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Atheists in the US Have More in Common Than One Might Think

Posted by libhom Saturday, September 06, 2008

I was reading the comments in the following blog posting: Atheist Revolution: A Different Kind of Atheist Outreach. A common thread was that atheists don't have that much in common beyond a lack of belief in a deity.

This view ignores context and takes for granted many things about how atheists are treated that I don't think atheists should accept so passively. In this and most cultures in the world, there are some bigger things about being an atheist than merely a lack of belief in a deity.

1) Unless you became an atheist because of following an ideology like Marxism or Objectivism, you have questioned and rejected a belief system that has brainwashed you since birth, using some kind of critical thinking. (Even if you were lucky enough to have atheist parents, the rest of the society had been doing serious brainwashing.) Critical thinking is actively discouraged not only by the church, but also by the corporations and the government.

2) Being willing to accept something as absurd as religion means that you can accept anything, as long as some authority figures have told you to. Being an atheist means that you have the capacity to disregard what authority figures tell you to think. This is part of why corporate media are so hostile to atheists.

3) Atheists are often despised in this society and certainly not treated as equals. We are used as scapegoats by militant, Christian fundamentalists and their corporate enablers for nearly every problem in our society, despite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that religion and corporate power are the main causes of the vast majority of problems in our society.

4) Atheists don't have refuge in the cheapest and most irrational justification for our behavior, the notion that a good or bad deity is responsible for it.

5) Atheists don't believe in an afterlife, which makes us more difficult to manipulate and which makes it more difficult for us to accept injustice in the here and now. Accepting that when you die you rot means that our lives and the lives of others are much more important than they would be in most religious world views.

6) The gradual shift away from democracy in this country to a hybrid plutocracy/theocracy endangers us specifically as atheists, although we certainly are not the only people who are endangered (e.g., queers, feminist women, labor organizers, non-Christian religionists, liberals, progressives, Marxists, etc. are other such groups).

Atheism and atheists are so seldom mentioned in our media accept as public enemies that we often forget our commonalities, even if we are aware of them in the first place.



  1. Unknown Says:
  2. I think I am an Agnostic.

  3. libhom Says:
  4. dusty: You bring up a point I should have addressed. Agnostics face a very similar social context to atheists. I was focusing on atheists because I was responding to an article specifically on atheists.

  5. Unknown Says:
  6. o my fucking gawd..I brought up a good point? Moi? are you sure? ;p

    I have no problem being agnostic..I beleive something is up there, I just don't friggin know what. ;)

  7. Dave Dubya Says:
  8. God save us from the theocrats and their bible-thumping mercenaries!

  9. Anonymous Says:
  10. You're right--we aren't athetists or agnostics or skeptics simply because we're grumpy or something like that. Most of us have seriously questioned what we believe and we've been brave enough to do so.

    Unfortunately, I think we get such a bad rap because so many in the media consider themselves Christians or whatever. It's part of being "normal" or "successful" in America. I have a friend who rarely darkens a church door and yet he considers himself a Christian. He describes it as being a cultural thing. Ok, fine by me, but if you don't believe in any of the doctrine, what's the point? And he would be the first to vote against a "out" atheist simply because it would be considered "unseemly" to vote otherwise.




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