For some time there has been the misconception that morality is established through religion. This belief has subsequently inferred that those who are without religion are not capable of mortality and thus are deplorable beings. While the average individual, in our modern Western Society, might believe this outdated label no longer holds any clout, this is not the case. The Secular community themselves would like to believe that such a negative stigmatization would not be attached to a group that is heavily composed of and highly progressive and educated community, but a recent study by University of British Columbia suggests the contrary.
Will Gervais of UBC recently published the study Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust Is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice postulating that Atheists are the most distrusted group. The other groups that were represented in this study were Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists and Jewish people. The only group that received a similar rating of Distrust were rapists. Yes, you heard correctly. Atheists are distrusted as much as rapists?
I myself as an Atheist find this study to be deplorable and highly misguided. This stereotype has been perpetuated by organized religion for far too long and it needs to stop immediately. From Albert Einstein to Noam Chomsky to Freud, secularists have for centuries helped contribute and change society. Fortunately The Centre for Inquiry (CFI) has just launched a campaign to help change this perception. Through their Think Again! TV campaign they plan on collecting videos from the secular community showing/telling what they do and what charitable or generous acts they have done to benefit society.
Are you interested?
As mentioned, CFI is collecting videos from local, national and international voices to defend our stance within the community and demonstrate how we are Good without God. If you are interested in helping with this project, They would be glad to feature you on our video.
Please keep the videos short (less than 1 minute) and keep the format as the following:
1. State your name and where you are from
2. State your occupation
3. What you do for charities, non-profits or society?
4. End with the statement “that is why I am good without god”
For more information about the this campaign visit CFI’s website at http://www.cficanada.ca/ontario/news/are_you_good_without_god_then_we_want_you/
To read more about this study visit CTV’s article here: http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20111201/bc_atheist_research_ubc_rapists_111201/20111201?hub=BritishColumbiaHome
Before I begin I would like to state that the purpose of this article is not to enable people of competing belief systems (namely Christianity and Judaism) to assume that their convictions are somehow at a higher standing, vindicated of their destructive elements or otherwise victimized. This piece is not meant to score one for the good guys and lay one on the brown baddies.
Islamophobia is real and it is the byproduct of the post 9/11 world in which we live in. I recently came across this video while procrastinating on YouTube so I thought I would share with you. The clip is from the ABC show What Would You Do?
You will notice that while some of the costumers in the experiment sided with the Muslim girl the majority remained silent or even joined in the abuse. You might feel sympathetic, you might even feel angry and you have every right to. But should we react in a similar fashion when Islam as a religion is criticized by public intellectuals? Should we simply label anyone who criticizes Islam a racist Islamophobe?
Islamophobia can also be imagined and it is a byproduct of the knee-jerk politically hyper-sensitive atmosphere surrounding Islam. In this clip, famous atheist Sam Harris is speaking about the violent fundamentals of Islam.
Is Islam a religion of peace? This is not a question that should automatically result in scorn. It is a perfectly legitimate question which every single freethinking humanist should be entitled to ask. Is it racist for one to merely state the fact that the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death?
The point is that our reaction to Islamophobia should be more nuanced.
Clearly there exists a fine line between Islamophobia and critical analysis of Islam. But most often the critical analysis is lost in the language of hyper-sensitivity. For me this is a lazy reaction which scarifies critical thinking for the sanctimonious feeling one gets when proudly proclaiming support of multiculturalism. “they have their ways and I have mine” “oh don’t say that!!!! That’s Racist/Islamophobic etc.” If you fancy yourself a free and rational thinker these responses should not be convincing, you must have the courage to acknowledge the fact that much like any other religion, Islam is subject to criticism.
More importantly however there are many Muslims as well as ex-Muslim voices in the Muslim world and abroad, that wish to engage in the critique. I once asked one of my TAs who identified herself as a feminist to give me her opinion on Ayaan Hirshi Ali. She said that while she liked her works she did not particularly appreciate the” vitriolic tone” she uses to critique Islam. But how could a white middle aged feminist living in the west possibly understand the hatred that Ali feels? She has certainly not lived the life of a Muslim woman and yet she felt vindicated in her claim that Ali was not using nice words in relation to Islam. Indeed the western observer that is exposed to the Islamophobia debate must understand that Islamophobia can also work as a weapon to censor descent from within and should not be so easily accepted.
I leave you with this clip of Hirshi Ali debating Avis Lewis on the nuances of Islamophobia:
I came across this comic about the notion that atheists are angry people. I thought it was quite clever!
The atheist in this comic is progressive and argues for peaceful societies, yet the opponent completely disregards this. The atheists arguments seem to go right through one ear and out the other of the opposing person. It’s ironic that their responses imply aggression towards the atheist, especially regarding the comment on tasers, suggesting atheists should be forcefully stopped.
I fully agree with the idea that peaceful, loving and moral societies can be accomplished through critical thinking and secularism. In fact, I think that societies which are predominantly based on religious ideals and values have more hatred and are less just because they tend to lack respect for the rights of all people, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, age, race, etc. How can we have a progressive society if we base our laws and values on ancient thinking? Ideals which may have served a purpose for one historical context may be completely inaccurate for our modern world.
Atheists are not angry people. I think that this stereotype comes from a lack of understanding of what it means to be a freethinker and an atheist, as is illustrated by this comic. Yes, certain issues may anger atheists, however this is true for all groups of people, regardless of their beliefs.
This billboard, which depicts Mary and Joseph lying in bed together, was created by an Auckland Anglican Church. The church said the poster was made to provoke thought about the origin of Christmas.
The Auckland Anglican Church also had this poster put up. Here the Virgin Mary looks shocked over a positive pregnancy test.
Their billboards have sparked not only thought but some controversy in the Catholic community. Arthur Skinner, a member of the Catholic church in New Zealand, slashed the poster and accused the Anglican church of being heretics.
What I find most interesting about these posters is that they are not your typical Christmas depiction. They depict the story of the bible in a literal way while using subtle humor to engage viewers.
A: No, I don’t believe parents should teach their children that they are going to suffer and be damned to hell. I agree with freedom of religion and freedom of expression but there is a difference between a freedom and a right. A freedom is a privilege and if you harm someone (threatening, emotionally harming someone by saying that they will go to hell) it is no longer acceptable. In my opinion it is harmful to teach children that certain actions they do can condemn them forever. It causes lots of anxiety, guilt and stress that is really damaging in the long run. As a child I grew up in a religious environment and I had a lot of fear and guilt associated with my religion, so I know the result of teaching children about hell. It is only putting large amounts of pressure and fear onto a child, which in my opinion is a form of emotional abuse, because making someone fear for their life (or in this case afterlife) is injurious to that person’s well being.