When Des Moines beat out Las Vegas to host the American Atheists 37th national convention last weekend, it was a victory for the Iowa chapter's bid to, in the words of its president, Randy Henderson, "disprove the notion that Des Moines is a Christian town." In raw numbers, Henderson could be wrong. Most residents probably consider themselves Christian. But he was also referring to the impression Iowa voters' gave in voting out three Supreme Court justices, following the same-sex marriage decision. It made us appear not to understand the separation of church and state.
Faith is a private, personal affair. Yet atheism is one of the last bastions of socially accepted prejudice. Henderson says there are 300,000 atheists in Iowa but strong social pressures make many afraid to disclose it. In fact, there are striking similarities between the language used by atheists and that used by gay people to describe their outsider status. American Atheists President Dave Silverman actually challenged "the 'church-pew atheists' to stop living a lie for the sake of tradition, come out of the religion closet and live as out and proud atheists."
One woman who belongs to a Siouxland atheists chapter told the Register that in western Iowa, people are afraid if they disclose that affiliation, their cars or homes will be firebombed. A man said the group has been denied participation in charity fundraisers.
Complete article at Des Moines Register : http://bit.ly/hNlfXV