So we’re actually going to be doing something a bit different today. I’m actually going to be going over an article I largely agree with, but which I feel severely weakens it’s point with an incorrect premise which ultimately opens itself up to both mockery and dismissal.
When I first saw this article posted on a cultus deorum page, my first response was just to rip it apart based on the title alone, but I actually read it before I did this (rare, but it happens, even if I do like to go into these things a bit “cold”). But I’m betting my readers will understand why based on the title alone. A.L. Eleutherios is our author today and our article is Absolute Anti-theism Is ‘Racism’.
Hopefully the fact that “racism” is in quotes provides us some hope. (The author was apparently part of the Cultus group and says his article is “tongue in cheek” so we’ll just run with it.)
Ever experienced being told that you’re crazy because one of your relatives is? Or having your family name associated with that crazy relative’s craziness as if one relative’s actions represented the collective character of the family?
Well, I am told that mental illness runs in families, and mine was pretty fucked up. I can’t recall if I was ever told this (though I suspect I was by my mother). But since someone brought up racism, yes, yes I am familiar with the act of being called mentally ill because someone of my race did something ages ago which people now consider to have been racist and that all white people are pathological racists because of this ancestor of “racist” white people.
I know, probably not the point the author was trying to make, but…
What about being profiled as a mugger, a lazy worker, or a parasitic immigrant because you’re the same colour or eye shape as that mugger, lazy worker, or parasitic immigrant from the other side of town?
Eh, except for lazy worker, can’t say that I have. I earned the lazy worker thing by my own hand though, so that’s a fair profile of me. I have been profiled as a racist, misogynist, homophobic bigot though because I happen to have the same color or eye shape as people who have been deemed racist, misogynists, and or homophobic bigots though. So I can understand and feel your pain there, buddy.
Prejudice hurts everyone.
That’s how it feels when anti-theists throw around the word ‘religion’ when they mean a specific religion (often, Christianity or Islam) or a specific strain of religion within that specific religion (like Evangelical Protestants or Wahhabists).
Is it? I mean, I’ve never felt that way as a devoted theist when Atheist talk about Christianity as if it was the only existent religion (most atheist refuse to talk about Islam because they get called racists). Sure, it bugs me some of the time (some of the time I find it hilarious), but I can’t say that having an atheist treat all religions like they’re the Abrahamic religions has ever brought up the same feelings inside me as when I get labeled a racist, misogynist, or other hateful thing that most people love to use as racial slurs against European Americans.
Mostly I’m just wondering how a group that supposedly hate’s religion and studies it in order to destroy it fails to learn about all the other religions out there. It gets pretty funny though, on those rare occasions an Atheist tries attack a Buddhist. 😀
Easier to do, but not smarter. It’s truly offensive, too
Easier to do what? Not study? Yeah, okay, I agree with that. I’m not sure it’s truly offensive though. Lazy sure. Unless you’re offended by stupidity though, in which case…you’re going to be offend a lot in life. Better to just let it go, trust me. Less of a chance of becoming an alcoholic.
Religion is such an old, vast, and diverse thing to ever compress into one definition or characteristic. This isn’t an ideal — this is thousands of years of actual history. Which is why it seems extremely racist (to borrow the term with good reason) to group a good chunk of the world’s population into one basket, as if they were all the same.
Well…our author starts out with a good, factual point. Religion is old, possibly the oldest thing in the world. I know prostitution is considered the oldest profession, but I’d say priesthood is probably older than that. Every group of people has had a religion, since way back to when we all became humans.
But is it really “Racist” to group a chunk of people into one basket as if they were all the same? Well, only if you want to consider Ideology a Race. In which case I suppose Democrats are being racists to Republicans and vice versa which…don’t exactly seem right (all though it’s not an inaccurate statement). Or that Islam is a race (which it’s not, anyone of any skin color can be a Muslim), or that Christianity is a race (again, despite multiple races belonging to Christianity). But given that races is really just a “social construct” based on visual signifiers rather than any factual differences in genetic codes…meh?
