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One of these things is not like the others …

I just came across this statement in a Wikipedia entry describing the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators: “Religious beliefs vary as well including, but not limited to, Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists.” Why are atheists included in the list? Atheism is not a religious belief; it is the absence of religious belief. Perhaps the author was just trying to include everyone, but including atheism in a list of religions is like including a pork chop in a list of fruits, a cat in a list of dogs, or 7-Up (the “Uncola”) in a list of colas.


  1. While you are technically correct here, Pied, methinks you pick one too many nits. 🙂 The difference, I submit, is tiny. It is merely a case of belief in religion as opposed to belief about religion, is it not? The reporter could, to be more correct, have said ” Beliefs about religion vary as well, including . . . “, but I think the meaning is clear either way.

    Personally, I find it interesting that atheists are among the religious groups in the demonstrations, especially since admitted atheists are about as scarce as hen’s teeth. Anyway, your post leaves me wondering what religion or a lack of religion has to do with the demonstrations? Maybe it’s a “factoid”. 🙂

    • I’m tempted to quibble with your saying “… atheists are among the religious groups …,” because atheists are not a religious group. But I’ll just settle for agreeing with you that the religious beliefs of the participants are irrelevant.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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