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Antireligion is opposition to religion.

Antireligion is distinct from atheism and antitheism (opposition to belief in deities), although antireligionists may be atheists or antitheists. The term may be used to describe opposition to organized religion, or to describe a broader opposition to any form of belief in the supernatural or the divine.


According to historian Michael Burleigh, antireligion found its first mass expression in revolutionary France in response to organised resistance to "organised ... 'anti-clerical' and self-styled 'non-religious' state.[1]

The atheist state of the Soviet Union directed antireligious campaigns at all faiths[2], including Christian, Buddhist and Shamanist religions. The government nationalised all church property, executed clergy, prohibited the publication of most religious material and persecuted members of religious groups[2][3]. The result of this was the martyrdom of 21 million Russian Orthodox Christians by the Soviet government, not including torture or other religious ethnicities killed.[4]

The atheist state of Socialist Albania had an objective for the eventual destruction of all religion in Albania, including a constitutional ban on religious activity and propaganda[5]. The government nationalised most property of religious institutions and religious literature was banned. Many clergy and theists were tried, tortured, and executed. All foreign Roman Catholic clergy were expelled in 1946.[6][7]

Notable antireligious people

  • Georges Bataille, Nietzsche-influenced surrealist, journalist and philosopher who held that modern Western civilization was characterized by the myth of "the absence of myth".
  • Glen Benton, vocalist and bassist for the death metal band Deicide.
  • William Blake, poet and painter. Although he remained very spiritual, he viewed organised religion as oppressive.
  • Brandon Boyd, Incubus frontman, who although antireligious [8] remains "spiritual"[9].
  • George Carlin, who expressed religion as the biggest human accomplishment in terms of "bullshit."
  • Richard Dawkins, a prominent atheist and evolutionary biologist. He wrote The God Delusion criticizing belief in god(s) in 2006.[10]
  • John Dewey, an atheistic American pragmatic philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, believed neither religion nor metaphysics could provide legitimate moral or social values, though scientific empiricism could.[11]
  • Harlan Ellison, science fiction writer, called religion "the last vestige of barbarism."
  • Catherine Fahringer, campaigner in Texas for a strict separation of Church and State.
  • Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder with her mother of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and, with her husband Dan Barker, the current co-president.
  • Johann Hari, British atheist journalist and a self-described antitheist.
  • Sam Harris, author and scientist, who argues that religious moderation provides cover for dangerous fundamentalism [12].
  • Christopher Hitchens, outspoken and uncompromising antitheist, journalist and literary critic, author of the book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
  • Alistair Horne, British historian, believes peace follows when prosperity reduces religious influence.[13]
  • Enver Hoxha, former head-of-state of Albania, the only state to ever officially ban religion.[14].
  • David Hume, the Scottish agnostic philosopher, known for his skepticism, who wrote that human reason is wholly inadequate to make any assumptions about the divine, whether through a priori reasoning or observation of nature [15].
  • Robert Maynard Hutchins, past president of the University of Chicago. Although religious, thought religion was not adequate for organizing modern universities and educational institutions, preferring metaphysics[16].
  • Penn Jillette, illusionist, comic, actor, former-radiohost
  • Elton John, British musician and gay activist, who claims he "would ban organized religion" because it "promotes hatred and spite" and "doesn't work."
  • Kerry King - Guitarist of American thrash metal band Slayer. Much of King's lyrics are satanic and anti-religious.
  • Vladimir Lenin - Like most Marxists, he believed all religions to be "the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class"[17].
  • John Lennon, singer. Famously sang "and no religion too" in his song, "Imagine". Lennon commented that the song was "an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted."[18]
  • Bill Maher - presenter and producer of the movie Religulous, comedian, political commentator, host of Real Time with Bill Maher
  • H.L. Mencken, American journalist and satirist who famously ridiculed the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial.
  • Harvey Milk, gay rights activist and Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He believed that religion was dangerous[19] and said it was a perversion.[20]
  • Friedrich Nietzsche - Der Antichrist, general anti-Christian statements in many other works. Nietzsche believed Christianity, and specifically Christian morality, to be the product of a transvaluation of values amongst the Jewish lower classes who bucked at Roman rule, and ascribed its other-worldly nature as the product of ressentiment, or the desire to devalue the things of this world out of spite. Famous for popularizing the phrase, "God is dead."
  • NOFX - American punk rock band famous for their songs satirizing religion.
  • PZ Myers, American biology professor and author of the blog Pharyngula.
  • Madalyn Murray O'Hair, founder of American Atheists, plaintiff of Murray v. Curlett, and self-proclaimed sexual libertarian. Allegedly once said that she wanted to be buried in an anonymous grave because she "didn't want any christers comin' around and prayin' over [her] dead body".
  • Michel Onfray, French anarchist philosopher
  • Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist [21].
  • Philip Roth, contemporary American novelist [22].
  • Ayn Rand, novelist and philosopher, founder of the objectivist school of metaphysics, famous for writing Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness.
  • Bertrand Russell, British logician, and analytic philosopher[23]
  • Victor Stenger, astrophysicist and author of God: The Failed Hypothesis, who claims that the existence of a supreme Being has been disproven by the scientific establishment.
  • Max Stirner, anarcho-egoist and proto-existentialist nihilist who penned The Ego And Its Own
  • Terry Goodkind an Ayn Rand influenced writer whose books contain many monologues describing his belief that religion holds man down, and prevents him from rising to his potential.
  • Tommy Lapid, an outspoken Israeli media figure, journalist, and former leader of the liberal-secularist party Shinui. He was Known for his Public dissent with Rabbis, Terrorism, Religion, and his provocative remarks on what he said was "superstition".
  • Greg Graffin, college professor and singer of Punk Rock band Bad Religion. He has written some anti-religion anthems throughout his music career.

