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An Open Letter

Hypocrisy is widespread in modern society. Call me a cynic if you wish but I tend to believe the opposite of what most organisations try to tell us is the truth. A political party might say “foreign investment creates more jobs” and I will assume that there will be less jobs in future, or a church might say “you need to belong to our faith to be a moral person” and I will assume they are deeply immoral.

Reading that opening paragraph I really do feel cynical but its hard not to be. Actually my cynicism isn’t quite as universal as that might imply. There are situations where I assume things are true by default. These tend to be statements by organisations I support. I might be accused of being more or less critical based on political or social biases but I think its the other way around. I am more trusting of some organisations because they have a better record of being truthful, not the other way around.

Believe it or not, this rather convoluted introduction is leading somewhere. Recently I discovered an “open letter to believers” at the Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists web site. If you want to read the letter the URL for the web site is here.

Basically the letter attacks the idea that only religious people can be moral. Here’s a few highlights from the letter…

1. Studies indicate that the least religious countries are the most peaceful in the world. This doesn’t prove that religion causes conflict but it certainly doesn’t give us any reason to think that being religious makes people more peaceful.

2. The divorce rate among atheists is the lowest in the nation with the highest being among fundamentalist Christians. Divorce doesn’t necessarily equate to morality, of course, but given that fundies are always emphasising family values and its alleged link to religious belief I think this does indicate hypocrisy on their part.

3. The Christian abortion rate is as high as the national average and the Catholic rate is even higher. Young unmarried women graduating from private religious schools are actually more likely to get abortions than their secular counterparts. If this doesn’t indicate hypocrisy then I don’t know what does (considering all the violent anti-abortion protests Christians like to indulge in).

4. Atheists are the least represented group in the nation’s prisons, they supply less than 1%, Christians, however, are the most represented, with Catholics at approximately 39% and Protestants at 35%. Well morality and legality aren’t always the same but the evidence against Christians is beginning to accumulate, don’t you think?

5. Here’s a classic. Red states (those that vote consistently with the conservative, Republican, right wing, Christian fundamentalist agendas) and the areas highest in concentrations of those with declared Christian beliefs, purchase the most online porn! What can I say? Looking at porn isn’t necessarily immoral but its an interesting statistic I just had to include!

One concern I had with the letter was that the sources weren’t listed. I have emailed them about that so I hope to get a list of sources at some time but my own research has confirmed a lot of what the letter claims so I have no reason to suppose it isn’t true.

Being an atheist in New Zealand (and most other civilised countries) isn’t a problem at all. I could mention the fact to almost any group here and no one would have the slightest problem with it. In fact if a fundy mentioned he was a literal believer in the BIble he would probably be more likely to be rejected for being an idiot!

But things are different in the US (especially the southern states). According to the letter there are states where an atheist cannot hold public office (this is totally impossible to believe from here in New Zealand). And there is the well publicised finding that atheists are the most reviled, despised and mistrusted group in America. This really doesn’t leave America with much credibility!

Of course, that attitude is hardly surprising when they hear grossly immoral statements from people like Bush such as: “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”

Again and again we see evidence that not only are religious people no more moral than others but they are, in fact, less moral in almost every sense. That is hardly surprising of course. To take a religion seriously you have to give up all forms of free thought and critical analysis and surrender to the beliefs of others. It might be something written in an old book, some arbitrary rules made up by a large theological organisation, or the personal opinions of a charismatic leader. Whatever the sources of these rules that so many people live by they do not result in a formula for true morality.

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  1. July 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm
  2. ojb42
    July 10, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Evil can make sense. I left this comment at your site…

    This is a pretty pathetic cop out when you think about it. A far more obvious and likely explanation is that there is no god and the Universe is simply neutral when it comes to questions of good and bad. The simplest explanation of a phenomenon is usually the best. Making it more complex just creates more anomalies than when you started!

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