Atheism as a civil rights movement

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Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Spambot5546 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:02 am UTC

I stopped believing in any gods some 16 years ago, and for most of that time I was a "live and let live" atheist. However, I've been following the news more over the last few years, and I'm starting to turn into one of those angry outspoken atheists people complain about. The type of person I should have been as a teenager, then mellowed out of well before my late twenties.

I have no interest in proving that your particular deity does not exist in this thread. What I want to discuss instead is the chauvinism of religion, and the privilege that comes with being religious (or at least part of your society's majority religion). I'm curious to what degree it could be considered analogous to other examples of discrimination and privilege. Basically let's be r/atheism if it wasn't full of idiotic cockbags.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby sam_i_am » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:13 am UTC

I consider myself an agnostic, and not quite atheist.

I really don't feel any lack of privilege from it.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby jobriath » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:22 am UTC

I'm an atheist in the UK. No one appears to be oppressing me, or if they are they're doing a really bad job of it. There are a few issues like public funding of religious schools, but these appear to me to be "cleaning up" when compared against the injustices that have spawned real civil rights movements.

I imagine the situation is different in other countries. There are certainly horror stories even in the US (perhaps some in the UK, too, but I can't recall any). Where are you situated, Spambot?

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby ThirdParty » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:28 am UTC

I think there are some important disanalogies between discrimination on the basis of religion and discrimination on the basis of things like race.

At least in principle, religion is something one chooses, not something one's born with. If I successfully convince you that I'm God and that the best way to go to Heaven is to give me your life's savings, this is indicative of what kind of person you are. If you reveal your conviction while interviewing for a job for which gullibility is not desirable--police detective, say--it makes sense for your interviewer to take the information into account.

One's religious affiliation is part of one's loyalty structure, and religious practices frequently involve displays of that loyalty. Perhaps you subscribe to the religion of Chthulism, and perhaps the practices of Chthulism include appealing all disputes to the Grand Kleagle of Chthulism (who also happens to be president-for-life of the Chthulic Republic of Tyranniland, and has world conquest as one of his stated goals) for judgment, obeying his rulings absolutely, paying tithes each year to him in an amount equal to exactly $1 more than you paid in taxes that year to your nation's government, and weekly confession to one of his underlings. If you reveal your practices while interviewing for a top secret job at an intelligence agency, during a time when tensions between your country and Tyranniland are running high, it makes sense for your interviewer to take the information into account.

More generally: religious doctrines are not purely spiritual. Pretty much all religious doctrines encompass factual and moral claims as well. If you belong to a sect that believes that disease is not spread by germs and that behaviors such as hand-washing are therefore pointless--maybe it holds instead that disease is God's punishment for wickedness--and also believes that it is immoral to do anything which might cure diseases sent by God, then such beliefs are going to influence your future behavior. If you reveal your beliefs while interviewing for a job as a doctor, it makes sense for your interviewer to take the information into account.

-----

You want to talk about the special privileges given to religion? The greatest special privilege is this: the idea that it's inappropriate to criticize people's religions or discriminate on the basis of their religions. Religious affiliation ought to be fair game.

(That said: I agree that atheists in the U.S. are presently treated more negatively than would be optimal. To some extent the incorrect level of discrimination is a legacy of the Cold War and should gradually improve as the U.S. foreign policy priority shifts from containing the expansion of the Evil Empire to liberating the oppressed people of--and/or defending ourselves from terrorist attacks sponsored by--the Islamic states. To some extent the incorrect level of discrimination is due to flaws in Christian teachings, and is likely to persist until and unless the majority of Americans convert to some other belief system.)

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby guenther » Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:29 am UTC

First, I don't consider atheist appearing at the top of "Who would you NOT vote for president?" or "Who do you NOT want your child to marry?" to be direct examples of bigotry. Bigotry can play a role in someone answering this way, but not necessarily. (I get that there's more to the complaint than this, but I wanted to put this out there.)

Second, how much of this comes specifically from the term ATHEIST? Does "atheism" bring to mind an anti-religious stance, instead of merely a personal lack of belief in God? How would those surveys play out if atheist were represented as "an areligious person", or "someone who doesn't believe in God"? How we deal with a misunderstanding of the term is very different than a more fundamental intolerance for people that don't believe in God.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby jules.LT » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:07 am UTC

jobriath wrote:I'm an atheist in the UK. No one appears to be oppressing me, or if they are they're doing a really bad job of it. There are a few issues like public funding of religious schools, but these appear to me to be "cleaning up" when compared against the injustices that have spawned real civil rights movements.

