Is Atheism Considered a Religion by Law?

In summary: I am not making a joke here ... I am serious about EQUALITY)In summary, the conversation discusses the topic of whether atheism can be considered a religion and the implications of this label. The court ruling in question is seen as more of a legal issue rather than a philosophical one. The definition of religion is also debated, with some arguing that atheism does not fit the criteria while others believe it does. The conversation also touches on the idea of separation of church and state and equal rights for all citizens.
  • #1
Myriad209
25
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http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45874

What are your thoughts about this?

I didn't post this in the politics section becaues I think it has some philosophical significance.
 
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  • #2
One can be an atheist and still be a member of a religious body (e.g. perhaps some Buddhists would fall into this category), but I can't see how atheism itself could be considered a religion.

edit: As for the significance of this, it seems more legal than philosophical. The import of the ruling is to grant atheist groups some rights that are granted by law to religious groups. What philosophical importance or implications do you think this ruling has?
 
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  • #3
The word "atheist" doesn't contain enough information to qualify as a religion.

That doesn't mean the court isn't exactly wrong here - as hypnagogue noted an atheist can have a religion, just not one that contains a supreme being. This atheist was trying to form a study group, which is not something that the word atheism implies (compare to "Christian," which certainly implies the member of a church). He therefore might have been acting in a way that could be thought of as religious. Whether this deserves any recognition as such is the question the court sought to answer.

It's too bad the terminology is so abused.
 
  • #4
A religion is a salvatory model. To call atheism a religion is to construe the meaning of both words.
 
  • #5
So is Buddhism a religion?
 
  • #6
Pengwuino said:
So is Buddhism a religion?
It is according to Einstein.

"Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity" Albert Einstein

And I would classify it as such according to Merriam-Webster's definition.

Main Entry: re·li·gion
Pronunciation: ri-'li-j&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back -- more at RELY
1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
- re·li·gion·less adjective
 
  • #7
hmm is that a good definition? I mean " a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith" could be many things outside of standard religions.
 
  • #8
And if the prisoner wanted to start a math study group or a science study group would those also be declared religions? It would change the face of the so-called Intelligent Design debate! :)
 
  • #9
if going under a strick dictionary meaning of atheism, it means without a god to rule. religion doesn't require a god, but more of a choice in how one chooses to live their life based on values, morals and beliefs that are established.

perhaps it is necessary to establish it as a religion so that those who choose not to believe in the tradtional view of god don't have their rights infringed upon, which is what America's 1st amendment is all about.
 
  • #10
Pengwuino said:
So is Buddhism a religion?
Buddhism aims to release the subject from samsara. So if my definition is correct then it is a religion. Do you have an issue with the definition?
 
  • #11
People have the right "not" to believe in God. Yet if they did not believe in "something," what would they do? Nothing? :smile: Indeed, our whole lives are contingent upon what we believe.
 
  • #12
This is absurd. What if I'm an atheist and a nihilist? Can you have a religious nihilist? Is my workplace a religion, since we all adhere to behavioural codes and common purposes? I'm in a punk band. Is that a religion now?

Take this to a logical conclusion (which, clearly, US courts cannot): if I started a religion that believed no man can be held against his will, would the courts honour it? And that WOULD be a religion, however dubiously motivated (hey, look at scientology)! So would the 1st amendment act as a get-out-of-jail-free card?
 
  • #13
"Do onto others, as you would have them do onto you." If that doesn't work, then we have to abide by the law of the land.
 
  • #14
El Hombre Invisible said:
This is absurd. What if I'm an atheist and a nihilist? Can you have a religious nihilist? Is my workplace a religion, since we all adhere to behavioural codes and common purposes? I'm in a punk band. Is that a religion now?

Take this to a logical conclusion (which, clearly, US courts cannot): if I started a religion that believed no man can be held against his will, would the courts honour it? And that WOULD be a religion, however dubiously motivated (hey, look at scientology)! So would the 1st amendment act as a get-out-of-jail-free card?

I believe art and music are religion so the hell if I am doing those GE classes :rolleyes:
 
  • #15
It is about time!

Remember separation of church and state? Well, if atheism is a religion, and I believe that it is, then the playing field HAS BEEN LEVELED for all!

The next time an atheist complains about a christian symbol, we will all understand that the atheist WANTS the government to ENDORSE the atheist religion FAVOURABLY over the christian religion.

If there is a lack of christian symbols, then christians can DEMAND the court address the deficiency because christians CANNOT feel comfortable in an environment devoid of christian symbols!

This ruling should actually reduce the workload of the courts - for any ruling about religion would be an ENDORSEMENT of SOME religion!

NOW, if we could just get the courts to acknowledge that all Citizens of the Union of States in America are EQUAL, we could get some much needed breathing room for the courts. There would be no need for special rights for special groups - everybody would be equal. (NOTE. Constitutional rights apply to Citizens of the uSA only - they do not apply to Citizens of France, Germany, Russia, and England; or to any other country in the world. We can and should treat non Citizens of the uSA with respect, BUT not as those that have Constitutional protections.) Actually Constitutional rights only apply to those who are Citizens of the Union and the State (which signed the Constitution) where they live - those who are federal citizens and live in federal territories should be aware that the federal territories never signed the Constitution and that what they think are rights are merely privileges!
 
  • #16
mjwilliamsmj,

although that idea is insane in my mind (even though I am a Christian and have never been able to find the "Seperation of Church and State" in the US Constitution), the ironic part is that it IS a legally viable opinion. A reasonable court can definitely say that a lack of other religious symbols satisifies an endorsement for atheism. This ruling that atheism is a religion definitely needs to be overturned or your going to have that argument come up in a court soon enough and they are going to realize "oops, I guess we shouldn't have called atheism a religion".
 
  • #17
Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of a religion

If atheism is NOT a religion, then the separation of church and state does not apply to it-- in which case Atheism could become the official position of the US government, laws could be passed regarding atheism, etc etc...

Obviously, this is not acceptable and not in line with what the Constitution intended. Therefore atheism MUST be considered a religion, or the Constitution must be amended-- otherwise, the above would be true.
 

Related to Is Atheism Considered a Religion by Law?

1. Is atheism really considered a religion?

No, atheism is not considered a religion. It is the absence of belief in a deity or deities. However, the court ruling in question recognized atheism as a belief system that is protected under the First Amendment.

2. How did this court ruling come about?

The court ruling in question was made in response to a prisoner's claim that his atheistic beliefs were not being accommodated in prison. The court ruled in his favor, stating that atheism is a protected belief under the First Amendment.

3. Does this ruling mean that atheists are now protected under religious discrimination laws?

Yes, this ruling means that atheists are now protected under religious discrimination laws. This means that they cannot be discriminated against in areas such as employment, housing, or public accommodations based on their lack of belief in a deity.

4. What impact does this ruling have on the separation of church and state?

This ruling further solidifies the separation of church and state by recognizing atheism as a belief system that is protected under the First Amendment. It reinforces the idea that the government cannot promote or favor one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.

5. Can other belief systems now be considered religions under this ruling?

The court ruling in question was specific to atheism, but it does open up the possibility for other belief systems to be considered religions in certain contexts. Each case would need to be evaluated on its own merits and how it relates to the protection of belief systems under the First Amendment.

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