I have started listening to a podcast series called 'The thinking atheist'. (Follow the link to the website.)
At first, I thought it would be an interesting addition to the podcasts I'm already listening to. As I am progressing through the podcasts though, I am more and more shocked about the state of religion in the US of A. I had no idea it was that bad!
From visits to the USA I knew that religion is a more serious problem than it is here in Europe.
In Europe, you generally can be whatever and that's fine, until your religion starts to become a problem. Christian and Islamic fanatics aren't appreciated, although lately I see some worrying movements that aren't silenced in the bud.
In America, it is clearly the norm to be Christian (in whatever of the hundreds of competing flavours available), and being non-religious is frowned upon, in the mildest cases. "Coming out" as an atheist is in many places something the good believers consider a first class ticket to hell (their hell, of course). From what I heard in the podcasts, things are getting better in the glorious States, but I can imagine it's still a far cry from normal to be an atheist.
Assume nothing. Question everything.
This is the slogan or motto on the site and also the tagline each podcast starts with. Well chosen, well done.
Seth Andrews, the host and founder of 'the thinking atheist' idea (I know he doesn't like the word 'founder' ha ha), has phone- and skype-calls with people who are atheists. People from all over the world. It's at times horrifying to hear how people have to hide their lack of religious beliefs from their community.
People who get shunned by their family and community. You may have heard how, for instance, Amish can do that. It's not something that's just their prerogative; clearly many religious factions in the US reserve the right to kick people out when they don't follow the rules and won't colour inside the strictly defined lines any more.
It is heartwarming to hear the statements of people who have shed the yoke of religion and found their way into thinking for themselves. The people who see that the stuff in the bible and the koran and all those 'holy' books are filled with fables, myths, stories and scary bits, written by shepherds who had no idea where the rain came from.
I can only hope that more and more people will see the light. Yes, pun intended. The real light, not the restricted light that religion shines in someone's eyes, allowing you to only see what they want.