Thursday, August 25, 2011

Freedom From Religion: It's a Godsend!

Ad Placed by Atheists on City Buses in Des Moines, Iowa
According to a study at the University of Minnesota, atheists are a group of people in America that are hated more than both LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) and Muslims. Still, in spite of this social disapproval, the numbers of atheists and agnostics are growing fast, especially among the young. This is a really good sign when it comes to the prospect of political organizing.

In the seventies Gallup and the survey mavens studied what factors would determine social activism on campus and the only reliable correlation wound up being that those who checked off the no preference box under religion (on the university application form) were the most likely to end up participating in protests. Perhaps this means that folks who are not waiting for pie in the sky when they die might actually want to eat now and even make room for others at the table.

The truth is that many humans can possess a moral compass without the threat of hellfire, damnation or any other punishment that big, old, bearded white dude in the sky can dream up. Responsible communities can be built, movements started, corrupt governments overthrown independent of the Big Boy. That's how the concept of "secular humanism" was born.

Mindful godlessness can defeat the right wing theocrats in many ways. For one, it presents no inherent argument against women determining their own biological destinies by retaining decision-making power in reproduction. Freedom to determine what to do with your own body is a direct consequence of this.The same applies to the shunning or looking down upon LGBT folks. When all humans have value all can be respected. Those convoluted and contrived bible mantras can get flushed down the toilet of history to be replaced by the doctrine of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. An axiom long forgotten by the purveyors of prophesy. Who, at its American lowest common denominator seem to include some of the most dogmatic, inhumane and rigid people on this planet.

In some ways the gay stereotype and that of the aethist intersect. The word, "intellectual," is often the first one to be trotted out. This in and of itself speaks volumes. Following it are adjectives like childless, artistic and that catch all demonizer, "liberal."

Those of us of little faith have no use for the rabid American jingoism that, of late, passes for patriotism. We are too busy trying to build a meaningful life and a progressive movement to spend more time than necessary on our knees. Genuine compassion, empathy and goodwill are feelings more likely to arise out of discerning observation of the human condition than didactic instruction. And these qualities are more apt to flourish in an atmosphere of human love and understanding than one of superhuman threat and fear.