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Utah Screen Printer Denies Service to Atheist Group

This week the owners of TIKI Printing in West Valley, Utah, refused service to Atheists of Utah based on their rejection of religious belief. Naturally, they didn't come out and say that, but they used the good old standby of pretending that their discrimination was warranted because they were "attacked." This is another example of people using their dogma to ostracize and demean another group. When did it become de rigueur to equate a difference of opinion with a personal attack?

This is the shirt that the atheist group wanted printed when they were refused service because they are not Chrisitan

The owners of TIKI Printing in West Valley are Christian and found the message a personal attack on their faith. “We weren’t going to be the delivery method for that message that demeaned our beliefs,” TIKI Printing owner Sam Saltzman said.

 Atheists of Utah say refusing to print the shirts is discrimination.
“I found it quite shocking that an organization that stated that they were Christian would not do business with someone because they were not Christian,” said Connie Anast with Atheists of Utah. She says her group is being unfairly singled out by TIKI.

I have been discussing this in several fora this week, and the prevailing response by believers is that the atheist group should just "stop making a scene" and "stop trying to oppress people because of their religion" and "These folks have their religion; you have yours. Go find some other screen printer. It really can't be that hard"  and "You sound just like that fool Richard Dawkins."

Right there is exactly the reason I created this blog.  In the past the so-called "nones" - nonbelievers - have silently allowed the religious majority in this country to have their beliefs.  People are encouraged to respect religious belief which, in my mind, is exactly what has led to this type of growing discrimination and the expectation that nonbelievers submit to what amounts to mental and emotional slavery.

Yes, you read that.

I have been roundly chastised and verbally abused for daring to say that.  I have been told I diminish "real" slavery by using that word.  True, it is an emotional word, but one of the wonderful things about the English language is the nuance a word can convey.

Maybe the people accusing me of heinous crimes for making a comparison have never been discriminated against for not subscribing to religious beliefs, but it is exactly the same as any other discrimination and in no way demeaning to the very real physical slavery that people are subject to. 

What would you call it if someone decided you should be treated as less of a person and not entitled to the same respect and rights as the majority?

What would you call it when people abuse (yes, emotionally, verbally, and sometimes physically) you and deny you rights because you are not just like the majority?

What would you call it if you were treated like this and expected to accept the negative treatment and not talk back about it, but just subscribe to the majority's treatment of you as a second-class citizen?

I think the comparison is an apt one, as it illustrates the problem inherent to this sort of thinking (and to "respecting" religious belief), namely that - like all people who have ever tried to oppress another group - believers want nonbelievers to sit down, shut up and take the abuse.  

I just can't see how a business that advertises itself as a screen printer can justify turning away a customer based on a difference of opinion and call it an attack.  Would they treat a Muslim group or a Baptist group or a Quaker group the same way?  Likely not.  

I find it curious that as atheists and other nonbelievers are becoming a larger segment of the population of the United States It is becoming more accepted in this country to discriminate against people with no belief in deities.  It leads me to wonder if treating atheists as second-class citizens is a response to church organizations seeing the writing on the wall, a response to the fear of losing their privileged status.  

What are your thoughts?  Do you see an increase in religious groups demeaning those who do not believe?  Is it maybe just that it has become a hot topic in the past few years, and that the treatment hasn't changed but the media jumps on it and we see and hear it more because it is a "trendy?"  Or is it more of a response of nonbelievers finally standing up to religious groups that are trying to make laws and deny rights to others based on their traditions? 

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