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Court rules atheism a religion.

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by Johnboy53, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. Johnboy53

    Johnboy53 Looking For Interesting News.

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    Decides 1st Amendment protects prison inmate's right to start study group.

    A federal court of appeals ruled yesterday Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat atheism as a religion.

    "Atheism is [the inmate's] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said.

    The court decided the inmate's First Amendment rights were violated because the prison refused to allow him to create a study group for atheists.

    Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, called the court's ruling "a sort of Alice in Wonderland jurisprudence."

    "Up is down, and atheism, the antithesis of religion, is religion," said Fahling.

    The Supreme Court has said a religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being. In the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the court described "secular humanism" as a religion.

    Fahling said today's ruling was "further evidence of the incoherence of Establishment Clause jurisprudence."

    "It is difficult not to be somewhat jaundiced about our courts when they take clauses especially designed to protect religion from the state and turn them on their head by giving protective cover to a belief system, that, by every known definition other than the courts' is not a religion, while simultaneously declaring public expressions of true religious faith to be prohibited," Fahling said.

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45874
     
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  2. trunks2k

    trunks2k Contributor

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    For practical reasons I believe the government does recognize atheism as a religion. But in terms of real definitions of words, it's not.
     
  3. Grizzly

    Grizzly Enemy of Christmas Supporter

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    A lack of belief is not a religion.....I can see secular humanism being described as a religion, but not atheism.
     
  4. Grizzly

    Grizzly Enemy of Christmas Supporter

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    Can anyone find information on this other than an article from WorldNutDaily? I seem to be having trouble confirming this story.
     
  5. Smidlee

    Smidlee Veteran

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    The same with Christianity isn't a religion as Judiasm is the biblical religion. Yet according to the courts and laws Christianity is a religion.
    This is just debate over different definition.
     
  6. Grizzly

    Grizzly Enemy of Christmas Supporter

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    I'm not sure I am following you. Are you saying that someone believes Christianity is NOT a religion?
     
  7. fragmentsofdreams

    fragmentsofdreams Critical loyalist

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    From a legal point of view, atheism is a religion. Treating it as a religion allows consistent rulings such as this one.
     
  8. armyman_83

    armyman_83 Guest

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    True, because you can't religously practice non-religion.....????? OR CAN YOU......dun dun dun.:p
     
  9. Grizzly

    Grizzly Enemy of Christmas Supporter

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    lol - I'm not sure what you would be practicing :)
     
  10. Rochir

    Rochir By Grabthar's hammer ... YES.WEEK.END!

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    Atheism is not a "lack" of believes. it IS the believe that there is no God. That in itself is a believe. Whether it should qualify as a religion, I'm not so sure about, since it specifically denies any supernatural God or God-like beings.

    Edit: I just looked up "religuion" in the Wikipedia, and there they also group atheism as a religious belief. Hmm, for me that is a bit strange.
     
  11. tof

    tof Regular Member

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    I think I will never understand religion in the USA.

    Maybe it's because I'm French, but the way I understand freedom of religion, this ruling does not make sense.
    To me, freedom of religion means that people are free to worship anything they want, free to change the object of their worship, and free to not worship anything.
    This freedom entails that people will not be discriminated against according to their religious beliefs when looking for a job, applying for public office or founding groups or organizations.

    Reading the OP, it's like freedom of religion in the USA means that religious groups enjoy freedoms other groups don't have.
    If the inmate thought that he was discriminated against because of his philosophical views, he should have invoked his right to freedom of religion in order to lift this discrimination.
    No need to redefine his beliefs as "religion" in order to grant him his freedom not to have a religion.
     
  12. one love

    one love Well-Known Member

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    So does that mean we atheist are allowed freedom of religion which restricts us from paying taxes and being capable of leagally smoking weed?........Oh, it doesn't. :cry:
     
  13. Inconel

    Inconel Cold-Hearted Realist

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    Now lets see how consistent the court rules after this. If atheism is a religion, will athiests now find their beliefs treated the same as Christians when it pertains to government property, displays, and funding?
     
  14. jsn112

    jsn112 Senior Veteran

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    Then explain agnosticism verses atheism. Are both not a religion? Both can't qualify equally, does it?
     
  15. AdmirableArmstrong

    AdmirableArmstrong Escape the Vandals and Destroyers

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    Is this a precedent? It is prohibited to display religious symbols on government property (except 'mixed') or to teach or promote religion in public schools; maybe some of those college professors should be fighting this ruling.
     
  16. rosenherman

    rosenherman Sparkly rainbow butterfly kitten

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    Huh? How can Christianity not be a religion?:confused:
     
  17. Grizzly

    Grizzly Enemy of Christmas Supporter

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    Agnosticism is not a religion either.

    Atheism = lack of belief in a supernatural being.
    Agnosticism = believes that the existence of a supernatural being is ulimately unknowable.

    Neither has any tenets, creeds, or affirming beliefs.

    Imagine if various people around the world believed in either santa claus, the easter bunny, cupid, and paul bunyan. Let's call all these people "mythists" because they all believe in one sort of myth or another. Then let's say you had a group of people who did not believe in any of these myths. Would this person also be a mythist? I would argue no. Just as I argue that atheism nor agnosticism is a religion either.
     
  18. Higher

    Higher Active Member

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    Legally, it's for the best, as the "Freedom of Religion, not Freedom from religion" movement picks up steam.
     
  19. jsn112

    jsn112 Senior Veteran

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    Wrong.

    Agnosticism: The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.

    Agnosticism qualifies more of a non-religion compares to athesism. Athesism do have a belief... but a belief that there is no God. However, agosticism doesn't have any belief. Therefore, athesism IS a religion.
     
  20. trunks2k

    trunks2k Contributor

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    No Rochir. Atheism, in it's most basic state is a lack of belief in god. Most atheists define themselves as such.

    From dictionary.com:

    atheism: 1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.

    disbelief: 1. doubt about the truth of something 2: a rejection of belief

    I can reject a belief in god, but that does not mean I think no god exists.
     
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