First, religion is not for me, not anymore, but I’m not anti-religion. I’m pro autonomy and anti-harm, so if religion can be done freely and without harming or coercing people or a group of people, I’m not against it.
Can it be done? With the knowledge I have right now, The Satanic Temple is the best example I have of a religion / belief that doesn’t seem to be harmful and is actively working on minimizing harm. They are a non-theistic religion that have seven tenets based on humanism1.
Then, what about theistic religion / belief?
Well, I don’t actively go after being an anti-theist, but I do see how being anti-harm could be interpreted that way by others.
Here is the problem:
We still live in societies that are often based on some form of theistic religion and values. In that kind of a value system, anything that looks like anti-theism will of course be seen as a threat.
People in theistic religion / belief systems and cultures will often see their religion / culture as either an important part of their identity or maybe as their whole identity (and maybe they don’t know who they are, without their religion / culture), so if they feel like their religion / culture is threatened, to them it will feel like a threat to their identity and therefore to them personally.
At the same time, people will often not be able to acknowledge the harm done by their own religion / faith. They might be able to see the harm done by other versions of their religion, but often not their own.
Many people will therefore assume that anti-theism and anything that looks like it, is about hate against them, because that is what it feels like to them. But is it?
The biggest theistic religions we have today are all unnecessarily harmful in so many different ways to a lot of different groups of people. Not at least because of the authoritarianism they are build upon.
Yes, you don’t need religion to be authoritarian or fundamentalistic, but with the knowledge I have today, I don’t know about any version of theistic religion that isn’t, directly or indirectly, unnecessarily harmful in some way to at least some people.
I understand the dream of a religion and a church that is build upon an all loving god that makes you feel safe and loved. The problem is, he / she / they doesn’t seem to exist in reality. If a god like that really existed, then why is deeply harmful authoritarianism so extremely rampant in theistic belief systems?
Just because your religion works for you and makes you feel safe, doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful for your children or your neighbour. Authoritarianism can feel like safety to you, but it will always have a flip side: It will always at a minimum be unnecessarily harmful to other groups of people (and maybe even to you, while at the same time making you feel safe and loved).
I might be wrong, but to me, theism seems to always drift into and / or support some form of authoritarianism that is unnecessarily harmful to at least some people. Bible based Christianity certainly always do. Not at least because if you read the Christian bible from a theistic perspective, you always end up in some form of authoritarianism.
If theistic religion can be done, without taking away peoples freedoms and without abuse and harm (incl. emotionally and psychologically), I’m not against it. Where I’m at today, I just don’t think that it can be done in practice (and even if it were possible, I don’t see how a theistic religion / faith would be relevant, without also being objectively true).
I hate harmful and abusive systems and theologies exactly because I respect people and nobody deserves the indoctrination, authoritarianism, shame and trauma that theistic religion / faith always seems to end up in for a lot of people. And the good sides of theistic belief systems? You can create and have those without theism. Without authoritarianism. Without fundamentalism. Because the good sides aren’t really about religion or theism, but about being human.
My goal isn’t anti-theism, it’s pro autonomy and anti-harm, but if that ends up looking like anti-theism, so be it.