Varieties of Atheism # 4 – Deeper than Reason

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by Neil Godfrey

With thanks to University of Chicago Press for access to a review copy.

Varieties of Atheism has rekindled my interest in atheism as an identity and as a question for wider social consideration. One can take one’s identity for granted and risk becoming stale, ossified, a life that is lived the same day after day without any further inward understanding or self-awareness. So it’s good to read the points David Newheiser raises and to follow the leads to other readings that he offers.

In one place in Varieties Newheiser writes:

. . . atheism concerns motivations that run deeper than reason.

I consult the endnote. It reads:

Stephen LeDrew argues that the New Atheism is likewise motivated by political commitments rather than science alone. Stephen LeDrew, The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 2. Susannah Ticciati develops a similar argument in her contribution to this collection.

Since I’m more interested in politics than theology I’ll put the theologian on hold for a moment and have a look at what LeDrew has to say (2016) —

. . . New Atheism is a secular fundamentalism, a modern utopian ideology that is also an active movement for social transformation. Like all fundamentalisms, it is not only a position on metaphysical questions but an essentially political phenomenon. It is only manifestly a critique of religion, while its latent project is the universalization of the ideology of scientism and the establishment of its cultural authority. Its critique is therefore not just about religion but more precisely about cultures, belief systems, and forms of knowledge—most importantly the social sciences and humanities, redundant in the New Atheism’s Darwinistic master narrative—that are perceived as challenges to this authority.

While ostensibly a critique of the dangers of irrational superstitions, then, the New Atheism is ultimately about power—more specifically, socially legitimate authority. It is a response to challenges to the authority of science and, by extension, those who practice science and regulate its institutions. By a further extension, it is a defense of the position of the white middle-class Western male, and of modernity itself, which is perceived to be under threat by a swirling concoction of religious ignorance, epistemic relativism, identity politics, and cultural pluralism. The New Atheism is a reaction to twenty-first-century challenges to the established modern social hierarchy and structure of cultural authority, seeking to eliminate perceived challenges to scientific authority not only from “premodern” religion but also “postmodern” social science. This is an attempt at placing an ideological manifestation of the natural sciences in a position of uncontested authority in the production of legitimate knowledge and in the cultural sphere of meaning and normativity.

I knew there was a reason I felt a certain discomfort with some of the writings of Dawkins, Harris, and even Hitchens.

Stephen LeDrew (photo from Publishers Weekly)

I’m a history buff so I could not turn away from LeDrew’s first chapter, The Evolution of Atheism.

As noted in an earlier post, LeDrew points out that “explicit, “avowed” atheism emerged in the Enlightenment” — and from that perspective it is a modern “movement”:

. . . “atheism” is inextricably bound up with a tradition of Enlightenment principles, including emancipation through reason, liberal democracy, the primacy of the individual, scientific rationality, and the notion of progress, which is closely related to the theory—or as Asad describes it, the “political doctrine”—of secularization . . . (p. 13)

I did not know so much has been written about atheism. LeDrew introduces his discussion by pointing to two key sources for his information:

So LeDrew draws a distinction between “scientific atheism” and “humanistic atheism”.

Scientific atheism views religion primarily as the antithesis of science and an obstacle to social and scientific progress. . . [It] understands religion as an obstacle to science-driven social progress and seeks to eradicate this relic of the premodern world through science education and “enlightenment”.

Humanistic atheism [considers] religion to be primarily a social phenomenon rather than an attempt at explaining nature . . . [It] rejects the structure of a world that gives rise to religion, which from this perspective is not a challenge to modernity but rather provides ideological support for modernity by rationalizing its inequities. It imagines alternative social formations that would cause religion to vanish. (p. 14, my formatting and bolding in all quotations)

Comte’s theory of society was…a precursor to the Darwinistic vision of progress at the heart of scientific atheism, [and] Spencer’s later fusion…of sociology and evolutionary biology into … sociobiology. (LeDrew, 19)

New Atheism as scientific atheism

We might say that such an analysis provides us with 20-20 vision and through it LeDrew focuses on the New Atheism thus:

