Currently in the United States "Non Religious" people make up about 20% of the population.
This includes Atheists, Agnostics, Secular non affiliated, No preference, etc. Jews consist of less than 2% of the population of the United States. Mormons less than 2%, Muslims less than 1%. These are the religious groups that the non-religious out number, yet why is it that we are lucky to get 1 or 2 congressmen to represent us? The truth is that essentially every congressman or woman in congress is religiously affiliated. Where is our representation?
In the United States consists of about 12% of Black people, 4% Asian and about 15% of
Hispanic origin. Yet congress has 43 black congressmen and women, 44 who are Jewish and 27
who are of Hispanic origin, and also 7 of Asian origin. Congress even has a "black caucus", a
caucus for a group of people that represents only 12% of the population yet a group that
represents over 20% of the population is lucky to have 1 congressperson represent them?
Something is seriously wrong with this picture. The truth is that Atheists, Agnostics and the
generally non religious people in the United States are too timid, too apathetic, too
distracted and too unmotivated to make any real efforts to bring about change. Organization
is totally lacking among this group of people, and I have seen no real evidence of large
scale social programs to actually attempt to educate people about skepticism of religion or
to criticize religion. The Atheist bus sign campaign was one recent instance, but that was
just one instance.
Churches make it their priority to spread the word of their religions, and to convert people
and educate them about their religion. This is why religions tend to spread so amazingly
fast, it is because of the hard work of the followers in converting people. Now, I know that
a lot of atheists will say that they do not want to convert people, that they do not want to
be like religion and go out and proselytize people and educate them about their beliefs. This
attitude is unjustified, it is unjustified because as all atheists know, Atheism is in fact
the most rational and justified position. When you hold a position that is in fact the most
rational position, and is in fact the most justified position, then what is the harm in
trying to get other people to believe in this same position? Atheists need to ask themselves,
Would the world be better if everyone were an Atheist? The obvious answer to this question is
a resounding 'Yes', as anyone versed in the history or modern aspects of religion knows of
the bloodshed caused directly by religious belief. Certainly the world would not be a perfect
place if everyone were atheists, but it would definitely have one less meme in it responsible
for copious amounts of bloodshed and suffering.
I do not condone "shoving one's beliefs down other peoples throats". What I am arguing for is
simply a comprehensive and organized movement among the non-religious to educate the
religious about the flaws of their beliefs, and to spread the meme of Atheism. Atheism,
spurred by rational thinking, is in fact a good meme. I remember when I first started watching
Penn&Teller when it first came out, I first learned that they were atheists and then decided
to do research of my own which led me to agnosticism and then to atheism. It may seem odd for
a magician group to turn me onto skepticism of religion, but sometimes it only takes
something small like this. The truth is that Penn&Teller are a rare breed of atheist who
actually try to spread Atheism. These few people, Dawkins, Penn&Teller, James Randi, Etc. are
the atlas' of our times. They are holding back the ever flowing tide of irrationality and
dogma and are trying their hardest to fight back with logic and science. But the truth is
that it is like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon.
Islamic fundamentalism, Christian fanatics, Hindu fanatics, Mormons, Scientologists, all of
these groups are doing all that they can to convert more people and inject their
irrationality and absurd beliefs into the world. This means that Atheists do not have the
comfort of being able to do as they please, because if they do then they will find themselves
an extinct species in the not too distant future. It would be incredibly naive to assume that
Atheism will somehow automatically spread and that religion will somehow die off by itself in
the future. The ONLY reason secularism and genuine skepticism of religion has spread in
recent times is due to the herculean efforts of people like Dawkins, Michael Shermer, James
Randi, Sam Harris, etc. Without these people, there would not even be a tiny subculture of
atheists that there is today.
I mention all of this only to stress the importance of actually doing all that one can to
spread the meme of skepticism of religion and rationalism and atheism. Unless we fight as
hard as the opposition is fighting, we will soon find ourselves so few and far between that
it would be impossible to defend ourselves against the constant attacks on our civil
liberties. This philosophy of "live and let live" does not work when the religious fanatics
of the world do not follow the same rule. The religious fanatics who would like to see
Christianity taught in schools and science abolished, the fanatics who would like to see the
western civilization under the rule of Muslim despots, the fanatics who would like to see us
all become slaves to their dogmas. If atheists remain idle and apathetic towards the people
who would like to see them destroyed, then this is what will happen. I acknowledge that not
all religious people want to rob atheists of their civil liberties, but the truth is that
once the religion meme is in someone, then nothing is a stretch. The only thing that separates
the moderates from the fanatics is a simple interpretation which, given their already
dogmatic beliefs, could and often does change without warning.
It is time for atheists to both organize and to act to demand their recognition as a
significant force in American and World politics. This means spending less time in idle, less
time..wasting time and more time doing what is necessary to stem the tide of religious dogma
and spread the meme of atheism. Talking to people who we know and doing what we can to
introduce them to skepticism of religion, passing out flyers in public places, organizing
groups and putting together marches and events, collecting money for media campaigns like the
recent bus campaign, etc. There are countless things that can be done to spread atheism and
general skepticism of religion, but sitting at home wasting time on the internet is not one
of them. Certainly we are all guilty of idleness and misuse of our time, however if we want
things to improve in the world then we must first improve ourselves. No social or political
movement has ever spread without the hard work and toil of people doing all that they could
to push it. I think that negative connotations are often misapplied to aggressive
proselytizing or education campaigns, but the truth is that when faced with the monster of
religious dogma and fanaticism, doing the most that one can do to educate people is hardly
I do not want to seem as if am condescending anyone, or seem as if I am patronizing anyone. I too can be guilty of procrastination, idleness and misuse of time myself. I however want to make the urge to everyone to do what they can to ensure that atheism does not die off or shrink in size. In ancient Greece there were many Greek thinkers arguing against religion and in support of skepticism and rationality and science, but even true philosophies and beliefs are not immune to being relegated to a footnote. In fact, society does not always progress forward, as can be observed from the dark ages in Europe.
Certainly there are many people who are doing all that they can to educate others about
atheism or skepticism of religion or critical thinking, but it just isn't enough. When I
watch religious segments on television, I almost never see the atheist point of view added.
In fact, the only time that I did was after a massive letter writing and e-mailing campaign
was organized in order to get Richard Dawkins on CNN once. This must be much more common than
it already is. There must be media campaigns to spread the meme of atheism, there must be
many more people ready to stand up in defense of atheism when it is attacked, there must be
many more people willing to do what is necessary to ensure atheism endures the onslaught from
the fanatical, dogmatic grotesque entity known as religion.