Home > Uncategorized > Atheism is a Religion

Atheism is a Religion

I truly don’t know why people don’t get this. Earlier, I was having a discussion about freedom of religion, with another christian and this is what we ended up arguing about, the original topic was forgotten entirely.

Usually you hear the “atheism isn’t a religion” bit from atheists, not from religious people, so that was a little different, but I think most atheists will agree with the case I made for atheism being a “religion”.

Strictly speaking, atheism does not fit the definition of religion, although it is a part of each individuals personal and unique system of beliefs. For clarity when I talk about religion in a general sense, I use a very effective and attractive, as you will see, test:

If asked the question, “what is your religion?”, the persons answer, whatever it may be, is their religion, and is protected by the 1st amendment.

You see, when religious freedom is talked about, atheists often get lost in the mix and their freedom of religion is in a kind of tenuous place. I think the best way to protect everyone’s religious freedom is to assume everyone has a religion. Mostly because if we do not consider atheism a religion, a scary outcome may be that atheism ends up not being afforded the same protections from government intrusion Christianity, Islam, etc., are.

To underscore my thinking on this, atheism has been ruled a religion by the Supreme Court. Again, this falls within my definition of religion, not the traditional one. It’s important to realize we have, and need, two different definitions for religion.

1. Religion as a practice. Essentially that a religion is a set of beliefs held in common within a group, many times having a supernatural aspect, but that isn’t required per-say.

2. Religion as a legal term, defining what is protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of religion. The legal term doesn’t, and shouldn’t, provide for any kind of content, number of adherents, or establishment of any kind of dogma.

So I feel what what freedom of religion is, is not really protecting religion itself, it’s protecting the right of the people to have whatever opinions or rituals they please on the subjects traditionally addressed by organized and unorganized religions. People and governments, right here in the US, have attempted on a number of occasions to make the case that atheism is not protected as it isn’t a religion, I think that is hogwash, for our legal purposes it is, and must be, treated like a religion. To hell with the dictionary definition.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 2012/03/21 at 01:50

    That case does not reflect what you’re arguing. It did not establish that atheism was a religion. Instead it said that the government cannot enforce any religious beliefs, even if it is all of them.

    There is a better case out there for what you’re saying, but I don’t care to look it up right now. It was about a prisoner who was denied time for an atheist meeting. Since Christians and others were allowed certain gatherings, he felt he should have the same rights and he sued. The Supreme Court ruled that atheism is to be treated the same as a religion because freedom of religion makes no sense if one is denied freedom from religion.

    Making posts and declarations like this aren’t helpful. People only ever call atheism a religion in an effort to disparage it (which, really, is quite ironic in most cases). It isn’t possible for this sort of discussion to ever be an honest one when more than a few people are involved.

  2. 2012/03/21 at 02:38

    I think you’re right, I also didn’t much feel like digging around for too long and just grabbed a case that at least loosely fit. The one I tried to find and couldn’t involved the air force academy though. Still, I think there was enough in this case to extend protections to atheists and other such creatures.

    This discussion was more along the lines of, since atheism isn’t a religion it shouldn’t receive the same protections. My thoughts being more along the lines that there is no real opposite to religion, rather the word, in the legal usage, refers to a particular category of views and beliefs. I think that is the spirit of the amendment, so I stand by my arguments.

    One other thing, there is no freedom from religion, that isn’t a right. There is freedom from being forced to adhere, support or otherwise participate in any religion (or lack thereof), but not to be free from it anymore than one has a right to be free from speech. If freedom of religion also means total freedom from religion, than freedom of speech also means you have a right to be free from speech. I know that’s not how you were just using it, it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

  3. 2012/03/21 at 17:30

    I generally agree with the legal aspect of your argument.

    When I say freedom of religion implies freedom from religion what I mean is that people cannot have religion forced upon them. To go with the free speech, if the government can force me to talk (outside of specifically defined testimony in a court or in front of Congress, of course), then I don’t really have free speech.

  4. 2012/03/21 at 20:42

    Exactly so, and I believe that one can always refuse testimony unless the government grants immunity from prosecution if any crimes are revealed by said testimony. People plead the 5th in congressional hearing all the time, the Solyndra exec’s may hold the record, those hearings were absurd.

  5. 2012/03/21 at 21:29

    Immunity is what I had in mind when I said “specifically defined”, but I’m not sure if there are any other exceptions. Logically I would say there aren’t, but the law isn’t always logical.

    I could Google this but then I would be too distracted from the Bill Nye I’m about to watch.

  6. 2012/03/22 at 08:57

    I thought you were a Yahoo! guy.

  7. 2012/03/22 at 15:43

    Saying “I could Yahoo this” is like using “she” instead of “he”. It throws people off.

  1. 2012/12/06 at 01:48

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