Somewhere along my 8 years of blogging, I picked up a gaggle of folks from East Africa.. I’ve learned they are deeply religious, possibly members of the same church. Most of the time, I read their patter about what God wants from us and what we must do to be good Christians. As an atheist, I haven’t the slightest interest in being a good Christian. Being a good person is more important, in my view. Besides, I’m mindful that the quest for purity can lead to Inquisitions, witch burnings and violent crusades.
Occasionally, I remind these East Africans I don’t believe in god. Their response is generous. They tell me they will pray for me, then post a delicious recipe so I can enjoy myself while I wait for enlightenment. I like these people. They strikes me as generous and good-natured. If I were obliged to join a church, it would be theirs. At least I’d eat well.
Unlike religious folk, atheists don’t proselyte. Like most of them, as long as I’m left alone, I don’t care what other people believe. I give money to Freedom From Religion (FFR) not to oppose church-goers but to ensure my right to remain apart. As I’ve said, when piety abounds, intolerance and cruelty can take root.
Beyond giving money to FFR to prevent First Amendment infringements, I’ve never thought about joining other atheists to form a political party. How does one organize around a negative? A positive goal, like working to delay climate change, makes greater sense.
Despite my skepticism, a group of non-believers hopes to form a voting bloc. Perhaps Bernie Sanders, during his 2016 run in the Democratic presidential primary, gave them the idea. To a crowd in Utah, he admitted he wasn’t very religious. (“’Nones’ could shake up American politics,” FreeThought Today, July 2018, pg. 13.)
Sanders isn’t alone in his bias. People are opting out of religion in growing numbers. “The Public Religion Research Institute found 24% of Americans identified as ‘atheists,’ ‘agnostic,’ or ‘nothing in particular,’ in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2004.” (“Millennials less likely to believe in biblical God,” Freethought Today, June/July, pg.9.) (Click)
One possible outcome from organizing atheists might be to normalize how the nation views them. When my face appeared on a billboard during an FFR campaign, a mother admitted her daughter thought I looked like a nice person. Well, I like to think I am….sometimes.