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mattbrowne's avatar

Question for all people who believe in God: Is the religious right mainly responsible for the increase of atheism in the US and Canada?

Asked by mattbrowne (31719points) June 6th, 2009

I’m asking this because this isn’t a European phenomenon. In addition young-earth creationism is virtually non-existent in Europe. Why is this so?

From Wikipedia: The Christian right, also known as the Religious Right and the Evangelical Bloc, is a term used predominantly in the United States and Canada to describe a spectrum of right-wing Christian political and social movements and organizations characterized by their strong support of conservative social and political values. The politically active social movement of the Christian right includes individuals from a wide variety of conservative theological beliefs, ranging from traditional movements within Pentecostalism, fundamentalist Christianity and Mormonism to the sections of Lutheranism and Catholicism that are theologically more conservative than their mainstream denominations.

As a right-wing political movement, the Christian right is strongly opposed to left-wing ideologies such as socialism and the welfare state. Support for homeschooling, and private schooling, generally as an alternative to secular education. In recent years the percentage of children being home schooled has risen from 1.7% of the student population in 1999 to 2.2% in 2003. There the promotion of the teaching of creationism and intelligent design as opposed to evolution. The Discovery Institute and their Intelligent design initiative, the Center for Science and Culture, has pursued the strategy of getting the schools to utilize the “teach the controversy” approach, by discussing both the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory in the curriculum. On the issue of sexual education in public school’s, a spectrum of views exist, from advocating no sex education in public schools to advocating abstinence until marriage, to advocating complete modesty and chastity. The Christian Right has been successful in promoting abstinence-only curricula; in fact 30 percent of America’s sexual-education programs are abstinence based.The Christian Right believes that separation of church and state is not explicit in the U.S. Constitution, but is a creation of activist judges in the judicial system. There also the promotion of conservative or literal interpretations of the Bible as the basis for moral values, and enforcing such values by legislation. Some politically conservative churches refuse government funding because of their restrictions regarding acceptance of homosexuality and other issues.

Do you think this is related to destroying the belief in God because of all the negative associations?

Do you have any ideas how to contain the religious right movement from spreading any further?

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33 Answers

Judi's avatar

I tried to answer this and wrote out a long explanation then realized it was just to hard to explain (without a book!) The short answer, (in my opinion) is, that as this movement matures (and I already see it happening) and the people (not necessarily the leaders) grow in their faith, study their Bibles and get a more mature understanding of God, they will stop inflicting their ideology on others and realize their mission to minister to a hurting world rather than spew hate at it.
There will always be self righteous people who get it all twisted up, but the pendulum is turning, and kindness is making a comeback. (in my opinion.)

Jack79's avatar

I am religious, but don’t belong to the (religious or otherwise) Right. I believe in the notion of God as some sort of supreme and inexplicable power, but I strongly oppose ridiculous notions of an old man with a beard or little men made of clay and magic tricks turning wine into water or jumping out of graves. I think most of the common misconceptions about Christianity (many of which are entirely arbitrary and not even based on any Bilbical text) are disrespectful towards the real God, whose true essence our puny little brains could never grasp.

As far as the second part of your question is concerned, yes, I think human stupidity as it is manifested by advocates of “crationism” and all that voodoo crap have turned thinking people away from religion as a whole. Anyone with half a brain would rather be branded an atheist than fit in with that caricature of religious fanatics.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Judi – Yes, it’s a complex subject. There are many ‘to atheists only’ questions on Fluther, so I thought maybe it makes sense to look at the issue from another perspective. For the past months I’ve been noticing that one branch of atheists on Fluther (probably a minority) displays this subtle anger when discussing anything related to religion, philosophical or metaphysical issues. A few even seem to abhor the notion of a theistic interpretation of the universe. Why is this so? One explanation could be traumatic childhood experiences like being forced to go to confession regularly. I’ve been to the US many many times and when zapping channels especially on a Sunday morning listening to some of the so-called preachers for a few minutes it makes me want to vomit. They talk of human sin causing tsunami capable of killing more than 200,000 people and evil sick men falling in love with other men and so forth. And they talk of all the magic creating a canyon in less than 6000 years. Maybe some atheists were forced to listen to those deranged ‘clergymen’ and eventually decided to do away with God altogether. Well, it’s a hypothesis. I wonder whether there are any studies about the subject.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Jack79 – Yes, I’ve always wondered why God was never pictured as a woman of dark color.

Judi's avatar

(@Jack79, read the book The Shack She IS depicted as a Black woman!

ragingloli's avatar

I don’t think it is the main cause, but it surely helps.
I think the main cause for increased atheism is the lack of a factual basis for religion.

SuperMouse's avatar

While I don’t think the nuttiness of the Religious Right is directly responsible for an increase in atheism, I do think it presents a challenge for some seekers.

I was raised Catholic and fell away from the Church in my late teens. I spent the next 20 years searching for a faith that makes sense to me. Because of what I perceived as hatred, bigotry, and arrogance on their part, Evangelical faiths always turned me off. After a lot of looking and studying I did not ever feel as though these beliefs agreed with mine. So while I am not sure they are directly responsible for an increase in atheism, I do think they put off many seekers.

Finally I found the Bahá‘i’ Faith. Bahá‘i’s believe in, among other things, the oneness of humanity, the equality of men and and women, and that science and religion are in total harmony.

oratio's avatar

I am not christian so I am not eligible to the criteria of the question, but I just felt compelled to say that to see God as a man or a woman, white or black is far beyond ridiculous.

