Without answers, why religion?

We privilege them because there is a long history of people being unjustly harmed due to religious belief.


I was only addressing your claim that it is a simple matter to change one’s choice about religion. That has nothing to do with whether or not a person’s choice of religion carries with it any sort of privilege.

Yeah, I think whether/why religion is a protected trait is sort of its own independent question.


I hope you’re being sarcastic. The long history of people being unjustly harmed due to religious belief is exactly why religious belief should never be mentioned outside one’s home or church.

But it is an obvious, absolute fact that it is easy to do so if one chooses. No amount of gainsaying can affect that. For societal and legal purposes it does not and can not matter if some people choose not to.

In fact, any reading of history will show that the choice to change one’s religion at whim is exactly the reason for much unjust treatment. That is a condemnation of religion, not a reason to privilege it. The First Amendment prohibits the government from interfering with such free choice, because of contemporary and historic experience with governments doing so with much bloodshed and other loss. All of your posts are arguments in support of religion being an individual matter and not one for law or society. An an example, the Boy Scouts of America as an organization does not allow atheists and agnostics, and that “right” has been affirmed by the Supreme Court. What is that if not privilege sanctioned by law?

Perhaps what you mean is that if one so chooses, it is easy to mouth the words claiming that he now believes the tenets of that other religion. But to actually change one’s beliefs is much more difficult.

Certain choices about some religions are deeply held beliefs.
It is difficult to change deeply held beliefs.
Therefore, it is difficult to change certain choices about some religions.

And as second counter, I submit for your consideration those highly communal religions which shun renouncers of the faith: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox Judaism. A person may have individually decided the religion is not for them, and mentally renounced the beliefs, but social pressure and shunning make it very difficult to actually renounce the religion before the rest of society. We even speak of people who “got out” of these religions as “survivors”, as if the religion was some sort of beast whose grip is vanquished only after a long and arduous struggle.


What exactly are you trying to argue? You write religion should not be any more privileged than one’s choice in sports team. Then you point to Boy Scouts of America as an example, and imply that their exclusion of atheists and agnostics is a privilege you would like to see revoked. Does Ralph the NE Patriots fan get to organize a NE-Patriot-fan exclusive summer camp, no Colts fans allowed? What’s the difference? (BSA has always been a religious organization, even if ‘nondenominational’.)


Absolutely no one is arguing that besides you, as it is entirely irrelevant.

This may be a consequence of the fact that humans practice K-selection when raising offspring. We give support of many kinds to our children, including mammalian milk and enculturation. This could result in a predisposition towards believing in a benevolent deity.

There may be alien civilisations which practice r-selection, where thousands of larvae are hatched from eggs with little or no support from the adults, and nearly all of them die before reproducing; I doubt those species would have quite as much faith in a benevolent, nurturing god.

Some religious beliefs are interwoven with every aspect of daily life, and are not separable from one’s public aspects.

I’m atheistic or agnostic depending on how you’re defining “god”; but I’m very much opposed to attempting to make people hide their religion.


Even many people who think they’ve changed their religion are still full of their original religion’s assumptions.

Huh? I can’t even figure out what your argument is there. Insisting that other people must change their religion according to somebody else’s desires has caused a lot of unjust treatment, yes.

I am. And no, it’s not.

Oh, FFS.

Nobody wants to make people hide their religion, just to stop imposing it on others and impinging it on their lives in numerous ways.

People do change their beliefs daily. Nobody stops them. Only members of competing sects care.

Forcing members of one religion to change their religion to that of conquerors or the powers that be is so continual in history that it doesn’t seem remarkable unless you bother to stand outside and look. If you don’t feel disheartened by humanity once you do, there is nothing I can say that will change your beliefs and assumptions.

If you could give some examples from recent first-world countries, I might be able to figure out what you’re talking about. Do you consider Nazism or Communism to be religions that the government pushes on its citizens?

How would that not be you wanting to make people hide their religion?

If that’s in reply to my saying

it doesn’t seem to me to be a sensible reply.

It’s precisely because it’s not easy for people to change their religion that it’s unjust treatment to force them to do so. If it’s so easy for people to do this, why would you be “disheartened by humanity” because others often try to enforce it on them?

How many first world countries have a state religion (England, not UK; Iceland; Norway) and have conquered anybody recently? Impossible ask.


To preempt further repetitions: I am interested in discussing why people are leaving religion. I won’t be responding to any other posts. Please start your own threads for those discussions.

Okay. But I was responding to things that you yourself brought up.

There’s a great primer from the BBC,


Something you will not see listed as a common reason for abandoning religions altogether, is the mere observation that people disagree with each other about religious questions.


I think you may be underestimating how effective religion is in indoctrinating (or we can call it brainwashing) its adherents. What are Sunday Schools, after all? Religion is also good at weaving a social web around its adherents. Leaving may be difficult, ranging from being shunned to just being talked about and maybe having loved ones reject you.
I was lucky in that my leaving was simple, but I’ve heard lots of testimonies. I think you may not be giving enough credit to those brave enough to do it in a religion drenched environment.

Of course the answers are merely made up. All religions are man-made ultimately. When an influential person gets together with enough other like-minded people, they may get together and form a group, sometimes a large enough group that it becomes classified as a religion. Nothing really surprising there, any more than political affiliations are surprising. Some are followers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all its permutations. People often want something to believe in bigger than themselves, bigger than this reality, and religion often suits the bill. And for the record, babies are not born atheists any more than they are born Republicans or racists. These ideas are learned over a lifetime and usually from an indoctrination by parents. I also have an issue with the term “believer” because it implies that if one is not religious they do not believe in anything. There are plenty of things one can believe in, including fair treatment, honesty, and industriousness, without having to be religious.

Eh, I have always assumed an implied “believer [in Christ, etc.]”.