Should We Outlaw Religion?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Should we outlaw religion?:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Mick

    0’35″

    Wait until the child dies and THEN step in with a law suit !

  • Patrick

    I agree with Hemant. We should not outlaw religion. It wouldn’t be effective anyway. What we need to do is destroy the belief systems with science and rational thought. Get people to abandon their superstitions because they no longer believe in them, not because they’re told to.

  • Baby_Raptor

    No.

    What should be outlawed is raising children in only one religion, effectively brainwashing them. If people grew up learning a wide variety of facts, instead of just the small subset Mommy and Daddy happen to believe, a lot of the issues America has would go out the window.

    And kids aren’t their parents’ property anyway. No parent has the “right” to decide what religion their kid will be, or to dictate their child’s education.

    • joey_in_NC

      And kids aren’t their parents’ property anyway. No parent has the
      “right” to decide what religion their kid will be, or to dictate their
      child’s education.

      So the kids are the “property” of the state? So do you believe in outlawing all religious schools?

      • Baby_Raptor

        Where in my comment did I mention the state?

        Kids are people. They aren’t anyones’ property. No, they aren’t as mature as your average adult, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have rights.

        And no. I don’t believe in outlawing religious schools. I do, however believe that they too should be banned from brainwashing children. Teach everything and let the kid decide for hirself.

        • joey_in_NC

          And no. I don’t believe in outlawing religious schools. I do, however believe that they too should be banned from brainwashing children.

          You don’t believe in outlawing religious schools but you want them to ban teaching them that God exists?

          • Baby_Raptor

            Do you have any reading comprehension whatsoever? That’s the second time now that you’ve pulled something completely out of your ass and then claimed I said it.

            What part of “Teach everything” sounds like “Let’s ban teaching about god!” to you?

            • joey_in_NC

              So what does “brainwashing children” mean to you? Exactly what “brainwashing” should be banned? Please be specific so I fully understand your position.

              • Baby_Raptor

                Let’s try an example.

                We have two kids. We’ll call them Bobby and Susy.

                Susy’s parents raised her as a Christian, constantly telling her that Christianity is the only true religion, everyone else is wrong and going to hell, and preaching all the various morals they got from their interpretation of the bible.

                Bobby’s parents exposed him to information from all religions, and while telling him which one they personally thought was right, made sure he had a basic idea of a wide variety of things and the knowledge of how to research things further when/if he decides he wants to be come religious.

                Susy was brainwashed. Bobby wasn’t. What I’m saying is, what Susy’s parents did should be illegal.

                • momtarkle

                  Yeah, BR, but there are five billion (+/- 3) people on our planet that were raised like poor little Susy, though not all Christian. I am one of those people. My widowed mother installed a Christian god in my mind when I was a child and thought that she knew everything. It took me decades to get rid of that god.

                  Maybe what Susy’s parents did SHOULD be illegal, but I can’t see that it ever WILL be.

                • Baby_Raptor

                  I was raised like Susy too.

                  And yes, I agree that we probably won’t ever see a law like mine actually put forth. The last time I mentioned this view, I got accused of “advocating cultural genocide.” So, yeah, people are still way too attached to some ideas to even think clearly on things.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  The only genocide any of us advocate is on babies.

                  Wait, no, if we kill them all for food, we’ll run out of babies for food. It’s isn’t like they’re a renewable resource.

                  Wait, no… holy crap, I think I just found the first viable argument ever against abortion! Guys! GUYS! TURN OFF THE BABY MULCHERS!

                  …and turn on the broiler ovens.

                • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

                  A Modest Proposal. Thank you English 101.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Dammit, I’m a genius only in my own mind.

                  My excuse is that I had a mostly trashy school system. I didn’t read A Modest Proposal until this decade.

                • joey_in_NC

                  The first case is what religious schools do. They teach what they consider the truth, and express it likely they actually believe it’s the truth. If you want to call that “indoctrination” or “brainwashing”, then so be it. So essentially, you are still in favor of abolishing religious schools.

                • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer
          • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

            All you ever do is ask asinine and leading questions. Contribute something worthwhile to the conversation.