That being said, Christianity and Islam are the two biggest religions in the world and lay claim to over half the planet’s population. I’m not sure lumping a group together as if they were all the same, when they really are all the same (Abrahamic Religious Followers) really counts as racist. Or even throwing all religious people into a group together as “Religious” is racist. I mean, that would be like saying it’s sexist to call roughly half the planet’s population men, even though roughly half the planet’s population does in fact have penises (penii?)
It’s not racist to group people together by a category when they fit that category. It’s just…categorizing them.
And that’s really how a lot of anti-theists seem to see the religious in their repetitive, impassioned memes: that religious people are a monolith; a cohesive group of delusional, backward bigots holding the world back from science, reason, and progress.
Well yes, many Atheists (anti-theists, however you want to put it) are Assholes and ideologues. They believe their ideology is the correct one for all mankind and all others are base, evil, and stupid. Which really isn’t surprising given that it came from a Christian, monotheistic, mindset. Atheists really aren’t that much different from Extremist Christians or Muslims who think everything other than their beliefs are “Terrible.”
But that doesn’t make them racists. Religions are not races. If they were, our author would in turn be racist against Atheism for saying these things. Or at least, being racist towards Atheists for the actions of a few Atheists. After all, he’s grouping all atheists into one big block like they’re some uniform thing (when they’re not).
Are Atheists some what bigoted towards religions and religious people? Absolutely. But Bigotry doesn’t equal Racism. It just equal Bigotry.
But on what basis?
There’s also the matter of shrugging off the decline of ancient religions as if it were a matter of “progress”.
You know, I’m really starting to hate the word progress. Yeah…
Look, everyone likes to think they’re better than he people who came before them. It’s not really true, we just have “better choices” or “more options” and maybe occasionally learned what didn’t work, but we like to think it. The truth of the matter is though that everyone, regardless of race, would probably pick up things like slavery and genocide again pretty quickly if we lost all these nice mechanical toys that do all our work and provide us with a surplus of food. If we went back to doing everything by hand and living hand to mouth, you better believe we’d all get our barbarian back on in a hurry.
Much like how with Christianity failing to really do anything it promised, so many of us are going back to the ancient Paganisms which had a proven success record for thousands of years more than Christianity did. Or why the Islamists are returning to a more Mohammed-era style of Islam. Or why people are starting to roll their eyes as scientists who haven’t given us any cures in 70+ years, keep insisting we’re evil for driving our cars (which are supposed to be flying by now anyways), and still insist their the smartest people on the planet when they have problems even proving their theories. You go back to what works when what had been working stops. But that doesn’t stop people from thinking their way is “progress” over what came before.
This Halloween, Hemant Mehta, an otherwise Friendly Atheist, yet again, praised the annual anti-theistic stunt of UW-Madison’s atheist group on his blog:
As they do every year, the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison put together a fantastic “Graveyard of the Gods,” reminding students of all the deities who were worshiped, believed in, and eventually forgotten.
The purpose is to get students thinking about when their God will join the ranks of the dead.
But what if my God(dess) is already one of the dead to start with? How am I supposed to think when she will join the ranks of the dead when she already is there!!!! Help MEEEEE!!!! The Theological Issues!!!
Okay look, Mehta (really, his name is meta? lol) is clearly, clearly an asshole here. I mean, he’s telling me all these gods are dead, but he’s not providing me any bodies. I’m sorry, but the first step to proving death tends to be the need for a body. I mean, you can be declared legally dead in absentia, but that doesn’t always stick.
Also, if these gods were “forgotten” how does this Atheist society have their names to put on the grave markers? Just saying. Is there like a “tomb of the unknown god” there?
But this isn’t an act of racism. Maybe an act of bigotry, certainly an act of assholemanship. But not racism.
I am tempted though to get together a rite to hold in this graveyard honoring Hela. If they ask me why I’m worshiping a dead goddess, I can ask them “but who else would I worship in death but the goddess of death who is both living and dead?” I want to see their little heads explode with the Meta.
