Information Kills Religion, you betcha!
So I’m driving to band practice last week, and while stopped at an intersection, a guy pulls up along side me, rolls down his window and gives me the hi sign, and I shut off my tunes and lean over to hear him and he gives me the big thumbs up and says “Love your bumper stickers!!” I shout back “Thank you, Sir” and he gives me a big nod as he pulls away…
You just never know. Man that keeps me going!
We speak, (us openly secular activists) for so many that don’t speak out, who keep their heads down being in the minority, and immersed in this highly religious culture we got here in ‘Murica.
I still think, the 24% “Nones” is just the tip of the iceberg. SO many out there are really non-religious, regardless of what they ultimately believe about god or purpose in the universe. I’m still betting its more like 50% that don’t have much use for religion or are dead against it. Most have to keep it quiet, and that is why I display my bumper stickers, and engage in other types of secular activism, such as publishing my forthcoming book “The Arrogance of Religious Thought,” attending secular meetups, chairing the Illinois chapter of the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), speaking at non-believer meetings, and writing this blog.
Cultural inertia keeps people from coming out as non-believers or speaking against religion too strongly. The US is predominantly a nation of Xians and even if half of them aren’t all that committed as I suspect, the culture is still very much religion biased. If we can hit the tipping point where secularism becomes not just a new phenomenon, or just a fringe movement unnoticed by most of the public as it largely is today…if it should become mainstream, if through our consciousness-raising efforts we can get it there…Holy shit! The holy shit will hit the fan and get shredded!
If we can get a non-believer or two elected, get out and do public awareness regularly, such as secular groups having booths at fairs and expos: being in the public eye on an ongoing basis…that is where its at!
I was so excited to be in that SCA Lobby Day at Congress 2 weeks ago. SO important!!! All the Representatives staffers we visited had never heard of the SCA… right down the damn street in DC! That’s what must change. We have to be as visible as the Religious Right. It needs minimal funding; just footwork and speaking. Like the Civil Rights movement, which didn’t need the kabillions of dollars you see the Religious Right piss away today in order to be heard. Booths, editorials, lobbying, meetup groups, Reason Rallys, atheist and humanist meetings, the FFRF…all these things are getting us out in the open. Local meetup memberships could go exponential if the public really knew about all the secular groups meeting regularly all around them. Just as important, lawmakers have to hear of, and from the SCA, and their secular constituency on a regular basis from now on. That’s what I see as our main task: consciousness raising.
I open my book with the idea that someone’s ultimate belief truly doesn’t matter (pace Dave Silverman). The fact that someone rejects religious thought and the imposition of religious ideas in whatever form, and embraces individual human rights first, pursuing a society run on evidence based reasoning and tolerance…that is what is important! I give a fuck what they ultimately surmise about god, gods, guidance, whatever. Such assumptions (and that’s all they are) are peripheral to the secular advance.
“OK, so you believe something must be out there…now what?” Doesn’t change what we have at hand: living with one another daily on this planet. You want to do it with 2,000 year old ideas or modern knowledge? You want to create arbitrary divisiveness or move forward together? You can believe in the fucking flying spaghetti monster and it doesn’t matter as long as that supposition of some deity-like thing, whatever form it takes, doesn’t include some proscription against other human’s behaviors: sexual repression, second class citizenship for women, condemning others to some horrific and justified eternal punishment, science denial, or child indoctrination into some absurd version of “eternal truths,” i.e. religion…I got no problem what you might imagine to be behind, beyond it all. It is truly peripheral when it doesn’t include any further religious ideas.
That’s where the real trouble lies: Religious Thought.
We have a much bigger constituency out there than is out in the open. And among the believers, if you subtract the older hardcore, too old, too invested to change, you are left with the young believers who are being exposed to a much more liberal, wholly less religious, even godless culture than their parents and grandparents grew up in. The religious youth are so much more liberal on the non-negotiables of the previous generations: sexual orientation, sexual practice, race, religion, feminism, swearing, church attendance,”sin”…
We are truly social animals, and social pressure swings both ways. It is tough to be a racist in a non-racist culture. It has been driven underground. The culture has changed dramatically since the 60’s. It was easy to be racist then, it was the norm. Blacks were thought to be inferior in some way, even by those who meant them no harm and most white folk used the “N-word” as matter of fact in daily conversation as any other word. The culture dictates what’s acceptable and educating people changes the culture. It is very difficult for anyone to be racist or homophobic out loud now. The Xians are going out of their ever-loving fucking minds over the sea-change with gay marriage going down in but a generation, and another whole slew of Bible verses tossed into the dustbin of history where they belong.
I strongly suspect many of the believers in the US wouldn’t need a whole lot of education to leave it all behind. Even in Islam, the trend among the ex-Muslims, which I bet they all don’t realize they are all singing the same tune…is that it is “easier to leave Islam than reform it”! What? Whoda thunk? Reading the Koran and hadith for yourself is even more powerful an antidote to the blind religious indoctrination and largely unexamined regimen of Islam, than reading the Bible is to destroying belief in Xiansanity. When Muslims actually find out Muhammad was not peaceful at all, but a conniving, sex slave taking, warlord:
(“Oh, so ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and dozens of other “extremists” were right?…hmm…”),
…that he was not so perfect and you wouldn’t want to emulate him, that their daily prayers call for ugly violence to non-believers.. (all of which they don’t realize because their prayers and the Koran are in Arabic, a language most Muslims do not speak nor read), Muslims worldwide reconsider their belief, and many reject it. Makes good sense that when the average, reasonable, non-violent human discovers the stuff they were sold as children is nonsense, repressive, sometimes violent nonsense…they stop believing. That’s fucking encouraging.
Muslims, I’m finding out, are even more clueless about what is in their scriptures than your average Xian. For them, at least the Bible is in their own language from day one, as are their daily prayers and rituals. The average Muslim is so hoodwinked. There is no room for questioning the perfect book and perfect messenger of god whom they are taught to emulate in every detail, way beyond the silly, ineffectual, and largely ignored mantra of “WWJD” the Xians lamely repeat. Not so in Islam. Concerning yourself with doing everything only as the Prophet would do is a daily occurrence for most Muslims ’round the world.
But their scriptures are so bad, so ugly and violent, that if the average Muslim educates themselves on what really is in their religion, it becomes easier to dump it altogether as an individual…and just go thru the motions publicly for self-preservation. Actual reform is up against a real entrenched perspective. One ex-Muslim author, Waleed el Hussein, says there is an atheist in every Arab family!! What a claim! Can you believe it? From all the other ex-Muslims I know, or read or listen to…I’m finding they’re basically all saying the same thing about rejection being easier than reform. He’s prolly not exaggerating at all. There is a whole world of sensible humans out there waiting to be freed from the stifling ignorance of religion.
If you think people in our US society are cowed by religion, imagine being a freethinker in a Muslim community, even one existing within a developed western democracy. Living as a Muslim is more like living as an Orthodox Jew or the most extreme of Mormon or Southern Baptist sects. You are in a 24/7 smothering religious cocoon. It is nothing like the very liberal and watered-down mainstream Xiansanity as it exists today all over the globe. Islam is unimaginably stifling in every way. But it is becoming evident that as with Xianity, the average Muslim can learn, think for themselves, and move on.
So we have to keep reaching out, to our local neighbors, the media, our legislators, the nation and the entire world. People questioning their indoctrination as children and their societies religious “givens” are everywhere. We gotta let them know: not only are they not alone…they may be in the majority, if not already…quite possibly sooner than most would expect.
Information is killing religion at a phenomenal rate.
We gotta turn up the volume.