        • Atwatersedge

          You can’t teach everything. There isn’t time. And if you had limitless time even, teaching everything would included teaching how different people feel about that everything, one thing at a time. Which is ludicrous. Kids aren’t really able to comprehend the complex and conflicting emotions adults have about everything. I’m a middle aged adult and I can barely comprehend the hostility people have for religions and religious people.

          • Baby_Raptor

            Okay, “everything” was a bad choice in wording. But my idea was plain: Give a wide foundation of info instead of just one little subset of “facts.”

            Did you grow up in a religion that seriously harmed you? Do you live in a country where other peoples’ religious beliefs are constantly a threat? If not, then no. You’d probably not understand why some of us are so hostile to religion.

            • Atwatersedge

              Actually, I grew up in fundamentalist Christianity and was pretty scared of hell as a child. I left that tradition (for numerous reasons) when I became an adult – which was hard for my family, very hard on my mother who is basically a saint.

              I just don’t hate religious people, don’t think they are mentally ill, and I don’t think religion is intrinsically bad and can often be good. I think I learned a lot of lessons and even some skills because of the way I was raised and do not regret it.

              I had and have more issues with my experiences in band with a “artistic” emotionally abusive band director than I have with my fundie upbringing, and again, I think I learned a lot about music and other things from this even though I didn’t like him and it was generally a unhappy time for me. I do not extrapolate my band experience into a belief that all band/music directors are psychotic and that music or marching band brings out the worst in people, even though sometimes these types of groups do.

  • Malcolm Reynolds

    I think outlawing publicly practiced, organized religion would in fact be a good thing. Of course you can’t simply outlaw religion, because of course you can’t regulate thought, or make thoughts/beliefs a crime. That would be no different than what religion does. People should be free to believe in whatever they like(no matter how completely ridiculous), just keep it to yourself, behind closed doors. Just to be clear, close down all of the churches, synagogues, kingdom halls, mosques, etc… and also put an end to all religious television programming(radio as well?), and definitely OUTLAW ALL religious PANHANDLING, especially televangelists. Religion is a SCOURGE, it’s a SHAM, and it’s a SCAM. They’re ALL, in my not so humble opinion, extremely dangerous CULTS, and a detriment to society. So no… you can’t regulate people’s beliefs, and I certainly don’t want that, even if it were feasible. Believe in Jesus if you like, or Zeus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, just do it in private. The world would indeed be much better off if that were the case, but of course this will never happen. I’m afraid the ONLY way to see religion eradicated, is through education. The problem is children become indoctrinated into these cults LONG before science and education can truly “enlighten” them, and turning them against the teachings of their parents is truly an uphill battle. I hate to say it, but this war being fought between critical thinking and religion will continue to rage for eons to come.

    • Andreas

      This.

      • momtarkle

        Whut?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          It just means, “I agree.”

    • momtarkle

      I agree with your final sentence, but doesn’t most of the rest of what you said fly in the face of the First Amendment to the US Constitution?

    • David Kopp

      Why don’t we just tax religion? That’d change everything in a hurry, we’d find out what people really believe, what they’re willing to put their money up for. Divorce charity from religion, as it’s doing crap-all in that.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        But man, could our ears survive the whining?

  • guest

    Hemant – we should tackle the question of Why Is There Religion? Why do people across the cultures believe in supernatural beings?

    This may lead to some better and more empathetic understanding of religious people.

    • momtarkle

      YES! I just cannot believe that those 5 billion (+/- 3) people in the world are dumb, or dishonest, or both.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Most of them are of average intelligence, which really is perfectly serviceable if combined with education and an emphasis on one’s strengths. Religion is, by design, with thousands of years of development time to improve said design, intended to manipulate human psychology.

        I have an article from Cracked.com about how World of Warcraft and other MMOs are made to play off of the psychology of time spent-to-reward ratios that is really kind of horrifying. As they put it, half of all Americans know someone who is addicted to WoW, and it’s been out for less than eight years. And that isn’t counting all the other MMOs.

        The main differences between these two are that A) Abrahamic religions have had 400 times longer to refine their message and methodology, b) they can invoke gigantic consequences to offset the implausibility of their claims (this works well on people; see Politics), and c) they are far less limited in their methods by government.

  • Guest

    Please let’s tackle “Why Is There Religion” and “Why do so many people believe in supernatural beings?” This will provoke some good questions and perhaps some empathy for what is perhaps the majority of mankind, now and especially in the past.

