Difference between revisions of "Atheism and politics"
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Atheists do not have a unified political standing, but embrace a diverse range of political opinions. However, historically and in recent times the majority of atheist have leaned towards the left/liberal side of the political spectrum in both their economic and social views.  For example, a Harris interactive poll found that most American atheists are liberal. Atheists hold all major political positions, including the secular left and the secular right.
Not possessing a religious basis for morality, atheists are fundamentally incapable of having a coherent system of morality (see: Atheism and morality). The Barna Group found that atheists and agnostics in America were more likely, than theists in America, to look upon the following behaviors as morally acceptable: illegal drug use; excessive drinking; sexual relationships outside of marriage; abortion; cohabitating with someone of opposite sex outside of marriage; obscene language; gambling; pornography and obscene sexual behavior; and engaging in homosexuality/bisexuality. Atheists are less likely to hold to social conservatism.
As atheists' morality can be diverse, so to are their political opinions, and this varies from country to country: the secular left are the most notable in the USA. But there have been atheists on the political right. For example, in the United Kingdom there are links with a tradition of the secular right, e.g. David Hume, who was an atheist or agnostic (it is unclear), whose book History would "spread toryism across the land" according to Thomas Jefferson.
According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power." Vitalij Lazarʹevič Ginzburg, a Soviet physicist, wrote that the "Bolshevik communists were not merely atheists but, according to Lenin's terminology, militant atheists."
Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could."
The atheism in communist regimes has been and continues to be militant atheism and various acts of repression including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers. For more information please see: Militant atheism
In the belief that "people cannot change", governments under the banner of atheistic Communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40 million to 260 million human lives. Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that it caused the death of approximately 148,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987. For more information please see: Atheism and mass murder
Prior to this, the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution established an atheist state, with the official ideology being the Cult of Reason; during this time thousands of believers were suppressed and executed by the guillotine. There is far more notable examples of Atheists on the left than in any other political spectrum. This is mainly due to the Marx idea that "Religion is the opium of the masses" which appeals to Atheists. Additionally, within totalitarian communist regimes, the church was a threat to the power of the dictator and so being a Militant Atheist was necessary in order to expand the power of the state. Though, quite ironically, the communist left sometimes push for more integration of church and state. An example of this was Stalin's revitalization of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1941, which was joked to be more of a nationalization than a revitalization.. In British Politics, the Socialist party Labour have had multiple Atheist members including Clement Attlee who became prime-minister and Ken Livingston, mayor of London
Atheism and liberalism
The Secular left, while called left, actively promotes liberalism. It demands "strict government secularism" and "anger toward religious and political conservatives," within the USA. The secular left has historically opposed religious conservatives and social conservatism. Part of this is ideologically centered. Liberalism had its foundlings in challenging traditions and religious thinking has became tradition for certain countries. As such, being an Atheist defies tradition in these countries and so Atheism would seem liberal. It has been claimed that American Atheism has only became liberal in a reaction towards the attacks of the Religious Right in a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and even a claim that the secular left is not strong but is rather an over-reaction of the religious right in calling all center-left politicians "the secular left". Within the United Kingdom, there are notable atheist liberals such as current Deputy Prime-Minister Nick Clegg.
See also: Evolution and liberalism).
Most liberals/leftists tend to be evolutionists (see: Evolution and liberalism).
In July of 2000, Creation Ministries International reported:
|“|| For years, many people have scoffed at any suggestion that the evils in society could be linked with the teaching of the theory of evolution. But new research has confirmed what Bible-believers have known all along—that the rising acceptance of Darwin’s theory is related to declining morality in the community.
The research survey of 1535 people, conducted by the Australian National University, revealed that belief in evolution is associated with moral permissiveness. Darwin himself apparently feared that belief in evolution by the common man would lead to social decay. The survey showed that people who believed in evolution were more likely to be in favour of premarital sex than those who rejected Darwin’s theory. Another issue which highlighted the contrast between the effect of evolutionary ideas and that of biblical principles was that Darwinians were reported to be ‘especially tolerant’ of abortion.
In identifying the primary factors determining these differences in community attitudes, the author of the research report, Dr Jonathan Kelley, said: ‘The single most important influence after church attendance is the theory of evolution.’
Atheism On The Right (Conservatism and Libertarianism)
Made most apparent by the secular right, there are a number of Atheists who follow Conservatism in both the fiscal and social sense. Jillian Becker, a British Conservative Atheist who founded the blog "The Atheist Conservative", once claimed "one does not need Jesus to lead one toward a conservative viewpoint. In fact, US republicanism did not start combineing reglion with conservatism until the 1970s.. The Secular right claims that conservatism ends with "Human Flourishing" and so an Atheist who follows reason and logic would accept this as the best political pathway. Another reason is that Atheists will reject Liberal claptrap due to the lack of evidence that Liberals can provide against the historical evidence that Conservatism provides. As aforementioned, the level of Atheists who are conservative varies greatly by country. In the USA, few Atheists are conservatives, while there are a few notable conservatives such as Razib Khan and Heather Mac Donald who are considered leading figures of the secular right. This low level can be attributed to Attacks from the religious right such as George Bush who once said "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots" which would not ease Secular Right and Religious Right tensions. There is a far stronger position of Atheist conservatives in The United Kingdom, with famous adherents such as David Hume, Reginald Johnston and Tory MP Michael Portillo. In South Korera, the Head of the conservative party was an atheist while he was running against a Roman-Catholic liberal.
