Illegal Atheists

by Aranyakananda

The world is a funny, funny place.

It appears that in Saudi Arabia it is now illegal to be an atheist. In fact atheism is equated with terrorism. It is not illegal for an atheist to enter the country, just illegal for Saudis to be atheist, or “practice atheism” whatever that means, in Saudi Arabia.

I don’t know everything about this law or the intention behind it, I admit, but to me this whole thing sounds deplorable considering that the majority/authority in Saudi Arabia is Muslim, Islam not being one of the more “experiential” religions in the world. I would go so far as to say the three major Abrahamic religions are either faith- or Law-based. And though certainly many of their adherents do “experience” God, basically what is happening here is that it is illegal to not to believe in something that cannot be proven to exist. I am actually unclear as to whether this law is Islam-specific.

The world is a funny, funny place because while this is going on we have also had Communist regimes wherein the governments have actively promoted atheism if not suppressed the right to practice. And there are shades of grey in between the two extremes, like in China where there are like 5 choices of officially sanctioned religions.

The situation in Saudi Arabia has got me thinking about Hinduism. How interesting it would be, given the experiential nature of the many related practices, if, let’s say India were to make it illegal not to be a Hindu. It would never happen, nor should it ever happen, let me be clear. Just an interesting thought how the one place where the dominant religion is most experiential – some would say empirical – of all would not think of placing such a stipulation upon it.

Maybe it wouldn’t because it wouldn’t make sense. Maybe it wouldn’t make sense because of the very idea that it is experiential and all you need to do is practice meditation to understand some of its principles. Maybe other places like Saudi Arabia feel the need to make its majority religion mandatory because it is not as experiential and there is a concern for losing adherents. Or maybe it is simply what it appears to be. A social control thing.


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2 Responses to Illegal Atheists

  1. Dhrishti says:

    I think it’s interesting that it’s illegal to “practice” Atheism. My Beloved and I go back-n-forth sometimes on how Atheism really IS a religion and what defines a religion. I don’t feel a religion has to involve any notion of God at all… Maybe the Saudis understand the same?

    In regard to whether this is Islam-specific, I think not. Christians, when ruling the most powerful countries in th past, enforced pretty much the same – many times even turning on their own for variances in practice.

    I definitely think the Faith-or-Law religions are essentially social control mechanisms that sometimes also happen to lead to experiential truth. “Either blindly believe (have faith) in what we say is Truth, or blindly follow these Holy Laws.” Either way, the adherents don’t have to actually engage much, so long as they can walk the line or blend in.

    Nice post, Vasu.

    • treadmarkz says:

      Thanks for your input as always! for the record when I queried whether it was Islam-specific I was just referring to the present law in question, not this type of law, as yes, I know Christians have pulled the same type of shenanigans.

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