Sunday, December 4, 2011

Taking Care of the Poor: Religion vs. Atheism

All mainstream religious teachings stress taking care of the poor.  Help your brother, they proclaim.  Jesus reportedly spent a disproportionate amount of his time taking care of the poor in Israel.  Islam preaches that if you take care of the poor and needy, you are an honorable person.  In the Hindu faith, taking care of the poor is considered an essential tenant.  Given this, one would expect that a religious physician would likely spend a disproportionate amount of his/her time treating the poor, like Jesus.  A new study in the Annals of Family Medicine shows what some may describe as a surprising outcome: religious physicians are less likely to work in underserved areas than Atheist physicians.

Are you surprised by these results?  I can't say that I am.  With all the hypocrisy found throughout the world's religions, it's not surprising that the practice of religion is just as hypocritic.  Hopefully this will begin to reshape any misguided images and preconceptions that people have about Atheists.  I'm beginning to the think the real reason why Atheists seem to have a bad reputation in American society has nothing to do with whether they are good or bad people, but more likely the fact that they have no public "face."  Religion is ubiquitous in American media, but Atheism is left conspicuously out.  People tend to fear what they don't know or understand, and if you don't know an Atheist that is open about his/her beliefs (or lack thereof), you may never realize how normal an Atheist person/family can be.

Take care,

-The Atheist Physician