Atheism, Big Religion and Hollywood

Organized religion – particularly the Catholic church – tends to be fairly savvy when it comes to retaining its relatively iron-fisted grip on North Americans souls.

Lately, though, atheism has been garnering greater attention, with a number of best sellers related to atheism being released and greater media coverage being given to the topic.

More recently, a new movie based on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials Trilogy”, The Golden Compass, has been attacked by christian groups for its alleged atheist agenda.

Furthermore, a recent study determined that atheists are the most distrusted minority in the United States, ahead of immigrants, gays and lesbians, and Muslims.  Check out the study here.

So there is your groundwork.  Now it’s time for the rant. 

Does the existence of atheists in a society limit the ability of people of faith to pursue their religion?  Of course not.  Atheism is defined by Princeton as “a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.”  It’s that simple.  Just as one person chooses to believe in the existence of God, Allah, Buddha, or Santa Claus, another chooses not to believe in these entities.

Atheism is a personal choice.  That should be the end of it, right?  Wrong. 

Organized religion, especially the Catholic church, has had a long and bloody history of suppressing all opposing views (can you say “The Crusades”?).  Religious figures ranging from Pat Robertson (estimated net worth of $200 million – $1 billion) to the Vatican (several billion dollars in gold alone) make BIG money off of people believing in God.  And one less person who believes in a god is one less person who will call in to Pat Robertson to donate money.

So, as usual, it all comes down to big bucks.  So big religion will continue to swiftly and, on occasion, violently repress any opposition to its stranglehold on the hearts and minds of North Americans in particular, despite this intolerance going against traditional christian teachings.

So what does this have to do with recent criticisms of the Golden Compass, you ask?  Just another pitched battle in the fight for freedom of belief – big religion vs. freedom and choice: the same old story.  But christian groups have a point – there have never been any pro-Christan movies…right?

This dichotomy between those who claim to be christian persecuting others for their beliefs has always confused me and is one of the reasons I’ve drifted away from organized religion.  If there are is anyone who believes they are christian who can provide some insight, please comment!

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19 responses to “Atheism, Big Religion and Hollywood”

  1. jonolan says :

    Most of the churches aren’t complaining about the secular and possibly atheist trend in the film so much as it’s very negative portrayal of religion in general.

    Personally I don’t care, but they seem to.

  2. Annette says :

    This so reminds me of the time I had to defend Harry Potter to my catholic mother-in-law (she had received a newsletter from the church stating how bad Harry Potter was because of all the “witchcraft” it in). When does the movie come out? I’ll have to make sure I call my mother-in-law to come and babysit so we can go and watch the movie.

  3. Mark Iocchelli says :

    Good post, Ben. You should add this to your blog:

  4. jimmyjamesjimbo says :

    There is a very simple explanation for the reason Christians persecute people with different beliefs than they do. Its called sin and it is part of being a human. The Christians who you see doing this have simply lost touch with their own humanity. As Christians they have been blessed with a very precious gift(salvation) and it was given to them based on no merit of their own. It was simply through the grace of God that they were and are saved. This is where the humanity comes back, they forget that it was a free gift and start to think that they earned their salvation through the good works which they have done. However when they start looking down on other people they are forgetting that they too were once lost in this world. This is not how a Christian should act Christians should be compassionate with their unsaved counterparts because that is what the love which they have been shown allows them to do. After all there has only been one perfect man among us and He was crucified for it.

  5. healtheland says :

    “Organized religion, especially the Catholic church, has had a long and bloody history of suppressing all opposing views (can you say “The Crusades”?).” Oh please. Another person either thoroughly ignorant of history or intentionally falsifying it. The Crusades were DEFENSIVE WARS against Muslims that first wiped out all the Jews, Christians, and animists from North Africa and Arabia, completely conquered Asia Minor (Turkey) and the rest of the Near East (including Israel), and had taken over Spain and Italy. It took a last stand by Charlemagne to keep the Muslim invaders and similar from completely taking over all of Europe. They don’t teach that in history books anymore and especially do not portray it in movies. They only talk about the latter stages of Crusades when the Europeans were trying to RECAPTURE their land from the Muslims.

