I used to love this guy's acting but now?
Denzel Washington associates atheists with sociopaths
Academy Award winning Actor Denzel Washington has a new film out. While out promoting his film “Safe House,” Washington made some pretty appalling associations linking atheists to sociopaths and murderers among others.
In the interview, Washington was asked about his character, Tobin Frost. You can watch the interview in the sidebar but here is the relevant part of his answer (0:13 mark):
“There’s a book I read called, ‘The Sociopath Next Door,’ and… a, it really became sort of the Bible for me in developing this character. I think he is a sociopath. I think he doesn’t have a conscience. I think he is an atheist and a murderer and a liar.”
Imagine the outrage if he had said Jew, Christian, or Muslim instead of atheist in his response. Why is it acceptable for such an acclaimed actor to falsely associate an entire group of people in this way? Why didn’t the interviewer follow up on that?
According to the American Religious Identification Survey, those who have no religious preference make up 15% of the population in the United States and atheism is on the rise in every state. The atheist population in America may soon rival the population of Jews. There are certainly more atheists than there are Muslims in America and yet if Washington associated either of those groups with being sociopaths, murderers, liars, and people who have no conscience he would be viewed on par with Mel Gibson.
Most atheists in America today associate themselves with Humanism, rationalism, science, and reason. Atheists tend to me more educated, are less likely to support torture, and have a long history in this nation of pushing for civil rights. Denzel Washington’s statement isn’t just hateful, it is also far from accurate.
What do you think about Denzel Washington’s statement? Does it make you any less likely to see his films?
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Oops-my bad. Stupid assumptions.
I think it is common for people to use the term 'atheist' when they mean to use the term 'nihilist'. As if the two are interchangeable. I wonder if this is what happened in the case of Denzel Washington's choice of words. Just yesterday I drove past one of those annoying church signs with the following nugget of wisdom: "Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil. It doesn't have a point."
What struck me as I passed the sign was how I automatically wanted to argue against any assumption that people who don't believe in a deity are somehow leading empty, meaningless lives. And Denzel's comments feed right into the misperception that atheists are also immoral, bad people. Unfortunately, I think this inaccurate and simplistic stereotyping is becoming generalized to the degree that most Christians (even well educated, college-educated Christians) don't think twice about demonizing atheists... we are the perfect scapegoats after all!
The only thing I personally think we can do is prove those assumptions wrong in our daily encounters with people...and I would certainly love to see some of the Hollywood community of atheists come out and show Mr. Washington how wrong he is and that he's got no reason to fear us or hate us.