The right wing is expanding it's identity politics campaign claiming that Christianity is being oppressed and abused; with politically correct attacks on outspoken atheists of late.
As Barbara Kay in the National Post writes;
"atheists in democratic countries can't conjure up grim tales of the truncheon's midnight thud on the door,"
Once again proving that right wing political correctness is based on historical revisionism.
Indeed Ms. Kay atheism was considered a legal offense in Merry Olde England for the longest time.
Free Thinkers, as they were called, did have the police truncheon and worse put upon them. Indeed their publications were banned and their printing presses destroyed. Free Thought, indeed secularism, with its libertarian origins in Godwin, Bakunin, Carlisle, Tucker, Proudhon, Woodhull, etc. was began in the late 18th Century and was a 19th Century phenomena.
Richard Carlisle, a "freethinker," opened a lecturing, conversation, and discussion establishment, preached the "only true gospel," hung effigies of bishops outside his shop, and was eventually quieted by nine years' imprisonment, a punishment by no means undeserved.
Despite its origins in Greek Philosophies such as those of Heraclitus and Epicurus, atheism is a modern movement coincidental with the Enlightenment and the development of modern industrial/capitalist society.
It is well known that Marx was familiar with Spinoza; indeed, he hand-copied whole passages of Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus into his notebooks. Less clear is the significance of this fact, and the extent of Spinoza's influence on Marx's thought.
And it would be Marx who would proclaim that atheists needed to take one more step to truly be revolutionaries.
In the "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts" (1844), Marx said:
Once the essence of man and of nature, man as a natural being and nature as a human reality, has become evident in practical life, in sense experience, the quest for an ALIEN being, a being above man and nature (a quest which is an avowal of the unreality of man and nature) becomes impossible in practice. ATHEISM, as a denial of this unreality, is no longer meaningful, for atheism is a NEGATION OF GOD and seeks to assert by this negation the EXISTENCE OF MAN. Socialism no longer requires such a roundabout method; it begins from the THEORETICAL and PRACTICAL SENSE PERCEPTION of man and nature as essential beings. It is positive human SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS, no longer a self-consciousness attained through the negation of religion. (Marx 1964A: 166-67)
In the famous Introduction to the Critique of the Hegelian philosophy of public law, Marx gives an even more explicit and elaborate formulation of this outlook. "Religious misery", he writes, "is at once the expression of real misery and a protest against it. Religion is the groan of the oppressed, the sentiment of a heartless world, and at the same time the spirit of a condition deprived of spirituality. It is the opium of the people. The suppression of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the premise of its real happiness. It is first and foremost the task of philosophy, operating in the service of history, to unmask self-alienation in its profane forms, after the sacred form of human self alienation has been discovered. Thus criticism of heaven is transformed into criticism of the earth, criticism of religion into criticism of law, criticism of theology into criticism of politics". And just before: "Religion is the consciousness and awareness of man who has not yet acquired or who has again lost himself. But man is not an abstract being, isolated from the world. Man is the world of man, the State, society. This State and this society produce religion, an upside-down consciousness of the world, just because they are an upside-down world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic epitome, its logic in popular form, its spiritualistic point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn completion, its fundamental reason of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of human essence, since human essence does not possess a true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly the struggle against that world of which religion is the spiritual aroma" (K. Marx, Per la critica della filosofia del diritto di Hegel, Introduzione, Rome 1966, pp. 57-58).
Ironically in her attack on atheists Kay attacks Christopher Hitchens, the right wings favorite former Trotskyist turned pro war contrarian. She of course claims that atheists only want to ban Christianity and Judaism.
Aggressively marketed grievance has worked for women and gays. The same strategy for brights will doubtless end in a government-funded Status of Atheists Council to undo the iniquities of 10,000 years of theocratic hegemony and repression. After that, we may yet see -- don't laugh until you're sure it can't happen -- demands for reparations payout by churches and synagogues to redress the ignominy and shame now-atheist, former (involuntarily-designated) Christians and Jews suffered as children when force-fed the Ten Commandments in Sunday and Hebrew School. (Somehow, I do not envisage a similar campaign by Muslim atheists directed against the madrassas, not sure why ?)
While Christopher Hitchens has made it clear for many years that he opposes all theocracies and theocrats, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, heck he doesn't even like the Dali Lama. He has been outspoken against Islamism in fact his support for the war on terror is based upon his atheist opposition to Muslim Fascism.
So like her counterpart at the Sun; Michael Coren, she smears atheists with the Anti-Christian PC label, while failing to accurately point out that atheists oppose all religions and all belief systems that put faith in a supreme being.
Like Coren, Kay and other social conservatives, especially those of the evangelical Protestant faith, believe in the coming Rapture, the end times, and the Israel plays a role in this as predicted in the Book of Revelations in the New Testament.
They of course overlook the persecution and pogroms of the Jews by the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Empires in Europe. They are not defending Jews or Jewish culture, which has had a major cultural impact on the West in developing secularism, socialism, and yes atheism as well as anarchism and libertarianism. Rather they are defending Israel and Zionism.
The phony war on Christianity is just so much bunkum. According to Stats Canada the dominant religion in Canada remains Christianity and its sects and cults.
For Kay, Coren and the Byfields, the supposed war on Christianity is being engaged in by the secularist elites and heathen pagans, whoever they are. Oh yeah the old 'Powers That Be'. Except that the PTB in North America are Christians. Once again the right embraces historical revisionism; the screed of conspiracy theorists.
h/t to Another Point of View
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