Religious Bullying of Atheists Continuing Threat
by Anton Hout
Thankfully, we are seeing signs of change as those who self-identify as non-religious are on the upswing. Easy access to information on the web, especially in the west, has contributed to free and critical thinking. Unfortunately, religious "thinking" still holds sway in most countries and those who question and challenge medieval myths risk being persecuted in areas where religious bigotry still thrives.
By and large, atheists are still the minority. There may be demographics in which atheists are more at home but there are huge swaths of western countries (not to mention middle east and eastern countries) where the religious are able to engage in religious bigotry without constraint, shame or decency. Of course, the religious feel justified (by their conceptualization of "God") in committing outrages against their atheist neighbours and coworkers that they would be justly outraged if they were perpetrated against them.
Some atheists still have to live in fear of coworkers "finding out" they are not one of the gang—not a believer. Religious bigots would think nothing of firing an atheist—for being an atheist—costing them and their family an income that could have far reaching consequences, especially in tough economic times where getting a new job may be difficult (especially in areas where religious thinking is endemic). The church goers' gossip mill will spread warnings of a filthy atheist being in their midst like wildfire.
Atheists can not only be terminated for not engaging in magical thinking but can also be denied housing or be subjected to violence. Indeed the human rights violations possible are limited only by the imagination of those who would use their religious beliefs as justification for attacking and violating the dignity of someone who chooses to try to think for themselves.
Indeed, the very real threat of physical violence is something faced by atheists and people caught on the wrong side of religions the world over. While the main culprits in the west are often Christians, we are all too familiar with the ease with which Muslims will resort to violence—from attacking embassies at the slightest offence, to making death threats against cartoonists, to stoning women for adultery, to shooting little girls in the head for wanting an education, and on and on.
Religion is as shameful as it is dangerous. It's not enough to say let the religious believe their crazy things because they never keep it to themselves, they always try to inflict their delusions on the world. It's time to challenge religiosity and accept nothing on "faith."
If you are an atheist and are fortunate enough to live where you can "come out" then by all means do so. For those facing retaliation from the religious, do what you can but you have to keep yourself safe. Atheists still face losing their families, their jobs, their homes and even their lives. Fight on—but fight smart and only to the extent that you are comfortable with.
It's unfortunate that common sense, logic, skepticism, rationality and science is such a hard sell for so many. I'm optimistic we'll get there, but religion won't go willingly; it will go kicking and screaming like a vampire facing the sunlight.