I read with interest and concern Ms. Shannon’s letter of Jan. 29. While I do not believe Ms. Shannon’s extreme views are in the majority, I hasten to note that atheists are still the least-understood and most-feared minority in the United States today.
With Protestant Christianity our cultural religion, many Americans are raised, and indeed spend their whole lives, without meeting or getting to know even one atheist. Lack of experiential knowledge breeds fear, which in turn gives rise to resent and hatred. This is the source of Ms. Shannon’s sentiment, and that of those like her.
We Americans can see the ultimate destination of such caustic, unnecessary, and ill-informed beliefs in the Middle East today: the jihad fundamentalist Islam wages on the United States is bred in ignorance of the average American, permitting those who hate us to stereotype us, thus making the murder of innocent Americans far easier.
In the end, it is ignorance of atheism and atheists that lies at the source of Ms. Shannon’s beliefs. I hope she meets an atheist at some time in her life and realizes just how wrong she is: that it is quite possible to befriend, and indeed love, as Christ would have it, someone whose beliefs are different from her own.
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