The New Atheism is not “new” but just the most recent incarnation of a particular kind of nonbelief from a particular intellectual tradition. It excludes other kinds of religious criticism . . . The New Atheism is much more than a critical inquiry into religious faith. It is an extension and manifestation of the modern project of scientific mastery of the world and the rationalization of society, and its critique is only ostensibly about religion. More implicitly, it is a critique of other perceived challenges to this political project, wherever they may come from—even from other kinds of atheism. (14f)

LeDrew explores an interesting discussion on the thesis that atheism emerged not from a direct antagonism to religion but ironically from within theological enquiries that sought to enlist science in support of some of its views. That discussion is beyond the scope of this post but one can find more about the idea in Buckley, Denying and Disclosing God, Kors, Atheism in France, and Turner, Without God, Without Creed.

“Scientific atheism”, LeDrew explains, was born from the union of Enlightenment scepticism and the social and scientific theories of evolution. We have heard of Herbert Spencer’s Social Darwinism. Here we find the beginnings of what many of us would view as the villain of modern times:

It is important to note that this idea of progressive social evolution, with its vision of a “natural unfolding of social complexity,” is predicated upon a misreading of Darwin, who viewed evolution as a process with no fixed direction and invoked the metaphor of a “radiating bush” to describe adaptation and differentiation. (LeDrew, p.24)

For Darwin “on God” see comment below.

It is crucial to note that for these early Darwinists, the theory of evolution was not simply a scientific fact that needed to be defended against irrational forces that would seek to discredit it. The theory of evolution was, from the beginning, tied to a certain political orientation. Darwin was born into a wealthy family of capitalists and scientists. This socialization proved determinative of his character and political views, which in turn were instructive in the development of his scientific theory. Informed by Darwin’s liberal-capitalist worldview, natural selection doubled as a metaphor for the right of individuals to pursue their self-interest in a free and competitive society. Soon after its publication, Huxley declared Origin of Species to be a gun in the armory of liberalism, the most effective new weapon for attacking superstitious beliefs and thus promoting rational materialism.

Evolution was clearly not politically neutral in the minds of its defenders. Rather, the idea was tied to liberalism and rationalism and used to promote modern goals and values, and thus transcended science to become a cornerstone of the political ideology of the Victorian liberal intelligentsia. Indeed, many scholars agree that Darwin’s theory not only validated his political views but itself was a product of Victorian culture, with Darwin early in his scientific career committing himself to a theory of nature that reflected the Malthusian socioeconomic inclinations of British high society

In this view, the theory of natural selection was a contingent result of social history rather than an inevitable conclusion. As atheism became tied to the theory of evolution, it moved from simple negation of religious beliefs to an affirmation of liberalism, scientific rationality, and the legitimacy of the institutions and methodology of modern science—and thus from religious criticism to a complete ideological system. (22f)

Thankfully LeDrew reassures atheists who are offended by that historical background:

. . . scientific atheism is not a necessary consequence of a Darwinian worldview but rather an ideology that uses “evolution” and “natural selection” as metaphors in the advancement of what is in fact a deeply political position. (25)

Humanistic atheism

We come now to the history of “humanistic atheism”.

This brand of atheism emerged from the realization that merely rationally criticizing religious beliefs did not solve the nonrational problems that led to those beliefs, “which include alienation, suffering, infantile neurosis and insecurity, and fear of death.” We leave behind Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin and Aldous Huxley and meet Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

These thinkers did not give much attention to the arguments against the existence of God. Rather, they tended to simply assume his nonexistence. They were interested in the social and psychological causes that led to belief in God and in sustaining a religion that maintained inequities and ignorance. We introduced Feuerbach in our previous post. I am embarrassed to have to admit I have never studied anything about Ludwig Feuerbach but LeDrew helps me understand and atone a little for my ignorance:

Given his role as a principal architect of one of the most important streams of atheist thought of the past two centuries, it is striking that Feuerbach is rarely mentioned today in popular or scholarly religious criticism. Feuerbach’s seminal contribution to the development of atheism was his theory of God as a projection of the human onto the divine figure, which is a projection of alienation: “Religion is the disuniting of man from himself; he sets God before him as the antithesis of himself.” That is, everything that is great about God is alienated from humanity. (27)