I imagine the situation is different in other countries. There are certainly horror stories even in the US (perhaps some in the UK, too, but I can't recall any). Where are you situated, Spambot?

I'm an atheist in France. Depending on the poll, we're the first or 2nd biggest "belief group". Yay! ^^
The furthest we've gone towards religious intolerance is banning "conspicuous religious signs" in state-run schools and other state-run public-facing offices. And forbidding the niqab.
I don't think that's very oppressive, but it's certainly a sign that the majority will always try to suppress minority groups in some way. Even a majority of atheists.
Last edited by jules.LT on Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:31 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby thalia » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:16 am UTC

Isn't part of being an atheist being excused from having to express any sort of belief?

If people ask, I'll answer. If not, I don't really give it any thought.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby jules.LT » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:38 pm UTC

thalia wrote:Isn't part of being an atheist being excused from having to express any sort of belief?

Definitions of atheism vary, but the most ancient and most widely used one is the active rejection of theism (or even the active rejection of the speaker's preferred form of theism, even if the "atheist" is otherwise a theist) and a mark of immorality (that last one has mostly faded out, thankfully). Kind of a synonym of "godless".
It annoyed me too at first, but discussions and references given in the talk page of wikipedia's atheism article eventually convinced me.

We can still use the "lack of belief" meaning, since it is now widely accepted, but it's better to make sure you're using the same definition when discussing atheism.

P.S: For instance I freely admit that, based on the evidence at hand, I find the existence of any god unlikely enough that it qualifies as "belief that no god exists". It's not like we have anything much that's 100% certain beyond "I think therefore I am".
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Spambot5546 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:07 pm UTC

guenther wrote:First, I don't consider atheist appearing at the top of "Who would you NOT vote for president?" or "Who do you NOT want your child to marry?" to be direct examples of bigotry. Bigotry can play a role in someone answering this way, but not necessarily. (I get that there's more to the complaint than this, but I wanted to put this out there.)

Second, how much of this comes specifically from the term ATHEIST? Does "atheism" bring to mind an anti-religious stance, instead of merely a personal lack of belief in God? How would those surveys play out if atheist were represented as "an areligious person", or "someone who doesn't believe in God"? How we deal with a misunderstanding of the term is very different than a more fundamental intolerance for people that don't believe in God.

That would be a good point if the issue of religious privilege extended solely to being somewhat mean to atheists. Religion rarely comes up in conversation and if it's important enough, I can always just lie, so peoples' prejudice against atheists rarely actually affects my life and when it does it's in trivial ways.

The issue is the threat the religious majority poses to everyone not part of their group. To use the US as an example, because it's what I'm most familiar with, being a christian (rather than just being a theist in general) is mandatory for almost all public office. People are actively working to insert and maintain christianity in the US by such actions as putting it in our money, the pledge, and supporting specifically christian organizations (looking at you, Boy Scouts). We also have problems with religion being used to pull science out of education curriculums because they feel it contends with their religious beliefs.

A fairly famous recent example is Ahlquist v Cranston where a christian prayer on the wall in a Rhode Island school required ACLU intervention to be removed. Jessica Ahlquist, the girl who started the ball rolling on that, had to be escorted to and from school by police because she was threatened with rape and murder, as were her family. The governor of Rhode Island actually called her evil. I used to follow her on Twitter and there were still people popping up to call her a whore and tell her she should die as of a couple months ago when I got bored with it.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Chen » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:26 pm UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:The issue is the threat the religious majority poses to everyone not part of their group. To use the US as an example, because it's what I'm most familiar with, being a christian (rather than just being a theist in general) is mandatory for almost all public office.


Is this actually law? Or is it more the idea that if you are not christian, no one will vote for you? The former is a problem. I don't really have a problem with the latter. If people feel the religion of their leaders is an important aspect to them, they have the right to vote as they see fit.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:03 pm UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:I stopped believing in any gods some 16 years ago, and for most of that time I was a "live and let live" atheist. However, I've been following the news more over the last few years, and I'm starting to turn into one of those angry outspoken atheists people complain about. The type of person I should have been as a teenager, then mellowed out of well before my late twenties.