    It is appalling how history is being told from the completely from the Muslim perspective. They claim that Islam is synonymous with Arabia, north Africa, the Middle and Near East, etc. so as a result the Crusades were imperialistic wars against the Middle East and Islam. Nothing could be further than the truth. The people of that region were engaged in continual warfare with EACH OTHER, separate nations and religions, until first the Greeks and then the Romans conquered them (a rather easy feat because they had been fighting each other for centuries and were weak as a result) and united them politically. Islam did not come about until 1000 years after the Romans (who lest we forget at the time were pagan rather than Catholic) conquered the area, and Islam only “united” those areas by killing everybody that disagreed with them.

    Yet everyone goes around parroting that the Crusades were to take land and holy sites from the people to whom they rightfully belonged as if it is a fact or something. To show how much accommodation has been going on to their lies … you do realize that Muslims claim that Jews NEVER lived in Palestine, but that the people and religion originated in Europe. They continue to claim this despite reams of historical and archaeological data, a lot of it generated in the very nations that Muslims today control. Yet these folk were willing to rewrite history to accommodate the Muslim lies, not to so much to claim that there were NEVER Jews in Palestine, but that there were only a few of them that created a small tribal “kingdom.” Why? To accommodate the Muslim claim that Jews had no historical claim on Jerusalem. Well lo and behold, archaeologists recently discovered the palace of David, too grandiose and complex to have been built by a small tribal kingdom but rather had to have been built by a large complex civilization. Where was it? Jerusalem. Again, this “find” should never have been necessary to contradict the Roman lies, because there have long been reams of archaeological findings and historical writings from the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans (not to speak of the writings produced by Jews and Christians) to disprove this nonsense. But all this recent find did was to oppose what was becoming a scholarly consensus that there was never an actual historical nation of Israel and that they were just a bunch of stories made up to justify stealing the Palestinians’ land that was developing because people were conceding to the lies and pressure of the Muslim “scholars.”

    So now, instead of being just people trying to A) defend themselves from being brutally subjugated and B) trying to get back the land and holy sites that the imperialist stole and claimed for themselves, fellows like you claim that it was an attempt to force their beliefs on someone. Did you know that tons “historic” Muslim mosques in Turkey and thereabouts were once Christian churches, for instance? Please.

    Now even if you call trying to defeat imperialists and take your land back “imperialism”, even the later stages of the Crusades had a defensive purpose. Why? Well if these people nearly conquered all of Europe BEFORE, what was to stop them from doing it AGAIN? They were trying to deal with the Muslim threat once and for all by defeating them rather than just sitting around waiting for them to regroup militarily and invade Europe again. The thinking: better to go fight them OVER THERE than wait for them to come start burning our cities and we have to fight them OVER HERE. Now this is NOT a defense of the false Christian George W. Bush’s “war on terror” because we all know that the Iraqis, Afghanis, Iranians, Saudi Arabians, etc. are not a threat to us. But back THEN the Muslims WERE a threat to Europe.

    To think that these people are now going around recruiting black people with the lie “Islam is the true religion of the black man” … again that is only possible because our history books never teach how many black Africans Mohammed and his people brutally murdered and enslaved. What Alex Haley’s “Roots” and all of those other things responsible for that propaganda never shows you is how a great percentage of black African slaves were sold to the Europeans by Muslim slave traders. Muslims were selling the Africans that would not convert to Islam to America as slaves. Yet the lie is uncritically told that black Muslim slaves were brought to America and had Christianity forced on them. That is easily disproved by the fact that the religions associated with western blacks: voodoo, santeria, roots, etc. are ANIMIST and SPIRITIST traditions that slaves either continued to practice or syncretized with Christianity after arriving in the West.