    • momtarkle

      Sounds familiar.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Good discussion questions, especially for the blog’s religious visitors, but they seem a bit involved for such short, only semi-scripted video snippets.

  • 3lemenope

    Betteridge’s Law strikes again.

    • islandbrewer

      Just for you, when I have a blog, I’m going to defy Betteridge’s Law.

      “Should You Wash Your Hands After Going Poop?”

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Should one argue with a forum full of secularists and atheists without knowing how to use Google?

  • busterggi

    Stupid will always be legal.

  • Ian

    No, it should be abandoned willfully by an educated public.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    Take away religions tax exempt status and we wouldn’t need to outlaw religion, it would crumble away on it’s own over time.

    • R Bonwell parker

      That beats what I was going to say.

    • SJH

      It didn’t crumble before there was such a thing as tax exempt status. Just look at the Roman Empire. They taxed it, outlawed it and subjected its practitioners to death and it still did not go away.

      • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

        Uh, didn’t they make it their official state religion and have more to do with spreading the disease of christianity more than any other civilization?…. You know, the ROMAN Catholic Church, the most powerful and evil religious organization in the world?

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Except that if ones reads actual history and not media- and myth- driven history, it turns out that accounts of that persecution were overstated by multiple orders of magnitude and usually revolved around martyrish, illegal cult behavior that deliberately invited a response from the authorities.

        Ever heard of “suicide by cop”? Yeah, it’s not a new concept.

      • C Peterson

        Religion goes back to a time when it was a powerful tool for controlling people, exploiting innate spirituality and abject ignorance and fear.

        Today, the spirituality remains, but not so much the ignorance. Religion isn’t needed to answer questions anymore. Religion lingers more like a habit than a necessity. But our economic model makes it a great business, and it is the business aspect that sustains (and even motivates the existence of) many, many churches, especially in the U.S. Take away the business value, and many churches would fold.

        With education, knowledge, and easy communication, religion in general is crumbling away even without that.

        • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

          Thank you for making those points far better than I could. My question is what conman WOULDN’T choose a career in the church? All you have to do is sell people a story that they seem to want to believe anyways, you get respect from your followers, people think that what you say is infallible and holy, the more people you bedazzle with your performance the more money you get and everything you make is tax exempt. That’s why it’s pointless to debate about god with professional clergy. Do you think that they’ll admit that they are wrong under any circumstances? What else would they do! You try getting a job with a 1 year christian science degree!

          • Guest

            WTF?!?! I finally read the entire letter from the pastor. He thinks what the FFRF is doing is unconstitutional, and HE demands and apology from THEM! Batshit fucking crazy!

          • Taylor Smart

            are you kidding? My dad and grandpa are both pastors and they hardly got paid, right now my family gets 30k a year. He is doing it because he truly believes in God and because he feels called to do it. That is commitment.

            • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

              No, that is delusion. And maybe you’re dad and grandfather weren’t intentional con men. My question remains though, what conman WOULDN’T want that job for the reasons I’ve already described. And there are plenty of conman preachers already. Ray comfort and Ken ham jump to mind, and there are plenty more, and there always has been. And there will be more in the future unless we do something.

        • SJH

          You make the claim; “Religion goes back to a time when it was a powerful tool for controlling people, exploiting innate spirituality and abject ignorance and fear.”

          Please prove that. I think you are speculating based upon your prejudiced view of those whom have been in leadership positions of various religions.

          Also; “Religion isn’t needed to answer questions anymore.”
          Prove that as well. Please proceed to answer every philosophical and moral question with science. Also please prove that something can come from nothing.

          Also, your assessment of the history of religion seems very biased and judgmental.

          Also, you seem to have this impression that people were ignorant and fearful? I think most of the greatest scientists in history were not either one of those even though they have been religious. They were religious because they knew it made sense that a God could exist and that he could have created the universe.

          Don’t claim that they didn’t know as much and therefor were in fact ignorant of today’s science because the fact of the matter is that, when it comes down to it, in the grand scheme of things, we really don’t know that much more about the universe then they did.

          • C Peterson

            My comments are based on my personal interpretation of history. I can’t imagine how my view could be “proven” any more than yours.