If there is a god it is unlikely it would have any sexual or racial identity. Especially if you accept biological evolution. Depicting God as one or the other says more about the artist and the audience than God.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

I disagree that the Christian right is against socialism. They are every bit as much against freedom as are their left counterparts.
No They have nothing to do with atheism. That is just something people figure out for themselves.

cwilbur's avatar

I think the Christian right is probably responsible for the number of militant and vocal atheists in the US. In Europe, where Christians tend to be much less in-your-face, people are more likely to just be apathetic agnostics.

Judi's avatar

@oratio ; I think the book I directed to was trying to get people to get out of their typical stereotype of what God “looks like.” It’s just a story.
I had a pastor once who said he thought that maybe the Holy Spirit is the female side of God.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Judi . . .Your answer at the begginning of this thread was beautiful. You are one the handful of true Christians that I have ever had the pleasure to have known. You talk the the talk and walk the walk and I think a lot of folks, myself included, could learn from your example of just being a good person.

mattbrowne's avatar

@oratio – Of course it’s ridiculous. But the vision center of the brain plays a major role in the way of our thinking. But the rational mind is capable of using abstraction.

oratio's avatar

@Judi Yes, I guess you can see a yin-yang balanced relation in God. Sorry, my comment was a reaction to what you said but not directed to you. There are plenty of people out there who believes that God is a man, or that Jesus’s ethnicity reflects on God. There are even people out there trying to prove that Jesus was black.

And sure, if there is a God, this God is the essence of everything, and he would be black, white, gay, straight, man or female, human and not, alive and dead, everything and nothing all at the same time.

As @Jack79 says, God would be what transcends our highest level of understanding.

tinyfaery's avatar

My non-belief is not a result of others, it is a result of my intellect and my conscience. The religious right just validates my opinion.

AstroChuck's avatar

Like tinyfaery, my atheism is not a result of anyone else’s religious philosophy. I think as society continues to move towards the left (as it always does) concerning social issues, people have more freedom expressing their thoughts which leads to discussion and free thinking. This was once taboo and dangerous to do. I find it healthy as someone can come to God, or not, on their own instead of being brainwashed (for want of a better, and less negative word) in a faith, which can really mess one’s mind up.

cyn's avatar

yeah… I mean why shouldn’t it… every religion says it’s the right one…

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@AstroChuck I don’t think that the word left has much utility anymore when applied to politics. In the beginning it mean the dropping of all government controls over the economy. Then Robespierre’s branch of the party took over and wiped out the freedom lovers and a lot of the old regime too. It no longer meant freedom and tolerance. It was just big government with a different style of doing it than the religious parties did it. Whether you have absolute control of a mans body and don’t care what he thinks or you go for absolute control of a mans mind and don’t care how he interacts with the physical world the result is the same. Absolute control of the man.

So don’t count out those of us that are against both total control by the State and total control by Religion and prefer to think our own thoughts and do with the physical products of our mind what we please.

AstroChuck's avatar

BTW, in case there was any confusion over my post, I meant brainwashing can mess up one’s mind. It kind of looks as though I meant faith and I don’t want someone thinking that I’m bashing their belief in God.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@AstroChuck That is the reason I hate the word atheist and like to call myself a non-believer. As an alternative I like to say that I believe in everything and I don’t believe in nothing being real.

AstroChuck's avatar

@walterallenhaxton- I have no problem being labeled an atheist. I just means I don’t believe in a god. That’s me.

ratboy's avatar

Yes. God listened to their prayers and, in disgust, willed Himself out of existence.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ratboy – I think God’s keeping his composure. He’s seen worse. So I believe he’s still around.

AstroChuck's avatar

Nietzsche might disagree with you there.

mattbrowne's avatar

@AstroChuck – Yes, I know, but if Nietzsche is correct, we might all survive the Big Crunch and enjoy the benefits of the oscillatory universe. We could all fall in love again for the very first time. And maybe someone could convince Hitler’s mother to have an abortion.

oratio's avatar

@mattbrowne That’s dangerous. What if O’Reilly has a news hour in Germany then.
Der O’Reilly Faktor
(I can’t speak german properly. I had french in school.)

ragingloli's avatar

a show with that much hate would not survive very long. in my estimation, it would be dropped after a month at most.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

I have nothing to contribute here. I am dropping out of this question.

Harold's avatar

I couldn’t really say, as I am Australian. However, when I was on QnA Live for 18 months, the attitudes of a lot of the American Christians on there would certainly turn me off.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Harold – Thanks for that. It’s really a shame how it got out of hand in the US.

fireside's avatar

I think the intermeshing of religion, politics and capitalism has really done a disservice to all three of those institutions in America.

I wouldn’t necessarily ascribe the rise in atheism to one group in particular. In fact, the Bahá’í faith has writings that describe the loss of faith as being perfectly natural since religions go through cycles and as a new round of prophecy is born of the spirit, the old ones become more and more hollow. It makes sense to me when people describe many religions in that way since i felt the same until I found the Bahá’í teachings.

Midnight_Blue's avatar

I think that media in general is responsible, it has shown the religious organizations to be very fallible, causing people to lose faith in them. There are unending stories about pedophile priests and dishonest churches. People are also more aware of just how bad the world is and can see that there is no apparent influence from god. Movies and novels depicting the catholic church as a mafia in the way that they protect their power also don’t help. It can be seen not as an increase in atheism, but a reduction in gullibility.

jazmina88's avatar

The church judgement is to blame, but also people who think they are invincible.

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