Atheism Is The Absence Of All Religions, Not Just Of Christianity
The majority of the active members of AN are ex-christians or ex-pseudo-christians, and the majority of discussions are about living in a world dominated by christianity. But this is Atheist-Nexus, not just ex-christian-nexus.
Sometimes I am wondering about those, who share the critical discussions about the absurdity of christianity from the mental distance of never having been immersed. How atheistic are the ex-muslims, ex-jews, ex-hindus, ex-buddhists, ex-sikhs and other religions, who never criticize there own religious background?
I have the suspicion, that some people from non-western cultures do not really separate christianity and western-culture. While christianity has contributed to form western culture, this western culture can be modified to become an atheist western culture. Criticizing christianity does not devalue the entire western culture and it does certainly not make other cultures appear better by comparison.
I am wondering, how many people from non-christian cultures mistake AN as a forum for sharing their resentments against western culture by sharing the criticism of christianity, while they are not really free from their own religion.
All religions do harm to people by influencing the entire culture, and the harm is not limited to those, who are adherents of the religion. I am missing a ruthless discussion of the detriments of all religions. I am missing the voices all those ex-adherents of other religions criticizing not only the direct absurdity and damage done by their religion, but also the indirect consequences thereof upon their societies.
A muslim friend of mine regards western culture as synonymous with christian culture and thinks of me as christian because of my cultural upbringing even though I told him I've never really been a christian and explained it to him.
I agree that AN is not just a forum for ex-christians.
I grew up in the Brahma Kumaris and visited India on a regular pilgrimage to India as a child.
Here are some links about the organisation and to those that have left:
Alice, thank you very much for sharing this information. I had never heard of Brahma Kumaris before. Reading the bkopenletter text makes it appear as a very unpleasant experience. Without being indiscreet about your personal life history, I would like to ask you some questions about your experiences. If you do not mind to discuss this, I would appreciate if you start a new thread about Brahma Kumaris.
Discussion on growing up in cults - stories, questions and answers.
First off, you have to recognize that this site is dominated by US-Americans, and the predominant religion in the states, in terms of numbers, is Christianity.
I was an ex-Catholic years before I became an atheist. I converted to Judaism at 12 for my own personal reasons. I became an atheist at 20 years old, but I still consider myself culturally Jewish. I can do this because Judaism is not a religion. Yes, the fanatics try and exclaim that it is, and many atheists I've talked to seem utterly unable to separate the religion from Judaism, but religion is only one aspect of the whole story and, at least IMO, is not a required aspect.
I feel connected to my Jewish heritage and family. I love reading Torah on Saturday nights, I enjoy the occasional service, and I love most of the holidays (Yom Kippur being the only exception), with Passover being my favorite (despite the admittedly horrible story of the ten plagues... I share my love of Passover with the late Christopher Hitchens, BTW). I adore the Hebrew language, both the Biblical and Modern versions, and on December 22, I got back from Israel, where I had spent ten days on Birthright. It is a beautiful, stunning country and a place who's existence and right to defend itself I support fully (that does not mean I view Israel, it's government, and its policies beyond criticism, however... the government has made hundreds of mistakes it has to answer for, and the continued tolerance of illegal expansion is a major problem... not too mention the growing influence of the ultra-Orthodox Jews who live there despite not thinking that the country should exist).
I currently work as a Teacher's Assistant at one synagogue, and a Youth Advisor at another. And my bosses and the staff I work with, as far as I know, are all fully aware that I'm an atheist and don't care one bit.
Now, granted, I find keeping Kosher stupid, and only do so when with my Dad out of respect for him. I also find Saturday morning services entirely too long and tedious. Indeed, I prefer the Reform and Humanistic approaches to Shabbat over the Conservative approach (my family is Conservative, with one cousin being unfortunately Ultra-Orthodox... my own dad is a Conservative Hazzan).
For all of this and more, I do not consider my an "ex-Jew". I never left Judaism. I just let go of religion and of God. As such, I am what's known as a Jewish Atheist, or Atheist Jew (I must admit that I prefer the former as "atheist" is merely a description of what I do not believe... The word "Jewish" has more meaning). I am still also a Secular Humanist, which is what Humanistic Judaism basically is: Secular Humanism through the lens of Judaism (as a culture, not a religion).
FYI: it's my mom's side of the family that's Catholic; her dad is, in fact, a Deacon.
You bring up an interesting topic, Maruli, although I haven't seen a direct answer to it (but admit to skipping P.2).
In my case, I was brought up as a Reform Jew. As I have discussed at length in another thread, I just don't carry all that Christian baggage that some members so love to rant and rave about. However, I'm ALSO not an Orthodox or an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, either, so I don't carry THEIR baggage, either.
And I don't find any particular need to criticize or resent the way I was brought up, except that I get no joy out of praying to a deity I don't believe in. On the other hand, I am extremely interested in the philosophical discussions and debates about what is ethical behavior, and I am sensible enough to know that what was relevant and applicable thousands of years ago may NOT be so now. So when people rant and rave about Biblical Judaism, I wonder what the big fuss is all about, since it's a mythical and historical and literary record of a culture long past, and has no interest nowadays except as an archaelological record, and as a window into an ancient culture.
I have no need to dwell on freedom from my own religion, because Jews were always free from the dictates of authoritative religion, except when they CHOSE to follow a leader they respected. That choice resulted in some of the more repugnant ultra-Orthodox sects that have too much power in Israel today, but they are a very fringe element of American Judaism.
I was raised to be free to believe in whatever made sense to me, and so my gradual evolution into lack of belief in a deity was no biggie. You will meet a LOT of "cultural Jews" who are much the same way, and I am about to read a book called American Dervish (can't remember the author's name), who in his own life approaches Islam much the same way.
When I read the horror stories of ex-Christians, I feel very sorry for them, while acknowledging that those stories are probably not representative of the majority of Christians. I also IMAGINE that this kind of stuff is more common among Evangelicals than among more progressive sects of Christianity, although, not being an expert, I really don't know.
But for myself, I feel no conflict in being a member of my cultural tribe while not believing in god. And I view Christianity from an anthropological viewpoint, while being glad I wasn't raised that way.
Nathan, Natalie: Thanks for your explanation. Growing up in a minority religion + culture seems to give you a head start of not taking the minority teaching for granted. Being jewish in the USA is probably very different from being jewish in Israel.
What I would like to hear is first hand experience from people, who have grown up in a strong religious majority culture and how they did manage to overthrow this and to become atheists. Like having grown up in a Kibbuz or as an orthodox jew in Jerusalem. Or having grown up as the son in a polygamous family in a muslim country and if someone like this has ever overthrown the religious belief of the inferiority of women.