Whipped by the Bible Belt
Kristian A. Bonanno, Spring 2016
Atheism is seen as more of the absence of a theistic belief than an individualized opinion about the conception of the world. Rather than a personal view to be respected, it is commonly revered as the antagonist to religion. In the South, higher concentrations of Christians in America make up a region in which this prejudice toward atheists is heavily institutionalized and has effects comparable to those inflicted on practicing Muslims by Islamaphobic attitudes. Christianity has deep ties in the sociopolitical goings on of the southeast United States to an extent that is disenfranchising not only to those of other religions but also to those lacking a recognized religious identity. Freedom of religion as part of the First Amendment does not protect those who have no religion, and atheists are not expected to experience any dissonance when attacked for their beliefs. For Whipped by the Bible Belt, I met with peers who have experienced living in various areas of the South as a self-identified atheist to give them a voice on the matter and address the ways in which Christian social norms have affected their personal development and overall experience living in the South.