September 3, 2014

Many Atheists Do Care About Religion

Kevin Sorbo
Kevin Sorbo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Why do so many atheists seem to care so much about religion? If we don't believe in gods or share religious beliefs, why do we spend so much of our time thinking about them, talking about them, writing about them, etc.? This is a common question atheists face from religious believers.

I usually seek to answer it by explaining that atheists differ in our motives for focusing on religion. Some atheists are interested in trying to understand something they find quite puzzling (i.e., how could anybody possibly believe this nonsense in this modern age?). Others don't feel like we have much choice in the matter - we consider religion because it is constantly being pushed on us, forcing us to contend with it. We consider it because we feel that we must.

Writing for The State Press (Tempe, AZ), Megan Janetsky responded to actor Kevin Sorbo's recent bigoted tirade against atheists by addressing why many atheists might concern ourselves with religion.
Obviously Sorbo feels very strongly on a topic of which he’s only willing to present one side, but it does pose the question: Why do atheists care about religion?
Ms. Janetsky suggests that the answer lies in all the atrocities which have been committed in the name of Christianity and other religions, the manner in which Christianity has oppressed atheists and members of religious minority groups, and the lack of meaningful separation of church and state today in the U.S. She provides examples ranging from prohibitions against same-sex marriage to "blue laws" that show the lengths to which the Christian majority has gone to interfere in our lives. And she notes that there are still states with laws prohibiting atheists from holding political office. Even if these laws are not enforced, widespread bigotry was been effective at baring atheists from office.
The point is, the name of religion has been used continuously to justify cruelty and hatred. There’s nothing wrong with believing in something, or with religion as a concept. In fact, faith can be an amazing quality to have. It becomes an issue, however, when religious institutions impose their morals onto those who don’t believe in them.
I realize that some anti-theists will disagree with the suggestion that faith might be an asset; I certainly do not regard faith as virtuous in any way. And yet, I think the main point here is a good one: the problem is less about Christian beliefs and more about how these beliefs are imposed on those of us who do not share them.

Thanks to Ms. Janetsky for the article. I think it is great to see content like this appearing in newspapers across the U.S. I hope to see much more of it in the coming years.

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