The Rationalist Society of Australia warmly welcomes the Association of Atheism of Turkey to the international community of freethinking. Among their goals is to ensure “No atheist should stand alone in the streets.” And we think we had it tough…
The Association of Atheism is, historically speaking, legally the first of its kind not only in Turkey, but also, in the Middle East and among all countries with predominantly muslim populations. The name Atheist does not solely represent the individual Atheist but in a broader sense is a reaction to the abuse of the term “Atheist” in defamation and application toward all non-muslims. We are comprised, even among our board members, of Pantheists, Theists, Agnostics, Ignostics and Atheists.
By our understanding of the term “Atheist” we can include non-religious and non-theists as well as our namesake, Atheists. We are not the first Atheist group to aspire to become a legal organization. In fact, most of us have been personally involved with previous ventures, which failed to legally organize. However, we are the first to succeed. In reflection, we can deduce, it has been the interference of agendas and politics responsible for the vanities of the past attempts to move forward.
Richard Dawkins said, “Organizing Atheists is like herding cats!” Therefore, we began our journey with a firm “Leave your politics at the door” policy, backed by a constitution intolerant towards promotion of agenda or politics both within and via the Association of Atheism.
We have three main goals:
1. First, to give the Turkish public an unbiased, objective and intelligent identity concerning who is and what it means to be an Atheist.
There is a strong and widespread misinformation about what it means to be Atheist. There is a strong and widespread need for proper free-thinking and Atheist guidance and authority, as religious followers receive via their religious teachers and advisors. It is for these reasons we sought to institutionalize Atheism.
2. No Atheist should stand alone in the streets!
As we expand our organization and ask fellow Atheists to “come out of the closet” so-to-speak, and join us, we realize the risk and burden such a request carries. Our second goal is to stimulate and foster a thriving community that supports, promotes and protects the rights of individuals and groups identified as Atheists; and to combat negative attitudes toward such individuals and groups.
3. Our third goal is to stand up for the victims of the haranguers of Atheists and free-thinkers in the courts, either as active council or as a supporting party to the defendant.
Out of the aforementioned three goals, we can state our current priorities as follows:
— To amend certain laws that violate the human and civil rights of Atheists and Non-Theists
— To apply for certain bills that protect or create freedoms for Atheists and Non-Theists
— And to defend the rights of victims of religious and non-religious.
Specifically, the Association of Atheism plans to establish a legal action group to advocate the rights of Non-Theists and to visit the Grand National Assembly to announce and lobby for appeals to policies and standards.
Furthermore, we intend to organize regular academic events such as panels, seminars, conferences, and debates; on the topics of free-thought, Atheism, non-religion and religious oppression.
Likewise, we will organize and promote social and cultural activities to simulate a community among Atheists, Non-Theists and free-thinking intellectuals free from outside judgement and discrimination.
For more background on what atheists and other freethinkers face in Turkey, read the paper “On Legal Personality In Turkey“.