About the necessity of an organization for the non-religious and atheists
Over one billion people world-wide are not members of any religion or church (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, demographical data for mid 1998), whilst the number of convinced atheists is estimated at 150 millions. Despite this impressive figure, however, in political life the non-religious and atheists in nearly all countries hardly make an appearance.
In Germany, about one third of the population does not belong to one of the two main churches. Most of these are not members of any religious community at all. Secessions from the church have resulted in a slow, but continually growing increase in people without any denomination. A corresponding increase in their political significance on the other hand is not in sight.
The main Christian churches, however, maintain their unique power even today. Whilst even church members' unconditional belief in Christian doctrines continues to dwindle and religious belief is playing an ever decreasing role in every-day life, not everybody who has become estranged from the church and religious belief finds his/her way to leaving the church. Some recoil from the bureaucratic hurdles placed in the way, e.g. going to the registry office or local court (1. Privileges of the churches, Law and church status). Others might remain a member of the church wrongly assuming that they are making some sort of contribution to the performance of their social duties by paying their church taxes (3. Work and social affairs, Germany). Idleness and a misdirected social sense of duty ensure that the churches continue to maintain a considerable number of members.
The power of the main Christian churches is, of course, not only based on the number of their members. Further pillars of the power of the churches include their monopoly in social affairs, their immense property possessions, the church tax privilege as well as huge amounts of money going from the state to the churches, a religious education that is recognized as a regular subject of the curriculum, a variety of internal publishing organs and with them the means to exert influence over the other media. Church-orientated politicians of many parties are transferring the influence of the churches into state politics.
The rights and interests of the non-religious and atheists continue to be cut back or ignored again and again. Our state's duty of philosophical and religious neutrality is disregarded.
Aims of IBKA
The Internationaler Bund der Konfessionslosen und Atheisten e. V. (International League of Non-Religious and Atheists; IBKA) wants to contribute to the more efficient representation of the political interests of the non-religious, agnostics and atheists. Therefore we are striving for the development of IBKA into a strong interest group for the non-religious, agnostics and atheists supporting human rights, rational thinking, individual self-determination (5. Self-determination) and tolerance.
The general human rights IBKA is concerned with are the "inalienable individual rights of each human being" (IBKA by-laws). This means: Each individual has the inalienable right to personally exercise all of his or her human rights.
For IBKA, human rights are not merely rights of freedom, but also social rights. IBKA regards it to be every society's duty to create the conditions required to enable each individual to exercise his or her rights and to develop his or her personality.
Incompatible with IBKA's aims are folkish and racist ideologies, anti-Semitism and hostility to foreigners.
Naturally, IBKA particularly focuses on the human right of religious freedom, or in more general terms, on "the philosophical freedom as the freedom to - either publicly or privately - profess one's religious or non-religious views or to refrain from doing so" (IBKA by-laws).
The unconditional implementation of this philosophical freedom requires that the state exercises its philosophical/religious neutrality: no human being shall be given preference over or be discriminated against on the grounds of his or her religious or non-religious views, and no religious or philosophical community shall be given preference over or discriminated against by the state.
A close cohesion between the state and churches and other religious communities jeopardizes the philosophical/religious neutrality of the state. Therefore IBKA demands the consistent separation of state and churches, of state and religious and philosophical communities.
A further problem is that the churches are a major employer in the so-called social sector (nursery schools, hospitals, homes for the aged or disabled, advice centres...; 3. Work and social affairs). For this reason, IBKA for some time now has accepted extraordinary members who, for economical or social reasons, are forced to belong to a religious community against their convictions; we call this "forced confessionalization".
Activities of IBKA
The activities of IBKA focus on three main areas:
- To criticize religion as an ideology;
- To criticize the socio-political role of the churches and other religions or denominations;
- To represent and enforce the rights of the non-religious, agnostics and atheists.
For IBKA, religions as ideologies of empty promises referring to the hereafter, and the churches as their organs, are among those social powers aimed at preventing humane conditions of life and repressing the creative mind working towards the realization of those conditions.
The International League of Non-Religious and Atheists (IBKA) wants to make the public more aware of this problematic area and promote its discussion in public.
This theoretical discussion leads to practical demands, duties and consequences.
Each chapter of this Political Guide is followed by the respective demands of IBKA.
This Political Guide of International League of Non-Religious and Atheists (IBKA) was adopted on October 15, 2000. It was amended on September 27, 2003 and on October 10, 2005. Translated from German in co-operation with Cornelia Boltz. Copyright 2001-2005 IBKA e. V.