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This Week in Atheism 2018–06–03


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/06/03

“Americans are deeply religious people — and atheists are no exception. Western Europeans are deeply secular people — and Christians are no exception.

These twin statements are generalizations, but they capture the essence of a fascinating finding in a new study about Christian identity in Western Europe. By surveying almost 25,000 people in 15 countries in the region, and comparing the results with data previously gathered in the U.S., the Pew Research Center discovered three things.

First, researchers confirmed the widely known fact that, overall, Americans are much more religious than Western Europeans. They gauged religious commitment using standard questions, including “Do you believe in God with absolute certainty?” and “Do you pray daily?”

Second, the researchers found that American “nones” — those who identify as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular — are more religious than European nones. The notion that religiously unaffiliated people can be religious at all may seem contradictory, but if you disaffiliate from organized religion it does not necessarily mean you’ve sworn off belief in God, say, or prayer.”


“Following yesterday’s no-confidence vote against Spain’s leader Mariano Rajoy, his political rival Pedro Sánchez was sworn in this morning as the new Prime Minister.

And when the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party took his oath, there was no Bible or crucifix to be found. That’s because the new Prime Minister (of a nation that’s two-thirds Roman Catholic) happens to be an atheist.

Sánchez said in a (roughly translated) 2014 interview:

I am an atheist and I believe that religion should not be in the classrooms, it has to be in the churches, in the classrooms you have to form citizenship, not people with religious beliefs, that corresponds to the private sphere”.

His godless oath today also reflected that mentality:

I promise by my conscience and honor to faithfully fulfill the obligations of the office of President of the Government with loyalty to the King, and to keep and enforce the Constitution as the fundamental norm of the State,” Sánchez said.

While that’s the same oath all prime ministers of Spain take, Sánchez substituted the word “promise” for “swear.” It’s nice to hear an oath that praises “conscience” and “honor” over a deity who ultimately stands for whatever your political party supports.”


“People drift away from religion for many reasons.

For 22-year-old Ashlie Juarbe, her journey out of religion happened at her Catholic high school, when a male teacher shamed her for getting her period in the middle of class. She wrote about it in the New School Free Press:

“Ashlie, I said you’re up.” He was at the foot of my desk, the overhead light glinted off his bald head. I feared my jeans were stained.

“I’m not feeling well, Mr. Cooper. I’d like to sit this one out,” I said. I started to sweat again. There was no way Mr. Cooper would let me go up there if he understood. I hoped God would give him a sign.


“But Mr. Cooper, I have…” I began, but his eyes were daring me to sit a second longer. I looked at my classmates, still the words “my period” wouldn’t tumble out. For a normal phenomenon that has over 5,000 slang terms, it was never talked about in public without hushed tones and uncomfortable faces. Going to an all-girls religious high school was worse. Talking about anything below your waist was blasphemy. If it wasn’t virtuous, it wasn’t taught.

You can probably guess what happened next. Only after Ashlie’s humiliation was witnessed by the entire class did Mr. Cooper grant her request to go to the bathroom.


“Can Islam and Christianity be seen as being the same, or similar, or as complementing each other, or are they so radically opposed and at loggerheads that it is a grievous error to see them as having anything meaningful in common?

At one extreme there are the “ecumenists” who like to speak about Christians and Muslims as “people of the Book”, united in their belief in the One God and, as such, a positive force for good in the world. At the other extreme, there are the atheists who endeavor to demonize both religions as being “people of the Book”, united in their belief in a non-existent tyrannical monolith called “God” and, as such, a negative force responsible for much of the hatred and discord in the world. Against both of these extreme positions, there is a third position, which simply states that Islam and Christianity are as radically opposed to each other as each of them is opposed to atheism.

In a practical sense, each of these three positions will radically affect, and indeed effect, our view of the world. How we see the global situation, politically and culturally, will be determined by which of these three positions we believe to be true.

Let’s consider Islam. The inscription in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem states that Jesus “was only a Messenger of God”. He was not God’s Son. “Far be it removed from His transcendent majesty the He should have a son. It befits not God that He should take to Himself a son.… Praise be to God, who has not taken unto Himself a son, who has no partner.” Compare this with Christianity: “No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.” Cf. 1 John 2:23.

In a program called The Creed, hosted by Mike Aquilina and Scott Hahn on EWTN, Dr. Hahn spoke of his encounter in a restaurant with an Islamic scholar. When Hahn referred to God as “Father”, the scholar pounded his fist on the table and said, “Do not blaspheme. That is human, not divine.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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