Antireligious organizations

  • The Rational Response Squad, a group of American antitheists who lobby for atheism. They are most famous for their controversial "Blasphemy Challenge" on YouTube.
  • The Society of the Godless, a mass volunteer antireligious organization of Soviet workers and others in 1925-1947.

See also


  1. Michael Burleigh Earthly Powers p 96-97 ISBN 0-00-719572-9
  2. 2.0 2.1
  4. World Christian trends, AD 30-AD 2200, p.230-246 Tables 4-5 & 4-10 By David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, Christopher R. Guidry, Peter F. Crossing NOTE: They define 'martyr' on p235 as only including christians killed for faith and excluding other christians killed
  7. World Christian trends, AD 30-AD 2200, p.230-246 Tables 4-10 By David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, Christopher R. Guidry, Peter F. Crossing
  8. Brandon on his song meanings Favorite things is my personal beliefs about religion and how it oppresses the things I enjoy the most. Unfortunately, the simplest things, such as thinking for myself, creating my own reality and being whatever the hell I want to be each day of my life, are a sin. To be a good Christian basically means to give up the reigns of your life and let some unseen force do it for you.
  9. Interview with Brandon Boyd of Incubus "The energy I have experienced has definitely been feminine at its core. At the same time though, I've come to the conclusion that by putting a type of sex on it, one way or the other, you limit the energy. At this point, it, stressing the word "it," is far beyond my capability."
  10. Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful! The Guardian, 2001-10-11 "Has the world changed?." The Guardian. Accessed 2006-01-29.
  11. "Dewey felt that science alone contributed to 'human good,' which he defined exclusively in naturalistic terms. He rejected religion and metaphysics as valid supports for moral and social values, and felt that success of the scientific method presupposed the destruction of old knowledge before the new could be created. ... (Dewey, 1929, pp. 95, 145) "William Adrian, [ TRUTH, FREEDOM AND (DIS)ORDER IN THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY], Christian Higher Education', 4:2, 145-154
  12. "We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith.", S. Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation, 2006.
  13. ""Now, I'm reminded of one of my heroes, Talleyrand,... he said, 'Wherever there's trouble, look for a priest.' He was a defrocked priest so he knew what he was talking about. Honestly, if you look at it, in Northern Ireland, trouble was caused largely by priests on one side or the other. And what's happened in Northern Ireland? The solution has nothing to do with religion. We got the priests out of there, thanks to the EU. The best thing it ever did was make Ireland prosperous. And prosperity made up for religion. This is the only hope for the Middle East, to somehow neutralize the mullahs by creating a small economic miracle. To persuade young Muslims that there's a better life than blowing themselves up by running casinos and whorehouses and hotels and what have you." quoted by Gary Kamiya in Bush's favorite historian, Salon, 8 May 2007.
  14. Established the first instance of official state atheism where possession of religious objects such as a Qur'an or a Bible led to prison sentences.
  15. D. Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, 1779.
  16. "Rather than theology's organizing academic disciplines, as had been the case in the Middle Ages, metaphysics was more fitting for the modern university, Hutchins suggested, because it ordered and explored important problems, disclosed theoretical principles, and promoted the pursuit of virtue without demanding religious allegiance." p. 68: Mary Ann Dzuback (1990); Hutchins, Adler, and the University of Chicago: A Critical Juncture; American Journal of Education, Vol. 99, No. 1. (Nov., 1990), pp. 57-76.
  17. "Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about the religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class."Lenin, V. I.. "About the attitude of the working party toward the religion.". Collected works, v. 17, p.41. Retrieved 2006-09-09. 
  18. Lennon Lives Forever: John Lennon, Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2006-12-02.
  19. California Legislature Approves Gay Day in Public Schools
  20. What's the Matter with California?
  21. "[T]he Bible, contrary to what a majority of Americans apparently believe, is far from a source of higher moral values. Religions have given us stonings, witch-burnings, crusades, inquisitions, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, gay-bashers, abortion-clinic gunmen, and mothers who drown their sons so they can happily be united in heaven." The Evolutionary Psychology of Religion, presentation by Steven Pinker to the annual meeting of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Madison, Wisconsin, October 29, 2004, on receipt of “The Emperor’s New Clothes Award.”
  22. "I'm anti-religious ... It's all a big lie ... I have such a huge dislike [of] the miserable record of religion." The Guardian, 2005-12-14 " The Guardian. 'It no longer feels a great injustice that I have to die'
  23. "I think all the great religions of the world - Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Communism - both untrue and harmful. It is evident as a matter of logic that, since they disagree, not more than one of them can be true. ... I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue." Bertrand Russell, 1957, from My Religious Reminiscences reprinted in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell[1]
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Antireligion. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.