When Atheists Come Out of the Closet – the Right Not to Believe

A few months ago, Wired magazine wrote about “The Church of the Non-Believers.” In their article they wrote about Atheists like Richard Dawkins who actively were stating that religion is evil. I personally find that to be far too intolerant.

While being a Non-Theist ( think of that as a non-practicing Atheist, mainly for the holidays), I think that tolerance of different religious opinions is important when it comes to having a reasonable civilization.

Sadly, many religious establishments and members of religions, while espousing the same notion, have little tolerance for those who say they are Atheists. In fact, can you think of one American politician who has , or could, claim to be an atheist and still win office? Instead, we get obvious phonies who claim to have religious affiliations (attending churches during campaign season and praying when we have hurricanes) but who obviously do not live honest lives.

This is probably what drives many atheists to adopt that belief.

Recently, there was a story about a soldier, Jeremy Hall, in Iraq who admitted to be being an atheist. Apparently, if he had admitted to being a child molester , he would have gotten better treatment at the hadns of his fellows in the military.

He eventually came out of the religious closet in Iraq in 2007, when he was in a firefight.The soldier was a gunner on a Humvee, which took several bullets in its protective shield. Later, his commander asked whether he believed in God, Hall said.”No, but I believe in Plexiglas.” He further said, “I’ve never believed I was going to a happy place. You get one life. When I die, I’m worm food.”

Apparently this was worse that being asked and telling. He was even threatened with having charges brought against him for organizing a meeting of Atheists (how horrible!). An allegation which Hall denies.

The soldier has gotten to the point where he felt he needs to sue the Military and even names Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a defendant.

if we are to have a truly civil society, we need to get to a place where someone’s religious opinions or doctrines are not the basis on which we judge them.

Recently, we saw the issue raised with a first time Mormon running for president. We have seen the issue raised with Senator Grassley who is investigating churches that espouse an doctrine and version of Christianity different from his doctrine. We hear of talk of culture war against Islam and of Islamic extremsiss who want everyone to live under Sharia law.

America deserves better.

We need to be able to judge our neighbors and officials on the content of their character not their affiliation to one group or another; a lofty idea once proposed by a baptist minister who was eventually put to death for such radical concepts.


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10 Responses to “When Atheists Come Out of the Closet – the Right Not to Believe”

  1. Brian Westley Says:

    Where has Dawkins stated that religion should be outlawed?

    Nota Bene:
    Brian is correct. I was referring to some Atheists that see the idea of outlawing religion to be a good one. Dawkins has not said this.
    I have removed that part of the phrase.
    Thank you Brian.

  2. Diane Says:

    As an english atheist, who is still thankful she managed to escape the ubiquity of (one) religion throughout all aspects of life whilst living in Texas for the more secular atmosphere of New York, I may be a little less tolerant of living side by side with religion… as I do not think that it is yet possible to live free of religion’s influence on legislation and other aspects of life.

    The soldiers experience is unfortunately understandable as by telling his colleagues he is an atheist he completely removed himself from the frame of reference by which his colleagues judge all aspects of life. He becomes a completely unknown quantity. How can they judge how he will react to a given situation if he does not follow the play book to which they all subscribe?

    I could discuss this for hours…

  3. quizaxehatrack Says:

    Yes, I suspect most Ahteists can wax eloquent for days on end on this topic. not being part of an organized religion does not keep people out of the pulpit. you make a good point about frame of reference (which some evolutionists claim is the reason religion exoists: to bind societies). But as cross planet communication expands, will the variety of religious experience cause more clashes than clasps? Or woill we see a new resurgence of Atheist thought as religious battles bring about a distaste for religion in general?

  4. David Black Says:

    Do you honestly think that Grassley’s investigation is motivated by disagreement in religious doctrine? I seriously doubt that it is anything but the charge that the Pentecostal Six are engaging in ethics violations re: the US tax code.

    I’ve been attacking on Doug Wead’s blog people I consider zealots. They believe incorrectly, among other things, that I am an atheist because I see televangelists for what they are … smiling and slick hucksters selling salvation by the dollar.

    I do believe there are superior powers in this universe. To believe that the highest order species on this planet transfers to the highest order species in the universe would be foolishly egotistical. I can acknowledge that concept without the worship of symbols, scriptures, and other iconography that goes along with organized religion, which is correctly identified as a means to bind societies and give the weaker of mind hope that their lives have meaning.