I have no interest in proving that your particular deity does not exist in this thread. What I want to discuss instead is the chauvinism of religion, and the privilege that comes with being religious (or at least part of your society's majority religion). I'm curious to what degree it could be considered analogous to other examples of discrimination and privilege. Basically let's be r/atheism if it wasn't full of idiotic cockbags.


Atheist here.

Religious people sometimes have silly attitudes, but it rarely rises to any notable level of discrimination...I mean, sure, you're not gonna be welcome at the church picnic if you're openly atheist and happy with it...but really, it's not like that's a big deal. You do have occasional issues like the boy scouts thing, but they're mostly isolated, and legacy laws against atheists are mostly unenforced. So, in actual everyday practical use, there's not a lot of discrimination. At least...in the first world. I make no guarantees about other countries.

I did have the military refuse to put "athiest" on my dog tags back when I was in, as supposedly it was not an authorized choice. I just resubmitted the request a coupla times, relying on military inefficiency/duplication of personnel, and sure enough, they went through. That's pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, I suppose. I do recall them training us that if we were ever taken as prisoners by muslim sorts to at least pretend to being religious. I can see the practical aspect of trying to find commonalities with a captor, or faking them, but I'm not sure I'd actually do it if it came up.

But yeah...one of the great things about being an atheist is that there's no requirement to give a crap about it. You don't see atheists going door to door to spread their belief much. So, that inherently reduces the conflict potential quite a lot.

Chen wrote:
Spambot5546 wrote:The issue is the threat the religious majority poses to everyone not part of their group. To use the US as an example, because it's what I'm most familiar with, being a christian (rather than just being a theist in general) is mandatory for almost all public office.


Is this actually law? Or is it more the idea that if you are not christian, no one will vote for you? The former is a problem. I don't really have a problem with the latter. If people feel the religion of their leaders is an important aspect to them, they have the right to vote as they see fit.


It is law in some states, sure. However, it's not really enforced these days, and rarely comes up. I'm sure if it did come up for a major election, a rather major stink would be made of it. I agree that, technically, those laws should be removed from the books(as should all old legacy laws that are no longer relevant/enforced), but in practice, it doesn't seem to be a major concern.

The voting issue also exists, but while I think it is remarkably silly on the part of voters...it's not necessarily an issue that the government needs to fix.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:17 pm UTC

guenther wrote:Second, how much of this comes specifically from the term ATHEIST? Does "atheism" bring to mind an anti-religious stance, instead of merely a personal lack of belief in God? How would those surveys play out if atheist were represented as "an areligious person", or "someone who doesn't believe in God"? How we deal with a misunderstanding of the term is very different than a more fundamental intolerance for people that don't believe in God.
Keep in mind, though: Whenever you allow magical boogeymen to enter your lexicon, it's inevitable that you're going to assign them to somebody.

If, to some, 'Atheist' means you're a Dawkins--and being a Dawkins means you are a bitter, hateful, vicious little goblin who eats hopes and dreams and shits Communism--we actually have two problems. The first is that you think that 'Atheist' is just another word for Dawkins; the second is that you think Dawkins is just another word for 'hobgoblin'. Both these shortcuts are incorrect.

I bring Dawkins up because Hitchens is dead, and because if you ask someone who thinks atheists are terrible to give an example of an atheist, 'Hitchens' and 'Dawkins' are probably going to be the first two names that come out of their mouths. Obviously, Dawkins shouldn't be the archetypal example of atheism--but even if he was, he's not an entry in the AD&D Monster Manual. He's actually an enormously intelligent guy who just doesn't have a lot of patience for religion.

What I'm trying to express here is that the problem is one level deeper than the definition of 'atheist'. Because if that was all, we could say "Look, not all atheists are Dawkins" and we'd be done with it. Problem solved. But that solution doesn't work--because part of the problem is also that Dawkins is not a 'permissible' type of atheist. By expanding the scale of atheism--by getting people to accept that there are 'good' atheists--we let them keep thinking there are 'bad' atheists. But the fact is, there are no 'good' atheists or 'bad' atheists; there are just atheists. Their badness is not in any way related to their atheism. Because atheism doesn't imply anything.

