Hi All,

When I have performed music in my friend's Methodist church, (played not worshipped : ) I have always been struck by the social and economic support that churches give their members. There is the social network within the churches themselves, then there is the friendly rivalry and extended network support of other Methodist churches around our country. If a member of a congregation needs customers for his insurance company there is an instant potential client base from among his/her religious tribe. If a son/daughter needs money for an expensive operation or school trip, the congregation and extended church communities can contribute. In this original Facebook/ tribe/religious social network, surely any churchgoer who has doubts about the reality of Jesus/god/holy ghost would be hard pressed to leave such an advantageous environment? 

How can Atheism compete with that?

Tags: Facebook, church, leaving, pressure, social

Views: 39

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By the way, please don't for one minute think that I'm advocating churches or religion - I'm definitely not!

I would like to understand what mechanism could replace the scenarios that I've described, and how can they be implemented. How will people be able to move away from a socially advantageous network?

Andre, you make a very interesting point/observation and pose a challenging question. The problem I have with the (apparent) altruistic aspects of religion is that it always comes with a catch, a hidden and what might be considered sinister agenda. Join my club and you will receive the blessings of the great Sky-Daddy, all that we ask you in return is to delude yourself into praising him and perpetuate ignorance, hysterical homophobia, bigotry and racism, etc., etc. oh and give us some cash too please. Unfortunately the people in the club don’t recognize this. They genuinely think they are moral, tolerant, kind and charitable, etc. and many are (for the most part). However, they’ll give you food only if you come to their church or read their pamphlet (otherwise you can starve to death); they’ll call you a faggot when you wear a pink shirt and generally heap scorn on those who fail to conform to their ‘moral’ precepts; they’re sanctimoniously comfortable in the knowledge that you will suffer for an eternity; they won’t let you wear a condom so that you and your partner(s) may suffer and die of HIV/AIDS or have an unwanted pregnancy to push you into perpetual poverty, etc… What are we, as atheists, to do to compete with this? I’m not sure we can create an alternative to such a “social network” nee cult. Do we want to switch people to our way of thinking via coercion, indoctrination, guilt, shame and the occasional free lunch? Nope. All we can offer is science and reason to free peoples’ minds of fear, irrationality and hopelessness, and on balance this is a far more attractive choice.

Good points. I wouldn't condone switching people's thinking using fear and coercion. Reason is certainly better than irrationality.

Do we, as atheists, have a moral obligation to try and help those who we perceive to be suffering from a delusion (religion). Or do we behave more like alcoholics anonymous and help people when they come to groups such as this one on their own volition? Do we organize within our communities and present a lobby on societal issues? Or do we sit back and hope that over the next 100+ years the gradual increase in education will slowly erode the substantial economic and political power base that the church has in Barbados?

 

Those suffering from delusion are unlikely to be swayed by arguments grounded in reason. There are several factors to prevent or postpone that including the underlying delusion itself, the comfort and support offered by being surrounded by the fellow delusional, and the anxiety associated with confronting the obliteration of one’s faith. My sense has always been that turning to reason is a path that only oneself can embark upon much as the realisation to quit drugs, smoking or alcohol or to escape from a mentally or physically abusive relationship (I think each of these has a good parallel in religion). I’m not sure A.A. is the right model as it too has foundations in religion and their associated methods, but I think your point was to offer support along a similar vein, which is something I wholly endorse and which I too have certainly benefited from. Certainly we as a community must continue to organise and facilitate opportunities for wider access to this support.
Organising and lobbying can present a difficult choice for many atheists, particularly within the societal context of Barbados and the greater Caribbean Region as a whole. Most certainly some would be subject to community and family scorn and ridicule, and many may face discrimination with respect to their jobs and livelihoods. For some this is unimportant and a challenge well worth facing, for others quite understandably, the risk is unjustifiable.
Nevertheless, atheists as a community must stand up and be counted with respect to societal issues and lobby accordingly, in particular to ensure adequate separation of the state from religion and religious influence from public policy formulation. Recent issues where religion is exerting its (undue) influence (not necessary in Barbados but throughout the region) include gay rights and the death penalty. They (mostly churches, but also mosques and Hindu temples) are not presenting credible moral and rational arguments. And, of course, too often politicians are swayed by these voices (and votes) never mind how hypocritical or unconscionable they might be. It’s hard to influence people who will not entertain rational argument and who bully all comers with their shrill pseudo-authoritative voices. We must be mindful of the pernicious nature of religion and stand up to the bullies when necessary. These efforts must proceed in parallel with education and poverty reduction. Then, perhaps, change will be realised.

