Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Is Atheism the Privilege of the Rich?

Some years ago I read an article on AlterNet (*) called Is Atheism an Intellectual Luxury for the Wealthy?  The article explores the idea that being wealthy makes a person less likely be feel the need to carry an expectation that religion brings comfort and hope. When I read the article three or four years ago I thought that there might be something to the idea, though the article didn't really make the idea clear, nor was it a terribly provocative article. But it made me think.

Remembering the article, tonight I spent some time on a humanist website based in the UK where I found a study by Dr. Tom Rees, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, suggesting that in places without strong social safety nets (serious poverty, an absence of social support, an absence of solid family support) people are more likely to rely on religion for comfort. Also, as fucked up AF as it may seem, when someone is suffering it may console him or her to think that the end of the world is actually near, that their god will bring their tormented lives to a close and will reward the faithful with everlasting joy. I remember Mom once saying something like this to me. 

Doom and gloom predictions about the trials and tribulations that humanity will face before the apocalypse, prevalent in Christian fundamentalism, may also help some people attribute a higher purpose to their suffering, explaining it as part of God’s ultimate plan. It’s also worth noting that in poverty areas the local church may provide for people’s basic needs through free childcare programs, food pantries, and clothing drives. For these people, religion brings them hope.

Is it not a cruelty to take away the hope of faith for these people?

I truly don't know. But it is a thing that I think about fairly often. I recall my mother very tearfully claiming that I was trying to take away her hope by being an atheist..? It is a part of the reason that I never debate and I never attempt to bring logic and reason beyond general explanation to someone who does not seek it for themselves.

However, I do truly believe that religion tends to keep people in poverty and wealthy in wealth. I also believe that the world would be a better place without religion. I also genuinely believe that the control of the church creates people who have difficulty thinking their way out of the mind control. I'm pretty sure that this is why Donald Trump is in the White House at this very moment. It's why people accept and even embrace their suffering in this life, because the church characterizes suffering as a virtue. I also truly believe that the church targets those living in poverty. And I find that reprehensible.

I know there is a Gallup poll somewhere with bunches of statistics regarding poverty and religiosity. Look it up if you are interested.

I'll stop now; I think you get the idea.

Addendum, Dec 28, 2017:

Sometimes as I'm blogging I totally lose my way in my own mind. I did that with this post and I did not complete my thought. What I intended to suggest in my writing was this. With greater access to cash, one has greater access to higher learning and to informed materials. Because of this privileged access, I believe that the wealthier among us have better ability to locate and consume schools of thought, reason and logic, and mechanisms of supernatural thought. With access to these essential pieces of knowledge, therefore, a wealthier human can unwire the brainwashing of religion and supernatural belief, can discern the baloney in the bathwater.

Also, I have plenty of friends who are living below the poverty line but who are, nonetheless, amazing freethinking human beings and I have friends who have plenty of cash but who have not found their way out of the matrix. 

So this idea of wealth = privilege is simply a start place.

* AlterNetAlterNet is a progressive news magazine and a project of the non-profit Independent Media Institute. Launched in 1998, AlterNet claims a readership of over 5.9 million visitors per month. (Maybe you already know this; I didn't. 🙂 )   - Wikipedia

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