An appalling story, culled from my (sigh) region’s largest newspaper (the Fresno Bee), has to do with lawsuits being brought against CSU Fresno and it’s athletic department, alleging discrimination and wrongful termination. The details have gotten juicy, with allegations of lesbianism and (gasp) atheism:

In a conversation with Johnson at the North Gym, the athletic director told her not to bother asking Vivas or Wright about getting settled in Fresno, she (Johnson) testified.

"You don't need to ask those two about where to put your children [in] school, because they're lesbian and they don't have children," she said Johnson told her and her husband. "So they won't have any knowledge of that ... and ... they're not going to be around much longer."

It was the first time during the trial a witness testified about directly hearing Johnson -- or any school administrator -- call Vivas a lesbian.

Johnson-Klein said former associate athletic director Randy Welniak also called Vivas a lesbian. "The one that sticks out was when Randy took me behind closed doors and said he had just learned of a situation where he just found out why Lindy was such a bitch. That he just learned she not only was a lesbian. She was an atheist.

"I was appalled. ... I couldn't believe one more time I was hearing this from a male supervisor."
Then, Johnson-Klein went after Welty with one of the most startling remarks heard during the trial's nine days.

"Sharon Welty told me," Johnson-Klein said in an adamant tone, "that John Welty's [first] wife left him for another woman. And that he loathed lesbians because of that."

She was an atheist. Gasp! That pretty much says it all: an administrator justifies his distaste for one of his colleagues by labeling her an ‘atheist’, as if atheism is somehow, don’tcha know, some sort of inherent evil.

Some might observe that, due to the circumstances regarding her termination, that Johnson-Klein’s testimony might not be credible. That’s only marginally better, in that it would say that the disgruntled ex-coach is gambling that hanging the label of ‘atheist basher’ on her former supervisor is a credible riff for public consumption.

This is wrong on a number of levels, not the least of which is the presumption that atheists are miserable, hateful people, and that it is ‘OK’ to harass and drive such folk from the workplace. Presumably, the who feel this way would also describe themselves as ‘believers’.

Color me nauseous. Many of my friends are happy, well-adjusted people who happen not to be persuaded of any particular supernatural being’s existence. The technical term for such folk is ‘atheist’, which means, literally, one who is not a theist. It is not a moral failing, nor does it follow that those who hold this position are anti-religious bigots. The bigotry, it seems to me, is on the other side.

What creed is this, that would hold that the free exercise of a human being’s liberty of conscience entitle them to persecution and abuse?


Blake Stacey said...

Congratulations on joining the linked-from-Pharyngula club! :-)

Scott Hatfield . . . said...

Ah! I wasn't aware I had been linked! Thanks much!