Good blog to read
I feel it’s time I clarify something. There is a very distinct difference between an Atheist and an ANTI-Theist. An atheist is just someone who does not believe in the supernatural. In fact, it’s kind of a silly term to begin with. Like Nonsmoker or Unsweetened tea, it is a term used ONLY because a majority exists in opposition. Personally, I don’t enjoy identifying myself through someone else’s hobby but since language evolves slowly, I will bear with the term for now.
As for what an anti-theist is, we turn to what MANY fundamentalists think all atheists are. An anti-theist is someone who opposes religion. Completely and utterly. Like an Anti-abortionist, Anti-fur, Anti-gun control person. They actually DO identify themselves as an opposing force.
For example, everyone who does not smoke is a nonsmoker. The Truth campaign is ANTI-smoking. Most Anti-smoking people are nonsmokers but I am sure even a handful of them are hypocrites. The same goes for anti-theists and atheists.
Now, just like in the smoking example, not all anti-theists are irrational and full of vitrol. Yes there are PETA level fanatical anti-theists who hate everything even remotely associated with religion. Usually these people have very deep, personal reasons for hating religion. Then, of course, there are rational anti-theists who simply enjoy debating the what-ifs of a future without religion. They see this as a utopia ideal of humanity.
I fall sometimes in the later category but not very often. What I am most days is just a human being who happens to not believe in the supernatural. And it’s not really something I chose to do. Much like many nonsmokers who have just never smoked, I have never really believed anything at face value. So it’s not like I had to shed some shackles of faith or “quit smoking”.
Still, I am constantly misjudged and mislabeled by Church advocate groups and religious Apologists who believe any criticism of a religion or church is rude and immoral. If I call a rapist a rapist or a murderer a murderer I am simply stating a fact. Does it really matter if they are a priest or a rabbi? Much like some hypersensitive people tend to play the race card or the sex card, I find many apologists use the religious freedom card.
How can someone fail to see that rape is rape, murder is murder and discuss the human rights and legal terms of a case? It’s simple. Inject racism, sexism, or religious persecution. Now any commentary is skewed through the bias of the observer. Because I am atheist, I am accused of “attacking religion” when I say Scientologists should be held accountable for child abuse.
Steph, beautifully and powerfully written. Following your definition, I am clearly an anti-theist.
"An anti-theist is someone who opposes religion. Completely and utterly. Like an Anti-abortionist, Anti-fur, Anti-gun control person. They actually DO identify themselves as an opposing force."
I experience the delusions and denial of religious teachings and preachings as hypocritical to the point of being harmful to individuals and communities.
i.e. Hypocrisy: Just look around at the ways religious people manage problems. Observe the family caught in cycles of violence and being told by family, friends, clergy, education, medical professionals, counselors to not talk about it, to create a "bubble" of safety to shield against assaults, to reframe the assaults into opportunities to learn. BALDERDASH. Or look at the many appeals for help because of other tragedies or natural disasters; instead of finding solutions and working with those caught in such situations, religious too often send bibles, prayer beads, or other stuff of some religious totem.
i.e. The Passive Gospel: yield, pray, obey, turn the other cheek, crucify yourself daily in imitation of the crucified christ, rejoice in your crucifixion. Even some theists write about the passivity of today's religion.
i.e. Cheap Religion: When a problem occurs, the solution to pray often turns out to be an easy way to get out of thinking or doing the right thing. Instead of putting effort into solving problems, prayer substitutes for standing up for what is fair, just and moral. It allows one to stop thinking. It allows one to sit comfortably at home, hands clasped in prayer, as needs go unmet, as problem go unsolved, as conflicts go unresolved.
i.e. Dominionism: With a notion of a hierarchy that starts with god, flows through humans, male then female, children, continues through economics, education, politics, and religion. Some people believe they are superior to others and thoughts and actions are judged, based on some notion of entitlement: gender, race, nationality, religion, creed, species, or wealth. Some people believe others should submit to authority and have no claim to fairness or justice: women, slaves, poor, etc.
i.e. Delusionism: Great sums of money, raised through appeals to solve problems of genocide, natural disaster relief, hunger, polluted water, air or soils, only to divert donations to personal welfare. Showing photos of starving children in a money drive results in consequences of expensive homes, cars, personal planes, and trappings of wealth.
i.e. Denialism: Those who claim to be pure, chaste, innocent and moral, when confronted with fraud, lies, cheating, illegal drug abuse, extra-marital relations, and homosexual relations, when exposed, have a cover of forgiveness, claim reformation and all too often return to unjust, unfair, immoral behaviors.i.e. Judgementalism: Declarations of right and wrong, justified by biblical teachings of Stone Age peoples attempting to understand natural processes, require others to conform to those ancient laws. The laws to obey ... whatever ... may not fit the current situation. If a mother or father thinks and acts as a brute or thug, the law states children are to honor them.
i.e. Proselytism: "has been characterized as “the corruption of witness.” "in a truly ecumenical environment, the evangelizers would find opportunity to revive nominal Christians 'in and for their own traditions.' But in the absence of healthy ecumenical relationships, “evangelism itself . . . becomes the casualty of ‘sheep-stealing’ mission.” So, even the religious find objections to those who intrude upon others in order to add to their flock of sheep.
I could go on, except I have other tasks waiting for my attention. Add to this list or make changes that you deem appropriate.
oh wow - Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply Joan and I agree with you. I don't mind you adding more comments later - I would love to read what you have to say.
Ooppss! i.e. Judgementalism: needs a paragraph of its own.
I am an anti-theist as regards any attempt to coerce me into any form of religion, but far more importantly, in the matter of religion's attempts at influencing government. The first is no particular worry. William Lane Craig could try his worst with me and he'd get laughed out of the room. The problem with government is too much that religion is seen as a positive, without taking a full view, and too often gets a pass, particularly from those Congresspeople who are of an evangelical bent to begin with. There is a further difficulty with such representatives in that the people who voted them in are largely of the same attitude. The whole issue of educating them and changing their attitudes (a la Peter Bogdossian) will be a long and difficult one.
I am willing to tolerate religion ONLY to the degree that it restrains itself from attempting to inveigle itself where it is not welcome or where its practices have a demonstrably deleterious effect. Yeah, I realize that's damned near everywhere.
And so it goes...
The problem with having one religious politician in the republic representing his/her constituents, before you know it, the chambers crawl with evangelically religious Senators and Congress people writing the laws for all the Jews, agnostics, Arabs, atheists, Buddhists, freethinkers, Hindus, Brights, Jainests, and our nation loses its vision of separation of church and state values. And the Supreme Court gets overloaded with ideologues, interpreting the Constitutions written in the 18th century and used for 21st century events, as though nothing has changed.
It is kind of like letting a camel get one nostril in the tent and before you know it, the camel crawls in all the way and invites the other camels of the string in, until all the oxygen gets sucked out, and the stench overwhelms the space.