Rights are just one of many similar things that bother the heads of atheists. They don’t really exist but we make them exist by agreeing to honor them. That’s why I tend to speak and write about such examples of quasi-reality in terms of persistence more than existence. This is very important to a full understanding of atheism and I shall have to pay strict attention to my wording from now on. Quasi-real “things” don’t exist in reality; they persist only for as long as some people find ways and reasons to support them. When their time runs out, most will leave on their own.
Use government for an example
Government, at various levels, and by agreements pounded out at the very beginning and since the beginning of the U.S.A., was granted the role of defender of our rights. Government also persists in that state of phantom reality, and so must be accepted by its intended constituents to gain its authority; or else, authority must be asserted by force as in the olden days. The quasi-real contrivances of mankind are so subject to manipulation people can hardly be blamed for qualms about trusting them. As time passes and manipulation progresses, watchful eyes lose their vigilance to age. As new generations come and go, tradition sets in and watchfulness becomes about the developing traditions. From early on, religion asserts itself and makes its presence known and rights become lost to the guise of public protection. Other influences work to promote special interests, greed, power struggles, all aiming to acquire undue advantage for some dishonest person or group.
Whether atheist or Christian, saint, sinner or “none of the above”, our rights are designated as equal. That means no person can claim rights denied to others nor deny to others any lawful rights others enjoy. It means no person can enforce a claim of elevated status due to religion or wealth. It means no person can be legally subjected to persecution for their religious beliefs or their perceived absence. At least, it once did.
We must learn to practice equality. It is not knowledge we possess at birth. We leave it to chance and hard experience, make innocent actions illegal by following a monotheist religion’s prescription or “just in case”. The poor results show throughout our American society, in crime, murder, imprisonment rates, stress rates and more. The precepts sound simple but we seem unable to get past our prejudices to make them work. That,“I will defend your right to practice your beliefs and you will defend mine”, “Your rights begin and end with you and mine begin and end with me,” plus “We will go beyond our differences to defend our families and territories against invaders.”
The preachers and priests who contrived organized monotheism released upon the Earth an inevitable development in the evolution of religion. Monotheism, if you have forgotten (or never been informed) was built on the premise that only one god created, and rules, over the heavens and Earth.
Perhaps by accident, those who chose to describe the nature of this god as “immaterial”, albeit in rather dated language, chose the most appropriate term available. This 14th century word also, according to Merriam-Webster, applies to ghosts, spirits and other incorporeal specters, all of which require belief and acceptance in order to persist. Words not in use until relatively recent centuries will find their origins in apologia, where doctrines develop separately from the main guidebook formed by the scriptures regarded as sacred. Except for those scriptures, all else can be different between any two establishments.
Visit a Local Church
You can sense it upon entering the building. Some exude happiness. Some give such a sense of sorrow you need to cringe. Some, plain and simple in pastel colors, give no hint of what to expect. And then, never to be forgotten, there’s the church where you pushed the door open and jumped back, amazed to hear echoes of the minister’s last sermon ringing through the rafters. Though they all addressed their god by the same name, no two versions of the-god-named-God will be identical. Calling on them by the same name doesn’t make it right. That would have the same effect as naming multiple fraternal sisters all “Sarah” and making them figure out, each time you pray, whose name you don’t know this time.
What Does Any of This Have to do With Rights?
If this is at all true, preachers and priests have nothing to answer to beyond the members of their own congregations. They would be kept too busy tutoring their flocks about all the gods and demons, plus learning about new ones “discovered” locally and in nearby towns and cities. New gods get absorbed into the culture as do those from nearby.
“Rights” and “freedom” are non-words in monotheism. “They represent blasphemy. They were planted in your mind by agents from Satan. They put you in danger of Hell fire. If we had been able to use our guillotine on Jefferson and his damnable cronies, you would not know to be lusting after such iniquitous pipe-dreams now.” “As you have already admitted in this blasphemous piece, individual rights do not exist. All rights are held by the church.”
I am sorry, but I have already asserted in this rather astute work of mine, that churches can only exist by the agreement of individuals. You will have to accept before that I will argue with you. Otherwise, you don’t understand it. Individuals have objective existence. Until individuals agree about it and provide an edifice or place, churches don’t.