Do we need an organized movement against religion?
If you’re already an atheist, you might feel as though the world around you is awash in delusion. You might also have noticed although a large number of people find comfort in the fanciful notions of religion, there are others who are entangled in guilt, pain, or violence because of it. The thought may have crossed your mind that a powerful and organized movement is required against religion to free mankind of their bondage of faith.
As I write this, an underground group called ‘Anonymous’ is waging war against Scientology, a rather recent inductee in the world of organized religion. Unlike most of their brethren, however, Scientology is aggressive and litigious against detractors, and this has spurred hackers and youthful protesters into action. They organize rallies, publish stories and videos, all in an effort to expose the morally questionable behavior of the ‘church’. So the question arises: should other similar movements be created to discredit and attack religion?
This is a tricky question, mostly because although we are loath to admit it, ideological movements, no matter how well intended, can often fall prey to the machinations of tyrants, who in turn use the momentum and frenzy to gain power. The persecution of religion has a tarnished and rather violent history, especially when these movements were subject to mob will. Ideologues, religious or not, are still dangerous, no matter how noble their original intent may be.
That is not to say we should remain silent regarding the infantilization of mankind by organized religion, who generally regard the world of the imaginary as more important, and more real, than the material world. Often, these religions become cults of death, focused almost entirely on a person’s immortal life, rather than the short time they actually do possess. We do need an organized movement, not to fight against religion, since this can only create violence, but rather fight for the right of individuals NOT to believe.
We must be as visible as possible, to show that a real alternative to religion exists. Atheism is generally mistrusted, since most individuals feel as though it is hopeless and dark. They fail to realize that by embracing the material world, our focus is not on what to do with our immortal souls, but rather how to live well during the brief time we have have on earth. We need to portray atheism not as a counter-culture movement, but as the natural progression of belief (or, more accurately, unbelief). Just as our ancestors clung to the primitive myths available to them, many of us retain this need to believe that something, or someone, larger than us is watching out for us. But the powerful desire for this to be true makes it no more true than any other intense dream. This is what we need to convey.
Many of you that have asked me countless times: where do we go from here? Although it seems unfair for us to admit, each unbeliever is a representative of atheism. The actions of one are interpreted as the whole. As such, it is important to maintain both an austere attitude and demeanor, to demonstrate that atheism is not the end of hope, but a new one: that although no god may be looking out for us, we can look out for one another instead.