  5. quizaxehatrack Says:

    David, Thanks for your posting. I think there may indeed be some zrealots on Doug Wead’s blog, but i have read some interesting stuff as well.

    My concern with Senator Grassley is that he is targeting a particular group. I have no personal affinity with the group and I define my spiritual position as being a Non-Theist (essentially, I think it is a moot point).

    But I do not trust a government approach that smacks of politicizing to me. I find it distrubing that Grassley was once a champion of preventing govenrment inquiry into churches but that he is willing to dumpster dive into the bank accounts of ones that conflict with his view. I would like to know what the numbers are of people moving from his faith/church to the beliefs of the churches he is going after. I have also heard that some of his staff has protested (I think it was a Demoines Register article).
    If Grassley had a real issue with televangelism as a method as opposed to the specific beleif, he would have gone after other TV churches as well.
    When someone does an about face like that, I tend to smell a politician, er, rat.

  6. david black Says:

    I’m not a conservative that necessarily believes that the smallest and least obtrusive gov’t is the best.

    For example, massive social programs such as the New Deal and The Great Society that rob people of their self-reliance and personal resolve bother me. Conversely, legislation such as The Patriot Act does not, because it’s tied into national and domestic defense. Anything with a police and military connection I support. I think this country needs more enforcement of laws and protective measures.

  7. quizaxehatrack Says:

    David, your comment on supporting “anything” with a police or military connection seems a bit extreme. We have lots of examples of Police and Military in the Us and elsewhere that document terrible abuses of liberty and human rights. I , my self grew up as a descendant of people interred in camps in Europe and know the children of people interned in camps in the US (even though they were US citizens) during World War Two. It is sad to say, but our government is as guilty as many others of violations. Far too guilty tpo give them the free reign that the mis-named Patriot act gives (like suspending Habeus Corpus).
    Our founding fathers based this country on the notions that the people give rights to the State and not the other way around (it’s what makes the US Constitution a singular and unique document oin history). The Patriot act is a violation of the spirit of that document.
    I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “when you prize security above liberty, be prepared to have neither.”
    Many a “good German” believed they needed a stronger police force and more enforcement of laws and protective measures until they too, saw that they became targets of these laws.
    Liberty is indeed fragile and meeds to be defended. Tyranny often uses the excuse that the cost of liberty is liberty itself. It is one of the major notions this country was foiunded upon. I do fear thatt hat notion is being lost and the great experiment in personal freedom is coming to end (as is the American empire). but I will not be among those that celebrate that end.

  8. quizaxehatrack Says:

    I am far from the zealots, but I do believe in freedom. As a non-theist, I am not an atheist. I believe in live and let live. That is the point of my entire posting on Atheism. If you choose to fear your imaginary friend, that is your business. As far as Grassley’s motivation, his attitude has changed quite a bit. He originally proposed legislation protecting churches from inquiry. Now he is targeting a specific group. That alone would be suspect enough, but I read (it may have been in the Dallas papaer), that he is working with Ole Anthony, someone who has attacked a particular group of churches for years.

    People may be foolish enough to give money to a church (or a Broadway musical, whatever floats your boat0, but I really do not trust government intervention here. If his approach was really honest, there would have been a mix of targets (and possibly one of his one group just to show his good faith). Not seeing that, i prefer to suspect a government official or a private organization. i have not taken polticians at their word for some time now.

  9. Marion Hester Says:

    Grassley, has broght Gods anger down on Iowa, for what he has done to the Church, which is a no, no, in Gods eye. Iowa needs to recall their Senator, or order him to back off the Churches, because God is watching, and You can be sure that He is not going to let it go on. Leave the Preachers and Churches to God, their His business. If (GOD) has brought the floods of 2008, then what will be His next move, Grassley does not have any fear of God Almighty, if he was a Christian, then he would not be doing this evil deed. Iowa retire this Senator, it is time for a change, pray about it, then Vote! God loves Kenneth Copeland and the other five, and He will make it known, God warns, touch not His Anointed!

  10. Brent Says:

    To believe in religion is to think you have been given all the answers when you have not. To give up asking why and start being told why. Religious people are enablers of a war of religions. Religious people can and do promote the end of the world, like sheep on a slaughter line.
    Rise up against fundamentalism as two fundamentalist nations will always attempt to stamp out each other.

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