Our author sees this as racism. I see this as a chance to fuck with idiots.
“Fantastic”? But this isn’t a matter of critical enquiry, at all. It’s not that it bothers me what these kids believe about the old gods. It’s because the graveyard, essentially, is an endorsement of cultural genocide, no different from building a monument to Christopher Columbus.
Of course it’s not about inquiry. It’s about converting people to Atheism, like most religions try to get people to join them. But as a theist whose gods are no doubt listed on this graveyard, I don’t see this as an endorsement of cultural genocide (ideological genocide, maybe). I see it as a base attempt to try and get people to believe as they do, and one that opens them up to more trouble than it does to success, if you know how to play it.
Much like that preacher who tried to get me with “do you believe rape is wrong” and rapidly found himself trying to find evidence of Mary’s consent to pregnancy.
But I do see this “Graveyard” gig as completely different from Cultural Genocide. Hel, I don’t even see building a monument to Christopher Columbus as an endorsement of “cultural genocide.” The Monument is just that, to mark something that came before. And yes, a lot of people from all races died after Columbus discovered South America, but a lot of new people were born and new cultures were created. Columbus marks both death and birth. “cultural genocide” and “cultural genesis” at the same time
Our Author is a perfect example of this, being Mestizo himself, an ethnic group created from the fusion of Spanish and Native American peoples. In complaining about Columbus, he complains about his own genesis, for he would not exist without the Spanish part of his heritage brought over in the wake of Columbus’s discovery. Also, Columbus was one man, not responsible for all the actions that followed which were done by other men and women.
Basically, how this sounds like is, “These cultures are dead and you’re next”. But since these cultures didn’t die of “natural causes” or “old age”, this isn’t a reminder of mortality — it’s a threat. We know from history that most of those religions “died” and their gods “forgotten” because of coercion, not for simply falling out of favour.
Of course it’s a threat. “We’re going to do to you what you did to them.” Look, I actually agree with much of what this Author is saying about Atheists and Atheism. They are often complete assholes who do wish to enact a form of ideological genocide on religion (even if they don’t understand most religions). But that’s not racism. Even most atheists will admit that these “past religions” didn’t fall out of favor, they were actively struck down.
Which is one of the problems they have with “Religion.”
Now, I understand how they want to “help” monotheists see how ridiculous it is to question other religions but not theirs. I think that’s important. However, this graveyard stunt (and others like it) comes off as historically and culturally uninformed. There are countless accounts of pagan peoples fighting for their right to exist in an increasingly pagan-hostile society, ultimately losing because the enemy had more money for a bigger army. In some places, it still happens.
Well, yeah, perhaps it does come across as culturally and historically uniformed. But that doesn’t make people “Racists.” It makes them uniformed. Or maybe ignorant. Possibly idiots. But not racists.
Look I want to support the Author here, largely, but he’s completely failing to prove any racism. He’s proving bigotry and intolerance, sure, but so far the closest thing to anything “Racism” based is “putting people into groups” and…that isn’t racism. If you want to claim what atheists are doing is racism, you actually have to prove racism is happening. Which you can’t, because no religion is an actual race, even if most religions (especially pagan ones) started out with certain ethnicities.
Imagine future generations, talking about how there are no more Jews because their ancestors simply saw their culture useless and assimilated happily into the Reich. Or how Native American culture is vanishing because everybody decided it was so much better to join the White Man.
Okay, flag on the play.
1) Jews were never given the option to assimilate into the “Reich.” For a guy calling out historical ignorance…you just threw down some historical ignorance. From day one it was cultural separation and then extermination. Assimilation was never on the table. Ironically, many Jews had assimilated into German culture. Yiddish is a mix between German and Hebrew. Jews were nearly indistinguishable from German society, and high society. Many German politicians were Jews. (Germany had largely been the most Jewish friendly country in Europe, and had more Jews per population than any other western European nation. France was the Anti-Semitic capital of the world right up until the Nazi’s showed up). That’s why the Jews were made to wear “stars” to mark them at the start. They were nearly indistinguishable from the Germans.
