by | March 23, 2016

It seems there is some controversy about the hashtag #StopIslam. According to The Washington Post,

In the aftermath of Tuesday morning’s attacks in Belgium, Twitter lit up with a hashtag that deviated from the usual post-tragedy solidarity script: #StopIslam trended worldwide, just below #Brussels and #PrayforBelgium.

As disturbing as this hashtag might appear, however, it’s actually quite the opposite. #StopIslam is only trending now because thousands of people are criticizing it.

In fact, its spread would appear to mirror a heartening phenomenon that researchers observed after the November terrorist attacks in Paris: Anti-Muslim rhetoric spikes disturbingly on social media after an attack, but the spike of anti-anti-Muslim rhetoric is even more dramatic.

Neither interpretation of the hashtag addresses the real issue: religion. The “spike of anti-anti-Muslim rhetoric” implies that the followers of a religion should not be blamed for the actions of the few.

Waliyha Malik tweets 

“Why is #StopIslam trending? Terrorism has NO religion!!!!!!!”

However, religion would cease to exist if religions didn’t have followers, so why defend the so called moderates who make religious extremism possible?

Lexi Alexander is frustrated that 

#StopIslam is trending. Sigh. I wish people would read more & hate less.

This implies that people who read would have a different attitude toward members of a religion that includes suicide bombers who kill people in the name of their God or their religion.

A better solution to resolving the #StopIslam controversy is to remove it and replace it with a hashtag that says #StopReligionPromoteSecularism.

Atheists and the non-religious have invoked John Lennon’s “Imagine No Religion” so many times it is in danger of becoming a cliché. Rather, secularism, which protects both the religious and the non-religious, gives people the time, leisure and peace to “read more & hate less.” If this seems like just another cliché, think about it. Secularism is neutral; it does not promote the superiority of one religion over all other religions, nor does it promote the superiority of religion over other ideologies. 

Yes, keep imagining no religion while working to stop religion by promoting secularism.

12 thoughts on “#StopReligionPromoteSecularism

  1. Tim Underwood

    Secularism allows for the freedom to profess any belief. If the belief is obviously delusional, then, I suppose, secularism allows for the freedom to profess any delusion. This is probably why, I suspect, that more rationalists prefer to promote atheism rather than promote secularism.

    Old deluded King Leopold of Belgium believed God had given the Congo to him personally. Today it is obvious that the Belgians should have locked their deluded King up before he commissioned so much evil, that future psychotics could easily produce anti-Belgian hate propaganda.

    Do both: stop religion and promote secularism. I think they are actually two different tasks. The former is more long term, the latter is currently a valuable stopgap measure. If religion faded away, atheism and secularism would exist, but they wouldn’t be noticeable.

    1. Shawn the Humanist

      Thanks for this. I was also going to say that secularism oppose theocracy, not religious belief. It’s nitpicking, but a detail I think is worth keeping in mind.

      Securalism is something theists and atheists should agree with.

      1. billybob

        “Securalism is something theists and atheists should agree with.”

        Religion is innately anti-secular, read some catholic, evangelical or muslim articles on the subject.

        1. Indi

          > Religion is innately anti-secular….

          Bullshit. By that same logic, atheism “innately” requires making religion and religious symbols and practices illegal.

          The fact that *some* religions want total control of society does not mean that *all* religions want total control of society. In fact, some religions *reject* the idea. (Ironically, Christianity might even be one of them, according to more honest interpretations of Jesus’s actual message in things like “render unto Caesar”. And that should not be surprising: No doubt early Christians very much appreciated secular governance in the days when Christianity was viewed as a weird, dangerous cult – the Scientology of its time.)

          1. Tim Underwood

            If Caesar was God, then just render everything to him. The Caesar, a the time when the Gospel story was being put together, had been deified by the Roman Senate. We know when the Gospels were written because Jesus famously prophesized the destruction of Jerusalem. Either Jesus could foresee the future or the story was conveniently backdated.

          2. billybob

            “The fact that *some* religions want total control of society does not mean that *all* religions want total control of society.”

            Which one that has had the control of a society advocated and installed a secular government? Religious history is the story of oppression and cruelty that rivals and surpasses Kim Jong-un.

            Yes, some religions have been tamed and appear harmless but it is not the religion it is secular society that stops them from indulging in tyranny. Forget gods, what a mythical Jesus said is irrelevant religion is about power and wealth.

  2. Veronica Abbass Post author


    Is this really you? Sounds like a Christian troll stole your identity.

    1. Joe

      Indi is correct.
      Secularism can be contrasted with theocracy, not with religion.

      In fact, secular government in the west, has been mainly used as a remedy for religious/sectarian wars for dominance. No one really cared about atheists, it was mostly about Catholics vs Protestants. The fact secularism benefits us, is a side effect. It was never the reason for secularism, historically.

      State atheism, as seen in communist countries in the last century, is essentially just atheist theocracy.

      Oppression is oppression, whether the people doing it are religious or atheist.

      1. Joe

        Just to add a bit…

        You seem to have taken the position that ‘French secularism’, more of a recent European phenomena, but also influential in Quebec and Mexico, is Secularism, when in fact it’s at best an offshoot of Secularism, and at worst, not secularism at all. Seems more the latter to me since those who support it tend to be antitheists, rather than neutral towards religion, the original meaning of the word.


      2. Tim Underwood

        Atheist theocracy is a very good description. In faint support for communism, it was less associated with severe mental illnesses than the real theocracies were. Secular societies, like France, will probably tend towards less tolerance for organized superstitions. This is just unavoidable. Superstition is an affront to reason.

        1. Joe

          Only if reason is a thinskinned egomaniac.

          Happy Easter everyone.

          1. Tim Underwood

            Fifty five years ago, as a young teenager, I was operating a tractor pulling a Rod Weeder when one of the rotating weed extractors got all balled up. I dug down into soil with my gloved hands and pulled out a large, still moving, but seriously mangled, Rattle Snake. After frantically running away and then cautiously returning to inspect the poor creature, I remember my mixed feelings of revulsion and sympathy. Witnessing religious proselytizing will usually induce mixed emotions.

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