    But sir, there are plenty of LEGITIMATE EXAMPLES throughout history of Christians persecuting people for their faith. The fact that you listed the ONE THING that was DECIDEDLY NOT an example of what you speak is mighty revealing, because it shows that you have not actually researched the issue but rather is only repeating the most popular thing used against Christianity in mainstream culture because both Muslims (falsely) and Jews (legitimately) can claim to be victimized by it, and because people get the perverse irony of getting Christians and Europeans to abandon some of their traditional and historical heroes that showed tremendous valor in the face of tremendous odds (the Muslims were united and militarily superior) to prevent Europe from falling to the invaders and to try to take back what the invaders stole.

    But that was then. This is now. Sir, I defy you to show me a single instance of an atheist suffering actual persecution – meaning death, imprisonment, or denial of rights – at the hands of Christians in America or anywhere else. Quite the contrary, our universities are hiring atheists for their colleges of religion left and right. When a prominent pastor in Denmark admitted that he did not believe in God and there was an effort to remove him from his position, there was a successful outcry and protest in order to keep him in his job! And that is Denmark. There have long been atheists serving as pastors and priests in the Anglican, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic churches. So what, you are claiming that people speaking against and trying to prevent people from becoming atheists as “persecution”? No, that is freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Do not pretend as if atheists are not doing the same … working hard to promote their views and denigrate others.

    On the other hand, if you want me to name some places where atheists persecute Christians, we have communist Cuba, communist North Korea (which recently executed a Christian missionary), and communist China. Socialist Venezuela is also increasing pressure on Christian groups that will not adopt a Marxist ideology that serve his political interests. And that is the present. You do recall how the Soviet Union used to imprison and send off to the Siberian gulag Christians? And not that this is ever spoken much of because portraying him as a Christian is more fun, but Adolph Hitler (who was raised Catholic but renounced it for atheism) murdered and imprisoned all Christian pastors that resisted Nazism. The “Hitler youth” was the product of replacing the nominal Christian instruction in the public and private schools with Nazi indoctrination. However, the media and the history books would have you believe that only the very liberal Dietrich Bonhoeffer opposed Hitler, and that all of the other Christians were fully on board.

    Again, if you want to talk about the horrible crimes against humanity committed by Christians, that is a perfectly legitimate point of discussion. We Christians ourselves are the main ones that need to know these things. But please do not commit falsehoods by claiming that the Crusades were an example (other than the atrocities committed against Jews) or that the efforts of Christians to convert atheists (or prevent atheists from winning converts among Christians) in any way constitutes it. Ours is a free society, and the freedom of a Christian like me to criticize and try to evangelize an atheist like you, as bothersome as it may be, is the same thing that allows you to continue to be an atheist. Yes, I do believe very much in separation between church and state, religious freedom, and individual rights and regard any Christian that opposes it to be very ignorant not only of history but the contents of his own Bible. Why? Because the Roman government, which did not separate church and state or respect religious freedom, murdered 3 million Christians and forced countless others to renounce the faith.

    What was one of the charges against those Christians? ATHEISM. That is right … from the perspective of the pagan Romans, a God that transcended nature (in contrast to the pagan gods that were actually parts of nature … “river gods” and such) could not be worshiped by proxy through idols or the person of the emperor – an unseen God and was therefore intangible and an abstraction – was considered to be no god at all, meaning that according to Roman law, all of the Christians and Jews were guilty of atheism. Being atheists, they were considered a threat to the unity and values of Roman society, and as such were wholesale slaughtered. So how does it make you feel to know that Christians were the original group of people horribly persecuted for the crime of atheism? Inconvenient facts such as those are the very reason why history has been replaced with political correctness and multiculturalism.

  6. Ben says :

    Healtheland,

    Goodness, where do I start? Let’s begin with the easy parts.

    To start, thanks for referring to me as “Sir” part way through your post. It gives this whole debate a real Old Tyme feel. Perhaps I will slap you with my gauntlet next and exclaim how you offended by honor. And now, valiant if brainwashed opponent, to arms.

