Hundreds of atheists should march for persecution reminders, too

It’s World Humanist day today, in case you were unaware. For whatever reason, it doesn’t get the advertising it ought. For more about it, I quote from the International Humanist and Ethical Union:

Marking the day is a way to spread information and combat misinformation about the positive aspects of Humanism as a philosophical life stance and means to effect change in the world.

The idea got its start in the 1980s with the American Humanist Association.

In the late 1980s-early 1990s, the AHA and then the IHEU passed resolutions declaring the Summer Solstice to be World Humanist Day. In both cases it was done as twin resolutions: the first to decide that there should actually be a World Humanist Day, the second to decide when that day should be.

And here it is.

Not every humanist would admit to atheism maybe, but I think most atheists would be willing to stand up and call themselves secular humanists. The issues we face have more to do with whether or not there is a god, but a lot of critics of our movement wind up thinking that is all we care about in terms of debates. Not true. There’s a need to support humanity regardless of belief but we (as atheists or humanists) just happen to be the ones most vocal when it comes to crediting religions as part of the reason why those inequalities exist to such a degree in the first place.

In Calgary on Sunday, a sea of red shirts took to the streets to praise Jesus and remind the universe that Christians hate to see other Christians getting persecuted. From the Herald:

Marchers began Sunday afternoon at Shaw Millenium Park and then headed into downtown along 8th Avenue before finishing at Olympic Plaza.

Most participants came from Calgary and other parts of Alberta.

One of those, 16-year-old Josh Williams, said the march was a way to worship the Lord and help them become bolder with their faith.

Bolder? Seriously? Christianity is still a majority faith-choice in a lot of places in the world, including Alberta, and you still think you need more courage to be one?

Human rights need to be fought for across the world. It’s not a woman thing, it’s not a Christian thing, it’s not a Jewish thing. It’s a human thing.

Chris Friesen joined the March for Jesus to remind others that Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith.

Friesen said he has just returned from an eight-day trip to Columbia, where he interviewed people there.

“I’m (at the March for Jesus) to encourage fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to remember our other brothers and sisters around the world who couldn’t do this publicly,” he said.

Going by this, an audience might think, “Those poor persecuted Columbians! I must give some money and pray!” Going by Wikipedia, Columbia’s citizens are 81% Catholic and a further 13% identify with flavours of Protestantism. I think it’s safe to say they’ve got Jesus in the bag there. Don’t worry about them.

I don’t want to come across sounding facetious. Persecution for one’s beliefs is a serious issue for a lot of Christians in countries where they are a visible minority. If they don’t feel safe to be Christian where they live, it’s a sad thing.

But think about this – in all those countries where Christians might be persecuted, you think atheists would get better treatment, or worse? What about atheists in Columbia? How comfortable do they feel, surrounded by that level of belief on a daily basis when they don’t share it? Statistics vary from study to study but atheists still count as minority everywhere it’s been tracked.

There are a lot of atheists who’ll never tell their families because of how they’d react. There are atheists scared to be outed at their workplaces because they know it’ll affect job security and promotions. It’s an issue for relationships and politics and military service, too. The Washington Post has an opinion piece mentioning those and ends thusly:

Surveys designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers. Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities.

I hope none of them want to recreate the Cult of Reason; vandalizing a church with Flying Spaghetti Monster graffiti was bad enough. We atheists, humanists and Pastafarians don’t need that kind of reputation muddying our feet as we try to make our way positively through the streets of our cities and towns.

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One Response to Hundreds of atheists should march for persecution reminders, too

  1. tmso says:

    Thanks for posting. I didn’t know. I’ll mark it on my calendar for next year. But, I suppose, everyday should be World Humanist Day.

    You know, I just read somewhere that Hong Kongians are mostly atheist or do not claim a religion. Can’t imagine living there, but who would have thunk it?

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