PM2005

Atheist fundamentalism is a term sometimes used to attack atheists, especially the so-called "New Atheists". The New Atheists are not atheist fundamentalists by any reasonable definition of the term. They don't oppose human rights for religious people - they do sometimes oppose special rights for religions (such tax exemptions or government funding for churches), but they don't oppose religious groups having the same rights which secular groups have. However, historically there have been some groups of atheists who have opposed the rights of religious people. The Soviet Union, and many other communist states, were officially atheist - and they didn't just reject religion, they also persecuted religious people. Religious people were bared from many jobs - the better jobs all required Communist Party membership, and atheism was compulsory for all Communist Party members. Religious buildings were confiscated and destroyed or converted to secular uses - which resulted in the destruction of many historic buildings and artwork. Many priests and monks were sent to gulags or executed. Religious publications were subjected to severe censorship. Religious organisations were denied the autonomy and freedom of association to choose their own leadership - their leadership was chosen for them by the state, and filled by stooges and agents of the secret police. These anti-religious policies were officially justified in terms of atheism. The New Atheists, and the vast majority of atheists today, don't support these measures - and so are not fundamentalist atheists - but Stalin and his ilk were. It is interesting to note how these fundamentalist atheists share, with fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam, an opposition to human rights, even though each fundamentalism opposes human rights in its own unique ways.

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