- No indoctrination
Atheists do not indoctrinate their children from early childhood like most religions do. They do not have a course on Ethics and Atheistic Culture in school. Instead, they teach them to think for themselves. They do not pray either to avoid natural catastrophes, or to thank their god when a catastrophe hits someone else.
- No prayer
Atheists do not pray. Most unforeseen happy or unhappy events happen as a result of chance. Shit happens as the Americans say.
- No weekly service
Weekly services are usually accompanied by sermons and collecting donations. Most of the time the sermons are boring. They are used to maintain the belief of adults and to put children to sleep. Sometimes they blame natural catastrophes on the ungodly or homosexuals. Sometimes they threaten the faithful with the hellfire and damnation, usually because of their sexual conduct, sometimes they are promised the joys of paradise if they are righteous and give generously to the collection plate. Sometimes the sermons become political: usually they then become right-wing speeches. The donations often serve to enrich the clergy, sometimes to help the poor.
- No proselytizing
Atheists do not knock on doors to convert believers. They are involved in activism, admittedly, to let their ideas be known in newspapers and to denounce the wrongdoings of religions and the governments that listen to them, or alternately to support sensible laws which religions oppose. Some are involved in lobbying to influence decision makers. Some of them form non-profit associations, contrary to religions that get rich thanks to their tax exemptions.
- No violence
Atheists attack religion only in terms of ideas. They do not denigrate believers. They do not plant bombs in religions’ places of worship. They do not take up weapons to massacre journalists, party-goers or the believers of other religions. They do not stone or flog, torture or burn at the stake those who do not think like them. They do not throw homosexuals to their death from the tops of high buildings.
- No sacred texts
Atheists do not have ancient holy books fallen from the skies and purported to be the word of their god, in which they cherry-pick what suits them and keep quiet about the rest. They quote human authors, sometimes other atheists, the philosophers of the Enlightenment and Antiquity as well as scientists.
- No beliefs
Atheism is not a faith. Atheists do not “believe” in the non-existence of gods. They require that their existence be proven. To quote Hitchens, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs. Therefore, the burden of proof falls on religions. Until such proof is provided, atheists disbelieve.
Therefore, those who say that atheism is a religion are grossly mistaken. It’s like saying that health is a form of disease.
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