My Non-Believer’s Manifesto

Today I read an opinion piece in the (UK) Guardian (WebCite cached article) about how the speakers at the recent CPAC conference have, essentially, implied that they are at war with secularism in the US. Secularists and other types of non-believers are no longer welcome — at all! — within the conservative/Rightist movement. The few remaining such folks (the article cites Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, and N.Y. Times columnist David Brooks as examples) have effectively been marginalized and are ignored by the rest of the movement.

The people who are currently waging the so-called “Culture War” are engaged in a very real struggle which they do, in fact, visualize as a “war.” They believe themselves to be the sole defenders of western civilization, fighting a rearguard action against the forces of “secularism” (which they variously label “secular humanism,” “secular progressives,” etc.). They truly believe that “Secularism” is trying to destroy them utterly. In their minds, their very lives are at stake!

Their effort, of course, is to make the U.S. into what they want it to be … a religious country in which everyone is Christian like themselves (except perhaps for Jews, but even that’s not a sure thing). Toward that end they have rewritten history to make it appear that the country was — in their words — “founded on Christianity” (even if this is a lie; WebCite cached article).

Furthermore, they present themselves as the sole remaining arbiters of morality in the world and claim that “Secularism” is equivalent to lawlessness and immorality, a system in which everyone preys freely on each other, as viciously as they can, and in which atrocities are not only possible, but common. The forces of “Secularism” wish to conquer the US (they think), impose tyrannical “socialism” or even “communism” on the country, and — if needed — slaughter people by the millions in order to retain control. (They know this, of course, because Josef Stalin and Pol Pot did pretty much the same thing in the USSR and Cambodia respectively, and they somehow know that all Secularists in the US live to emulate these two heroes of their movement.)

In short … these religionist Rightists live in a world of delusion, in which there is no difference between merely not being religious, and wanting to utterly destroy religion and kill everyone who is religious; or between merely being a “secularist,” and being a vicious, bloody, evil autocratic tyrant who lives to slaughter people by the million.

Ultimately, religionists cannot tolerate non-believers or the irreligious, because — in their delusional world — they consider the mere existence of such people to be a very real, vital threat to their very lives. They will settle for nothing less than total capitulation to their own religion.

Since that is the case, I’m posting this “Non-Believer’s Manifesto.” Not that I presume to speak for all non-believers — no single person or even an organization can do that — but because I am one non-believer with one response to the religionists’ challenge:

Dear Religionist:

The United States — last time I looked — is a free country. This means I am free not to be a believer.

You can dislike my non-belief all you want. You can even dislike me all you want, because of my non-belief.

But that’s just the way it is.

If you continue to insist — in spite of my freedom not to believe — that I must believe as you do, then you are going to have to make me believe whatever you want me to believe.

That’s right. You want me to believe? Make me.

If that sounds like a challenge, it is! It is every bit as much of a challenge to you, as your challenge — i.e. that I convert to your beliefs — is to me.

It’s up to you to decide what this means, and how — exactly — you intend to “make me” believe what you believe.

If you think this requires the use of force, then that’s what’s required. If you think this, then be my guest … lock and load, and try to convert me by force. It won’t work, of course, but you’re welcome to try. (In any event, an attempt to use force would, of course, reveal your true character, to one and all.)

If you think it means convincing me to change my mind, then it means that. Again, you’re welcome to give it your best shot … but keep in mind that there are some very real philosophical and logical problems with the common conception of the Abrahamic God, and you will have to overcome every last one of them … in detail, and without resorting to fallacy or other kinds of illogic … in order to prevail.

There are, I assume, other possible ways to go about it, if you insist that I believe.

So what will you do, Dear Religionist, to make me believe what you believe?

Some of you will not take up this challenge, which would be to your credit … but if you refuse to make me — or any other non-believer — believe what you believe, then you are going to have to do something you may not like: Which is simply to accept that there are non-believers in the U.S., that there is nothing you can do to change that, and that there’s no point in continuing to try to force people to adopt your beliefs.

I finish by asking again, “What will you do, Dear Religionist, to make me believe what you believe?”

The choice of how to go about it … or to decide not to try … is entirely up to you.

Thank you all for your time.

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