why do christians INSIST on lowering atheism to the level of a religion?

does misery love company? must they lump us in with them to make themselves feel better somehow? do they not understand that atheism is a CONCLUSION, not some silly belief system like religion?

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  • Jeff D
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Not all Christians insist on classifying atheism as a religion. Those Christians who do so can be divided into two groups: (1) Christians who sincerely have extreme difficulty how an adult human being can harbor no belief in a supernatural creator or "higher power" and function in life without a religion, and (2) Christians who have become aware of the popular debating tactic of labeling atheism as "just another dogmatic religion," after all other arguments in favor of religion's truth claims (evidentiary support) or usefulness have failed or fallen flat.

    BTW, I suspect that "T J M" is not a lawyer, or he would have provided the West Reporter citation for Kaufman v. McCaughtry, 419 F.3d 678 (7th Cir. 2005).

    The U.S. Supreme Court has given "religion" a ridiculously broad definition FOR PURPOSES OF CLAIMS THAT THE FREE EXERCISE OR ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSES HAVE BEEN VIOLATED. In Kaufman v. McCaughtry, the plaintiff was a prison inmate who was refused permission to form an atheism / freethinkers discussion/study group. As often happens in Establishment Clause cases in which someone claims that the government's action amounts to an unconstitutional favoring of one religion over another (or favoring religion over irreligion), the appeals court found it easier to overturn the trial court's summary judgment against the prison inmate plaintiff by relying on well-established but rather kooky federal court precedent.

    Here is what the 7th Circuit itself said in the Kaufman v. McCaughtry majority opinion:

    "But whether atheism is a "religion" for First Amendment purposes is a somewhat different question than whether its adherents believe in a supreme being, or attend regular devotional services, or have a sacred Scripture. The Supreme Court has said that a religion, for purposes of the First Amendment, is distinct from a "way of life," even if that way of life is inspired by philosophical beliefs or other secular concerns. See Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 215-16, 32 L. Ed. 2d 15, 92 S. Ct. 1526 (1972). A religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being (or beings, for polytheistic faiths), see Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495, 6 L. Ed. 2d 982, 81 S. Ct. 1680 & n.11 (1961) ; Malnak v. Yogi, 592 F.2d 197, 200-15 (3d Cir. 1979) (Adams, J., concurring); Theriault v. Silber, 547 F.2d 1279, 1281 (5th Cir. 1977) (per curiam), nor must it be a mainstream faith, see Thomas v. Review Bd., 450 U.S. 707, 714, 67 L. Ed. 2d 624, 101 S. Ct. 1425 (1981); Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1110 (7th Cir. 2003)."

    "Without venturing too far into the realm of the philosophical, we have suggested in the past that when a person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of "ultimate concern" that for her occupy a "place parallel to that filled by . . . God in traditionally religious persons," those beliefs represent her religion. Fleischfresser v. [*682] Dirs. of Sch. Dist. 200, 15 F.3d 680, 688 n.5 (7th Cir. 1994) (internal citation and quotation omitted); see also Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333, 340, 26 L. Ed. 2d 308, 90 S. Ct. 1792 (1970); United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163, 184-88, 13 L. Ed. 2d 733, 85 S. Ct. 850 (1965). [**6] We have already indicated that atheism may be considered, in this specialized sense, a religion. See Reed v. Great Lakes Cos., 330 F.3d 931, 934 (7th Cir. 2003)."

    The 7th Circuit ruled as it did, even though the plaintiff inmate (Kaufman) insisted that atheism is the antithesis of religion, not a religion, because following previous precedent and treating Kaufman's atheism as a religion "in this specialized sense" was the only effective way to allow Kaufman to win his appeal.

    The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment mandates neutrality by government with respect the treatment of religion vs. irreligion or one religion vs. one or more others. In cases involving plaintiffs who are non-believers alleging that their civil rights were violated (in Kaufman's case, because the prison officials allowed religious discussion/study groups but not his atheist group), It is apparently easier for the federal courts to apply this principle of neutrality by classifying philosophies or philosophical stances such as "secular humanism" and atheism as "religions."

    I have been practicing law for 28+ years, and in my opinion as a citizen and human being, it is NUTTY to define "religion" so broadly as to not require belief in supernatural beings or some other "spiritual doctrine." But that's what the U. S. federal courts have done, in order to protect the rights of some plaintiffs who would otherwise be denied a remedy. As a lawyer, I can understand this. Frequently, the task of the law is to find an indirect way to do something that cannot (lawfully) be done directly.