            I offer my comments in an effort to stimulate conversation and reflection. By that process, I hope to possibly convince others that my views contain some important elements of truth. I have no expectation of convincing everyone.

            And FWIW, there weren’t really any scientists in the modern sense until the last couple hundred years, perhaps less than that. And modern scientists are overwhelmingly either atheist or mildly deist, and only rarely adhere to any mainstream religions.

            No questions of natural science remain that either require religion to answer them, or which even have reasonable alternative answers provided by science. No well educated person believes there is any truth in any religious explanation of nature. That just leaves certain philosophical questions about things like human nature, ethics, and the like. Most of those are at best peripherally addressable by science, but are as amenable to non-religious philosophical examination as otherwise.

        • CultOfReason

          Religion lingers more like a habit than a necessity

          I like that line. I might just have to borrow it.

  • C Peterson

    If I had a wand and could just wave it and make religion go away, would I do it? Of course! It would be insane not to. Arguing for keeping it so there is somebody to debate makes as much sense as refusing to wave a wand and eliminate cancer (which is FAR less harmful than religion) simply because you like the intellectual challenge of seeking a cure.

    Of course, there are no magic wands. So back to the practical question, should we outlaw religion? Of course not. Adults have a right to believe what they wish, and I would not want to live in a society that attempted to regulate beliefs. But I do think that in a mature, rational society it would be illegal to bring up children with religion, or to teach them the bulk of religion as truth. I would compare it legally with pornography, which is legal for adults, but largely off limits to children (at least, legally). Of course, our society is not ready to take that step. But I would hope that a century or two from now children will be protected from the damaging effects of religious indoctrination. For them, religion should be illegal, even if there is no practical way for the time being to make that so.

    • joey_in_NC

      But I do think that in a mature, rational society it would be illegal to
      bring up children with religion, or to teach them the bulk of religion
      as truth.

      Your thoughts are truly scary.

      So obviously you would be in favor of abolishing all religious schools. What do you think should happen to me if the state finds out that I’m teaching my children that God exists in the privacy of my own home?

      • C Peterson

        I think the same thing should happen to you if the state finds out you are teaching your children religion as would happen if they found out you were exposing them to pornography. As a society, we already recognize that the state can place certain limits on parenting practices.

        As I said, I don’t think this is practical in today’s society, and I don’t remotely suggest such a law be called for at this time. But I believe it is the future, and should be.

        Obviously I’m in favor of abolishing religious schools. That I would do today… or at least, I would make it a legal requirement that all children attend fully accredited schools, meaning schools with a standardized curriculum.

        • joey_in_NC

          I think the same thing should happen to you if the state finds out you are teaching your children religion as would happen if they found out you were exposing them to pornography.

          So you equate teaching my children about God with exposing my children to pornography?

          And since you brought up the topic, why exactly do you feel that exposing minors to pornography is wrong…at least wrong enough for the state to interfere? What about minors having sex with other minors? Isn’t allowing your pre-adult children to engage in sexual activity at least as bad as exposing them to pornography, if not more so?

          • C Peterson

            I don’t exactly equate the two. I think religion is massively more harmful than pornography. The former is psychological child abuse; the latter is probably not harmful at all in most cases.

            I am equating the two legally, in order to provide a model, and to demonstrate that society can and does take a role in regulating parenting.

            I don’t have a general problem with sexually mature minors engaging in consensual sex with other sexually mature minors. I certainly don’t think sex needs to wait until people are legally adults.

            • joey_in_NC

              I think religion is massively more harmful than pornography. The former is psychological child abuse…

              Simply teaching my children that God exists and that God loves them is psychological child abuse, bad enough for the state to break apart my family?

              I don’t have a general problem with sexually mature minors engaging in consensual sex with other sexually mature minors. I certainly don’t think sex needs to wait until people are legally adults.

              You think there is such a thing as consensual sex among “sexually mature minors”? So what makes it wrong (assuming you do) with an adult having consensual sex with a sexually mature minor? Or maybe you don’t think it’s wrong?

              • C Peterson

                Simply teaching my children that God exists and that God loves them is psychological child abuse, bad enough for the state to break apart my family?

