Is Atheism a Religion?
In Texas, excitement is growing among a certain group of people. A celebrity of sorts is coming to town to share his beliefs with a crowd of others. A venue has been rented capable of holding the large crowd that is expected. People who all share in this belief, are rallying together to promote this event and its main speaker. Car pools, buses and caravans are being organized, all focusing on gathering together those who are eager to hear this pastor speak. Ad’s and billboard’s pop up, and social media is full of activity in preparation of this speakers visit.
Who is this man? Is he the new Pat Robinson? The successor to Jimmy Swaggart? What is this message that so many are eager to hear? Is this the rise of a new religion? A new Faith?
Maybe, this rally is what is called a “Freethinker” rally, the man is Jerry DeWitt, the first “graduate” of the Clergy Project, this former traveling pastor is taking his preaching skills and re-purposing them to teach what he now believes, atheism. Is atheism then a religion?
Atheists don’t consider themselves to be religious group. Their very title claims that they don’t believe in a God or any other supreme being. To them, trying to label them as a religion is inconceivable. Atheist would deny that they are part of a religious organization simply because to be part of a religion means that you believe in an imaginary being of some kind. No, this is a movement, a gathering, a simple lesson in logic and reasoning and an attempt to save mankind from superstitious beliefs. To an atheist, religion is something that you need to help someone “recover” from and all mankind will benefit when freed from their superstitions and accept their logic and reason.
What then is the defining line that marks when a group of people, with deeply held beliefs turns from a movement to a religion? Is it when they hold a service or build a church? Is it when they start to actively proselytize and recruit others, convincing them to leave their faith and join theirs? Is it when they seek legal protection of their beliefs under the law? Is it their actions, their words, or how they organize themselves?
Atheism and its followers have achieved all these marks and more. In fact one web site invites atheists to “Come on down to hear inspirational speakers and to enjoy a morning that is part-foot stomping show, part-atheist church.”
As you read this quote from an article published in the New York Times, compare the words of an atheist telling of how he found other non-believers like himself, to words a convert might say describing how they became to have faith in God. The tone and content is the same, there is no difference:
“DeWitt began e-mailing with dozens of fellow apostates every day and eventually joined another new network called Recovering From Religion, intended to help people extricate themselves from evangelical Christianity. Atheists, he discovered, were starting to reach out to one another not just in the urban North but also in states across the South and West, in the kinds of places DeWitt had spent much of his career as a traveling preacher. After a few months he took to the road again, this time as the newest of a new breed of celebrity, the atheist convert. They have their own apostles (Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) and their own language, a glossary borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Bible and gay liberation (you always “come out” of the atheist closet).”7
The Atheist movement is gathering together its members. It’s starting to make its presence known in the media, the internet and in local communities. They are vigorously defending what they feel is their right to remove anything that is contrary to their beliefs, and replace it with tokens and icons of their own.8 They are placing billboards in strategic locations that are insulting and mocking to those who believe in God, and they do it with what can only be described as religious fever, even zealotry.9
If we analyze them by their own words and compare them to the words of religious institutions then there is no difference except for the lack of faith in a supreme being. Their members boldly proclaim that their beliefs are the correct ones, just like the members of the church down the street. They don’t believe in creation, they believe in chemistry. To them the savior of mankind is mankind. And their actions speak louder than their words. They are offended by the symbols and activities of those who believe differently and take swift and aggressive action against them. They threaten, they protest, and they file lawsuits in defense of their beliefs. And when new converts join their ranks, especially former clergy members, they celebrate. So judging by their words and actions, atheists are members of a religion, the Church of Atheism.
reposted by Reagangirl.com 1/19/14