    Black's Law Dictionary [which collects the meanings of common and uncommon terms as they have been defined over centuries of court cases] defines a "cat" as "a small four-footed domestic animal that catches mice. Because my neighbor's Jack Russell Terrier in fact has caught mice and is rather good at it, does this mean that my neighbor's dog is actually a cat? Of course not.

    At one time, Indiana's sales and use tax law included "electricity" within a definition of "tangible [touchable] personal property." Why? Because I can put a wad of electrons or photons in my pocket? No, because classifying "electricity" as tangible personal property allowed the State of Indiana to impose sales tax on electric utility service.

    Does a federal appeals court's classification of "atheism" as a "religion" for First Amendment jurisprudential purposes mean that atheism should be classified as a "religion" in other contexts? Of course not.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Dictionary.com: Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    Given that definition, it is. Atheism is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, eh? Right? Their one set of beliefs: God doesn't exist, the universe happened by coincidence / chance / evolution.

    The only thing Atheism lacks is rituals.

    They DO have a moral code, at least as witnessed here on this forum: slam the Christians, make fun of anyone who professes belief in God, use sarcasm as much as possible and give thumbs down if the person ever remotely mentioned they were religious.

    That IS a code. They DO have a belief system. It IS a religion, just not an organized one.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Atheism is not a conclusion, it is just a a belief system. It belief stem from the impossibly of the existence of supreme creature(s).

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  • T J M
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    The entire origin of life debate concerning what to teach in public schools has been turned upside down by a U.S. Appeals Court ruling that "Atheism is a religion" (Kaufman v. McCaughtry, 2005, a ruling that has not been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court). That court opinion defined "religion":

    Religion defined by the U.S. Court of Appeals

    for the Seventh Circuit

    (1) "we have suggested in the past that when a person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of ultimate concern that for her occupy a place parallel to that filled by God in traditionally religious persons, these beliefs represent her religion".

    (2) "Atheism is, among other things, a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics. As such we are satisfied it qualifies as Kaufman's religion for purposes of the First Amendment claims he is attempting to raise".

    [above quotes in Kaufman v. McCaughtry 2005, (1) read 2nd paragraph of page 4, (2) see bottom paragraph of page 5]

    The definitions beg the question, "What are the issues of ultimate concern"? Issues of ultimate concern are the three issues that all religions have in common.

    A faith belief about deity.

    A faith belief in untested theories about how human life and the world came to be.

    A faith belief in what happens when you die.

    A person with faith belief in all three areas has belief in a religion, be it named or unnamed, organized or unorganized, atheist or theist. A person with a faith belief in only one or two of the three listed areas has some religious beliefs, but is not a member of a complete system of religious belief....."religion".

    Religions include a code of ethics (guideline of human behavior, morality). One court recognized Atheist religion, "Secular Humanists", have a written code of ethics. Other unorganized and unnamed varieties of Atheist religion have a code of ethics, but are individualized to the person. Every living person has an unspoken code of ethics they operate by inside them, whether they publicly commit to following some written ethical code or not.

    Rituals, devotion, additional theologies beyond the core three, or lack of any of these, all add to the variety of religion.

    Those persons who cannot bring themselves to accept that "atheism is a religion" in the same manner as "theism", but with almost all of its divisions and denominations unorganized and unnamed, should consider the dilemma Atheists are in.

    The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the fact that atheism is a religion... not Christians...

    You don't agree with the U.S. Supreme Court...?

    How un-American...

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  • Kaos
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Religion is their faith and life...

    They know nothing else and also do not want to....

    Religion is everything to them and thus every component of life also falls into this catagory to them....

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Well, I can't really blame them, they've been told that we're the opposite of what they are, and they've been told to believe everything they've been told is true. Sheep follow where they're directed, even if it means being sheared and slaughtered.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It's caused by ignorance, lack of education and religious dogma.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Because they don't like that atheism wins by default.

    It's their problem if the rules of logic are unkind to their delusions but that doesn't stop them trying to get around it by semantic bulls***.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Those who insist obviously don't understand the definition of "religion," or they just find it a convenient way to discard troubling dissent.

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  • Tom 1
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Did you personally witness every scientific investigation that ever took place, or did you skip that bit and just believe the results? Yeah they're corroborated by other studies, but did you witness those either?

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