Organised atheism fascinates me. Mainly because of the parallels between the development of the modern atheist movement and that of early religions – the emergence of ‘church leaders’, creation of certain ‘doctrines’ and ‘rites’, the treatment of apostate members, the push to gain political influence, and so on. I’m not saying that it’s wrong in any sense – certainly, any group that feels persecuted or threatened will often self-organise and push for power in order to assert their rights – just rather ironic.
This recent story has some interesting points:
During the first five months of 2009, 95 new atheist groups have formed through meetup.com, bringing the US total to 372. That’s up from 59 in 2005, says Blair Scott, director of national affiliates for American Atheists, a networking and advocacy organization.
…”It used to be that these atheist groups … met almost in hiding,” says American Atheists spokesman David Silverman. “Now they’re doing a lot more stands at town parties, a lot more trash pickups, a lot more blood donations – a lot more stuff that gets their group out and noticed.”
It’s easy to understand why atheism is pushing for more say in decision-making though, when you read stories such as this one about the inclusion of ‘God’ in the American Pledge of Allegiance. When a Senator justifies it by saying “The Founders based the Constitution and our laws on religious faith and principles that clear the way for individual freedom”, I think he’s only getting the latter part exactly correct. The part which is most important to allowing people freedom from religion…
Not to mention the ways in which Fundamentalist religions are affecting the wider population, from the teaching of evolution in American schools, through to the obvious influence in certain Middle East nations. There’s certainly a need for a counter-balance of some sort. My only beef with the modern atheist movement is that a large portion of them (including their ‘leaders’) are pretty obnoxious and self-righteous. Which just makes them another special interest religious group that may one day impede my individual rights and silence my point of view.
Hell…er…heck, even our favourite Tool singer is an atheist apparently (and sexy to boot). Not to speak for MJK, but perusing that list I’m not sure about how they’re defining the word “atheist”. Antipathy towards organised religion does not always an atheist make. Unfortunately, that seems to be how both Fundamentalists and Atheists tend to think…