                Yes, it is abuse. No, I don’t advocate breaking up families for this abuse in today’s world. As I said, I believe it will be legally recognized for the abuse it is in the future. How future societies deal with it is unknown. Perhaps there will be more humane ways (such as medically curing the parents of their religiosity) and no need to remove the abused children at all.

                You think there is such a thing as consensual sex among “sexually mature minors”?

                Certainly.

                So what makes it wrong (assuming you do) with an adult having consensual sex with a sexually mature minor?

                I don’t think it is necessarily wrong. But in many cases there are issues centering on the balance of power or unequal rights. Since we are legally poorly equipped to sort these issues out on a case-by-case basis, most modern societies have adopted fairly sensible guidelines limiting sexual encounters between minors and adults.

                • joey_in_NC

                  Yes, it is abuse. No, I don’t advocate breaking up families for this abuse in today’s world

                  So what do you advocate regarding this abuse? How would you recommend society handles it? Let’s simply assume that society is ready to take that step.

                • C Peterson

                  I can’t suggest how society should handle it, beyond making it illegal, because our current society lacks the tools to handle it, and I can’t guess what tools will be available in the future.

                  In general, I see theism as a mental illness. Perhaps in the future it will be treatable, and that will solve the problem.

                • joey_in_NC

                  I can’t suggest how society should handle it, beyond making it illegal, because our current society lacks the tools to handle it, and I can’t guess what tools will be available in the future.

                  But making something illegal means that it is against the law and implies that there is a penalty for breaking that law. Do you believe there should be a penalty for parents bringing up their children religious? Otherwise, what is the point in declaring something “illegal”?

                • C Peterson

                  Illegal is not synonymous with criminal. There are things that are against the law (“illegal”) which do not carry any criminal penalties at all.

                  In today’s world, I neither advocate making it illegal to teach religion to children, nor do I suggest any sort of penalties. I refuse to play a guessing game about how future societies should handle the problem of children being exposed to religious ideas as truths. I simply hope they recognize it as a problem, and seek a workable solution.

                • SJH

                  Your statements about religion reveal a great prejudice. I’m sure that it has been shown that exposing children repeatedly to pornography is bad for their well being. It can also show that people who are religious are generally better off then those who are in households where the children would be subjected to pornography repeatedly. You are really stretching yourself thin with your statements and I would suggest that you use a little more reason and critical thinking skills rather than emotion before you formulate such opinions.

                • C Peterson

                  I am aware of little or no evidence demonstrating that children are harmed by casual contact with pornography. I don’t know what you mean by “repeatedly”; certainly, there are many things which are generally harmless that can be damaging in excess or used improperly.

                  I look at today’s world and recognize that the single most important factor in creating discord and unhappiness is religion. Nothing exists that is more universally damaging to the human race than religion.

                • Atwatersedge

                  I don’t know. As an adult librarian, I felt like I was being sexually harassed every time I had to reboot a porn frozen computer. Seriously, yuck.

                  Also: I don’t know if my dad had a porn stash (doubt it), but I never found it. You don’t have to be religious to feel that porn is exploitative, using broken people for the entertainment of others. Although it’s certainly not the only medium that does so.

                • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

                  Religion is NOT good for children. Ever heard of the Good News Club? Indoctronating children with lies and terror of hell? Everyone finds their dad’s porn stash as a kid, it’s no big deal. The kids who are exposed to this degree of religious brainwashing are seriously damaged. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/02/08/new-documentary-investigates-the-good-news-club/

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Meanwhile, a majority of all children born are given bad or nonexistent knowledge about sex for religious, leading to warped personalities. terrible relationships, and lifelong shame for hundreds of MILLIONS of them.

                  Cry more about your pretend thinking skills. While you’re at it, learn how to not project. C Petersen has been attacked here, by many of us, specifically because he applies reason and critical thinking over emotion in all his opinions, even to the point of holding opinions that seem vile at a glance to those who can’t get past their discomfort up bringing.

                  Your posts, on the other hand, often show the exact opposite prioritization. Again, projection.

                • joey_in_NC

                  In today’s world, I neither advocate making it illegal to teach religion to children, nor do I suggest any sort of penalties. I refuse to play a guessing game about how future societies should handle the problem of children being exposed to religious ideas as truths.

                  Nice way of attempting to have your cake and eat it to. So to summarize you support making religious teaching illegal, but not for today’s society but for some hypothetical future society. I don’t understand why the current state of society should matter regarding your convictions. It’s a cop out.

