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Oppression Of Atheists Who Accept Liberal Religion


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I am fortunate to have access to a wonderful freethinkers group that is very active and we actually meet, in-person! Over the last year it has grown tremendously and has almost 300 members now. Pretty darn good for being in one of he most conservative areas in the SE US.

 

Of course with growth comes growing pains. I am very vocal on the online discussions and have enjoyed friendly discussions with other members. We don't always agree on matters but we are respectful of each other's positions.

 

In the past I have offered to organize a philosophical discussion for the group. I do this at a Unitarian Universalist church because a) it's close to me so it's convenient for me as the organizer, B) I'm a member and they let me use the building for free, and c) they support me as an atheist with absolutely no conditions.

 

Each time I have organized this discussion group I have asked if anyone minds if we do it there. 99% of the group doesn't have a problem with it at all. Of course there are a few that oppose it vehemently saying they will never walk into ANY church, no matter how liberal.

 

So I make the statement that there are a lot of things available for all kinds of members on the group, those that oppose meeting in a "church" (that term applies very loosely to my UU) can participate in any of the other events that are held. I even asked that someone else volunteer to hold the next one and they could do it where ever they wanted.

 

So of course the person that was against meeting in a church immediately accuses me of being a religious infiltrator trying to convert people to my form of religion. Which, by the way, UU is NOT a religion, I've heard it say it is a way of being religious.

 

I would have enjoyed a lively debate about the good and the bad of UUism but that is not what he was offering. His view was that no religion is acceptable in an atheist world. But is that even possible? And if it is, is that really what we want?

 

This is my problem with militant atheism, but I want to preface this with the fact that I am not AGAINST militant atheism, I just don't think we should ALL be militant atheists. He was adamant that my view was absolutely wrong. What does that remind you of? How does he know that my view is wrong? What makes it wrong to be a person that enjoys the rituals and community of church without the spirituality?

 

Just a little more background about myself and where I've come from; raised Baptist, married into Catholicism, always agnostic. I've only recognized my atheism in the last few years. I've never had any personal tragedies with religion other than what is normally to be expected when your family pretends that there is a magic guy in the sky and the repercussions an individual might experience for convincing him/herself that the king has clothes on when he doesn't. I do think religion is dangerous, the way it has become today. But I don't think this world would be better off with absolutely no religion at all. There will always be those that will practice it in secret. Those that are spiritual people. Religion seems to be a way to express emotions in it's basest form. We are all tiny little specks in the HUGE thing we call life. Does anything we do really matter? Is atheism worth denying your family and friends who are just living their lives the best that they can, even if they DO believe the king has clothes on?

 

So that is my rant in a big nutshell. I just don't understand why militant atheists are so defensive and accusatory. We're on the same side, we just have different ways of achieving our goals.

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Atheists get to be atheists through many different paths. Some have a copacetic past and have no qualms against religion, and others had a much more difficult time escaping "the cult" and resent even the hint of religion. It may not be as much "radical atheism" as pain-avoidance.

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I totally agree and understand that par4dcourse. I've also come to realize that to remain a truly open-minded person, I have to be willing to take the hits. This wasn't the first time that this has happened to me nor will it be the last.

 

My fear, though, is that a person with lesser skills and experience would be more inclined to run away because they fear they don't belong. In fact, I believe that this guy actually took his anger out on my acceptance of a liberal religion because of another member who keeps talking about his spirituality and his belief that there is "something" out there. His talk of that "something" makes me roll my eyes most definitely. But he's not UU nor have his posts about this been related to posts about UU.

 

So here we have two polarizing ways of reaching the same ends. An atheist who has had bad experiences with religion and is adamant that all religion is bad, and someone who hasn't had a bad experience but is working it out in his own mind (though vocally sometimes) what is an acceptable level of belief or disbelief for him.

 

So it is the atheists in the middle, the ones who are patient with the newbies and still live with people inside of religion, that get hit with the idea that maybe they are still religious and are infiltrating atheism with their goody-two-shoes-ness.

 

It just gets tiring being in the middle.

 

Anger is an emotion and this guys anger at religion made me react in emotion (anger) as well. He was so adamant that no religion is acceptable at any level in his idea of atheism (remember, this is supposed to be a freethinkers group, not an atheist group) that he had me ready to quit that group and all of the other atheist forums that I sometimes participate in. It's those same emotions that religion capitalizes on.

 

Obviously I am obsessive compulsive and somehow feel responsible for the individuals in this group. Maybe it's the mothering instincts in me. We all have our issues, don't we?

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. We all have our issues, don't we?

 

Yep. At least as many as we have members. And they occupy a lot of discussion space here, but somehow we manage a collective "meh" and life goes on.

 

 

 

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. We all have our issues, don't we?

 

Yep. At least as many as we have members. And they occupy a lot of discussion space here, but somehow we manage a collective "meh" and life goes on.

 

 

 

 

It's good to have this little cyberspace to let it out though.

