Religion or lack thereof, is a personal matter. At least that was the sentiment many of my fellow Canadians expressed in the comments section of a recent CBC article about a billboard company’s refusal to display CFI’s rather tame message about being good without God. One Christian commenter, who accepts his son’s atheism stated that:
My son would never think to put his beliefs “out there”. It’s a private thing. (my other son is a non-denominational Christian and is private in his beliefs as well) (sic).
Speaking about religion, let alone debating its merit in the public sphere comes off as gauche, so when atheists announce that they do not buy this supernatural stuff or that it’s okay to be an atheist, we are inevitably looked at sternly and told to be quiet, as if we just proudly burped the alphabet during dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Even Michael Enright jumped on the bandwagon in his article Could Atheists Please Stop Complaining?. According to Michael Enright:
Atheists are not being prosecuted or silenced…The problem to me is that they won’t shut up about it.
The irony of Enright’s proclamation that atheists are not silenced followed by his attempt to shame us enough that we “shut up” is not lost on me. But atheists should NOT shut up. We, as Enright states, may not be prosecuted, but we are surrounded by the misery religion brings and atheists should feel no shame in speaking up against religion’s bad ideas. Why? Because religion is harmful.
It’s harmful when children are left to die because of religious misconceptions and fear of things like blood transfusions and vaccines. It’s harmful when people are encouraged to rely on revelation instead of knowledge. It’s harmful when members of a technologically advanced society denounce science and hope for the end times. It’s harmful when people are psychologically abused into thinking they are sinners when they are actually normal human beings and it’s especially harmful when atheists who have the courage to say they do not believe are, if not harassed and threatened by believers, shamed into silence.
So feel no shame, atheists! Do not let politeness stop you from questioning bad ideas and bad thinking, even when those bad ideas and bad thinking come from religion, because doing so is far from gauche.