Unexpected Unbelief

We atheists like to spread the good word and gain as many converts as possible. After all, how else can we validate our beliefs except by getting everyone else to believe too? Or unbelieve, I guess.

So imagine my delectation after all my door-knocking and handing out blads, to discover something I never expected about Arabs. They’re atheists! Well, not all of them, but a surprising amount sure seem to be.

According to the digital news site, GlobalPost, a growing number of Saudis are privately calling themselves atheists. You can’t publicly declare yourself to be an atheist in that country. That’s a capital offense. But anecdotal evidence indicates that more and more Arabs have grown disillusioned with Islam lately, and are willing to admit off-the-record that they don’t believe in any of that religious crap.

A heretic being prepared for stoning.

Preparation for a stoning.

And New Republic magazine reports that the number of atheists in the Arab world has been vastly underestimated. In 2012, a WIN/Gallup International poll revealed that 5% of Saudi citizens identify themselves as “convinced atheists.” That’s the same percentage as in the U.S. Also, 19% of Saudis consider themselves to be nonreligious. Who would have thunk?

Most Arabs caught in the act of not believing don’t receive the death penalty. Instead, they usually only get a few months or years of jail time. Even so, I can understand why an atheist in a Muslim country would feel reluctant to “come out of the closet” so to speak.

If I lived in that part of the world, I’d certainly keep it to myself. On the outside I’d have all the appearance of your average fanatic, if that’s what it took to stay alive, or out of the calaboose. And in fact, that’s exactly what I did one day in Turkey, many years ago.

More on that, in a few days . . .

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