The other thing about this is--so long as people use 'atheist' as an insult, they're going to apply it to whomever they please. I'm an atheist--but let's say I was an agnostic. If I politely explain this to someone who hates atheists, they might decide I'm an atheist anyway and file me under 'hobgoblin'. Because that's the problem with having words that are shorthand for 'hobgoblin'; when you decide that you want to define someone as a hobgoblin, all you have to do is assign the shorthand to them.

What I'm saying is that disassembling the negative value of 'atheist' is a tricky beast, and I think a holistic approach is required.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:23 pm UTC

For a historical context on negative implications of atheist, you almost have to look at the communist and anti-communist movements. For better or worse, communism wasn't big on sharing space with gods, so in the minds of many, atheists and communists became almost equated. Look at many of Hitler's old speeches. He swaps the two out interchangeably. What with the USSR being a big concern post-WW2, this sort of thinking didn't vanish...and explicit comparisons with regards to china are still made today. Now, not everyone today thinks of these as identical, but the pejorative uses that live on in media are plenty, and thus, a certain unfortunate connotation remains today.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:25 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:For a historical context on negative implications of atheist, you almost have to look at the communist and anti-communist movements. For better or worse, communism wasn't big on sharing space with gods, so in the minds of many, atheists and communists became almost equated. Look at many of Hitler's old speeches. He swaps the two out interchangeably. What with the USSR being a big concern post-WW2, this sort of thinking didn't vanish...and explicit comparisons with regards to china are still made today. Now, not everyone today thinks of these as identical, but the pejorative uses that live on in media are plenty, and thus, a certain unfortunate connotation remains today.
You can probably go back farther than that--atheism has been getting a bad rap since Spinoza's pseudo-version. Hell, it's been getting a bad rap since before that.

People don't like it when you tell them that their model makes no sense. They also don't like it when you behave as if their model is irrelevant. I can somehow piss people off just by not going to church.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby DSenette » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:26 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Spambot5546 wrote:The issue is the threat the religious majority poses to everyone not part of their group. To use the US as an example, because it's what I'm most familiar with, being a christian (rather than just being a theist in general) is mandatory for almost all public office.


Is this actually law? Or is it more the idea that if you are not christian, no one will vote for you? The former is a problem. I don't really have a problem with the latter. If people feel the religion of their leaders is an important aspect to them, they have the right to vote as they see fit.

it's discriminatory even if it's not enshrined in law.

it's not a law that women should be paid less for the same job, but by golly women get paid less to do the same job as men all the time.

if someone were to say they're not going to vote for a canditate because they're black, what would you call that position?
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby omgryebread » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:31 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:It is law in some states, sure. However, it's not really enforced these days, and rarely comes up. I'm sure if it did come up for a major election, a rather major stink would be made of it. I agree that, technically, those laws should be removed from the books(as should all old legacy laws that are no longer relevant/enforced), but in practice, it doesn't seem to be a major concern.

The voting issue also exists, but while I think it is remarkably silly on the part of voters...it's not necessarily an issue that the government needs to fix.
The First Amendment is fully incorporated under the Fourteenth, so it applies to the states. I'm pretty sure the No Religious Test Clause also applies to state governments. These laws aren't enforced because they'd be instantly struck down if anyone tried. No one wants the political mess that would come from removing them from the books, especially since it would have no practical effect.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:32 pm UTC

It actually makes me wonder how many 'closet atheists' are in public office.

That being said, I've never taken my atheism very seriously, and I don't feel particularly discriminated against (because it's very hard to tell I'm an atheist). I would probably enjoy living in a society that actually addresses atheism without nonsensical hyperbole; I also don't like the fact that people who are more outspoken about their atheism are functionally 'barred' from office (among other things).

I have to wonder if this is really something that can be addressed with any real unifying force, though. Unlike other groups, atheists don't really have a powerful 'collective experience' or 'collective narrative' to build communities around. I forget who said it, but the common metaphor is that it's like leading a 'herd of cats'. You really can't even get atheists to agree on what constitutes atheism (the agnostic vs atheist debate).

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby sam_i_am » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:35 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
Chen wrote:
Spambot5546 wrote:The issue is the threat the religious majority poses to everyone not part of their group. To use the US as an example, because it's what I'm most familiar with, being a christian (rather than just being a theist in general) is mandatory for almost all public office.


