I was having a discussion on a certain activist website and as part of a group of atheists commenting on the behavior of religious groups came into conflict with a conservative, not orthodox, jewish feminist who often talks about reclaiming various jewish rituals such as the menstrual cleanliness ritual for women.
She made the claim and several other Jewish members supported her, the christians actually managed not to get involved for once, that all Atheists in america are operating from a christian centric, not to be confused with christ centric, position. While I concede that many atheists operate from this position, I thought it rather far to say that all of us do. One example was an atheist feminist referring to the Tanakh as the Old Testament while talking to a jewish feminist. Among other things.
How do you guys feel? Are we primarily focused on Christians? Are we negatively influenced by the christian majority into being as atheists, biased against non Christians?
Are other religions like Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism free of the crimes of that pervade Christendom?
I am actually more interested in arguments from people who think we ARE christian centric, but feel free to refute also.
I don't think we are but, i can see there point. Since the religion most of us have day to day dealings with is Christianity we will consentrate on that. If Something comes up regarding other religions, we will discuss that as well.
Certainly there is a heavy Christian influence in the culture that's hard to escape. Lots of our literature wouldn't be as interesting to read without some knowledge of Christian tropes, for example, and many American atheists grew up in Christian households. Overall, I would have to agree that the atheism one is likely to encounter in the US tends to be rooted in opposition to Christianity rather than other religions. And there are some atheists who, having escaped Christianity, still hold a soft spot for it as "not that bad" of a religion compared to the more "foreign" faiths...
And because the influence of Christianity is so pervasive in the English language, there sometimes is, for some people, no way to express something but through utilizing Christian terminology. "Old Testament" is an English term whereas "Tanakh" is not. If this is evidence of Christian-centrism, then it is evidence that the English language is Christian-centric. Otherwise it is just speaking of something with the only word you know for it, so... Perhaps I would say it's more ethnocentric than Christian-centric.
But it's not true that ALL atheists in America are that way - ethnocentric or Christian-centric or whatever. Some people will undoubtedly try to use the "correct" terminology when speaking of Judaism for fear of offending someone. There are also a growing number of atheists who grew up in secular households and might be equally familiar/unfamiliar with Christianity and Judaism, and there are plenty of atheist immigrants from places without much of a Christian influence.
As for other religions being free of crimes... Probably not. Most of the truly peaceful religions have a tendency to get, y'know, pretty much annihilated in various holy wars. Or they're just so philosophical and *nice* that they fail to convert others to their faith the way the more forceful religions did (and still do) - with threats of eternal damnation and bribes of eternal happiness.
One thing I have noticed is that American atheists are very reluctant to criticize Buddhism. I guess it's because they've only been exposed to the philosophical form of Buddhism that's popular in academic circles. Ha! In reality, Buddhism's got its share of problems too. I'm pretty sure all faiths do.