2) Assimilation is an option for Native Americans. That many Native Americans choose to assimilate is an individual choice they make themselves. Just like how my Nordic relatives decided to assimilate into American Culture. Unless you want to argue that Native Americans should be denied the right to join in “white man’s culture” and should be separated off from “the white man” (in which case you are being a racist), there is no room to complain about present assimilation by Native Americans. Yes, there was force assimilation in the past, but that has been over for over Sixty Years. Any assimilation at present is a choice of Free Will, based on Racial Equality in which every person is allowed to live their life according to their desires.
This kind of thinking doesn’t question monotheism’s absolutist claims as effectively as it could and should because these anti-theist attacks are still Eurocentric, still monoculture-centric. By using the same absolutist language the Wahhabists and Evangelicals use, power remains with the powerful. Putting up this sort of graveyard only adds insult to injury and only supports the same hegemony we’ve all been trying to defeat.
Okay, first off, they are not “Eurocentric.” They are Christo-centric, or Monotheistic-centric. But Christianity is not specifically “European” as Christian ideology is fairly uniform across all continents, including South America, Africa, and Asia. Yes, for a while Christianity was most popular in Europe (because it got forcibly pushed out of the Middle East via the Islamic Invasions), but the Ideals of Christianity are not “European” ideals, nor is Christianity “eurocentric.” “Judeaocentric,” Maybe, as it was born from Judaism. I still say though that Christocentric is probably the best term for that.
And of course it’s “monoculturecentric” because Christianity and Islam are Monocultures. But that doesn’t have anything to do with “white” people or Europe. Europe is very much not a “monoculture” as anyone who goes to Europe will tell you. And we‘ve not been trying to defeat the “hegemony” of monotheism all together. Atheists try to defeat it so Atheism can become the new Hegemony. Atheists have no desire for Paganism to have the power, they have never been Paganism allies. Assuming that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a stupid belief. At best, the enemy of my enemy is at least attacking my enemy. He might be my enemy one day in the future. The Cold War should have taught everyone that.
Polytheist, Lily A. Connor, laments on her Facebook:
[…] blanket antitheist rhetoric – deities are “imaginary friends,” using the language of psych disability for religion (“delusions” etc) – doesn’t hurt Christian institutional power or hegemony. It doesn’t weaken abusive religious orgs.
It does, however, hurt people like me – practitioners of stigmatized minority religions. Some of that religious abuse and stalking was on the basis of my religion, and from my position, there’s not much difference when atheists and fundamentalists use the same arguments to dismiss me.
[…] I wish y’all would approach atheism like I approach vegetarianism – do your thing, but don’t be an ass, and go out of your way not to accidentally marginalize already-marginalized people. Discrimination is real and collateral damage is still damage, y’all.
Not much to say here. I agree with her. Calling Christ an imaginary friend doesn’t weaken Christianity or Christian organizations. Just like calling Allah an imaginary friend doesn’t weaken Islam or Islamic organizations.
Of course, calling Hel, or Odin, or Thor an imaginary friend doesn’t weaken me or Heathen organizations either. Nor does calling Jupiter or Mars imaginary friends weaken the Cultus or Cultus organizations. It’s being stupid. It’s being cruel. But at the end of the day (as people like Halstead found out when he did it) all it really does is show you’re an asshole, but it doesn’t have to do anything negative to Paganism or Theism. In fact, it tends to do the opposite.
Everyone likes to act as if insults and cruelty weaken us, hurt us, destroy us. That the world has to be understanding, compassionate, tolerant, and even “your ally in the struggle for your equality.”And those that aren’t “our allies” are the enemy to be crushed. For they are bigots and racists.
The truth is though, it only does that if you allow it to. Yes, the pain is real, but that pain is a fire in which we can forge ourselves, and our religions, into steel. You want to know why Christian organizations aren’t weakened when Atheists mock them for their “imaginary friend?” It’s because they take those attacks and use them to say “look, we are attacked, let us band together and prove our strength and the reality of our beliefs.
