CNN recently shared a special on atheists.
This report was refreshing because it was an honest look at atheism on a major network. However, I didn’t find myself loving it. That could be my own fault though. When this special was promoted, I thought it would be a documentary showing the lives of a wide variety of atheists to give a good look at how diverse we are. They barely touched on the diversity.
Where were the other female atheists? They only showed one female who shared her story alongside a female minister. Where was the atheist family? They only had the religious family living in the bible belt with the atheist son in college. Where were the young atheists? The youngest was the college student. Where was the diversity of ethnicity? Atheists are not all white males, but that’s mostly what you see in this. The report basically boiled down to men of religious background who found atheism was a better fit for them. I simply feel they didn’t do justice to how diverse we are.
Additionally, I feel they could have interviewed other prominent atheists. They only sat down with Dave Silverman and Richard Dawkins. I understand why they were chosen, but they can come across as very abrasive. Dave Silverman is known for being an “in your face” atheist which can turn a lot of people off from what he has to say. Dawkins used to be this way but has mellowed out over the years which is one reason I actually liked his part in this special. They could have chosen Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist who sits on the board of directors for Foundation Beyond Belief. He would have been a great contrast to Dave Silverman and has been interviewed by CNN before. He even said he’d be willing to do the show! What gives CNN?
With that said, I appreciated them showing the pain and isolation atheists go through when coming out. It’s a sad reality that many experience. They can lose their loved ones, homes, jobs, and community respect. This follows with isolation when they don’t know other atheists. Having more groups like David Gormley’s Skeptics Society at UNG can definitely help those new to life without religion and help debunk misconceptions of atheism through their “Ask an Atheist” event.
Although, David Gormley’s story is sad even with him having this group of like-minded peers. He grew up in the Bible Belt with a father who is a deacon. His parents said they weren’t surprised when he came out, however, their relationship still changed. Their conversations are meaningless, and his father even said it’s like they’re talking to a dead person. It’s truly heartbreaking to hear such things come out of a parent’s mouth. It’s no wonder this young man chose to start the Skeptics Society at his school, and I hope the group grows with the help of this special report!
Overall, this special was well done. Though it was a short special, they could have gone with a different approach. However, for a 45-minute program, it did justice to atheism and I recommend others check it out!
Please feel free to leave your comments on what you thought about it.
If you are reading this blog and have found that since coming out as atheist your family has disowned you or is treating you poorly, please check out the following resources. You are not alone.
CNN has since posted an additional Q and A.