However, for all that unbelievers in America face discrimination, idiocy and occasional threats, we have it better than people in some parts of the world.
I tend to reserve most of my bile for Christianity, mostly because it's the religion that keeps trying to take over America. Which happens to be where I live. I don't happen to appreciate people trying to shove their beliefs down my throat - I'm not going to compare it to rape, but there are philosophical similarities. Much in the way that a house fire would be similar to a nuclear holocaust, but still...
In fact, due to the excessive and overwrought hatred of Muslims that is typically found among members of the Right Wing, I've tended to shy away from pointing out the less-brilliant aspects of Islamic beliefs. But let me just say this.
Muslim societies, on the whole, are less advanced than those of us in what they call the "West." Their educational levels frequently aren't even on a par with Mississippi, they are roughly as set in their ways as the Catholic church, and they share many beliefs with the Westboro Baptist Chuch. And they have an unpleasant tendancy toward violence similar to members of the NRA.
Bangladesh, for example, is nominally a secular democracy, but they seem to have forgotten what "secular" actually means. When Bangladesh gained independance from Pakistan in 1971, they set up a constitution that included "Four State Principles" - Secularism, Democracy, Nationalism and Socialism (factors which were upheld in Bangladeshi court in 2010).
However, with a population that is almost 90% Muslim (89.4% in 2010), they seem to be adding two more principles: Bigotry and Intolerance.
And Violence. So maybe three principles. (I could add "Murder," but it would rapidly grow into a Monty Python sketch about the Muslim Inquisition.)
See, there's an atheist blogger in Bangladesh named Asif Mohiuddin. In January, he was attacked in an apparent murder attempt, by three men who tried (but failed) to stab him in the throat. A month later, on 15 February, another atheist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was hacked to death in a machete attack in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
For the crime of making himself a target, the surviving blogger, Asif, was arrested last Wednesday, and his blog on www.somewhereinblog.net ordered shut down by the government. He was the fourth blogger in two days to be arrested for "defaming Islam.".
The government is cracking down on athiests because Muslims are rioting. Which is, of course, the perfect response: you should always give in to violent threats. On 13 March, the Prime Minister's office formed a committee tasked with identifying "blasphemous" bloggers.
Earlier in the week, four online writers were arrested on charges of hurting Islamic religious sentiments in a country where 90 percent of people are Muslims.What is it about radical Islam that causes them to attack and kill anyone they disagree with? If girls try to go to school, they get shot. Cartoonists who draw pictures of Mohammed are attacked with axes. Being "too Western" or committing "sexual impropriety" will get a woman murdered by her family.
Following recent protests over the war crimes tribunal, the government has blocked a dozen websites and blogs to stem the unrest. It has also set up a panel, which includes intelligence chiefs, to monitor blasphemy on social media.
Under the country’s cyber laws, a blogger or Internet writer can face up to ten years in jail for defaming a religion.
Now, among Christians, the percentage of fundamentalists varies: in the Bible Belt (sociographically, the "East South Central Region" - Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama), it stands at about 58%, while in New England, it climbed slightly during the Bush era to 13%. If we assume that the same percentages hold for the Islamic peoples, that's still a buttload of fundamentalists. And in any religion, it's the fundamentalists who make the worst neighbors.
Here's the thing. Islam has been round for about 1400 years. Know what Christians were doing at about the same point in their history? Crusades and Inquisitions: killing people of other religions, and locking people up for daring to speak against them. The only difference is, modern Muslims have access to more technology than Christians did in the Middle Ages.
You have to wonder if this is a cycle that all major religions go through.