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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Acknowledging existence of atheists is too offensive for Des Moines

By admin | 08.06.09 | 12:09 pm

After a wave of complaints, Des Moines Area Regional Transit buses will no longer display advertisements that acknowledge the existence of atheists in Iowa.

The ads, which said, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone,” first went up on buses Saturday and were removed by Tuesday.

Gov. Chet Culver said he was “disturbed” by the ads.

This isn’t the first controversy surrounding atheist advertisements on buses. After an ad campaign was successful at generating publicity (and a lot of controversy) in London and elsewhere in the UK, atheists and advocates of religious freedom have attempted to replicate those efforts in many cities in the United States.

According to a Pew Research study in April, roughly 5 percent of U.S. adults say they do not believe in God, but only about a quarter of those adults call themselves “atheists.”

A 2006 survey by sociologists at the University of Minnesota found that atheists are “America’s most distrusted minority.” According to the survey, they are tolerated more on the east and west coasts than they are in the Midwest:

American’s increasing acceptance of religious diversity does not extend to those who don’t believe in a god, according to a national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology. The study will appear in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.”

The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one’s exposure to diversity, education and political orientation—with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts.

The study is co-authored by assistant professor Joseph Gerteis and associate professor Doug Hartmann. It’s the first in a series of national studies conducted the American Mosaic Project, a three-year project funded by the Minneapolis-based David Edelstein Family Foundation that looks at race, religion and cultural diversity in the contemporary United States.

Comments

  • RegularJoe

    I'm a bit “disturbed” by Chet's response. Is Chet's support for the Civil Rights planks of the Party Platform now on par with his support for the Labor planks? (http://iowademocrats.org/wp-content/uploads/200…)

  • dickh

    Where do people get this idea that we atheists aren't moral? If anything we're far more moral than RELIGIOUS people! Religion doesn't make people behave themselves!

  • overburden

    It's astounding how misunderstood we non-believers find ourselves today, in what should be an educated society. Yet it's no wonder when one considers evolution is being challenged by the biblical farse, creationism or ID, or what have you.
    It has nothing to do with exhibited morality and everything to do with ignorance – god fearing, hell raising ignorance.

  • greenmagi

    They don't want atheists to increase their power, even if it is only equality that is sought.

    This is the best thing that could have happened for the Atheist movement. There was nothing negative about the ad, unless you consider the word “Atheist” a 'bad word'…which of coarse most people do.

    This is going to come to a head.

  • stevenseven

    where is the ACLU? Does that Gov. Culver have the legal power to order that the posters be removed? Such removal is blatant “religious discrimination.” Would Culver be “disturbed” by aggressive buddhist or jewish or moslem posters/signs? The fact that he is distinguishing between god and no god religions is illegal and he should be kicked out. Isn't the lawsuit filed already? should jewish people say they are offended by obvious Christian posters? would moslems be offended by hindu posters? This cannot be happening in 2009 ! Where are the lawyers ? !!

  • dave1960uk

    As an atheist living in a secular society (UK), I find this behaviour a combination of ridiculous, naive and frightening in probable equal measures. Ridiculous because atheists have morals, are verifiably and statistically not “moral degenerates” by any criteria not involving having a faith. This is simple to prove, just pick your criteria and then check. The simplest one- prison population versus society theist/atheist ratios. Naive because it seems based around a significant number of unproven statements with very loose criteria. And frightening, because the USA is the current world leading power and yet it's citizens are anomalous against the whole for the rest of the developed western world in terms of their religious fervour and understanding relatively of modern science and knowledge with respect to the prevalence and fervour of the USA Fundamentalists. Countries with significant numbers of recorded atheists/agnostics/non-believers are not beds of seething crime and moral degeneration but can be the most developed and morally strongest of the western nations, such as Sweden (46 – 85%, Denmark (43 – 80%) and Japan (64 – 65%). The USA is rated as (3 – 9%) but there appears to be no significant link between how we may rate a nation and it's proportion of atheists, given that this puts the USA in the same percentages as Mongolia ,Kazakhstan and Albania.

  • paganpat

    Don't believe in god? you are not alone. I am an atheist and I do not like the ad . The ad should read = Don't believe in gods? you are not alone. Atheists should know that all gods are not alike and if we use their language in describing their creeds we are not making much headway in stamping out the infamous thing,”Ecyaez l'infame” as Voltaire {1694-1778} would say. Pat

  • bruceelniski

    Censorship is a very poor way to support your beliefs. I thought the US was about freedom and free speech. Running to the big government to “protect” yourself from “bad” points of view seems very immature and even childish.
    Grow up, Iowa and accept that there are many points of view, many of them far older than Christianity. This act of censorship is the problem not the statements that were made on public buses.

  • poco424

    For a state that would allow homosexual marriage to get exorcised over this is a little over the top. Your politicos want to flaunt Gods law as it pertains to a man laying with a man but to question His existence is out of the question. What fools you elect.

  • Peggy2

    Take note: This is a DEMOCRAT governor.

    • Henk_sg

      Democratic. Don't they teach English to Iwegians?

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  • dfflick

    I do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. I don't need a father figure of any kind (god) to tell me how to behave civilly. Religion gives people an excuse to be bigoted and to hate, and that is why I turned from it.

  • par4

    Atheists are mistrusted? I find any “adult” that believes in invisible magical sky beings not only untrustworthy but their judgment of anything highly questionable.

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