As a woman, as a mother and as a student surrounded by creative young men and women, I am often chastised by others for not being tolerant of religion.  I am told that being an Atheist requires just as much assumption as being religious and that in my dismissal of all faiths I am ignoring the good that religion brings into the world.

I do not believe that there is any good that religion, any religion, is doing in the world.

I think that every faith promotes ignorance, separation, discrimination and hatred.

When people contrast their faiths to those more extreme (often the Taliban) I compare them.

I do this because I am intolerant of the crutch of religion. I do this because when someone tells me that they are Christian, but have nothing against homosexuals, it rings about as honest as a Neo-Nazi telling me they have nothing against minorities.

I find their accusations that I would be happier in my "traditional place as a woman," to be hateful and coming from a place of spiteful ignorance.

I am aggravated as others try to hang a label of "agnostic" on me, when what I really am is an atheist.

I have no doubts that I have made the right choice to abandon the myths of my mother and her mother. There is no question in my mind.

People have said to me that they cling to the belief in gods out of a hope for cosmic justice.

I think that it is the belief in these gods that create most of the injustices we suffer in our lives. Our feelings of frustrations, our self-imposed limitations on our hopes for love and happiness, our misery in the feelings of constant scrutiny from an unloving, constantly judging omnipotent figure of our own design, all of these things are the waste product of an out-dated hate machine.

I find nothing redeeming in religion. Religion flaunts opulence in the face of starving believers and implants hatred in the innocent and inquisitive minds of children. It creates division where there should be none.

I am not tolerant of religion any more than I would tolerate any other form of indoctrinated bigotry.

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Comment by onyango makagutu on February 27, 2013 at 9:48pm

MikeLong, no one can be selfless! Believer or non believer. 

Comment by James on February 27, 2013 at 10:35pm

I am told that being an Atheist requires just as much assumption as being religious and that in my dismissal of all faiths I am ignoring the good that religion brings into the world.

Oh goodie, the old 'atheism requires faith' canard... The simple fact is that if you're atheism is based of evidence, then it requires no faith at all.

As for good deeds... I think the important bit isn't if there are religious people doing good things, but the fact that there isn't anything good that the do that can't also be done outside religion.

I find their accusations that I would be happier in my "traditional place as a woman," to be hateful and coming from a place of spiteful ignorance.
Okay, that is far from a friendly suggestion. They might as well tell you to know your place and demand a sandwich.

I am aggravated as others try to hang a label of "agnostic" on me, when what I really am is an atheist.

Sadly, this never goes away. But isn't really unexpected when they don't even know what 'atheist' means, much less 'agnostic'. I have blown many a theist mind by telling them that I'm most accurately classed as an agnostic atheist. *mind blown*

People have said to me that they cling to the belief in gods out of a hope for cosmic justice.

And I would love for reincarnation to be true. But desire doesn't make any difference in making something true or not.

Comment by Brian Daurelle on February 27, 2013 at 10:35pm

I always tell people that if the simple fact of my atheism seems to be a form of intolerance, this probably says more about the tenuousness of their beliefs than the nature of mine.  If they feel their faith is assulted just because someone they know doesn't share it, they're clearly having trouble keeping the faith. 

You didn't really detail much of your day-to-day behaviour when it comes to talking about your beliefs or other peoples', but I imagine you don't launch daily outright assults on religion in the company of your religious friends.  Like most atheists, I imagine you simply state your beliefs when its relevant, or criticize others' beliefs when it needs doing.  The idea that living your beliefs in this way somehow amounts to intolerance is ridiculous; what's truly intolerant is for someone to imply that you should keep quiet so that you don't threaten their worldview.  It sort of makes sense when you realize that the religious mind is so used to quibbling over differences in doctrine (in which category I include both intra- and inter-religious conflicts, since both rest on similar fundamental assumptions), but your position is an existential threat to the religious worldview. Thus the overblown reaction that leads to atheists being called intolerant for even the mildest statement of (non-)belief.