If you are more familiar with Karl Marx and the above sounds familiar, here is the reason:

This approach was adopted by Marx, who reconfigured Feuerbach’s theory by defining more precisely the nature of the human experience that resulted in the projection of God—that is, alienation. (27)

Freud, we know, also accounted for religion as an “illusion”. The comfort believers find in religion is understood as arising from our inner “fearful and wondering child . . . desperate for some measure of control over terrifying forces of nature . . . “. Quoting Freud, religion, then, is …

the system of doctrines and promises which on the one hand explains to him the riddles of this world with enviable completeness, and, on the other, assures him that a careful Providence will watch over his life and will compensate him in a future existence for any frustrations he suffers here. The common man cannot imagine this Providence otherwise than in the figure of an enormously exalted father.

Then there is Friedrich Nietzsche. We have all heard of “the death of God”.

. . . the notion of the death of God refers to the end of “belief in any sort of absolute centre or unshakable foundation.”71 It is a necessary step in the evolution of man, where man is a step between animal and Ubermensch, when humanity itself, rather than a distant God, becomes the meaning of Earth.72 Here we see a link between Nietzsche and Feuerbach’s theory of God as projected alienated humanity. That is, man cannot become Ubermensch—master of himself and creator of his own truth and morality—until God, the universalizing and alienating foundation of truth and morality, is “dead.”

Ah — how I recall my French classes from student days and reading Albert Camus and struggling to take in the full meaning of Existentialism.

. . . faith robs people of their own capacity for understanding . . .

Indeed, and in more ways than the one identified here (relying on the church to explain and provide meaning). A momentous turning point in my life came when it suddenly dawned on me that it was my “faith” that was my driver — it was not the object of my faith that was empowering me, giving me confidence, etc, but “faith” itself! I finally discovered I could cut out the middle (imaginary) man.

He describes religion as an illusion constructed as an escape from reality . . . 

. . . In this sense Nietzsche can be placed in line with Marx and Freud in their diagnosis of religion as both an expression of suffering and compensation for it. This idea is expressed most forcefully in his disdain for Christian morality, which for Nietzsche is nothing other than a slave morality . . . (31)

I do not think Marx is obsolete and LeDrew reminds me of one of the reasons why:

For Nietzsche, then, as for Marx, religion turns our attention away from what is really important, which is human social relations, and toward the appeasement of a supernatural deity who has the power to end our suffering if only we are prepared to submit to his will—which, of course, is really the will of powerful clerics.

The biggest difference between these thinkers is perhaps in their attitude toward the oppressed. Marx is clearly empathetic, while Nietzsche derides the weak masses beguiled by the Christian slave morality, and Freud is equally contemptuous of the majority who are mired in an infantile fantasy and “will never be able to rise above this view of life. (32)

Incidentally, it was pointed out to me recently that Bruno Bauer (whose works I have been translating) was the first to declare that religion was the “opiate of the people”, and Marx borrowed the expression from him.


Susannah Ticciati

A theologian’s perspective

The other scholar Newheiser cited in his remark about atheism involving a “motivation that runs deeper than reason” is the theologian Susannah Ticciati who contributes a chapter in Varieties of Atheism.

Ticciati also takes me on a journey of discovery when in her introductory paragraphs on the debate with New Atheists she points out in passing….

  • The thin narrative of progress underpinning some of the new atheist writings is exposed by Terry Eagleton (from a Marxist perspective) for its failure to recognize the radical nature of sin, and its political impotence in the face of the horrors of capitalism.
  • David Bentley Hart offers a counterhistory in which the evils allegedly brought about by “religion” are placed in the context of an account of the Christian tradition as that which has (uniquely) fostered an ethic of love and compassion.
  • Less sweepingly polemical, but sharing the dismissive tone of Eagleton and Hart, is Denys Turner’s apophatically rooted critique that such atheists deny a God that no self-reflective Christian would affirm, and that their denials are outstripped by the much more thoroughgoing denials of the apophatic tradition.
  • Voicing a perspective from beyond the male-dominated battleground of the debate, Tina Beattie exposes from a feminist perspective the ideological situatedness of the new atheism’s scientism. Her nonpolemical approach arguably enables her to offer all the more deeply devast[at]ing a critique.
  • David Fergusson, most measured of all, deliberately seeking a respectful engagement, points (among other things) to the complexity of the theological tradition as something that already houses the challenges thrown at it as if for the first time by the new atheists. Several of the theological contributors, finally, highlight the complementary rather than competitive relationship between science and theology. (85f)

The links in the above will take you to the particular work Ticciati had in mind in each case. Of course, I cannot simply sit and watch such interesting looking titles go without stopping the bus each time so I can get out and check them for myself.

