Monday, July 25, 2011

Religion, Bigotry and the Census

The Atheist Foundation of Australia, in the leadup to the 2011 Australian census, is running a campaign for people to mark No Religion on their census forms. The justification for this campaign is that many people who are no longer religious still write the religion of their youth, as a matter of habit, rather than due to any real beliefs.

The purpose of the census is to accurately record the demographics of Australia in order to better target services for the people, and for posterity. As such, I support the AFA's campaign, because I would rather decisions about how tax money is spent are made based on accurate data. I also personally agree that the AFA's goal, of taking religion out of politics, is a worthy one in a secular country.

Unfortunately, it seems that we live in a country populated by enough bigoted morons to have a noticeable effect on online discourse. I don't mean the term 'bigoted moron' to be a slur. I mean it literally. And I don't mean 'literally' the way Jamie Oliver means it, i.e. figuratively. I'm sure that many of these apparent morons are actually somewhat intelligent, but it makes me wonder to whom they have been listening.

Now for some examples of what some readers of the Courier Mail think:
  • Barry of Brisbane Posted at 5:48 AM Today
    Why waste money on a question like this, Australia will always be a Christian Nation. Next idiot queation put forward will be YES or NO should sharia law be introduced into Australia. Then the atheist,moslums and gay activist would vote yes.
    Australia is a secular nation. We have no national religion, no matter what the majority of the people may be. Any reference to Sharia law being introduced here is merely hyperbole.

  • Realist of Brisbane Posted at 5:50 AM Today
    The Muslims won't care if you are atheist when they finally take over Australia. In most of the Muslim world it is believe or die. Better to make a choice now. He who believes in nothing, stands for nothing. I have respect for Athiests. It must be really hard believing in nothing and they have the conviction of their religious belief in no God.
    Like "The Muslims" are a group that are working to take over secular countries. Atheism is not about believing in nothing. I think that's Nihilism. Atheism is about evidence. Atheism is merely a lack of belief for something that has not been sufficiently proven. Christianity has been no better proven than Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, ancient Roman, Greek or Norse beliefs, etc. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is an example of how any story could be created as a religion.
  • Grumpy Old Man of Brisbane Posted at 6:39 AM Today
    Atheists, they must believe there is a God for them not to believe in God. Jedi believe their is a good force and a dark force much the the same as a Christian, good = God, Dark = evil. So Atheist wake up as you do believe in something out there. By the way I don't see atheist out helping the homeless & the lost.
    That's like saying I must believe in Bart Simpson to not believe in Bart Simpson. I can recognise that there is a character without believing that the character is real. As to atheists helping the homeless and the lost, well, you're just not looking. I go out of my way to give money to every homeless person I see when I am out and about. And perhaps, if No Religion was marked by enough people, the government would give more to non-church-based charities and you would see this shift.
  • Strike Me Pink of BrisVegas Posted at 6:47 AM Today
    Deluded masses. Atheism is a religion that worships science. A religion is a way of life that reflects one's beliefs. Just saying, before they mistakenly believe they don't worship something "bigger" than themselves.
    Atheism is not a religion. A religion in Australia must have a "belief in a supernatural Being, Thing or Principle" and "acceptance and observance of canons of conduct in order to give effect to that belief." Science is not about belief. It is about verifiable, disprovable theories that describe the world. If it's not testable, its probably not science.
    If a person were to blindly believe something despite being shown definitive, contrary evidence, then it would be understandable to say that science is their religion, but only for a particularly corrupted meaning of the word.
  • david Posted at 6:48 AM Today
    I'm an atheist, but I'm looking forward to putting christian on my paper..If it appears there are more muslims in the neighbourhood, up come the mosques.
    Holy hell! This guy is an example that you don't have to be religious in order to be bigoted. Who cares if mosques are built in their neighbourhood? How is it different to churches being built? The difference is purely xenophobic. I guess mosques scare me due to the delusions of those within, but no more than the delusions of those who visit churches. Christians have killed 10s of millions, if not 100s. But the commission of these atrocities isn't about religion; it's about crazy people as individuals, like Anders Behring Breivik, or as the heads of totalitarian regimes, like Pope Urban II, King Louis VII, Hitler, Stalin or Mao.
  • scott of ipswich Posted at 6:55 AM Today
    haha so if religion becomes the minority will they get their way then? like all the other whinging minority groups like atheists? 15,000 people is a pretty small minority indeed and yet they get an article about themselves. athesists are the most negative people in society if you know of any you'll agree. even if i don't believe in god i will be choosing to put christian because i know for sure i'm no atheist.
    Atheist isn't even an option. The option is No Religion. It's in the article!
  • Doomed Posted at 6:56 AM Today
    Do this and watch the Muslims become the lead religion in Australia. Only a matter of time before we are a Muslim lead country under Muslim laws!
    This is just so misguided that it is infuriating. I think I've covered this kind of bigotry above.
  • Wayne of Qld Posted at 7:27 AM Today
    Mich, funny how you refer to "the truth" as if you know 100% what you're talking about. Here's a tip - instead of clinging to atheism or a particular religion just because they suit your lifestyle, open your mind and do some research - investigate things fully and fairly, then you will discover the real truth. If you don't, and you're right - no harm done. But if you're wrong, then you're in for a dastardly you really want to take that chance ? 70 years "partying" with eternity suffering? Not a choice anyone would make mate.
    Other than the fact that Christianity works on real belief, not just acting like a Christian, Pascal's Wager is not a reason to believe in just one particular fiction. 99% of Christians would go to hell according to any given Christian with a slightly different take on it. But each one believes that they just happen to have picked the right branch. You know what the main difference is between the Scientology and Christianity, with respect to why the former is a joke and the latter is respected? About 2000 years.
  • Dave of SEQ Posted at 7:50 AM Today
    Atheism IS a religion.
    No it isn't. Look it up.

  • donsco of Brisbane Posted at 7:56 AM Today
    I'll tell you I bet all the Muslims will put their tick in the right box. So don't come screaming when we get their Sharia Law in place.
    My wife's family is of Muslim heritage. Some, if not all, of them will be marking No Religion, because they aren't practising. I was brought up Jewish, and while I like the food and know a few of the songs, I don't believe the stories, so I'll be marking No Religion.
    Sure, there'll be Muslims marking Muslim. It's because they are Muslim. Just like the people who believe in Christianity will mark Christian (of some kind). The difference is that there seems to be a resistance from non-practising Christians to admit that they are non-practising.
Anyway, none of this was meant to be an attack on the Courier Mail specifically, but that's the article I happened to read. It's really just been my way of venting at the stupidity I saw on that article, where I know I couldn't post in such long form at specific comments on the site.

Maybe I'm just reading too much into the rambling of those who I have already called bigoted morons. I have to remind myself sometimes that for each person with an IQ of 130, there's a person with an IQ of 70. Scary, but true.

Am I being too hard on the morons, or are they damaging society enough to justify my derision?

1 comment:

  1. I was just expounding very similar rhetoric on facebook, boring my friends to tears. Great blog. Cheers.
    PS the new plural term for morons is an "orgy". Ie: There was an orgy of morons writing in to the paper today.