    Did I claim anywhere in my post that I was an atheist? No. This is an assumption on your part. It may or may not be true, but that fact is not relevant to the discussion. I could, in fact, be someone who strongly believes in God, but struggles with some of the complexities of this belief. Your assumptions do little do help any confusion I may have. Or, if I am an atheist, your jumping to conclusions only reaffirms my preconceptions. Either way, you’ve done a disservice to your argument and to me (this is where I’d challenge you to a duel.)

    Second, persecution of atheists. Again, nowhere in my post did I state that atheists were being physically persecuted in North America. You are lending a far more zealous bent to my post than it warrants. In fact, I would contend that you are transferring your zealousness to me. Stop that…bad zealot. If I were a zealot I’d post something along the lines of “Scientific Proof that Abortion is Murder Video“. Oh, wait, you did that already. And FYI, if you want to sway people with a video, don’t feature one with Shawn Carney – he instills instant rage in all who see him.

    Third, the Crusades. You obviously know more about this than I do. In fact, I nodded off half way through your post. So, here’s what I can surmise. You did a nice of job of throwing a lot of crap about the crusades into a comment, and the essence of it is this: religion has been perverted for centuries by a wide range of people to support whatever political and/or militaristic needs they required. It hasn’t changed today; you can’t consider running for president unless you espouse a belief in God.

    Fourth, are you hoping I’d pipe up and say “yay, China is good, their ass backwards ideas of communism are great”? Too bad, China is the other extreme of zealots such as yourself. They just decided to cloak themselves in a different ideology, but they are equally as idiotic.

    Finally, I would like to quote you directly – ahem:
    “But please do not commit falsehoods by claiming that the Crusades were an example (other than the atrocities committed against Jews) or that the efforts of Christians to convert atheists (or prevent atheists from winning converts among Christians) in any way constitutes it.”

    I urge you to show me where in my post I claim that the Crusades were an example of Christian efforts to convert atheists.

    So, a slightly less long winded answer to your post. And next time, a little secondary support (however tenuous; we’re not being graded) of your claims would be appreciated.

    And in closing, I really appreciated your section on expelling demons. I’ve got some wicked bad gas that I can’t seem to get rid of – maybe that will do the trick.

  7. Lachlan says :

    I love religion. The reason I love it, is because it’s so ridiculous. I find it amusing that someone will base their whole lives off what one book says, and condemn anyone who decides not to do so. I find it amusing that a god who supposedly created the UNIVERSE, is so intimately concerned with about 0.00000000000000000000000001% of it.
    I have no problem with people deciding to tether their lot to whatever imagination they see fit to……just do me the favour of extending me the same courtesy. If you’ve been saved, then good for you…do me a favour by not assuming i need to be “Saved”.
    I find it laughable that supposedly intelligent people allow themselves to be guided by an ancient book that after translation upon translation from language to language, may or may not be what was originally imparted anyway.

  8. Ben says :

    Oh, jimmyjamesjimbo, you state that, “After all there has only been one perfect man among us and He was crucified for it.”

    Are you referring to George Clooney? Cause he’s still alive. Wait, did something happen to George Clooney? Dear God, not his face, say it wasn’t his face!

  9. jimsey says :

    healtheland,

    Seriously, do you just have that “rant” in a word document somewhere on your desktop and post when you search of “atheist, crusades, asshat” on blogs?

    Thanks for Judging all of us!

  10. Mark Iocchelli says :

    The battle cry of religions=”They started it and we’re damn well gonna finish it”.

  11. jonolan says :

    Mark,

    That’s the battle cry of almost everyone. LOL Very few people are willing claim first aggression.

  12. Humberto says :

    Christianity:

    “The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree”

    -The Internet

  13. Humberto says :

    Oh, and a link to a video of one of the most intelligent people I’ve heard speaking to an audience of intelligent, creative, and open-minded people.