                • C Peterson

                  You continue to misread what I have said. I do not support making it illegal to teach religion.

                  To think that decisions about how a society operates can be made without considering the ethical standards of that society is absurd. Our society does not currently consider it unethical to teach children to be religious (even if some individuals, such as myself, do). It would be inappropriate under those circumstances to make such teaching illegal.

                  All I’m saying is that I believe (and hope) that societal ethics will evolve in the future to the point where religious teaching is seen as ethically wrong (in the same way that slavery in America evolved from ethically acceptable to ethically wrong). Once society makes that shift, I would expect the legal system to follow.

                • joey_in_NC

                  You continue to misread what I have said. I do not support making it illegal to teach religion.

                  I don’t think I am misreading you. Didn’t you just say a couple posts above…

                  Obviously I’m in favor of abolishing religious schools. That I would do today…or at least, I would make it a legal requirement that all children attend fully accredited schools, meaning schools with a standardized curriculum.

                  Are you backing out on your opinion that you are “obviously in favor of abolishing religious schools” today?

                • C Peterson

                  Don’t change the context. I was talking about what schools teach, not what parents can teach their children.

                • joey_in_NC

                  Don’t change the context. I was talking about what schools teach, not what parents can teach their children.

                  Alright. You don’t think it’s “inappropriate” to shut down religious schools in today’s society?

                • C Peterson

                  If you read what I wrote, you’ll see I was talking about a standardized curriculum, which I believe should be mandatory. That doesn’t exclude religious schools, but would require that they be supplementary to real schools.

                  I think that would be politically difficult in today’s society, but not because of anything to do with ethics.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  You’re demanding he construct an elaborate speculative fiction society for you, right here and now, and insulting him for not playing your game.

                  You’re an angry, demanding, dishonest child who libels people and is known to advocate bigotry on the basis of birth circumstance, Joey. What do you think the penalties should be for that in a theoretical future Kingdom of God?

                • joey_in_NC

                  Calm down, buddy.

              • http://empiricalpierce.wordpress.com/ EmpiricalPierce

                Simply teaching my children that God exists and that God loves them is psychological child abuse, bad enough for the state to break apart my family?

                … And that this loving god will have your children tortured for eternity if they have the gall to question or disobey? Yes, that’s abusive.

              • Spuddie

                “Simply teaching my children that God exists and that God loves them is psychological child abuse, bad enough for the state to break apart my family?”

                Such things are cause for families to break apart on their own volition. How many people use religion as an excuse not to speak with relations or disown them? =)

                • reasoningbeing

                  In fact, Jesus was a big advocate of breaking his followers’ families apart. He told his followers that they must hate their family members and that he had come to divide family members against each other. He succeeded in doing it to my family.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Simply teaching my children that God exists and that God loves them is
                psychological child abuse, bad enough for the state to break apart my
                family?

                That word “Simply”, that is where your disingenuosness and dishonesty kicked in. You knew you were falling behind, so you had to try to subtly change the parameters by implying that religion is this teeny little thing with no consequences.

                Funny how in doing so, you had to tacitly denigrate your religion.

                You think there is such a thing as consensual sex among “sexually mature minors”?

                Your god thinks so. Learn to recognize nuance. Not doing so is actually one of the biggest problems with theistic thinking.

                So what makes it wrong (assuming you do) with an adult having consensual sex with a sexually mature minor? Or maybe you don’t think it’s wrong?

                If you were a mature person, you’d know without being told that laws against such exist because we cannot assume that any given minor is not being coerced, and are enforced in all cases because a lack of uniform enforcement is a sign of abuse of power.

                If you were an honest person, you wouldn’t have tried to libel C Petersen in direct contradiction of what he’s already said. Jesus loves libel, though, right?

  • flyb

    Organized religion is a lot like the tobacco industry, only it’s going to take a lot longer for religion to become less acceptable socially. Slowly, people are starting to see the problems with religion and that societies function better without it.

    • momtarkle

      We can hope.

  • doninkansas

    No, it shouldn’t be banned, as everyone has freedom to choose their beliefs, even if they may prove harmful in the long run. However, I do believe that there should be a stricter enforcement of the seperation of church and state here in the USA, with laws that are actually enforced and strengthened.