Ticciati finds all of the above more or less lacking in one respect in their criticisms of the “new atheists”….. that is, their failure to hear and respond to

what is arguably the deepest concern being voiced by the new atheists—an ethical concern. (86)

Ticciati’s response is that of a theologian for her theologian peers. I confess I struggled to fully grasp her highly abstract discussion, though I imagine theologians would embrace the terms and arguments she uses as mere basics in their conceptual universe. It’s not my world and I attempt to outline her argument only with trepidation.

Babette’s Feast Guardian photo

What is the practical impact of religion? Are beliefs harmful? Or is it only certain practices that we must worry about? After surveying the respective views of Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins on these views, Ticciati refers to two quite different atheist perspectives:

(As I have said, Varieties of Atheism contains a wealth of introductions to new ideas or old ideas discussed in new ways!)

Ticciati responds to new atheist criticisms by bridging the gap between belief and practice and here she turns to 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

For the word of the cross is folly (μωρια) to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of preaching to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block (σκανδαλον) to Jews and folly (μωρια) to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Through an application of that text to the ethical questions raised by religion’s critics argues that a propositional belief (God exists; Christ crucified is the saviour of the world”; “Jesus is the Christ”) can only have meaning under certain conditions in which the believer lives in the transforming context of a “mutual upbuilding” community of fellow-believers. That’s surely a gross oversimplification of Ticciati’s argument but I hope it is enough to present an invitation for anyone interested to follow it up for elaboration. At the risk of quoting a passage out of the context in which it was meant to be read, some flavour of the discussion might be gleaned from her following words:

The “me” that utters “Christ is my savior” will always also be the perishing self that is dealt a death blow by this very claim. It must be made foolish in order to become wise. As I have shown, the more austere claim “God exists,” at least in its Christian rendition, has meaning only insofar as it is caught up in this dynamic. And for this reason, the critiques of the new atheists—however easy it might be to dismiss them on purely propositional grounds—must be heard as another invitation “to become a fool that [one] may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18).

. . . . .

Drawing on scriptural resources, I have developed an account of the relationship between the truth and transformative significance of two central theological claims: (1) “Christ crucified is the savior of the world,” and (2) “God exists.” In summary, I have argued that these two claims display their true meaning under the conditions of an economy of mutual upbuilding, in which stumbling over Christ as stumbling stone leads again and again to the rediscovery of Christ as cornerstone.

Personally, I prefer to read the atheist literature cited, or even selections from other theological responses that are simpler, keeping in mind Ticciati’s caveats about what she perceives to be their shortcomings. Everything is colourful. Nothing black and white.

LeDrew, Stephen. The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Newheiser, David, ed. The Varieties of Atheism: Connecting Religion and Its Critics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2022.


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14 thoughts on “Varieties of Atheism # 4 – Deeper than Reason”

  1. Anyone who thinks that being an atheist in, say, Saudi Arabia today could possibly not have a political aspect is a fool. The same can be said of 19th century Britain, and before that of pretty well every country on Earth.

    A lot of what is being said here is a pretence of innocence – that if it wasn’t for the nasty New Atheists, those nice religious types would avoid being dragged into messy things like politics and would carry on quietly examining the eternal verities in coffee meetings and reading groups, bothering no one. Which is bollocks.

    Religion IS political. Religion does and has always demanded exclusive access to the levers of power down the centuries. Monotheism is certainly the worst for this, but it is a trend that can be seen through all of recorded history.

