Harry Potter and the Atheist Celebrity

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Homosexuals have faced a much more violent and oppressive opposition in this country than atheists have, so don't think I'm conflating the struggles of the LGBT community with that of atheists. But there is one specific similarity that the LGBT community is in fact more advanced in dealing with: Exposure.

It was still a scandal twenty years ago to find out that a celebrity is gay. Now, it's news, but it's not all that shocking or interesting and judging from the last few seasons of America Idol, we all know who's gay and don't care too much anyway. Atheists on the other hand are still 'coming out.' Unless atheism is your act, celebrities are given an easier time converting to near dead religions or religions so new it's scam roots took hold within the last two generations. But come out as an atheist, and you're bound to get a lot of twisted looks of confusion and horror, especially when several church groups are still up in arms over your specific claim to fame.

Which is why Daniel Radcliffe's declaration of atheism is so important. Especially since it's the brand encouraged by Richard Dawkins and not some kind of earth-mother, 'god is energy, and a woman,' rootless, new age, nonsense.

I'm proud of Radcliffe, not because I think his 'coming out atheist' will convert anyone, but because it drags the issue into the spotlight and out of the 'ivory tower's choir' Dawkins is so often accused of preaching to. I'm proud of him because teenage girls will become aware that there is an atheism movement, that we're not evil people. I'm proud of Radcliffe because parents may ask their sons if they've been reading The God Delusion the same way they once made sure their sons weren't reading Tropic of Cancer or Naked Lunch. Inevitably, of course, their sons will read The God Delusion. Maybe Radcliffe will inspire GQ readers and Potter fans alike to question faith, maybe he won't. But at the very least, he'll give atheism validity and an attractive, popular, young face (something Madonna sure couldn't do for Kabala).

OK, I'll agree there's too much focus on celebrity culture. But since that's the way it is, I'm glad at least one celebrity is using that platform to expose the true nature of atheism.

Thanks Daniel.

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Comment by Karla on July 5, 2009 at 1:56pm
I have been pointing this fact out to everyone since reading it in the paper, I encourage everyone to do the same, just "for the heck of it."
Comment by Father Nature on July 5, 2009 at 9:43am
I know a family of fundegelicals where the kids (home-schooled, of course) aren't allowed to read the Harry Potter books or see the films and I suspect that eventually, some of them will seek out the "forbidden fruit". Hopefully, they will also read TGD, etc. The anti-Harry Potter fundies will really be foaming at the mouth over Daniel's atheism. I look forward to much comical posturing from the church people.



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