The difference between religion and atheism, for me, is like the difference between being a smoker and a non-smoker. Me personally, I’m not just a non-smoker, I’m an anti-smoker. It’s not just that I don’t smoke, it’s a couple of other things:
First, I don’t smoke. But also: I don’t want people smoking near me so that I have to breathe it. At all. Ever.
But also-also, I don’t want THEM smoking. Not around me, not around innocent bystanders, not around their kids.
Certainly I can’t stop people smoking in private; I don’t think I have the right. But the message that smoking is stupid, that smokers are victims of decades of merciless corporate advertising and mental control, that smoking has some ugly financial, socio-economic, physical and emotional side effects on the smoker and his/her family, and some negative environmental and societal effects in the smoker’s society and world, and that because of all this, it’s intelligent and reasonable NOT to do it – I want that message out there loud and clear. I want the default social meme about smoking to be that you don’t smoke, and that to take up smoking you have to make some rather silly, juvenile decisions.
I want it to be the case that the big companies that sell cigarettes not only get no tax breaks for it, but pay something of a penalty for the damage done to the victims.
My view of religion is just like that.
When you think about it, no-religion zones – like say in courthouses, schools, etc. – are no different than non-smoking areas. Nobody’s saying people don’t have a right to religion. We just want to protect ourselves, our government, our kids, from the secondhand smoke. Considering that goddy people have “designated godding areas” – scores of them, hundreds of them, if you live in any sizable city (and even if you don’t, there’s still likely one within walking distance of your house), plus, you know, every other public and private place, it’s not like anybody’s getting denied their gods-given rights.
This is post 2 of 12 of Blue Collar Atheist’s Blogathon in support of the Secular Student Alliance. Donate by clicking the “Contribute” link in the SSA ad over in the right column. Or go to the Secular Student Alliance directly.
Or just click this button (It’s the exact color of Pepto-Bismol, isn’t it? Makes me think it’s a way of saying “I’m sick of how powerful religion is in our society, and I want young people to be offered this other choice”) :