Daytheists

According to Sepia Mutiny, Desi (Indian) Atheists = Daytheists.

The writer of this post, Ennis, says:

I have a number of brown friends who are staunch, one might even say devout, atheists but you’d never know it because they are very private about their beliefs… when it comes to matters of religion and God, these desi atheists (==> daytheists) are still in the closet because of the social costs involved in exposing themselves.

Ennis goes on to mention that atheism has been a philosophical force in India since 600 BC. The Atheist Centre in India has been around since 1940. And many of India’s Cabinet ministers chose to be sworn in on a secular oath instead of a religious one.

He ends with some questions:

Is it actually easier to be an atheist in India than in the US? Why do ABD [American Born Desi] atheists fear social sanction if they let their freak flags fly? Is this one of these ABD things, where religion is seen to stand in for culture, and therefore SouthAsian American identities are actually more constraining than SouthAsian ones?

I can’t speak for atheism in India since I’ve never lived there, but it is hard to meet brown atheists in America. In fact, I’ve only met a couple in recent memory (One was from Alabama, though, so I think I’m allowed to count him twice).

It’s also hard to get your own Indian family and others to accept atheism as a way of life when you’re raised in such a religious culture. And in my experience, cultural Indian events and religious Indian events tend to be one and the same.

Religion is one of the few things Indian immigrants can hold onto even as they become Americanized. But as my generation grows up and our “Indianness” fades, religion will play less of an important role in our lives. Just like you see arranged marriages fading away (in America) and interracial dating happening more often with younger Indians, the parts of our culture we need to drop will drop. At least, I hope that’s the case.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Sepia Mutiny, Desi, Indian, Daytheist, God, The Atheist Centre, India, ABD, South Asian, Alabama, immigrant, religion, Americanized, Indianness, interracial dating[/tags]

  • http://www.aredant.blogspot.com Rev. Barky

    A number of years ago, about the time when Amer. Atheist and Minnesota Atheists were in transition, we hosted a speech by Lavanam of the Atheist Center. and he was delightful – I haven’t heard about him in quite a while.

  • http://www.masala-skeptic.com Maria

    It’s interesting. I think that Indians away from India tend to try really hard to hold on to their culture and raise their children so that they don’t forget their culture and language and beliefs. I can totally see, therefore, why it’s harder to be an daytheist in the U.S. vs. in India. Religion is so tied to culture in India that turning from religion means turning from the culture and your ties to the social circle that your family is closest to.

    I’m really surprised that there aren’t more young daytheists in the U.S. and I bet there are but I bet a lot of them stay ‘in the closet’ for fear of alienating their families.

  • fyreflye

    Don’t forget that atheism is almost as old in India as
    Vedism. The region of ancient Bharat in which the Buddha was said to have been born (now part of Tibet) was a stronghold of anti-Vedic atheism and the Buddha himself, though never quoted in the classical sutras as actually denying the gods, removed any consideration of their existence from his dharma.

  • College Daytheist

    I’m a daytheist. I’ve met some more in college. I think we’re finally coming out :)


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