    “it moved from simple negation of religious beliefs to an affirmation of liberalism, scientific rationality, and the legitimacy of the institutions and methodology of modern science”

    Yes. Because it was impossible to affirm any of those things in the face of a religious establishment which sought to control behaviours and beliefs.

    “the New Atheism is ultimately about power”

    This is about as insightful as saying that republicanism under a monarchy is about power. Again, it is a pretence that implies that everyone started off on an even footing and then things got ugly because of these selfish (white – let’s not forget to play the race card while ignoring the racial history of religion) atheists picked a fight. The fight was and is because one side has historically had (and, to stress it again, in many places *still has*) both the ability and the will to KILL people who opposed its views. This is not about trivial little matters of cosmic origins or other navel-gazing.

    This comes down to real people being really murdered. Today. Where does Dawkins advocate stoning anyone to death? When did Hitchins issue his last Fatwah? What is the foundation for the the moral equivalence that is being drawn here? Answer: there is none.

    So, cry me a river if someone has decided to try to pull down the whole stinking edifice in a “political” way. What’s the non-political alternative to fighting a political movement?

    1. I fear you have badly misunderstood the message and details of the post. There is no suggestion of “moral equivalence”. The world, not even the world of religion nor the world of atheists — neither is a monolithic entity, we can say neither is all black or white.

      1. I wasn’t attacking the post in general. I was mostly responding to the outrageous piece of revisionist apologetics in the first long quote – the one where he implies that Dawkings et al are at least sub-consciously racist.

        His general tone, judging by the quotes, is a relativist one where Religion and Evolution/Atheism are simply two philosophical views with neither having any inherent moral superiority over the other. Within that framework we can pretend that New Atheism in particular is this sort of bully-boy attack on what are simply matters of opinion.

        But history puts a lie to this view. His reference to Huxley and early Darwinists (“Evolution was clearly not politically neutral in the minds of its defenders”) is, when put into its historical context, nonsense. The early Darwinists – and Darwin himself – knew that evolution *could not be* politically neutral because it entered a world where Religion controlled the political sphere and that the religious would choose to oppose them. Huxley and Darwin would both have had to show that they had “correct” religious backgrounds in order to enter university. Parliament had only allowed Catholics to be MPs in 1829 – when Darwin was 20.

        No one looking at the origins of life then could avoid the political dangers and disadvantages it would bring. To insinuate that there was some sort of sneaky hidden political agenda because Huxley and Darwin considered this fact reality – one enthusiastically, the other with great trepidation – is just flat out distortion.

        Every atheist that has had to hold their tongue – sometimes in case it is cut out – and hide their views knows very well that atheism in a religious world is political and that there’s no point in pretending otherwise. We really don’t need LeDrew’s “reassurance” about any of that or the consequences, even if we don’t live in any of the 13 countries that TODAY have the death sentence on the books for atheism.

        LeDrew’s book comes across here as an attempt to paint the ancient religious establishments as innocent victims. We simply need to ignore the smell of rotting bodies.

  2. Re “I knew there was a reason I felt a certain discomfort with some of the writings of Dawkins, Harris, and even Hitchens.” The quote to which this is your response is indicative of the people writing on the topic. They are delving deep into those works, finding things that are not there.

    When I became an atheist, at age 13, it was strictly an emotional rejection because I had been lied to. (I wish I could remember the details, but alas only the emotion.) This reaction had nothing to do with theology or science (even though I went on to become a scientist).

    I have read all of the books by the so-called “New Atheists” and found them refreshing because her were people saying things out in the open which were just not allowed before. The New Atheists were just Old Atheists who were out of the closet. There was nothing new about their atheism. I actually suggest that those books were tools used by the authors to explore their own atheism and not the manifestos claimed by academics.

    1. I understand the anger one feels. I was feeling raw for a long time after I left religion and it took some effort on occasions to work in social activist fields with individuals representing churches. I likewise found most of the New Atheist books refreshing and enjoyable to read. At the same time, however, I had to acknowledge that some of the ways some of them portrayed religion was somewhat simplistic but it was only over time as I tried to learn more about religion that I came to appreciate that somewhat over-done portrayal for what it was.

