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Within the last year, many American Muslims have been using the term “Islamaphobia” to describe the fear people have of the Muslim religion. Being labeled an Islamaphobic is generally considered akin to racism. Last year Bill Donahue of the Catholic League coined the term “Catholic-phobia” and in a recent conversation I had with a Christian fundamentalist I was labeled a Christian-phobic.

These are terms used by religious people to avoid honest criticism of their beliefs. Criticizing religious beliefs and the consequences of those beliefs does not make someone a bigot or the religious equivalent of a racist. Many people who do not accept the ridiculous mythologies of these religions are genuinely terrified of religious people’s inability to think critically about their beliefs and the propensity of many religious people toward violence inspired by their irrational and dogmatic beliefs.

These fears are not misplaced. They are actually extremely valid fears in most cases. It is not hard to point out extremely dangerous actions taken by many religious believers both in the past and in the present. While not all religious believers are violent, a large number are either violent or dangerous in other ways. By this I mean that they may push for unjust and immoral laws by vote or by financial advocacy in a non-violent manner. Still, moderate religious believers are in part responsible for creating an atmosphere which discourages critical thinking and reason with concern to religious beliefs and promoting the faith over reason. This creates an atmosphere of irrationality and is an attack on the intellect. It is the chief contributor of the dumbing down of our society.

When we really think about it, we might want to take a cue from the religious and coin terms like, Reason-phobic or Reality-phobic to describe religious people. Beliefs in life-after-death and prayer are unreasonable and are attempts to avoid reality. It sometimes amazes me how even moderate religious believers will jump to the defense of these irrational beliefs. Sometimes they will even attack the scientific method and reason itself in order to defend faith (as seen in the comment section of this article).

Now that 2011 is here, we need to continue the fight against the reality-phobia of the religious. The natural world is nothing to be afraid of. The scientific method helps us to understand the unknown and that makes reality much less scary.

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  • http://socialinjustices.net david

    The problem with this is that they have about an 1800 year head start on using names to belittle those that can not believe unbelievable tales. They are very good at it, and know just which buttons get an emotional response from their followers and which ones evoke the most rage to initiate action. The Tea Baggers for instance had about 10 little slogans that invoked everybody with less than an I.Q. of about 60 to the polls, and many of them were candidates.

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