Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is There a War on Religion?

Last month, The Atlantic published an article entitled "The Myth of a 'War on Religion'".  I highly recommend the article.  It is a succinct explication of some of the evidence regarding the continued exalted status of religion in our society and the continued vilification of non-believers.  As the story points out in its conclusion, there really is no such war; statements to the contrary are simply dishonest attempts by the religious right to play the victim.  (Obviously, they do this in order to bring social pressure to bear on those who criticize religion in an effort to shut them up.)

Of course, in my opinion, neither the exalted status of religion nor the vilification of non-believers is deserved.  Both are the result of centuries of repression of the truth, propaganda, brainwashing of children, and the genocidal persecution of non-believers.  All of these things have resulted in a society where the literal and moral insanity of religion is actually exalted over the honesty and integrity of atheism.

Frankly, I wish there were a war on religion.  It is long overdue.  For far too long religion has enjoyed an unquestioned exalted status in our society.  Nothing should be given such privileged treatment--particularly not something which is an important philosophical underpinning for so much of what happens in our society.  Imagine if some other aspect of common political philosophy enjoyed such a long tradition of being sacrosanct.

One doesn't really have to imagine it completely.  One can see the short term effects of such stifling of discussion in the recent history of communist countries where criticism of communist economic theory was not allowed.  Just imagine living in such a place.  Then imagine what the society would be like if the communists had 2,000 years to shape a society.  After 2,000 years of propaganda and brainwashing, even the craziest ideas can become social norms.

This is the case with religion, and this is why I write this blog and support secular organizations.  I think religion is even more immoral and nonsensical than communism. 

I have been an atheist for decades and have fought for secularism almost as long.  If there were a war on religion, I would know about it.  At best, right now, there is a war on theocracy.  A defensive war.  The theocrats have been working behind the scenes in the United States for decades to undermine our free society and turn the U.S. into a theocracy.  If you doubt this, then you need to read Jeff Sharlet's book The Family in which he details his time inside this movement.

I recommend Jeff's book not because it is the only evidence of the war on freedom currently being waged in the U.S. by the religious right but because it is one the most revealing sources--one that gives us a look at the true intentions of the religious right in the U.S.

As a long time secularist, I can see these true intentions even when the religious are able to convince most others with their lies and deceptions.  I know what those intentions are because I have had direct experience both as a member of the religious right (when I was a child) and as an adult non-believer who was subjected to numerous instances of discrimination and persecution.  Jeff's book lets the sceptic listen to what they say in private, which is something many new secularists need to hear to understand the true danger to freedom and democracy that the religious right represents.

I don't think it is too much to say that the religious right in the U.S. is a fascist movement.  It should be resisted at every turn before it is too late--if it isn't already too late.

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