I've only been here a short time, but have already discovered a kind of thinking which really disturbs me: anti-religionism. What I mean by that is spewing hateful and ignorant comments about the practitioners of religion by lumping everyone in the same boat with the extremists, who are to be found in every religion.
So while it's OK to not believe in the myths of religion, and a good idea to resist encroachment on the wall of separation of church and state, and to fight against those who pervert religion to their own evil ends, it's NOT OK to universally condemn people who happen to believe, and are doing their best to live a good and moral life without harming anyone else.
Any religionist with an ounce of common sense knows that you can't take religious writings literally, and people of good-will find the gems and discard the dross. This is particularly true of the practitioners of the Abrahamic religions. Just because Muslim terrorists took down the Trade Towers doesn't make all Muslims bad. Nor does Anders Breivik make all Christians bad. Nor does (I forget his name) who gunned down Muslims praying at a mosque make all Jews bad.
Of course there are things in ancient writings that we no longer accept today -- not just atheists, but thinking religionists as well. The world has changed, and at least some of us have ethically grown and matured. This includes religious as well as non-religious people.
The real problem with ignorance and bigotry is that it doesn't know it is ignorant and bigoted. And atheists and agnostics are not immune to it any more than the religious are.
I think it's important to remember when you have anti-religious sentiment, that religion is in the wrong, not the people. You're right, people often confuse the movement for the followers. Religion is a virus that infects without prejudice. People that have a propensity for anti-social behavior will be more influenced by religion and carry out actions against others in the name of religion. Unfortunately, good people are also infected by religion.
As an atheist, who is also anti-religious, I feel compelled to challenge believers of all religions and propensities. I always try to keep in mind that these people are not bad or stupid, just sorely misled. Hopefully I can't plant a seed of logic, if not...well at least I know I tried.
The most glaring difference between the religious fanatics and the atheist or non-theist fanatics is that the religious zealot, guided by virulent and profound ignorance, interwoven with blind and unbending beliefs (delusions), does seem to lead to unthinkable atrocities, violence, and unending WARS; the atheist screeds and rants don't seem to lead to violence and aren't typically dangerous, unless of course, a RELIGIOUS NUTBAG decides to put a bullet in the atheist's head. Plus, there aren't many atheists who actively seek to convert other people. I think that each and every last one of the religious zealots do indeed deserve to be slammed repeatedly and mocked mercilessly; after all, they truly deserve it. One must be absolutely vigilant against the outright suppression of KNOWLEDGE, denial of actual FACTS, SCIENCE, HISTORY, etc. So, after all is said and done, it is the religious fanatic, not the atheist fanatic, that will burn in their own self-made HELL for eternity.
OMG. I'm ROFL! Good one.
As a long time atheist/agnostic**, I often find that the loudest, most aggressive "atheists" are the non-believer newbies who are just 'kicking the tires' of disbelief and are out for a test drive with the new ride.
They want to plumb the boundaries of their scepticism. They're trying out a new partial identity and stress-testing the firmness of their resolve. This isn't a propitious combination of attributes because it's usually the quiet ones that eschew early sorties against religion-at-large and it's usually the quiet ones that eventually stick to the decision and rack up some time in-grade. Ultimately, atheism is a deeply personal decision and needs no justifying adversary.
One thing is true. It is easier to make the "leap of reason" to non-belief in today's new welcoming atmosphere of candor and curiosity. As an individual, it happened for me when my self-honesty and zero-tolerance for hypocrisy became too compelling to risk indecision any longer.
** (I find these two terms quite fungible in everyday speaking.)
(Let's see here..you wouldn't be talking about ME would you?!)
But to defend the ignorance of religious claims as something which only the few amongst the world's religious embrace, then perhaps you would have a better time explaining the resistance to teaching evolution in public schools, the widespread hatred of gays and women among many of those you seem to find"more mature than their religious ancestry".
(case in point: Anthony Weiner's Democratic Senate seat was lost today to a Republican, even though Weprin, a democrat was expected to win rather handily in an area that has almost never gone to a republican candidate. Who were his biggest opponents, you might ask? Why a community of Haredic Jews who opposed his election because he supported gay marriage.) Does that mean that Ithink that all people who profess Judaism despise gays-no! But I do believe that the majority do. Otherwise anti-gay sentiments would have been removed from their culture myths as easily as miraculous folk-heroes are retro-fitted into their "unchanging scriptures".
No, Natalie I don't think I'm broad-brushing practitioners of Judaism anymore than I broad-brush Christians-who can be perfectly fair in most circumstances until one is expected to proclaim agreement with some value, but instead balk when they refuse to accept. Even unto this day gays are not permitted many of the freedoms afforded "normal" folks-and why not?? I'll bet you'd never fathom a guess. Religion! Is there ever any other cause given for the hatred of homosexuality, than it's filthiness before the eyes of somebody's God?
Call me "anti-" whatever you want. As a gay man, I have lived at the un-merciful hands of stupid people who ply their ignorance with the easy justification that "this isn't hate, it is only my love for God." And call their way of thinking "beautiful" or fascinating if you want to as well-I care not-and pretend that it is only a minority of them who act inhumanly towards their 'fellow'man. I have religious friends, too-and we argue about those things quite often. But I consider them the exceptions-not the rule.
Certainly you don't think the Haredi represent the majority of Jews, do you? I totally agree that they are the lunatic fringe, and don't subscribe to their beliefs about gays any more than you do. But you DO seem to be painting the vast majority of Jews with that broad brush. If you want to criticize extremists, go ahead and do so, but be more precise in your terminology. The Haredi and ultra-Orthodox make up only a tiny percentage of Jews in the US -- the VAST majority are liberal and ascribe to the same ideals of liberty and justice for all that are enshrined in our pledge of allegiance (although I personally could do without the "under god" part).
I just want you to know your facts before you spout off.
Depends on what kind of Jew you are talking about, because there is quite a lot of diversity in the Jewish population.
But just to demonstrate the extremes: there is a rabbi in Israel who advocates marrying lesbians to gays, because that way, they can satisfy their sexual needs outside of marriage, while having sex with each other (how?) in order to have children to satisfy the commandment to procreate. Creative, anyway.
On the other hand, Reform rabbis freely perform gay marriages, and gays have all the rights that others have. I'm pretty sure there are more Reform Jews in the US than Orthodox. Plus the unaffiliated are probably like the rest of non-religious in America -- you'll find varying attitudes, but probably on the liberal side.
I agree with Patrick. Growing up gay and being surrounded by religion and indoctrinated with it sucks. Once you grow up and figure out it is a bunch of made up hooey, it really leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Child abuse, and nothing less.
You write that, "Any religionist with an ounce of common sense knows you can't take religious writings literally." 1/3 of Americans believe the bible is the literal word of god.