Is this actually law? Or is it more the idea that if you are not christian, no one will vote for you? The former is a problem. I don't really have a problem with the latter. If people feel the religion of their leaders is an important aspect to them, they have the right to vote as they see fit.

it's discriminatory even if it's not enshrined in law.

it's not a law that women should be paid less for the same job, but by golly women get paid less to do the same job as men all the time.

if someone were to say they're not going to vote for a canditate because they're black, what would you call that position?


It's a citizen's right to vote however he chooses for whatever reasons he wants. It doesn't matter whether or not it's discriminatory.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby lutzj » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:35 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:if someone were to say they're not going to vote for a canditate because they're black, what would you call that position?


Stupid, yet totally permissible.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby leady » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:50 pm UTC

voting for someone based on religon is fine because for all its faults religon is a pretty good short cut to stated intentions. This is just a like voting for like issue and is discriminatory, but then all voting is.

races voting for racial candidates is far more dubious, because there is no overt shared value set, but it is a predjudice that there is one.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Chen » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:52 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:it's discriminatory even if it's not enshrined in law.

it's not a law that women should be paid less for the same job, but by golly women get paid less to do the same job as men all the time.

if someone were to say they're not going to vote for a canditate because they're black, what would you call that position?


Its discriminatory, but its also an allowed freedom. If someone says they're not voting for a person because they're black, its not the government's job to step in and try to fix that. If there are laws saying a black person cannot hold office, yes throw those out. But if its the way individuals are voting, I don't see any reasoning for government to step in.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:55 pm UTC

sam_i_am wrote:It's a citizen's right to vote however he chooses for whatever reasons he wants. It doesn't matter whether or not it's discriminatory.
lutzj wrote:Stupid, yet totally permissible.
leady wrote:voting for someone based on religon is fine because for all its faults religon is a pretty good short cut to stated intentions. This is just a like voting for like issue and is discriminatory, but then all voting is.

races voting for racial candidates is far more dubious, because there is no overt shared value set, but it is a predjudice that there is one.
Right, okay. So we all agree: People should be permitted to vote for stupid reasons.

But that's not the point. The point is that's a stupid reason. More importantly: It's a stupid reason so many people subscribe to that it makes succeeding as an atheist running for office functionally impossible.

I can see why some people might find that to be troubling.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby DSenette » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:56 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
sam_i_am wrote:It's a citizen's right to vote however he chooses for whatever reasons he wants. It doesn't matter whether or not it's discriminatory.
lutzj wrote:Stupid, yet totally permissible.
leady wrote:voting for someone based on religon is fine because for all its faults religon is a pretty good short cut to stated intentions. This is just a like voting for like issue and is discriminatory, but then all voting is.

races voting for racial candidates is far more dubious, because there is no overt shared value set, but it is a predjudice that there is one.
Right, okay. So we all agree: People should be permitted to vote for stupid reasons.

But that's not the point. The point is that's a stupid reason. More importantly: It's a stupid reason so many people subscribe to that it makes succeeding as an atheist running for office functionally impossible.

I can see why some people might find that to be troubling.

yeah, this is what i was going after.

i'm not suggesting that anyone should prevent anyone, from voting/not voting for anyone for any reason. but the general premise is something that people SHOULD feel uncomfortable about.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby leady » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:But that's not the point. The point is that's a stupid reason. More importantly: It's a stupid reason so many people subscribe to that it makes succeeding as an atheist running for office functionally impossible.

I can see why some people might find that to be troubling.


I don't think we quite do - believing in sky fairies carries far more social than metaphysical baggage and people who won't vote for an athesist are making a reasonable assumption that an athesist candidate won't believe in the baggage.

the fact it is all a load of balls is a problem not the selection method.

Amusingly in the UK its the other way around, any candidate admitting before an election that they are strongly religous (as in go to church regularly) would be torn to pieces in the media and at the ballot box.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:08 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:It is law in some states, sure. However, it's not really enforced these days, and rarely comes up. I'm sure if it did come up for a major election, a rather major stink would be made of it. I agree that, technically, those laws should be removed from the books(as should all old legacy laws that are no longer relevant/enforced), but in practice, it doesn't seem to be a major concern.

