Antireligion is opposition to religion. Antireligion is distinct from atheism (the absence of a belief in deities) and antitheism (an opposition to belief in deities), although antireligionists may be atheists or antitheists. The term may be used to describe opposition to organized religion, or to describe a broader opposition to any form of belief in the supernatural or the divine.
According to historian Michael Burleigh, antireligion found its first mass expression in revolutionary France in response to organised resistance to "organised ... irreligion...an 'anti-clerical' and self-styled 'non-religious' state."
The Soviet Union directed antireligious campaigns at all faiths, including Christian, Islamic, Buddhist and Shamanist religions. In the 1930s, during the Stalinist period, the government destroyed church buildings or put them into secular use (as museums of religion and atheism, clubs or storage facilities), executed clergy, prohibited the publication of most religious material and persecuted some members of religious groups. Less violent attempts to reduce or eliminate the influence of religion in society were also carried out at other times in Soviet history. For instance, it was usually necessary to be an atheist in order to acquire any important political position or any prestigious scientific job; thus many people became atheists in order to advance their careers. Different sources disagree on the results of all this, with some claiming the death of 21 million Russian Orthodox Christians by the Soviet government, not including other religious groups or persecutions without killings, and other sources stating that only up to 500,000 Russian Orthodox Christians were persecuted by the Soviet government, not including other religious groups.
The atheist state of the People's Republic of Albania had an objective for the eventual destruction of all religion in Albania, including a constitutional ban on religious activity and propaganda. The government nationalised most property of religious institutions and used it for non-religious purposes. Religious literature was banned. Many clergy and theists were tried, tortured, and executed. All foreign Roman Catholic clergy were expelled in 1946. Albania was the only country that ever officially banned religion.
The Khmer Rouge attempted to eliminate religions and all else relating to the old culture of Cambodia. In the process they killed nearly 1.7 million people.
Notable antireligious people
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)
- Friedrich Nietzsche - Der Antichrist, general anti-Christian statements in many other works. Nietzsche believed Christianity, and specifically Christian morality, to be the product of a transvaluation of values amongst the Jewish lower classes who bucked at Roman rule, and ascribed its other-worldly nature as the product of ressentiment, or the desire to devalue the things of this world out of spite. Famous for popularizing the phrase, "God is dead."
- Karl Marx - The founder of MarxistCommunism, who wrote, "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people".
- Vladimir Lenin - Like most Marxists, he believed all religions to be "the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class"
- Nikita Khrushchev - Soviet leader, initiated a campaign against religion, including the USSR anti-religious campaign from 1958-1964
- David Hume - the Scottish agnostic philosopher, known for his skepticism, who wrote that human reason is wholly inadequate to make any assumptions about the divine, whether through a priori reasoning or observation of nature.
- Ayn Rand, novelist and philosophical author, founder of the Objectivist school of individualism, famous for writing Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness.
- Bertrand Russell - British logician and analytic philosopher who believed authentic philosophy could only be done on the atheistic foundation of "unyielding despair" and in 1948 famously debated the Jesuit priest and philosophical historian Fr. Frederick Copleston on the existence of God.
- Marquis de Sade - French aristocrat and writer of philosophy-laden and often violent pornography. Once remarked that "God is the sole reason that I cannot forgive mankind" and that religion was a "cradle of despotism."
- H. L. Mencken, American journalist and satirist who famously ridiculed the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial.
- Thomas Paine, American author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He wrote The Age of Reason, a pamphlet arguing against organized religion. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized due to his criticism and ridicule of Christianity.
- Georges Bataille - Nietzsche-influenced surrealist, journalist and philosopher who held that modern Western civilization was characterized by the myth of "the absence of myth".
- William Blake - poet and painter. Although he remained very spiritual, he viewed organised religion as oppressive.
- John Dewey, atheistic American pragmatist philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, believed neither religion nor metaphysics could provide legitimate moral or social values, though scientific empiricism could (see science of morality).
- Enver Hoxha - former head-of-state of Albania, the only state to ever officially ban religion.
- Emma Goldman - anarchist, political activist, and writer.
- Catherine Fahringer, liberal Texan political activist who campaigned for abortion rights, gun control, and the strict separation of Church and State.
- Madalyn Murray O'Hair, an American atheist activist, founder and president of the organization American Atheists.
- Richard Dawkins, a prominent atheist and ethologist who is one of the "four horsemen" of New Atheism. He wrote The God Delusion criticizing belief in God(s) in 2006.
- Sam Harris, author and neuroscientist, who argues that religious moderation provides cover for dangerous fundamentalism. He wrote The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. He is one of the "four horsemen" of New Atheism.
- Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, writer, cognitive scientist, and one of the "four horsemen" of New Atheism.