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/113

  14. jimsey says :

    i’m so upset by this article, i’ve converted to a new church

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

  15. Julian says :

    I notice that very few atheists are truly open-minded. If they study Christianity and Catholicism in genuine search of the truth, instead of mumbling half-baked nonsense that the media and the current culture tell you. Think for yourself without bias, rationally, critically, logically, with a genuine search for truth. Christianity has solid reasons for its beliefs, why don’t you start with the “Christian Trilemma” for beginners?

    “A little philosophy leads to Atheism, deep philosophy and wisdom lead to God”

  16. Julian says :

    misquoted earlier:

    A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth of philosophy bringeth a man’s mind about to religion. – Sir Francis Bacon

    Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been its drastic un-interestingness as an intellectual position. Where was the ingenuity, the ambiguity, the humanity of saying that the universe just happened to happen and that when we’re dead we’re dead? – John Updike

    To be an atheist requires an infinitely greater measure of faith than to receive all the great truths which atheism would deny. – Joseph Addison

    The three great apostles of practical atheism, that make converts without persecuting, and retain them without preaching, are wealth, health, and power. – Charles Caleb Colton

  17. jj says :

    Why do atheist insist on bringing up events that’s happened 600 years ago when atheism has murdered almost 200,000,000 million people in the past 100 years. Don’t want to connect atheism and communism? Try reading Marx and Stalin. Try finding out what Hitler had in his Bunker and what his Propaganda Minister had to say. What about Jeffrey Dahmer’s confession on being an Atheist, or the Columbine Shootings.

    That was a nice “false” list on Christian Movies. Try looking at all the Atheist movies that bash Christianity. Even with the fake list of Christian movies, none of them bash Atheism.

    Look at China, North Korea, Cuba, Russia and the other Atheist lead Countries and their actions in the past 100 years and compare them to Christianity in the past 1000 years.

    Abortion Clinic related murders: 8 in a 30 year time span.

    Church related murders: 64 within a 10 year time span.

    You people need to get your facts right. Stop making accusations that you hope that people won’t research for themselves.

    “Atheism is the natural and inseparable part of Communism.”

    – Vladimir Lenin

    “If God is not, everything is permitted.”

    – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    “The enforcement of Atheism was a critical requirement for Communism’s success”

    – Karl Marx

    “National Socialism and religion cannot exist together….

    – Adolf Hitler

    Jeffrey Dahmer, one of America’s most infamous serial killers who cannibalized more than 17 boys before being captured, gave an last interview with Dateline NBC nine months before his death, and he said the following about why he acted as he did: “If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, which we all just came from the slime. When we died, you know, that was it, there was nothing….” (Dateline NBC, The Final Interview, Nov. 29, 1994).

    “Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity … In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches and the media by transforming the consciousness of society … ”

    – Antonio Gramsci

    You people are being lied to, try thinking for yourself. Getting Christianity from people Dawkins is the same of getting information about Jews from Hitler.

    Do your own research and you will find that almost 100% of the crap that you get about Christianity and Atheism is a lie or not the whole truth. It’s your life, make your own decisions and stop letting these people tell you what to think and what’s true.

  18. jj says :

    I love the traditional atheist remarks that have nothing to do with the topic, and it’s typical for atheist to try to be funny and call names instead of answer questions. Dawkins and Hitchens does it, why not all the other ones? With all the hate on the internet from the new atheist, what makes any of them different from Hitler, Mao or any hate group? This claim can be very easily backed up by typing “christians” in a public search bar, press search and count the negative responses and then doing the same for “atheist”. I did it in YouTube and the results for “christians’ were almost 100% negative and 100% positive for atheist. This can be done on any given day with almost the same results. Out of all the creators of hit TV shows who’s religion could identified, 19 were atheist, 8 were Jews, 4 Catholics, 2 gay Catholics?, 2 homosexuals, 0 Christians, 0 Muslims, 0 Mormons. There has been one movie to hit the big screen that challenged atheism, and close to 30 that have attacked Christians (only) throughout the whole movie. That count does not include movies that randomly attack Christians or take God’s name in vain. You people need to learn your facts before you try to sound smart. Learning about Christianity from Hitchens or Dawkins is no different then learning about Jews from Hitler.

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