well spoken,

I see atheism also as a tool to help rid the world of ethnic hatreds

Certainly, religion is often behind the world's ethnic conflicts so I agree with you there.

I agree that those suffering from delusion are unlikely to be swayed for the reasons you've described. sorry, I forgot about AA's religious foundation : ) but I'm glad you saw my point. Yes, organising and lobbying will invite ridicule, scorn, discrimination and worse.

Perhaps a better path may be to quietly organise for the purposes of showing Barbadian/Caribbean society that atheism should be seen not as a threat but a legitimate alternative to religion (I can hear laughter already). If we can change the perception that atheists are evil worshipers of satan (a common opinion on facebook it seems) then perhaps that will help.

I wonder how Barbadian society would react to an atheist foundation whose goal was to help the community through charitable projects with no strings attached.

Something along the lines of the Rotarians (are they a religious group too? :) ) If we were to show that it's O.K. to be atheist and that several prominent and respected members of society are atheist, would that make a difference? Would that help to ease the fears of those who are too afraid to leave the belief system that has been thrust upon them? 

If such a group could be safely established and gain the trust of society then in the future it might begin to make it's voice heard in matters of policy and law.

 

Theists of any sort seem predisposed to believe that we’re a pack of amoral bacchanalians (only during carnival please ;-) whom if left to run the world would install Stalinist or fascist dictatorships. So I concur there’s a need to change that perception. The Rotarians are not supposed to be faith-based but I suspect that here in the Caribbean that might not be strictly the case. A do-good club is a good idea, but I think there would be a need to also incorporate somehow a fair, ethical and morally guided approach or philosophy to the do-gooding along with the general promotion of reason and rational thought if not as an agenda as a resource portal. Certainly Bajans would be suspicious and likely derisive. Having prominent community members would certainly lend credibility and help encourage the like minded, There has to be some out there.(??)

hhmm, I can picture the classified ad now..." Prominent atheists needed for establishment of do-good club. Must be able to withstand scorn, derision, ridicule and possible discrimination. Serious enquiries only, fascists and Stalinists need not apply"
I always wanted to do a bus advert campaign. Perhaps that would stir the pot and bring a few to the surface? Does anyone know how much that might cost and if the Barbados Transit Board would agree to place them on their buses? The ZRs (mini bus) likely would, but then again they're spawns of satan anyway, aren't they?

OK, just answered my own question.

BTB Advertising Prices

Certainly doable, perhaps the artwork can be obtained gratis from an Athiest organisation?

Well, a bus ad campaign would certainly stir the pot, in our environment I could see it boiling over and scalding the cooks. Visions of accusations of cultural terrorism are dancing in my head!

I was very excited and full of admiration when I read about the bus campaigns in England and I think Canada. Before investing money, I would want to know what was the result of their campaigns? Were they effective?

I'm also of the opinion that doing a bus campaign without having a local organization for people to join would be putting the cart before the horse.

if a local bus campaign could be realized here, I think the local press who are very religious, would look for a story and likely portray the issues in the worst possible light. A few individuals operating without an organisation behind them would be easy pickings.

Do I sound nervous? - oh yes.

I was amazed to find that England, in the 1970's had blasphemy laws and actually used them against a gay men's magazine publisher! I wonder if Barbados has these laws?

BTW the link for bus ad rates didn't seem to work for me, can you please give me the address again?

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