- Christopher Hitchens - outspoken and uncompromising antitheist, journalist and literary critic, author of the book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. He was one of the "four horsemen" of New Atheism.
- Bill Maher - presenter and producer of the movie Religulous, comedian, political commentator, former host of Politically Incorrect and current host of Real Time with Bill Maher.
- Michel Onfray - French anarchist and hedonist philosopher, who authored the Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
- Steven Pinker - cognitive scientist who believes religion incites violence.
- James Randi - former magician, professional "debunker" of psychics, outspoken atheist, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation.
- Philip Roth - contemporary Jewish-American novelist.
- Max Stirner - anarcho-egoist and proto-existential nihilist who penned The Ego And Its Own.
- Tommy Lapid - outspoken Israeli media figure, journalist, and former leader of the liberal-secularist party Shinui. He was known for his public denunciation of Jewish rabbis, religious terrorism. and religion in general, as well as for his provocative remarks on what he deemed "superstition".
- Ricky Gervais - comedian, promoter of science over religion, mocks the use of the bible as scientific fact.
- The Rational Response Squad, a group of American antitheists who lobby for atheism. They are most famous for their controversial "Blasphemy Challenge" on YouTube.
- The Society of the Godless, a mass volunteer antireligious organization of Soviet workers and others in 1925-1947.
- ^ Michael Burleigh Earthly Powers p 96-97 ISBN 0-00-719572-9
- ^ a b http://countrystudies.us/russia/38.htm
- ^ Timasheff, N. S. (1941). "The Church in the Soviet Union 1917 - 1941". Russian Review 1 (1): 20–30. doi:10.2307/125428. JSTOR 125428.
- ^ World Christian trends, AD 30-AD 2200, p.230-246 Tables 4-5 & 4-10 By David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, Christopher R. Guidry, Peter F. Crossing NOTE: They define 'martyr' on p235 as only including christians killed for faith and excluding other christians killed
- ^ Емельянов Н.Е. Сколько репрессированных в России пострадали за Христа?
- ^ a b http://countrystudies.us/albania/56.htm
- ^ World Christian trends, AD 30-AD 2200, p.230-246 Tables 4-10 By David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, Christopher R. Guidry, Peter F. Crossing
- ^ http://www.christianaggression.org/item_display.php?type=ARTICLES&id=1092899381 Khmer Rouge: Christian baptism after massacres]
- ^ Marx, K. 1976. Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Collected Works, v. 3. New York.
- ^ "Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about the religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class."Lenin, V. I. "About the attitude of the working party toward the religion". Collected works, v. 17, p.41. Retrieved 2006-09-09.
- ^ http://www.ibiblio.org/expo/soviet.exhibit/anti_rel.html
- ^ Grossman, J. D. (1973). "Khrushchev's Anti-Religious Policy and the Campaign of 1954". Soviet Studies 24 (3): 374–386. doi:10.1080/09668137308410870. JSTOR 150643.
- ^ D. Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, 1779.
- ^ "I think all the great religions of the world - Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Communism - both untrue and harmful. It is evident as a matter of logic that, since they disagree, not more than one of them can be true. ... I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue." Bertrand Russell, 1957, from My Religious Reminiscences reprinted in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell
- ^ "Dewey felt that science alone contributed to 'human good,' which he defined exclusively in naturalistic terms. He rejected religion and metaphysics as valid supports for moral and social values, and felt that success of the scientific method presupposed the destruction of old knowledge before the new could be created. ... (Dewey, 1929, pp. 95, 145) "William Adrian, TRUTH, FREEDOM AND (DIS)ORDER IN THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, Christian Higher Education', 4:2, 145-154
- ^ Established the first instance of official state atheism where possession of religious objects such as a Qur'an or a Bible led to prison sentences.
- ^ Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful! The Guardian, 2001-10-11 "Has the world changed?." The Guardian. Accessed 2006-01-29.
- ^ "We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith.", S. Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation, 2006.
- ^ "[T]he Bible, contrary to what a majority of Americans apparently believe, is far from a source of higher moral values. Religions have given us stonings, witch-burnings, crusades, inquisitions, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, gay-bashers, abortion-clinic gunmen, and mothers who drown their sons so they can happily be united in heaven." The Evolutionary Psychology of Religion, presentation by Steven Pinker to the annual meeting of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Madison, Wisconsin, October 29, 2004, on receipt of “The Emperor’s New Clothes Award.”
- ^ http://www.randi.org/
- ^ http://www.randi.org/jr/072503.html
- ^ "I'm anti-religious ... It's all a big lie ... I have such a huge dislike [of] the miserable record of religion." The Guardian, 2005-12-14 " The Guardian. 'It no longer feels a great injustice that I have to die'