Monday, November 28, 2005

Freedom from religion, not freedom of religion

It's no secret that none of the contributors here like religion, and since we live in North America and Western Europe, that means Christianity. In fact, we feel pretty strongly that religion is bad for society and should be fought against. I have also written an entry on why I think Christians are our cultural enemies. I think it's pretty clear that the Christian worldview - not all Christians, only those who subscribe to it - are enemies of individualism and individual rights.

I know this is not a very popular position to take. I'm not in it to be popular. I'm not in it to be nice. Learning to call a spade a spade is the first step towards a realistic assessment of any situation - without honesty (the uncompromising recognition of reality) and frankness (the ability to express such uncompromising recognitions), we have no guard against problems. It's easy to bury one's head in the sand and refuse to see problems. I think that, in a large part, the current anti-science and anti-atheist movements are due to such head-burying.

The current attitude towards religion is that any religion is good, as long as you have a religion. It doesn't matter what side you're on, at long as you acknowledge the legitimacy of the game. It is not other religions, but rather atheism, which is seen as the enemy. Even atheists make it a point not to challenge Christians to their face, and that is very distressing.

So we end up with a society which preaches "freedom of religion". Freedom of religion means : you have special rights, you are recognized, as long as you have a religion. If you don't, then you lose out. But beyond this inequality, the main problem is that these "special rights" are not natural, and therefore go against freedom.

The most flagrant example is educational abuse. So-called "religious schools" are allowed to teach anything they want in the name of religion, even cults. These brainwashing institutions have no place and should be banned, or at least forbidden to pass as "schools" and "universities", that is to say, if we have a society based on evidence and not on belief, and on protecting the individual from religious fraud. I'm in favour of prudent predation in society, so I wouldn't be in favour of banning them outright, but that's a wholly different issue.

So we've got this thing called "freedom of religion". We must reject this concept and replace it with "freedom from religion". Individuals should be free to be religious but, as anti-individual belief systems, we shoule ensure first of all that the individual is free to leave religion, regardless of cultural, social, family pressures. It is only when the individual has a free mind that he is able to make decisions that pursue his own interest (and by extension general interest).

The special protection of religion hurts everyone. It favours religion and its collectivist consequences, oppresses the victims of religion, warps public discourse, and only creats more inequalities of rights. We should no longer talk about "freedom of religion" but rather the "freedom from religion".

Another aspect of this issue is that Christianity is inherently opposed to freedom of mind, which is a necessary prerequisite for political freedom. It's easy to restrict freedom to political freedom, but if you look at a cult like Scientology, for example, and people who can't leave even when they are made to basically do slave labour simply because they live in fear, I don't think you can really dissociate the two. Sure, political freedom is an important part of it, but not by far the whole story. You can have the most libertarian society in the world and still have an extremely oppressive society.

So the other aspect we should consider is whether we'd like an oppressive monotheistic religion to dominate public discourse. And while Christianity is not as bad as a cult like Scientology, it still promotes mental submission and moral irresponsibility. And that also reflects on politics. If we tolerate Christian discourse, we're tolerating a worst society for each and every one of us.


Servius said...

These brainwashing institutions have no place and should be banned...

So much for liberty.

TKC said...

I have to go with Marty. Freedom of religion also includes as a subset freedom from religion. You don't have to be Christian if you don't want to be. Faith in Christ is a deeply personal thing that cannot be legislated for or against. It is up to the individual. If you try to ban religion you'll only succeed in encouraging their wrath. The same goes for legislating evangelism. You'll only end up stirring the atheist pot.
Individual choice, not bannings of those you disagree with, is heart of liberty when it comes to religion.

Dave said...

Does that mean you want to ban all mention of atheism as well? The irrational belief that there is no God is unsupported by any evidence, and is as much a religous belief as any other.

It's much better to allow all individuals to present their own ideas, than it is to try to justify banning the ideas you disagree with.

Lori Heine said...

Precisely who is going to be doing all this banning? If not the government, then undoubtedly some pack of Visigoths who have determined, precisely, that might does, indeed, equal right.

I thought libertarianism was about mutually-respectful and non-violent pursuit of the truth. Which can never be reached by banning anything.

Marty, TKC and Dave are all right on.