The voting issue also exists, but while I think it is remarkably silly on the part of voters...it's not necessarily an issue that the government needs to fix.
The First Amendment is fully incorporated under the Fourteenth, so it applies to the states. I'm pretty sure the No Religious Test Clause also applies to state governments. These laws aren't enforced because they'd be instantly struck down if anyone tried. No one wants the political mess that would come from removing them from the books, especially since it would have no practical effect.


In theory, yes, this should happen. In practice, the dominance of religion is such that I expect significant resistance to any such attempt, resulting in a political maelstrom as religious motivations directly oppose what's obviously legal. So, I expect continued ignoring of the laws, even when they could be applied...for now at least. Eventually, someone's pretty much bound to try it, regardless of how stupid it is, if they stand to benefit from it. When that happens, Ima watch the fireworks and enjoy the show.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Spambot5546 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:09 pm UTC

To take the voting issue a little further, let's imagine what it means for people not part of the religious majority when a large portion of the population votes based on their religion. The impact isn't limited to atheists who want to hold public office because legislation is going to end up reflecting that religious majority. Sure, it might not seem like an issue now, but if we let it go on long enough we might end up with something extreme like gay people not being allowed to marry.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:15 pm UTC

leady wrote:I don't think we quite do - believing in sky fairies carries far more social than metaphysical baggage and people who won't vote for an athesist are making a reasonable assumption that an athesist candidate won't believe in the baggage.
Quick question: In the US, who do you expect (on average) to be better problem-solvers: Educated people or uneducated people?

Another quick question: In the US, who do you expect (on average) to be more educated: Atheists or deists?

One last question: If atheists represent a higher portion of educated people, and educated people represent a higher portion of the problem-solvers, and people always vote for those individuals who will solve problems most effectively, would it be reasonable to expect that the religious demographics of politicians would include some reasonable number of atheists?

Here's the thing: On the federal level of representation in the US? Atheists don't even exist.

(as an aside, the UK thing is interesting, and I'm very curious about that)

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby bantler » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:23 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:
DSenette wrote:if someone were to say they're not going to vote for a canditate because they're black, what would you call that position?

Stupid, yet totally permissible.

Sensible. An old white southern candidate will pander better to his white-constituent’s needs than a black man.

The problem Christians have with Atheists is they can’t see their impetus for values or morals without acknowledging a higher power.
And atheists tend to be assholes.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Spambot5546 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:29 pm UTC

Poe's law in action?
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:29 pm UTC

bantler wrote:And atheists tend to be assholes.
SHUT YOUR FUCKING--

I mean, no we don't.

But yeah, at the very least, I'd like to see some atheists on the federal level representin' atheist interests--like making sure religion stays out of government--I consider that a pretty big atheist interest!

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Puppyclaws » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:37 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
leady wrote:I don't think we quite do - believing in sky fairies carries far more social than metaphysical baggage and people who won't vote for an athesist are making a reasonable assumption that an athesist candidate won't believe in the baggage.
Quick question: In the US, who do you expect (on average) to be better problem-solvers: Educated people or uneducated people?


Uneducated people, hands down.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby Роберт » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:39 pm UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:Poe's law in action?

I can never really get what bantler is trying to do. The most consistent motivation I can guess would be "trolling".

Not an atheist, but I support the rights of atheists. And am also very annoyed by the religious majority passing dumb laws that have no good reason.

But there's lots of dumb laws not directly related to religion, so I don't think there's any good way of solving the "no more dumb laws" problem.

Puppyclaws wrote:Uneducated people, hands down.

Yeah, at first I thought this was some sort of trick question and we were going to be pointed to a study or talk about how kindergarteners are the best.
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby leady » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:41 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Quick question: In the US, who do you expect (on average) to be better problem-solvers: Educated people or uneducated people?

Another quick question: In the US, who do you expect (on average) to be more educated: Atheists or deists?

One last question: If atheists represent a higher portion of educated people, and educated people represent a higher portion of the problem-solvers, and people always vote for those individuals who will solve problems most effectively, would it be reasonable to expect that the religious demographics of politicians would include some reasonable number of atheists?

Here's the thing: On the federal level of representation in the US? Atheists don't even exist.

(as an aside, the UK thing is interesting, and I'm very curious about that)


Heres the rub, I don't necessarily believe educated people are better problem solvers in a sociological , economic and political sense. They like everyone else just reflect the predjudices of their upbringing like anyone else.