 

In response to Melvinotis: While it may be true that there are more truly charitable religious people than non-religious people, this certainly says nothing about the merits of religion. If you consider working at a homeless shelter, halfway home or soup kitchen to be a good thing of itself, as you seem to, then wouldn't it be more morally admirable for someone to do so without the stick-and-carrot of religious coercion? This isn't to say that all, or even most, religious charity workers are only there because they think it'll get them to heaven, but I can gurantee that there are no secularists who are there for that reason.  Consider: a disproportionate number of homeless youth are LGBT kids who have been disowned/abandoned by their family due to their sexuality or problems caused by it. What is the moral value of such a kid being 'rescued' by a charity that will teach him hateful things about himself and probably perpetuate his problems?  This is just one example which speaks to a larger point: any good thing that religion does is not exclusive to religion (though it may seem that way by an accident of history), and secular organization has the capacity to do those same things better, by virtue of being unrestrained by blind ideology.

Comment by Morgan Matthew on February 28, 2013 at 12:35am

I find nothing redeeming in religion. Religion flaunts opulence in the face of starving believers and implants hatred in the innocent and inquisitive minds of children. It creates division where there should be none.

I think i may use this in a we think atheist video :] Great quote!

Comment by Carol Foley on February 28, 2013 at 12:50am

@Morgan Matthew Wow, really? Thanks!

Comment by Karl Mugele on February 28, 2013 at 11:57am

Firstly - no assumption is required to be atheist.  This is the entire point.  You need assumption to believe, not to disbelieve.  Disbelief is (or should be) the default position. Do children come out of the womb with a pre-installed belief in any single religon.....no!  They come out of the womb and have the religion or ther local community, or just their parents, thrust upon them by their parents.

If religions were really good, why have most of the conflicts of world history been associated with one or other religion.  Why are religions prescriptive and not simply accepting.  If any particular religion were wholly good and explicative, why are there and have there been, so many.

I probably posted before that I was qat a party in London and had an American chistian woman tell me that I could not be atheist as I had to believe in something, even if I believed in the lack of any god, as that could not be proven.  That's like saying (like the spaghetti monster or the flying teapot) that any fictional thing or being could exist and because I can't prove it, I must accept the potential for its existence.   This argument is codswallop.  What is converse is belief in something for which there is no evidence.  The natural acceptance is that something for which there is no evidence or only unreliable evidence, does not exist.

Looking at the evidence for the role of religion in the Northern Cursades, the Crusades into the Levant, the expansion of the Islamic Empire, the imposition of Israel on Palestine, the separation of India, the conquest of South America...etc., etc.  religion is NOT good, does NOT provide anything but an "indisputable" reason for it's followers to kill and butcher....get rid!

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on February 28, 2013 at 12:33pm

I was at a party in London and had an American Christian woman tell me that I could not be atheist as I had to believe in something, even if I believed in the lack of any god, as that could not be proven.

That's one of my personal favorites. If disbelief is a belief, then health is a disease, baldness is a hairstyle, and abstinence is a sex position.

Comment by Unseen on February 28, 2013 at 1:03pm

@Melvinotis

We are vulnerable to the criticism, "If there is a Catholic St. Mary's Hospital and a Methodist General Hospital, why are there no Atheist General Hospitals?" Even publicly funded hospitals will always have a chapel on the premises. 

I'm not sure what an atheist hospital would be like, though. What would we tell a dying patient? "You're heading into eternal oblivion"? One thing religion offers is some sort of solace for the dying, even if it is a Big Lie.

Atheism is, at its heart, a solitary thing.

My problem with religion is that it's based on an insupportable belief. Any claim that the religions never ever do any good is a radical and patently false belief. Maintaining it will not bring anyone into the atheist fold. It just makes one look like a member of some strange cult.

Comment by MikeLong on February 28, 2013 at 3:10pm

Very nice.

However I'm of the position, naively as I've not been presented with my imminent death directly, that having had the opportunity to participate in this amazing world for many decades is a consolation in itself. Propagating this is propagating the certainty that religion lacks.

I dob't know how atheist hospitals might work - just rename "chapel" to something clever, I suppose. But I don't think atheist community groups are a bad idea. A sense of community is something that many deconverts miss about their religious past.

Comment by Unseen on February 28, 2013 at 6:27pm

@MikeLong

Religious hospitals serve everyone, generally speaking, theist or not. An atheist hospital should really do the same.

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