I am a regular Thom Hartmann listener and I love the guy. I even tried to get seats to the Bill Maher show recently just to see him live. However, I feel like I am on my last nerve when it comes to his views on atheists and agnostics. Not because he believes that atheism is a religion (which is still offensive), but because he seems to undermine the struggle that some atheists have to face in their daily lives. I was unable to obtain a transcript of his short 2 - 3 sentence quote today (December 13, 2011) on atheism, so let me paraphrase. He was discussing the Muslim fear exhibited by Americans and how certain minorities are feared/hated throughout our country. Thereafter, he listed a number of minorities and he included atheism. But when he came to atheism, he snickered as if to mock it, and pointed out that atheism is a religion due to our minority categorization. I wasn't bothered by the fact that he continues to believe people like me (atheist) are religious, but I WAS bothered because he seemed to mock the fact that we consider ourselves a minority and are sometimes discriminated against.
I am from California, which most would consider a liberal open minded state due to it's diversity, but I have been discriminated against in the past simply because I am without a god. For instance, while attending UCLA, I was taking a break from studies and headed to Westwood to Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion away from campus. I was so into my book that I had not noticed a man approaching me. By the time I DID notice, it was too late. He had already spat at my face and had begun screaming and shouting words like "ungoldly", "wicked", "satan worship", "heathen", "hell" and "evil." And there I was. Twenty one years old, terrified and confused. And then he was gone. This is merely one example of what I have to deal with and why some atheists resort to "staying in the closet." Nowadays, I still find myself unconsciously hiding certain books while being out in public. And I feel that people like Thom Hartmann, who choose to ignore the fact that we too are discriminated against, aggravate the problem. We are one of the most hated groups in the United States. Never will our nation be able to look beyond our atheism. If you doubt it, then ask yourself if America is ready for an openly atheist president. I am a latin-american atheist/agnostic woman, and the only part of me that has caused me grief and has brought me pain, is my atheism/agnosticism.
And in regards to atheism being a religion.... you are definitely bonkers. First of all, this morning you also said that atheists knock on your door to convert you. I really doubt that. And even if it is true, it still wouldn't be grounds enough to classify it a religion. If NOT believing in something makes you religious, then you and I and everyone else in the world has just gained a multitude of religions. By your standards Thom, not believing in fairies, dragons, santa clause, tooth fairy, easter bunny, FSM, unicords and mermaids would also be religions. Come on Thom!