- Atheists & Agnostics in America Tend to be Politically Liberal
- Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
- James Adair (2007). Christianity. JBE Online Books. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Although the Civil Constitution called for religious liberty, which was extended to Jews as well as Christians, many revolutionaries pushed for the establishment of a new state religion, either the Cult of Reason (atheists) or the Cult of the Supreme Being (Deists). Changes toAlthough the Civil Constitution called for religious liberty, which was extended to Jews as well as Christians, many revolutionaries pushed for the establishment of a new state religion, either the Cult of Reason (atheists) or the Cult of the Supreme Being (Deists). Changes to the calendar eliminated references to Christian holidays, and even the ancient seven-day week, and a ist of officially recognized saints included such famous thinkers such as Socrates, Jesus, Marcus Aurelius, and Jean-Jacques Rosseau. A period of political persecution, often with religious overtones, broke out, known as the Reign of Teror. Thousands of people were executed by the guillotine, including many of the original leaders of the French Revolution.”
- William Belsham (1801). Memoirs of the reign of George III. to the session of parliament ending A.D. 1793, Volume 5. G.G. & J. Robinson. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Reign of this portentous period, it has been eloquently tenor, and energetically observed, " that the reign of atheism in France was avowed the reign of terror. In the full madness of their career, in the highest climax of their horrors, they shut up the temples of God, abolished His worship, and proclaimed death to be an eternal sleep:-in the very centre of Christendom, Revelation underwent a total eclipse, while atheism, performing on a darkened theatre its strange and fearful tragedy, confounded the first elements of society, blended every age, rank, and sex ,indiscriminate proscription and massacre, and convulsed all Europe to its centre, that the imperishable memorial of these events might teach the last generations of mankind to consider religion as the pillar of society, the parent of social order, and the safe-guard of nations." It is wonderful that, amid the horrors of this dismal period, while "the death dance of democratic revolution" was still in rapid movement, among the tears of affliction, and the cries of despair, "the masque, the song, the theatric scene, the buffoon laughter, went on as regularly as in the gay hour of festive peace."”
- William Kilpatrick (2012). Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West. Ignatius Press. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Actually, it's helpful to think in terms of two Enlightenments: the Enlightenment that cut itself off from God. The former led to the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the abolition of slavery, and the civil rights movement. The latter led to the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, the suppression of church by state, and the godless philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche and their offspring-National Socialism and communism. More recently the abandonment of God has led to the regime of cultural relativism that regards rights as arbitrary constructions. It's this second Enlightenment tradition that Cardinal Ratzinger referred to when he wrote, "The radical detachment of the Enlightenment philosophy from its roots ultimately leads it to dispense with man." Actually this transition happened no "ultimately" but almost immediately. The first instance occurred when Enlightenment worship of abstract "reason" and "liberty" degenearated quickly into the mass murders committed during the antireligious Reign of Terror in France. "Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name", said Madam Rolande as she faced the statue of Liberty in the Place de la Revolution movements before her death at the guillotine. She was one of the early victims of a succession of secular systems based on rootless notions of "liberty", "equality", and "reason". As many historians have pointed out, the atheist regimes of modern times are guilty of far more crimes than any committed in the name of religion. Communist governments alone were guilty of more than one hundred million murders, most of them committed against their own people.”
- Atheists & Agnostics in America Tend to be Politically Liberal
- David Hume - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philisophy
- Vitalij Lazarʹevič Ginzburg (2009). On Superconductivity and Superfluidity: A Scientific Autobiography. Springer Science+Business Media. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The Bolshevik communists were not merely atheists but, according to Lenin's terminology, militant atheists.”
- Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich, Proletary, No. 45, May 13 (26), 1909, translated by Andrew Rothstein and Bernard Issacs, quote from .
- Noebel, David, The Battle for Truth, Harvest House, 2001.
- The Black Book of Communism
- The Black Book of Communism
- Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Twentieth Century Hemoclysm
- Memory and Ideology
- The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
- "[...] then in 1896 at the age of thirteen went on, like all the boys in the family, to Haileybury College. Here he confirmed an unobtrusive atheism—he became disenchanted with church attendance and religious observance—and played rugby and cricket with the handicap of his small stature and lack of any real skill, but enjoyed the rifle corps." R. C. Whiting, 'Attlee, Clement Richard, first Earl Attlee (1883–1967)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edition, January 2008 (accessed May 2, 2008).
- "I assume you're an atheist? I am too. Isn't life easier?" "Ken Livingstone: The Interview". attitude.
- Morals decline linked to evolution