Meet the Atheism Movement's Big Spender

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(David Prasad/flickr)

Atheism is a growing movement in America. Campaign ads encouraging humanism and free-thought are slowly becoming more prevalent, yet atheists remain one of the most disliked groups in the country.

Todd Stiefel, founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, has spent more than $3.5 million in the name of making atheism more acceptable to the public. He discusses his activism and what he thinks will ultimately make atheism more palatable to the general public.

"I wouldn’t say that I’m trying to promote atheism; I’m not really much into proselytizing," says Stiefel. "I spend my career and my money trying to promote equality and trying to work to ensure the separation of church and state, which in my opinion is one of the absolute keys to our liberty."

According to Stiefel, "There’s a lot of discrimination out there against many groups. One of the groups that's most discriminated against in this country is actually non-theists…whether they be humanists, atheists, agnostics or otherwise." He points out that almost half of the population would vote against an atheist candidate for president just for being an atheist, according to a 2012 Gallup poll.

Stiefel attributes this prejudice to a history of negative reverse-branding by religious conservatives. While we have our civil rights, we don’t necessarily have civil equality. That's because, at least in my opinion, we were repressed over a long time. We don’t get burned at the stake any longer, but we were burned at the stake for thousands of years."

"One thing that free thinkers hold very high up on our value list is the concept of questioning and having doubts and not holding any ideas as sacred."


Our Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, is filling in as host all this week. Follow Todd on Twitter for the latest from Capitol Hill.

Guests:

Todd Stiefel

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Joseph Capriglione

Comments [14]

John from Indiana

@ jennifer from NYC
Christians have been whining about persecution for 2000 years

Jun. 03 2013 03:56 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The problem with atheism is just that it's wrong. God is real, and has revealed Himself to man.

Mar. 29 2013 05:56 AM
Michael Baumann

@ oscar from ny

"If there was no god why is it mentioned on your currency...gods will be forever, you won't.
Satan is having a field day with this generation."

So, your proof of a divine, incorporeal, ominipotent creator is the presence of his man-given name on our man-made money? Do you also believe that our money is giggled in to existence by god's money fairies?

Mar. 28 2013 10:38 AM

@oscar from ny
"If there was no god why is it mentioned on your currency..."

Currency from pre-Civil War did *NOT* have god anywhere on the currency. I learned the Pledge of Allegiance as a child and, guess what..."under god" was not added until 1954! If you want *true* freedom of religion, then you would not be adverse to having you currency say..."In Allah we trust"? How about "In Vishnu we trust"? What about my ancestors, can they have "In Michabou we trust"?

Oh...I see. It's only *YOUR* god who can be on the currency. Check!

Mar. 28 2013 12:18 AM
oscar from ny

If there was no god why is it mentioned on your currency...gods will be forever, you won't.
Satan is having a field day with this generation.

Mar. 27 2013 03:40 PM

@Jennifer: The man was interviewed to speak about atheism. If you want someone to speak about Christianity, get a Christian to do it.

@Troy Haliwell: I read the article above & heard the entire interview. How & when did Mr Steifel slander Christians ? I didn't even hear him use the word "Christian" .

Mar. 27 2013 03:40 PM
jennifer from NYC

To mention that aetheism is illegal in some countries and NOT mention that reports of Christians being murdered, terrorized, and forced to migrate in international news, almost WEEKLY, for not following the State Religion of their home country makes this guy sound like a big cry-baby....he IS a big cry-baby.

Mar. 27 2013 03:33 PM

Great segment. Thank, Todd!

Mar. 27 2013 03:29 PM
Troy Haliwell from Vancouver, Washington

It is unfortunate that he had to blast Christian thought, literature, and thought processes to support his atheism. I would have given him much more credit and much more attention if he gave me reasons to support atheism from it's own benefits and not as something in opposition to Christianity.

Why should I be atheist?
What does it bring to me?
What are the benefits to being atheist?

I do not need to hear Anti-Christian slander--doing so just makes me consider you as being a hurt and injured man who needs to beat up someone to make a name for yourself.

Mar. 27 2013 01:31 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

People want other people to believe in God. They would rather you believe in a God that is different than their God, then not to believe in a God. There are people who would rather go to war with a people who believe in a different God, than deal with people who don't believe in God.

I think it is related to Lotto's philosophy of jackpot winnings, "You gotta be in it to win it."

I think many religious people view Atheists as people who won't play the lotto game of religion, and that somehow Atheists are lowering the big pot of gold waiting for them when they die.

Mar. 27 2013 12:59 PM
Nick_A from NY

Atheism and humanism cannot rech their desired goals for the following reasons.

As long as the dark foundation of our nature, grim in its all-encompassing egoism, mad in its drive to make that egoism into reality, to devour everything and to define everything by itself, as long as that foundation is visible, as long as this truly original sin exists within us, we have no business here and there is no logical answer to our existence. Imagine a group of people who are all blind, deaf and slightly demented and suddenly someone in the crowd asks, "What are we to do?" The only possible answer is, "Look for a cure". Until you are cured, there is nothing you can do. And since you don't believe you are sick, there can be no cure." ~ Vladimir Solovyov

"That the purification of human life of all that is oppressive requires a power that is not of this world, a power which is supernatural” . If there is a system to be made of the contradictions the world throws up to us, that system is only possible on the plane of supernatural love". ~ Simone Weil

Mar. 27 2013 11:52 AM
Juan D. Arango R. from Miami

I am free thinker. From the point of view of godness, not atheist, I have one god: Matter. From the point of view of justice, I am atheist, there is no possibility of a god that let that many daily injustices. Among them people taken the right to attack non religious people.

Mar. 27 2013 09:56 AM
listenerB from nyc

Richard Dawkins has done more to mock religion than Christopher Hitchens. Read their work and compare: Hitchens respected the right of a person to hold religious beliefs - it's Dawkins who makes fun of anyone religious.
I have both God is not Great and The God Dillusion and found Dawkins' tone to be so insulting that I stopped half way through, however God is not Great is a very well written book. Highly recommended read.

Mar. 27 2013 09:35 AM
listener

The President, members of Congress and others take an oath to preserve and defend the US Constitution on a Bible in a post-Constitution and post-Christian America while careening to $20 trillion in debt.

What could go wrong for our nation in the 21st Century?

Mar. 27 2013 09:30 AM

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