On October 10th, atheists and agnostics in Poland will be staging a major march. The purpose is to “come out” — to show they exist and that they exist in big numbers.
Here’s what they say (it’s my personal paraphrase of the translation — I’ll correct it if needed):
The aim of the March of Atheists and Agnostics (MAIA) is to show that non-religious people live in Poland — and we can be public about it. This is very important in a democracy, because we have a situation in which the minority is not visible, easy to discriminate again, and often excluded when it comes to our interests and rights, especially in the crucial area of legislation. We are marching on the assumption that if a specific minority wants others to respect its wishes and rights, it must clearly state those demands in public. In our opinion, the most appropriate way to do this is the MAIA.
We want to show that being an atheist or agnostic does not mean one is amoral, bad, or degenerate, which, unfortunately, is a frequent and unjust stereotype of people we meet.
Since the concept of morality is somehow appropriated by various religious organizations and identified with the exercise of the will of the gods, people who do not belong to any religious organization or who are not doing the will of this deity are automatically seen as being deprived of any moral principles, and therefore dangerous to society. Renunciation of faith is treated as a renunciation of humanity. Such reasoning creates harmful aggression, which is often experienced in everyday life…
She writes in an email:
… Now why this is happening in Poland of all places — probably the most religious country in the EU — is beyond me, but the fact that these people are doing this, in my opinion, borders on heroic. First of all, there are already protests being organized by religious groups, as well as by more radical groups like the young neo-Nazis (they prefer to go by the “all-Polish youth”), and when they show up, things tend to get violent. And to put things in perspective, during the yearly tolerance march (not gay pride march, as in “we’re here, we’re queer, etc.” but tolerance march, as in “please stop beating us up for holding hands with our partners”), there are generally more protesters than marchers, and despite heavy police protection, there are always stories of marchers getting hit with bricks or eggs or whatever is handy.
So, I’m reaching out to get as much international attention for these marchers as possible, to not only spread the word, but to assure their safety. Also, while the organizers have already received the proper permits from City Hall to hold the march, here people tend to have those types of permits magically revoked if there is enough political pressure — but if there is international media attention, that’s less likely to happen.
I hope the participants remain safe. Please spread word about this, especially if you know any Polish atheists, and make sure they know we’re watching from afar.
Good luck to the organizers! Anna will be interviewing one of them soon and I’ll post a link to it when it is published.