Atheism is not a religion.
Atheism is not a religious belief; it is the absence of a religious belief. It is no more a religion than bald is a hair color or health is a disease.
And why is this distinction so important? Because if atheism is seen as just another kind of religion, then there's a glimmer of truth to Wennerstrom's contention that "removing all references to God in government can be reasonably viewed as establishing an atheistic philosophy." Of course, since his premise is utterly without foundation, his conclusion is utterly without merit.
To dramatize this point, imagine a society that really does actively promote atheism. Come Easter, schoolchildren are invited to tell the class their favorite crucifixion jokes. The Pledge of Allegiance comes complete with the phrase "one nation without God." Monuments are erected in public squares saying "Yahweh, God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, Manitou, and all the rest are just frauds." City council meetings are opened with readings from Bertrand Russell, Mark Twain and Robert Ingersoll satirizing religion.
Needless to say, if the government tried to establish this kind of aggressive atheism, religious believers would justifiably object. Why, then, is it so difficult for them to see the problems that we atheists have when they try to use the very same coercive governmental mechanisms to foist their beliefs on us?
Richard S. Russell
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|Author:||Russell, Richard S.|
|Publication:||Church & State|
|Article Type:||Letter to the Editor|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2004|
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