We Pagan Theists could learn from that kind of attitude. Instead of whining “oh, you’re marginalizing me, please stop!” We should instead say “oh look, some asshole thinks he can take us with insults and name calling. Let us show him the power of our conviction by growing stronger.”
Discrimination is real. But Cultural Damage only happens if we allow it to happen. Our Culture is Ours, and it is we at the end of the day who decide if the broken window and graffiti walls are what stand, or if we clean up the mess and make it better for having been attacked. Want to know why the Jews are so strong a people, despite having as harsh a treatment, if not harsher, than most of us Pagan Theists? Because they didn’t whine to their attackers about being attacked. They laughed about being attacked, laughed at the mess, and then wiped tears of laughter away as they put everything back together. Sure, sometimes some of those tears were tears of sorrow as well as joy, but they still laughed as they cried. They used their fire, and now despite their smaller numbers, Jews have more power and wealth than any other group in the world per population. We Pagans could learn from that example.
Because if you’re against racism, racial profiling, and stereotyping, maybe you should be against absolute anti-theism, too.
After all, there are so much better, informed ways to critique religion.
Again, flag on the play, false equivalency and failure to prove point.
Atheists are not racists for attacking Theists. Our author has failed to provide any proof for this, or even a sound argument to support it. He says it, and then walks on as if it was a fact. It’s not. Nor should the idea even be given credibility. Ideologies are not Races. Atheists are certainly bigoted towards religion (the term bigot means “being set in ones ways/ideology without compromise”, or it did originally). But Bigotry is not Racism. Prejudice is not Racism. They are all separate things. Had the author said “if you are against bigotry, ignorance, and stereotyping,” they would have been correct. But Racism and Racial profiling have no part in Ideological discussions, as race has no bearing for Ideologies, especially religious ideologies. Atheists don’t care what your race is, they care what your ideology is and that it is not Atheism. It would only be racist if they were making choices based on race. But they hate religions regardless of that religion’s ethnic origins.
Now, should people stand against absolute anti-theism? They can, I do, but I’m not going to say that any man has to do anything simply because I think it’s a good idea. I’d be no different form the Atheists, the Christians, or the Muslims then.
At the end though, our author does get some things right. There are better ways to critique religion than simply being anti-theistic. Heck, I’ve proven that plenty of times when I’ve gone after Islam. Why? Because Religions (including Atheism) are Ideologies based around Ideas. Good ideas, bad ideas, sometimes just stupid ideas, and often on the Ideals of the Gods in charge of that religion’s creation. But ideas can be questioned, they can be reviewed, and they can be judged. But it is not racist to judge these ideas simply because of the skin color of who started or presently practices them. If it is, then anyone who attacks Christianty as “eurocentric” or as an ideology is being a racist towards Christians, regardless of if those Christians are white, black, or any other shade.
The author has a good point. Simply attacking religions for being theistic is stupid and bigoted. But it’s not racist. There are better ways to “Attack” religions. But claiming that certain kinds of attacks, or even just attacking theistic religions is an act of “racism” when every race has Theistic religions and those doing the attacking are from every race is…stupid. It weakens the argument because an Atheist can just do what I’ve done…prove it’s not racism. And then they can weaken your position for trying to claim it was racism. And ultimately, you cheapen the whole idea of racism and why racism is bad. IF everything is racist, then there is no point in trying not to be a racist. So you might as well be a racist because you’re going to be a racist anyways.
I encourage Eleutherios to stand by his Theism, at is good. But I would also encourage him to not see not allow the lens of racism to cloud all he sees. Not all disagreement is racism, not all bigotry is racism, and not everything is a race or about race. This is religion, it is about faith, belief, and ideas coming together to form all kinds of religious ideologies. Theists can no more be racist to Atheists than Atheists can be racist to Theists, because our ideas transcend race.
Hela Mitt Uns