A group of seniors who live in La Costa Glen retirement community in Carlsbad, California proudly wear the scarlet letter A and are suffering the same treatment as Hester Prynne. Atheists Anonymous was founded by 84-year-old resident Brigit Smith-Clarke. In two years, the group has grown from the original sixteen to a almost a hundred seniors “who do not believe in God or just want to explore their options.”
According to ABC 10News,
What has also grown is the backlash: the dirty stares, social isolation and the threatening phone calls. Smith-Clarke said people were calling her things such as “anti-Christ” and “Jew-lover.”
Although the backlash is not unusual,
Atheism is highly unusual in the 65 and older crowd. About 19 percent of Americans claim no affiliation with any religion, which is double the percentage since the 1970s. However, the percentage among seniors remains almost negligible.
What is negligible is the amount of support the group receives from La Costa Glen management and support staff:
“I think it’s a big place and people do all sorts of things,” said activities coordinator Michelle Chaffee. “It’s not typical of what we see here normally.”
To limit the damage, the management at La Costa Glen says it does not allow most religious or political groups to distribute flyers to non-members or publicize meetings in the calendar.
Chaffee says it is the a-word that is the problem.
“That has turned a lot of people off,” she said.
Michelle Chaffee makes it clear that La Costa Glen policy discriminates against advertising from “most religious or political groups,” but Chaffee does not say which religious or political groups are allowed to advertise at the residence.
Brigit Smith-Clarke is not deterred by the name calling or Chaffee’s explanation for the harassment the group has suffered. Smith-Clarke says
no way. She was raised Christian and now at her age, she is done with pretending, no matter the cost.
Smith-Clarke and the members of Atheists Anonymous at La Costa Glen deserve praise for their perseverance. A blogger at the website Theocracidal agrees:
My message to the folks at Atheist Anonymous – Good on you folks and stick to your guns.
h/t: Justin Trottier