Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why does religion always get a free ride?

Link to article on AlterNet

Greta Christina and I see eye to eye on this subject.  I was really happy to meet Greta at the American Atheists convention in March.  Her writing is very clear and reminds me in many ways of Richard Dawkins.

Greta asks some valid questions:  "Why should religion be treated differently from all other kinds of ideas? Why shouldn't we criticize it, and make fun of it, and try to persuade people out of it, the way we do with every other kind of idea?"

Unfortunately, when it comes to religion, "trying to persuade people out of their ideas is somehow seen as horribly rude at best, invasive and bigoted and intolerant at worst. Why?"

Religions aren't taxed.  They don't have to reveal their financial records (except in rare instances).  They can discriminate in the workplace.  They enjoy the fruits of the deduction on charitable contributions.  Only professed believers can be the President of the United States. Even in casual conversation, religion has a privileged status. Political, social, and scientific ideas are open to criticism, but religious beliefs are supposed to be respected, no matter how delusional.

I saw this picture today and it brought home to me, again, how unfair the situation is. As an atheist, I dream of a future in which religion does not have a privileged status in our society.  It has to compete in the marketplace of ideas along with everything else. There will always be religions, just as there will always be ufology and Holocaust denying, but public policy will no longer be shaped by superstition and wishful thinking.

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