:bism: (In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful)
:sl: (Peace be upon you)
When I was in college, I was not an open atheist, because in the U.S. confessing to atheism is not well-liked and would not be well-received and I knew that even then. Only some of my friends knew I was an atheist. The rest didn't. My atheism was personal to me; and I just didn't see the point of discussing about my atheism or religions generally because it is one of these topics that I knew people just didn't and wouldn't appreciate; it is one thing, after all, to discuss religion in the context of college classes and another to discuss it as a point of lunch conversation; and so these lunch conversations were about life, not religion.
So, I understand what you mean. But you know, like life generally, atheism has never been simple either. There are different types of atheists just as there are different types of Muslims. So, for example, when I was an atheist, while I did dislike religions and considered them all as equally false, I never identified myself as the Richard Dawkins type. And I never wanted to take other people's beliefs away, although I just didn't see the point of them believing either.
So, thinking back, I have always been someone who's been very passionate about cultural relativism, and my atheism only gave me more incentive to recognize how cultures are different and merit understanding on their own terms; also, I have never been the type to just go along with the crowd. I remember in college my professor saying, for example, about how we're as Americans doing a great thing by bringing democracy to the Middle Eastern region. And I raised my hand and disagreed; of course, I was the only one. I said that the region should be allowed to self-determine what type of government the people want. I didn't have knowledge of Islam then, but I knew from an anthropological perspective that cultures are different across the globe and people within those cultures probably know best what type of governance they want and would work best for them. Just like clothes requiring examination for fit, I just didn't see how government should be a "one size that fits all."
I think one of the biggest culprits of people turning against Islam are people like former Muslims like Ayan Hirsi Ali who's amassed friends in people like Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, Douglas Murray and others; she and (others like her), who by the way, I have heard on many occasions speak about Islam, are people who have "poisoned the well" in terms of Islam for most open-minded atheists and liberals. Even though she's been proven a liar as she (we now know) famously lied on her asylum application and contradicted herself, that hasn't seemed to matter to atheists or liberals because they're her complete blind supporters. Therefore, it's educated Muslims instead who are then treated to suspicion and wariness because they do not condemn Islam and do not see it as oppressive and don't like people like Ayan Hirsi Ali spreading misinformation or being given a platform to do so.
And yes, I have seen a very disturbing phenomena with atheism in recent times. Increasingly, many atheists are uncomfortable at the notion that that transgender people or people who don't identify themselves on the spectrum of cisgender should be defended or have rights. I have seen atheists say things that are sexist and misogynistic against females - as an example, see the article "Atheism’s shocking woman problem: What’s behind the misogyny of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris?
" And of course, you'll now hear of atheists having churches
and now University of Miami has established a Chair for study of atheism
. To me, now, atheism is as troubling as any intolerant ideology or religion because it is no longer about disbelief in God but has instead become about the trappings of everything that used to be associated with religion. Atheism is now virtually indistinguishable from religion. And I know what you mean about feeling a little sad; to be honest, I probably have a soft spot for atheists as I used to be one, but I now feel that atheism is virtually unrecognizable from things I used to dislike about religion generally so that I now see atheism with with some of the same jaundiced cynicism I used to reserve for some theists.
By the way, it's not just the West becoming more intolerant of the Other, though that's generally true, especially with the rise of the right in almost all Western countries; I think it's also about how people generally are no longer tolerant of one another. For example, I cannot read one even innocuous article about something nice and happy without seeing in the comments someone acting upset or prissy or making crude remarks or jokes at the expense of the subject or just talking about how Trump is great or how Trump is awful even though the article has nothing to do with politics.
Honey, it doesn't matter whether a group is a minority or majority; what I've realized is that people generally are given to human rights abuses and being oppressive once they gain some traction in the world. Insert some pithy comment about "power corrupts." I think we have to make a point of standing up against fanaticism across the board whether we find it in secularism, atheism, or any religion; they're all toxic and equally concerning.
You know the irony? "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit." Wise words said by Mahatma Gandhi. And you'd think that atheists would therefore trample the sprouted seeds of intolerance in their midst. However, not so.
:wa: (And peace be upon you)
When I was an atheist I believed that most atheist did not fit the angry atheist stereotype that was bent on forcing everyone to believe what they believe. I didn't know many because I was near the bible belt (missouri) but the one's I knew were really nice. However, now that I am muslim I have become increasingly aware of bigotry against religion (and more often Islam) displayed by atheist. Which is surprising since atheist were a minority. When I was one I felt extremely ostracized. I had to be careful about who I revealed it to in high school, when I did tell someone I was met with derision or condensation, and the first friend I made in college said she no longer wanted to be friends with me if I didn't come to church with her.
So it's hard for me to understand a group of people who were once a minority now become more oppressive. Many believe that religious people are illogical or irrational, completely lumping in an entire group of people. Which to me is no different than racism. More and more atheist are in support of oppressing the rights of religious groups and many are using the same anti-Islamic rhetoric as many other extremists. Many justify their intolerance by trying to disguise it with being human rights activists. This is totally misleading because many atheist feel like being transgender is not real and needs to be proven. Many believe in banning religious veils for women. And many believe that it's completely okay with placing restrictions on religion even though they don't want restrictions on their beliefs.
It's kind of made me sad because even after I reverted I still held a lot of respect for atheists for not pushing their beliefs on others. I guess it's just an after effect of our current times, the west is becoming more intolerant of the 'other'.
Bigotry-intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.