Yesterday, while listening to the news on the radio, I heared about a movement of Atheists in Austria, trying to get the state of a "religious community" for them. I was a little bit, not to say very confused. A few minutes later it cleared a little bit, `cause the leader of this movement stated, that it´s in account of a loophole in Austrian laws, which does not guarantee equatation to Atheists compared to members of an official religious community in some cases. Not really of non-Austrian peoples concern, just a few minor flaws in the law (about "micro-census" and so on).

But, what´s kept me confused, was his statement, that "not to believe in any god is kind of religion too", and "people, who declare this way should be seen as a member of a religious community"...

I find this a bit strange, `cause I don´t think of "don´t belive in god" as beeing a statement of membership in a "religious community", on the contrary as a personal decision of beeing not "religious".

Tags: Europe, activism, movement, philosophy, religion, society

Views: 36

Replies to This Discussion

As far as I understand it, it's only a technicality to ensure Austrian atheists have the same rights as religious people? If so, I don't think it's very different from ID cards that mention things like 'hair color' (assuming you're bald).
Yes exactly! This is precisely why I feel uncomfortable about the so called "atheist movement". The atheist stance is a purely intellectual one, that the case for god is too weak. The fact that many atheists get involved in questions conscerning secularism is a good reason to talk about a secularist movement (which is a movement I'm perfectly happy to be part of), but not an atheist one.
...I suppose, most people miss the warmth and security of the flock, ´cause they like to be part of a flock of sheep, guided and safeguarded (?) by a few leaders, and that´s the reason, why some Atheists feel uncomfortable with their state of being a "non-conformist" in some ways - and so they try to found another kind of flock, the "church of non-believers".
...and joining online sites like this is another way to flock together - perfectly human, I think. :-)

But I too get wary when I hear atheism described as religion ... it reminds me too much of something I hear fundies say when they attack atheist or secular people.
I know you weren't perfectly serious about that (the smiley tipped me of), but I still feel compelled to comment that "online communities" as they are often called are perhaps better referred to as "online meeting places". I suppose what I mean is that in the case of this site at least, I log in (though I haven't done that in a while now, I'll try to better myself) to be a part of a discussion, not to find a place in which to belong.

I too get wary of describing atheism as a religion, but I would go further than that, I get wary by even describing atheism as a movement. If it is true that calling atheism a religion is like calling non-stamp collecting a hobby (as has been said, though I forget by whom), then surely creating a movement around atheism would be like creating a organization for non-stamp collectors. There's nothing in the "movement" to bring its members together other than their mutual absence of religious belief, there's literally no other common denominator and therefore, nothing else for the movement to organize around, no common interests, no group activities to participate in and so on...
To a lot of people I think it is a place to belong and to fit in. But that is probably mostly a need you have if you live in a country where atheism is considered wrong and evil. Like in the US.

For me it is a bit of both. I was brought up in a christian family and later drifted towards atheism, to finally shed my bonds about 10 years ago. To me it was struggle, it was scary to let go, and it was unpleasant to sadden my mother - she felt she must have mistaken in my upbringing, because I left my faith behind. (I told her she succeded in raising me into a clear thinking adult :)

As a result, I had a need to go out and find other atheists, to be comforted one could say, by seeing others living a happy godless life, and to hear the deconversion stories of others.

My husband has been an atheist all his life, and he does not go out and seek the company online of other atheists. Partly, I think, it is because we are very different persons, but I also think it is because he never had to deconvert.

What does bring atheists together, I think, is both this need for recognition - but I think it is an important movement as well, to remove religion from politics, schools etc. To ensure that schools teach knowledge and science and not superstition and faith. To secure the right to be an atheist, in some places. And also, I think, to be an example to believers - to show openly that atheism is an option, that basing your life on knowledge and evidence is better than being led by various interpretations of old holy scriptures.
I can understand the need for support in areas where atheism is not accepted and I have to admit to possibly having a hard time understanding this because I live where I live. I've lived all my life in Stockholm, Sweden. Religion is not an issue at all here, I hardly know anyone who is not an atheist.

I do have to say though, that I'm uncomfortable with the concept of forming communities around beliefs and philosophies in general. What I tried to convey in my earlier comment was that the term atheism denotes an absence of belief and nothing more, which makes it literally impossible to form a community around it. When atheism or any other "meme" (for the lack of a better word) is not accepted in a society, the need for a community is certainly needed, but it will be a community based upon the opposition of prejudice and for the tolerance of atheism, not upon the idea of atheism itself. You may see this as nitpicking but I think it is a very important distinction.

The other issues you raise I see as, of course, at least equally important, but at the same time even further away from being core issues of any conceivable community of atheism. That's not to say that these are not issues that concerns most atheists but these issues belong to a community of secularism. It may be hard to imagine an atheist that is not a supporter of secularism, but it's not a logical impossibility so one can not say that all members of the "community of atheism" will automatically also be members of the community of secularism. More importantly, there are lots of supporters of secularism that are not atheists, so it's wrong to portray these issues as examples of any kind of atheist agenda.

I understand what you are trying to say about the need for people to come together both to exchange ideas and to get support, but I think any kind of community or movement has to be based around some agenda. In this context, that agenda will contain issues neither of which fall under the definition of atheism, and this fact precludes the possibility of an atheistic community.
Well, I even don´t like the "walking fish" (claimed to be a sign of "evolution"), some other atheists fix as a sticker to their cars as an "opposing" sign to christians "fish" sign...for me this seems to be the same as wearing a visitor´s badge in a sanatory, telling "I´m not insane"...

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