Normalization of atheism
For too long, religionists have considered atheists and non-believers as holding extreme, taboo, or ‘abnormal’ views. The pervasive nature of religious belief has become the supposed norm; even in the 21st century. However, the number of people who identify with a particular religion, especially Christianity in the UK, continues to fall steadily. Church attendance is at an all-time low, and non-belief is increasing*.
It is now the case that the majority of people in the UK are non-believers, have no interest in religion, or are apathetic to it. Figures for the number of ‘Christians’ are inflated across various surveys, job application and equal opportunities forms, and even the National Census, by people ticking the ‘Christian’ box, even if they don’t follow that religion. Please see Atheism UK’s Census campaign for more information on this:
The normalization of atheism
All humans are born without any religious beliefs; these concepts must be taught, indoctrinated, and inculcated by parents, guardians, and the societies in which they live. From this perspective, atheism or non-belief is the normal default for everyone. It is the deliberate add-on of religion that should be considered as ‘abnormal’. An intrusion that is so subtly creeping and insidious that it appears to be normal for those who have never experienced anything else.
For atheists, non-belief and the rejection of man-made gods is completely normal. It is probably the case that the majority of the UK population never give religion a second thought during their daily lives. However, religion still pervades UK society in many ways. Here are some examples to consider, in no particular order, and this is not an exhaustive list:
- The reigning Monarch, currently King Charles III, is the head of the Church of England (CofE) and ‘Defender of the Faith’.
- Unelected Bishops in the House of Lords.
- Constant statements such as, “Those of faith and none…”, where faith always comes first and the ‘none’ is an afterthought.
- Religious invasion and dominance in public ceremonies, such as, Remembrance Day, etc.
- Schools with a religious ethos and selection criteria that are funded by the taxpayer.
- Religious objections to birth control; abortion; homosexuality; animal slaughter; same sex marriage; assisted dying, etc.
- Prayers preceding official business at local Councils, House of Commons, House of Lords, etc.
The concept of the ‘normalization’ of atheism or non-belief is simple. Most of the UK population have little or no interest in religion, even if they don’t call themselves atheists. Religion plays no part in their daily lives. However, religion still maintains a huge influence, even though all religious claims are demonstrably false.
*At Atheism UK we try to back up our claims, but statistics for the number of atheists, non-believers, and religious adherents is changeable. There have been many surveys on religious belief; too many to mention here, and they are all out of date, even since yesterday. We encourage our members, supporters and followers, to look up your own evidence.