  • Matt D

    Education is more than enough to defeat religion, there’s no need to outlaw it.

    Besides, “outlawing” opponents isn’t a new tactic, many religions have used this against their opponents for eons, yet it *clearly* doesn’t work, short term or long.

    • advancedatheist

      It seems to have worked on the pagan religions in the Mediterranean region:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_persecution_of_paganism_under_Theodosius_I

      • Matt D

        All that did was scare practioners into silence, it didn’t eradicate Paganism, since it still exists today.

        • advancedatheist

          A few cranks who have to reboot Norse or Greek paganism from what they’ve read about it in books, instead of from a living tradition, suggest that the suppression worked pretty well. The fact that mainstream society now considers these efforts pretty weird shows that religions do outlast their welcome, and that most people who know about dead religions don’t want to see them return.

          Can you just imagine the social receptability of an effort to reboot christianity from books in the coming “Jesus who?” era?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Any religion is as valid as any other, but to my knowledge, all modern Pagans observe traditions that had to made up anew within the last hundred years or so.

          If Christian persecution of those religions turns out to have not worked in the long run, it will be because the Internet is making it clear to more and more people that Christian traditions were all intentionally stolen from pagans. With that understanding often comes contempt. Unfortunately it also brings out the “Why you bringing up old shit? It’s tradition now!” crowd, who then don’t get the analogy when it’s explained that everything in the U.S. Bill of Rights and most subsequent amendments, for instance, are about breaking traditions and redressing injustices.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        I’d argue that pagan traditions died because they were absorbed, not persecuted, and because they revolved almost entirely around specific physical locations and large objects used in conjunction with mass ritual.

        Religions that survive now have done so by decentralization and adaptability, including many centuries of Judaism.

  • advancedatheist

    National Geographic writer and volcano boarder(!) Zoltan Istvan has published a kind of science fiction novel where the hero basically does outlaw religion around the world:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Transhumanist-Wager-Zoltan-Istvan/dp/0988616114/

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Volcano… boarder…

      *watches*

      Oh, okay, he’s boarding along pumice dust. That’s original, and he’s having fun! But where are his sunglasses and 2-liter of Mountain Dew?

  • slackshack

    Teaching anyone _what to think_ should be illegal everywhere, at all times. Teaching everyone _how to think_, ie, solid, good critical thinking skills, should be mandatory at all times.

    • SJH

      What if one does not have the ability to think for themselves (ie, retarded or simply a low level of intelligence)? Do you teach them what to think or do you just abandon them? Do you attempt to lead them?

      • Spuddie

        So you are saying religion is best understood by those of low intelligence?

      • baal

        Except for some of the most disabled, my experience is that the vast majority of folks can run their own lives and should. Do you think that most folks need to be coerced into religion since they need your help in thinking? Aren’t you the one in another comment who suggested Stalin wasn’t a good man to follow?

  • SJH

    Unfortunately, I can’t watch the video right now. Is this a serious question? Do atheists actually ponder whether or not religion should be legal? I a somewhat dumbfounded that this question was asked. Please tell me you are being sarcastic. Judging from the comments, it is a real question. Didn’t Stalin try to do this already? Didn’t every other communist leader already try to do this? You guys try to separate yourselves from them but sometimes that tendency just shines through. Religion=bad. State=good.

    • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

      “I’m not going to watch the video, I’m just going to assume all atheists are like Stalin for no good reason at all!”.

      Fixed it for you.

    • Mario Strada

      You could at least watched the first 10 seconds, where the answer to the question by Hemant is:

      “Should we outlaw religion? No, no, we shouldn’t outlaw religion. And if I had the magical power to make it go away I wouldn’t do it” (I am paraphrasing a bit)

      See you Schmuck? 10 seconds is all that you needed, but instead you decided to take the time to write a whole post on your assumption and read the other posts.

      • SJH

        I was commenting on the fact that this question seems to be a legitimate question in the first place. he may think the answer is no but apparently he thought that this question was on the minds of many atheists. by the way I did not watch it because my computer did not have the capability at the time.

        • baal

          He answers questions from theists as well. You can’t assert that it’s a huge issue that atheists are just dying to do.