 

I'm still getting used to how things are sorted out here and now it's changed again. I'm afraid I should have posted this in the Rants and Raves section me thinks.

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yes and no....

 

Yes its a rant, but at the same time this deal directly with ex-christian life.

 

There are many people on here who would never walk into a church again. I would do it, but if another meeting place was avaliable I would probably prefer that. For my self, it ultimately comes down to being done with that part of my life and no desire to be reminded of it.

 

Many people on here are dealing with still going to church after having deconverted. The main reason is familial peace. ultimately, the church is just a building. The only thing that matters is the activity you are there to particitpate, or not, in

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Maybe you need to reiterate that it is a FREEthinkers group, not an atheist group?

 

Oh the semantics of vocabulary. :)

 

Many people on here are dealing with still going to church after having deconverted.

You are quite right. And even though I didn't have to experience any kind of obvious abuse while in religion, I do understand the pain that is involved in being in a church. And I have absolutely no desire to ever set foot in any other church other than a UU. Walking into a UU is nothing like walking into any other church but yet when you are still recovering, it can still feel like it.

UPDATE: Thanks to my being able to discuss this situation here and on another forum, I think this guy and I have worked out these issues! He most definitely had reason to be very angry at religion. It was unfortunate that I had to be the sounding board for his anger, but in the end, it was better for all of us that he was able to scream that anger out. We've aired our dirty laundry and now life goes on.

I find i's hard to be that neutral person. When you are around people that are angry at religion it's just so easy to get swept up in it all. It's so easy to become totally cynical about how ridiculous the people around you are being, especially when you live in the conservative South. I don't want to be cynical, but I have to learn to give those that are being cynical the space to do so. But finding that golden mean is very tricky. It's like walking on a tightrope, you never know when you might fall off.

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It's easy for me to get into a militant mindset sometimes, but my experience decconverting from wacko-fundamentalism keeps me from staying that way very long. I'd rather be gung-ho crazy about other things like art and creativity, things that make me happy instead of things like religion/atheism that make me miserable.

 

I think some people have more intense temperaments, and can be prone to fall into the trap of becoming a bigot. Others might fall into traps of imagined fears. Like being paranoid that some users on these forums are secretly Christians disguising themselves as Atheists. That may be, but being that paranoid about it isn't normal.

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Im not an athiest, merely an ex-christian but I still have a lot of pent up rage at the church, which does get out of hand at times. I have to remember to draw breath and not scare the life out of people who had nothing to do with what happened to me.

 

It is a shame that the militant guy wants to impose his ideas on everyone else, just like christians do. They just don't seem to get the irony, they are too wrapped up in strong emotion. Some people never learn that just because something is right for them, doesn't mean it is right for everyone else. That takes maturity, but sadly some people never get there. Sounds like you are doing a great job of dealing with this whole situation. I would have just duct taped his mouth :P

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In the past I have offered to organize a philosophical discussion for the group. I do this at a Unitarian Universalist church because a) it's close to me so it's convenient for me as the organizer, B) I'm a member and they let me use the building for free, and c) they support me as an atheist with absolutely no conditions.

 

Each time I have organized this discussion group I have asked if anyone minds if we do it there. 99% of the group doesn't have a problem with it at all. Of course there are a few that oppose it vehemently saying they will never walk into ANY church, no matter how liberal.

 

[...]

I would have enjoyed a lively debate about the good and the bad of UUism but that is not what he was offering. His view was that no religion is acceptable in an atheist world. But is that even possible? And if it is, is that really what we want?

 

This is my problem with militant atheism, but I want to preface this with the fact that I am not AGAINST militant atheism, I just don't think we should ALL be militant atheists. He was adamant that my view was absolutely wrong. What does that remind you of? How does he know that my view is wrong? What makes it wrong to be a person that enjoys the rituals and community of church without the spirituality?

 

[...]

So that is my rant in a big nutshell. I just don't understand why militant atheists are so defensive and accusatory. We're on the same side, we just have different ways of achieving our goals.

What I see is that you keep bringing this issue up. And it always gives the same results. Then you question...them.

 

Why do you keep not looking to yourself? Why keep pushing an issue that you know bothers these people? Do you expect them to suddenly change and have the discussion you want them to have? Just out of the blue? It sounds like you're just as stubborn as these (this?) other people are. If you selected another venue I would imagine that 99% would go along with it as well meaning they simply do not care and will meet most anywhere as long as it's fairly convenient to do so as opposed to actually picking sides and have any real desire to meet within the UU church location.

 

It almost seems that you do not care for a "world" that does not include "spiritualism" of some sort and you want to "enlighten" these people in some way. By taking them to the UU church you can show them how harmless it is. How not "church like" it really is and maybe they'll embrace some of these other ideas. And if they're not willing to go that far maybe a "dialog" about UUism will open up at that meeting and some headway can be made there? But they don't want to engage. They refuse. I can't imagine why they don't like this passive-aggressive approach and respond with outright aggressiveness? Can you think of any reasons?

 

mwc

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