“Free exercise”—sure—along with freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. But “religion”? If they mean anything, the terms “atheism” and “secular humanism” mean a negation of religion. Why then the insistence of associating the negation with that which has been negated? Put differently: Why do those who have rejected faith want to be called a faith?”
Actually, from my perspective as a practicing Atheist, it is not necessarily a negation of religion as I define it, but a complete non-belief in deities or any ‘greater power’, and the worship thereof.
I don’t think so, and I don’t. Period.
It becomes a religion, though, when the *being of* affects daily function, becomes some sort of routine or ‘movement’, more than a blase opinion.
It becomes a religion when grouped as a category (by choice or insult), and I’ve found, rather unfortunately, that some Free Thinking/Atheistic groups are as rigid in mental allowance as the various religions we rally against. Not all, but some. That may be the true outsider not fitting in with the membership, a problem I’ve always had.
For those of us who find ourselves constantly challenged because of our belief in non-belief, it is a regular affirmation, for lack of a better description. In certain situations, it would benefit those like-minded peoples to have this…whatever you want to call it, to legitimize their chosen ‘OTHER’.
Peter: “Identity”…”identity theft”… Hmmm. I smell something larger I’d love you to reflect on. What about the large-scale ‘identity theft’ such as suffered by Sony-users recently. How does one ‘own’ or ‘protect’ his or her ‘identity.’ Is that one more way that we have ‘commodified’ ourselves into something that CAN be ‘stolen.’ The commercial identify theft puts at risk one’s economic life itself. Yet, is it true that in signing on to Sony’s customer list (or to ‘facebook’ or any other kind of social network) we give implicit consent to others to freely use what we have given away? Can we object if they misuse what we have given away? Think about it. There’s something there I can’t put my finger on Loren Mead