          • SJH

            Then that would make sense. But do theists ask that question? I don’t know any theists who believe that atheists want to outlaw religion. My guess is that it was either targeted towards atheists or mistakenly targeted towards fictional theists. I’m sure there are some fringe theists who think this about atheists but not enough to require that the question be answered.

            • Dez

              “Didn’t Stalin try to do this already? Didn’t every other communist leader already try to do this? You guys try to separate yourselves from them but sometimes that tendency just shines through. Religion=bad. State=good.”
              Because theists like this say stupid stuff about equating atheists and Stalin.

        • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

          So wait until you CAN before you comment. Passing judgements before you watch the video is absurd.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Judging from the comments, it is a real question.

      Having now read all the comments, you are making things up. You’re insinuating that people are seriously coming down on the side of “yes”, when what they’re actually doing is explaining why the answer is “no” from multiple perspectives and for multiple reasons.

      God forbid we should discuss the complexities of morality without being maligned by people like you, eh?

  • Obazervazi

    Should we outlaw religion?
    No no no no nonononono
    We are NOT going to make the propaganda I was exposed to as a child actually come true.

  • Remedial

    Someone explain to me how disagreeing with casual abortion is purely a religious stance? I find that *extremely* narrow minded.

    • allein

      Do you honestly think people have abortions “casually”?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Arguing against what you call “casual” abortion means that you are assuming you get to decide what is and is not important to the intimate lives and personal life decisions of other people. You do not know what is “casual” to them.

  • Remedial

    So, people should be allowed to kill their unborn children, but once they are born, they shouldn’t teach them about religion? Double-standard much?

  • Al Dente

    In my perfect world everyone would be free to follow their conscience so long that as by doing so they don’t prevent other people from following theirs. Everyone’s worldview would be a personal matter rather than something. Even though banning religion sounds good it seems dicey what actually constitutes religion. Is Objectivism a religion? Its zealots seem every bit as rabid as fundamentalist Christians. Are capitalism, socialism, or communism religions? These certainly are parts of people’s worldview and most people who strongly fall into either camp believe its tenets without question. Is Dianetics religion or just bad psychology? Some of my Christian friends even claim that Christianity isn’t a religion but a relationship with Jesus; who gets to decide what is and isn’t religion?

    • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer
      • Al Dente

        Note definition 4 “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” That could describe a lot of things. My examples of Objectivism, capitalism and communism all fit this pretty well. Definition 1b “the service and worship of God or the supernatural” Hmm, perhaps pantheism isn’t a religious view after all. There are Buddhists who reject any idea of a deity or the supernatural. Note that Spinoza redefined God to mean our shared humanity and immortality as becoming part of an unchanging history. Spinoza used religious verbiage to describe a materialist worldview. I stand by my claim that what constitutes religion has considerable gray area.

  • Cattleya1

    Good discussion and I agree with you. But, we need to be cognizant that there are no small number of people on the other side who would have us locked up and disposed of for the thought crime of atheism.

  • stop2wonder

    I look forward to the day religion is abandoned, not outlawed.

    • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

      R’amen.

  • ragarth

    I have two opinions on this:

    1) I think a society with a plurality of views is a stronger society so in that sense banning religion would actually weaken our society, just as having a state religion would do so.

    2) I think there’s a strong inverse relationship between quality of life and religiosity for a society, and that this relationship follows a feedback mechanism. As Quality of life increases people have less need for religion, and as people are less religious there’s less dogma and more humanity in social policy and structure.

    Both these ideas are not mutually exclusive, for point 2, its reasonable that there’s an equilibrium point where there’s enough religious belief to keep a dynamic society, but not enough to be the cancer we see now. Given this, banning religion isn’t the proper method to reach that equilibrium, but rather atheist outreach and encouraging a more humanistic (and hence better quality of life) society are good ways to go about it.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Moderation in all things, after all. Even moderation.

    • Drakk

      I think a society with a plurality of views is a stronger society so in
      that sense banning religion would actually weaken our society, just as
      having a state religion would do so.

      I fail to see anything desirable in having people accept beliefs that aren’t supported by evidence. I would consider it closer to an ideal society if nobody at all believed in religion.

  • doug105

    The Gruen Transfer – The Pitch: Banning All Religion

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhAKzYr4-wg


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X