Let’s get right to the point. CNN’s exit polls showed that of all the religious groups, “No Religion” was the only one to go against proposition 8, the measure that banned gay marriage in California. In fact, we went 90% to 10% against it. No other factor in CNN’s entire five pages of polls produced a stronger vote against 8 than “No religion.” The only thing that came in close, 89%, was not surprisingly, “Never goes to Church.”
Similarly, CNN’s national election polls showed “No religion” going 75% to 23% in favor of Obama, second only to Jews, which went 78% to 21% in favor of Obama. Why was the Jewish vote so progressive? Part of the reason is almost certainly because, according to a poll by Harris Interactive, only 48% of Jews say they believe in God .
The evidence goes way beyond polls. Atheism, Agnosticism, or Secularism, or whatever your want to call unbelief, is what is desperately needed to have more progressive change in this country, and especially more change on social issues. With the exception of Buddhism, Jainism, and a few other more tolerant religions, in general, religion is totalitarian and advances the cause of hate, not love.
Now, of course, there are plenty of great, tolerant, progressive people who say that they are Christians, or Muslims or Jews (the three biggest religious groups in the United States). But as I mentioned earlier, half of Jews are secular. Most progressive Christians don’t really believe in the message of the Bible, or they believe in some alternative progressive message they’ve constructed.
If one is unfamiliar with the actual message of Jesus, let me make it clear:
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. – John 15:6
There are statements about love, about respect, about turning the other cheek, and about loving thy neighbor as thyself in here, too. But to really believe this sentiment is to believe that if one does not embrace Jesus, they will burn in Hell. Actually, it’s even worse than that, if you really think about it. Burning in Hell isn’t much of a punishment (or a threat) if you don’t believe in Hell. But look at this passage again. It doesn’t say God or Satan will burn you. It says that “Men” will gather you, and cast you into the fire. Read literally, read with the mind of someone who really believes, this is an endorsement of gathering up heretics here on Earth and burning them. Why should anyone feel bad about doing this? If the “Prince of Peace” sees nothing better for these people than to burn forever, why should we here on Earth treat them with any more kindness? The kindness and forgiveness of Jesus in other parts of the New Testament are more than canceled out by his repeated doctrine that unless you believe in Him and only Him, you will go to Hell.
The Old Testament has the same barbaric standard:
If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God – Deuteronomy 13:6-10
The pages of the Koran, the last Abrahamic Faith, are so similar:
Those who reject faith shall be the companions of the Fire. – Surah 2-39
This is a vengeful, angry, totalitarian ideology. If one really believes God acts in such a hateful and judgmental way, it is no wonder they feel so comfortable being so hateful and judgmental to their fellow men here on Earth. We don’t burn people at the stake in America anymore, but we did pass Prop 8. And we’ve passed dozens of other gay marriage bans in other states. And before that it was banning interracial marriage. And so on.
It is no accident that those who literally believe this nonsense are the most conservative. It is also no accident that those who “sort of” believe it, or pick and choose what to believe, are more progressive. And it is the least surprising of all that those who not only don’t believe it but reject it were the ones that voted the strongest against prop 8. The morals of the non-believer, much maligned over the years, were actually decades ahead of the rest of society. Until we understand the legacy of religion’s intolerance, we won’t be able to remove ourselves from its shackles. When we finally do, we can all be free to follow our own conscience and morality. Certain groups, like Humanists , are already doing this.
Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.
One thing I like about the Humanist Manifesto: No requirement to believe in it. No Hell, no burning, no threats. No punishing people who think differently.
I am an Atheist . I am one of the “Secular Progressives” that Bill O’Reilly fears so much. I may not be at war with Christmas, but I am very eager to start having some change in this country.
One last note: I realize that many people who consider themselves both deeply religious and very progressive will be greatly offended at what I have written here. I want to say that is not my intent. I would ask these people “Do you really believe everything in these books?” Most of them would have to say no. My argument is not that religious people are inherently bad. My argument is that there are certain religious ideas that if believed, inherently lead to intolerance.
Note: I orginally published this article under a different byline here.