  3. “Informed by Darwin’s liberal-capitalist worldview, natural selection doubled as a metaphor for the right of individuals to pursue their self-interest in a free and competitive society.” I’m not certain what is being referred to here, but it sounds very much like the capitalist defense of “the survival of the fittest,” a phrase that does not occur in Darwin, but is derived from Spencer. In literary studies, we’re given to understand that much social science derives from corruptions upon corruptions of Spencer and Darwin, which then lead to literary Naturalism, which then mostly dies out as a major strain in literature by the 1930s or so. In any event, it sounds like Darwin is here being placed at the head of the movement leading to the New Atheists, which in turn are unlike the Humanist Atheists (Marx, Nietsche, Freud) who “did not give much attention to the arguments against the existence of God.” But, as I recall, Darwin did not argue against the existence of God. This leads me to wonder if we are not perhaps being offered the conflation of Darwin and Spencer that sometimes occurs in literary study. I haven’t read Le Drew, so I can’t say one way or the other, but the thought occurs to me.

    1. That might be my fault in over-condensing certain ideas. I must look again at the post and try to see where I need to clarify some of the points you raise. (In hindsight, I think I may have been trusting readers to be as knowledgeable of Darwin as you are.)

    2. I have added a side box in the main text to make it clear that Darwin was not responsible for the “Spencerian” ideas. As for Darwin on God, LeDrew adds,

      Darwin himself notes the implications of his theory for the oldest argument for religion in his autobiography: “There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows.” Though he never called himself an atheist, he expressed an agnosticism that grew out of the implications of his theory of evolution, which provided new scientific grounding for atheism and the critique of religion.

      and further on,

      Despite Darwin’s reservations, the theory of evolution meant for some that science was able to complete the break from religion instigated by the Scientific Revolution and a contemporaneous revolution in theology, now having an explanation of the origin of life to supplement the explanation of the cosmos.

  4. Warren Breckman’s “Marx, the Young Hegelians, and the Origins of Radical Social Theory: Dethroning the Self” is a good history to get a feel for Feuerbach’s priors and place in the mix of social philosophy as well as many other Young Hegelian figures.

  5. Talking about Marx and atheism, I just picked up a promising recent book, A Sacred Space Is Never Empty by Victoria Smolkin, which is a history of the atheist project in the Soviet Union – surely the most notable case of a state-sponsored movement to abolish religious belief.

    I have only gotten through the introduction so far, but one of the big points that Smolkin emphasizes at the outset is that Soviet atheism did not emerge fully formed in 1917 but had to invent itself as a positive project. This was a task with which the USSR struggled throughout its existence. Communists who started out in 1917 with an easy belief (inherited from Marx) that, with the abolition of alienation, religion would naturally give way to reason, soon found themselves disappointed. It was not enough for Communists to simply declare all gods dead. They needed to fill the sacred space vacated by the dead gods – that is, the Soviet Union had to build a positive atheist culture in place of religion, one that would replace the spiritual orientation provided by religion with one better suited to a liberated humanity. This turned out to be an evolving quest throughout the Soviet era, a quest that was ultimately frustrated and inconclusive, as religion proved more tenacious than Communism itself.

    1. Sounds interesting. Anthropologists and others have learned so much more about the nature of religion since those days. I wonder how such an experiment would work if it drew upon modern understanding. Chinese communism under Xi seems to have accommodated itself to traditional Chinese cultural (religious?) beliefs.

      1. I think an important difference between China and Russia is that there was never an orthodoxy in China that was institutionally entwined with the state to the extreme degree that the Orthodox Church was an inherent part of Tsarism. This meant that under Soviet rule, any expression of affinity for the Church might make a person politically suspect of “counter-revolutionary” sympathies since Church and Tsar were seen as going hand-in-hand.

        Whereas in China, holding a religious belief isn’t seen as implying that you are secretly loyal to the Qing Dynasty or something like that. The CCP still persecutes various religious (or “religious”) groups, often quite harshly – but only those it perceives as politically problematic. For example Muslims in Xinjiang, Buddhists in Tibet, or NRMs like Falun Gong. (I don’t know what kind of profile Falun Gong has down in Oz but their propaganda has been widely visible in the US for years – closely aligned with the looniest strains of MAGA, sad to say.)

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