Athesists are vastly better educated though :)

However politicians are NOT problem solvers - they are beauty contest entrants. Once you recognise this then the absence of overt athesists makes perfect sense (and in the UK few if any politicians are overt atheisists - its a beauty contest ergo not pissing people off is more important than pleasing a minority)

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby sam_i_am » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:42 pm UTC

bantler wrote:
lutzj wrote:
DSenette wrote:if someone were to say they're not going to vote for a canditate because they're black, what would you call that position?

Stupid, yet totally permissible.

Sensible. An old white southern candidate will pander better to his white-constituent’s needs than a black man.

The problem Christians have with Atheists is they can’t see their impetus for values or morals without acknowledging a higher power.
And atheists tend to be assholes.


Atheists don't need god to behave morally. We can behave morally based on good ol'fashoned decency.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby jules.LT » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:44 pm UTC

Роберт wrote: there's lots of dumb laws not directly related to religion

Yeah, we can't keep religious people out of office just because on average they're less educated...
What you can do is keep all religious references out of the political realm. We call it "Laïcité".
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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby leady » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:49 pm UTC

Inteligence and consistency is far more important in a political leader than education, which at best will create a blundering specialist.

the west wing is fiction (although an awesome show, it really does exemplify the philiosopher king view of politics)

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby bantler » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:58 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:But yeah, at the very least, I'd like to see some atheists on the federal level representin' atheist interests--like making sure religion stays out of government--I consider that a pretty big atheist interest!


Good luck with that; Mega-churches influence Mega-votes.

sam_i_am wrote:Atheists don't need god to behave morally. We can behave morally based on good ol'fashoned decency.


Evangelicals tend to disagree.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby sam_i_am » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:03 pm UTC

bantler wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:But yeah, at the very least, I'd like to see some atheists on the federal level representin' atheist interests--like making sure religion stays out of government--I consider that a pretty big atheist interest!


Good luck with that; Mega-churches influence Mega-votes.

sam_i_am wrote:Atheists don't need god to behave morally. We can behave morally based on good ol'fashoned decency.


Evangelicals tend to disagree.


Evangelicals are wrong

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby chenille » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:08 pm UTC

bantler wrote:Evangelicals tend to disagree.

It's a shame it all comes down to assumptions, and there's no way to tell whether atheists are all immoral people or not. Oh wait, you can check - they're wrong. Statistically, atheists don't cause any more harm to other people than any other groups, except for some obviously-not-typical cases like communist dictators.

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Re: Atheism as a civil rights movement

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:19 pm UTC

leady wrote:Heres the rub, I don't necessarily believe educated people are better problem solvers in a sociological , economic and political sense. They like everyone else just reflect the predjudices of their upbringing like anyone else.
I don't believe educated people are better problem solvers either. But I believe that education is a signal that points to a better problem solver. IE, there is a correlation between 'good problem solvers' and 'well-educated'.

Because having an education implies a shitload of other things. Many of which are reflected in a sociological, economic, and political sense. And if atheist is a signal for education, and education is a signal for all those other things, and all those other things are a signal for good problem solving... that means 'atheist' is a (possibly weak, possibly strong) signal for problem-solving. So we should expect a very large pool of highly competent problem solvers to include some atheists. When we don't see any atheists, that might make us wonder if our method for choosing our problem solvers isn't encountering some sort of problem (or, alternatively, make us wonder if 'atheist' actually does signal toward 'better problem-solving').
leady wrote:However politicians are NOT problem solvers - they are beauty contest entrants. Once you recognise this then the absence of overt athesists makes perfect sense (and in the UK few if any politicians are overt atheisists - its a beauty contest ergo not pissing people off is more important than pleasing a minority)
'Beauty contest entrants' is what they are when the system is glitching. 'Problem-solvers' is what they are when the system is working at at ideal optimization. If we accept 'atheism' as a signal for 'better problem-solvers', then, the lack of atheists in politics tells us that politics are not running at ideal optimization.

If there are no atheists in politics, and atheism is a strong signaler for advanced problem-solving, then we can say things like 'politics aren't just failing to run at ideal optimization; they're actually glitching'. IE, politics has become a beauty pageant instead of a problem-solver pageant.

Which is, well, yeah. Where we're at.


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