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Posted by on Jan 2, 2013 in Atheism, Progressive Christians, Religion | 7 comments

Liberal Talk Show Host Claims Atheism Is A Religion

Yesterday, I was in my car listening to the radio when I caught the end of a segment from the Thom Hartmann program. Since it was New Year’s Day and all, the show was running segments from earlier in the year and this particular segment featured the host, Thom Hartmann, claiming that atheism is a religion.

Hartmann is a popular radio talk show host on the left of the political spectrum. It always surprises me that people like him would take aim at atheism considering that most atheists tend to vote Democrat and are usually much more progressive than most of our religious friends. I get why Fox News and Republican talking heads would attack atheists. We generally disagree with them on most issues and fundamentalist Christians are their target audience. But for liberal talk show hosts to make ridiculous claims like this directed toward atheists seems silly, counter-productive, and flat out not correct.

Atheism isn’t a religion. While some religions are atheistic (Buddhism, The Society of Ethical Culture, etc.), atheism in and of itself is not a religion. It is simply a lack of belief in deities.

When religious believers make such ridiculous claims, they are basically saying, “I am rubber and you are glue and whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” To put it another way, they are saying, “I know you are, but what am I?” These attempts at false equivalency are childish, stupid, and inaccurate. Dear Thom, atheism is not a religion any more than off is a radio station.

Unfortunately, people actually listen to what Hartmann has to say and so I went to Twitter to educate him about how atheism is not a religion. I also went on his website and found quite an interesting conversation on the topic in the message boards. I have been arguing with “liberal Christians” on there. My final question to those claiming atheism is a religion is a question of clarification. Is the claim that everyone MUST have a religion or is it possible to not have a religion? If it is possible to not have a religion, what would “not having a religion” look like? I submit that it would look like atheism.

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  • Copyleft

    What was the gist of Hartmann’s comment? Was he making an equal-protection argument that atheism should be free of government intrusion, or saying that it deserved equal time in public observances, or what?

    • http://www.skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      Lol, no. He was claiming that atheists are just as bad as fundamentalist Christians. He was claiming that atheism is just as much of a religion as fundamentalist Christianity. If he were making an equal-protection argument, I would agree with him. Michael Newdow put it best when he said that just as silent protests are protected under free speech, atheism should be protected under freedom of religion even though atheism is not a religion.

      • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

        Right. It *should” be protected under the free exercise clause, but that clause specifically refers to “religion”. So we don’t have any explicit protection if we keep saying atheism isn’t a religion. I guess it all depends on how one defines religion.

        • http://www.skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

          It us protected under religion just as silence is protected under speech. But silence isn’t speech nor is atheism a religion.

          • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

            Yes, but that’s only because 5 to 9 people in DC have CURRENTLY interpreted a vague and archaic document that way. That could easily change…just like the way that 5 of them are ignoring the militia clause of the Second Amendment.

          • Ron Freethinker

            I generally like Thom Hartmann but don’t agree with him that atheism is a religion. Of course, people are free to call anything a religion if they desire, including writing letters to the editor, But that is just the sloppiness of language in play. If atheism simply means “without god or gods” it would seem to be the opposite of traditional religion which is concerned with a god or gods. .

  • NoCrossNoCrescent

    So in what context did he say that?
    Unfortunately my personal experience with liberal christians has not been a pleasant one. http://www.skepticink.com/nocrossnocrescent/2012/11/25/the-religious-left-as-stupid-and-hateful-as-the-religious-right/