validates their bias. That's right, those atheists just aren't like the rest of us, they can now say, nodding their heads. While we religious people of the world are appreciating the wonder and awe of life, those atheists are just one big buzzkill!

Continue reading at Psychology Today >>

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