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Imagine No Religion? Atheist Movement Gains Momentum

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is using quotes from famous atheists to spread the message in its national billboard campaign.

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AlterNet: Let's go with Hitchens then.

ALG: Well, Hitchens on religion, great. I don't agree with him on many of his other views on social issues. I don't think Hitchens is particularly representative of the typical free-thinker, but I admire his book God Is Not Great and his debating talents. I don't agree with him on abortion or war.

But I don't think he attempts to represent the free-thought movement. I think he represents his own views, and I think that our members agree with that book. But he has a whole body of other work that's quite different.

Free-thinkers are all over the place on other issues. I think Dawkins' social views are more in line with most free-thinkers.

AlterNet: But even as far as their religious views, they're not saying, "Oh, it's bad that Mormons mobilized against same-sex marriage efforts, but otherwise they can believe whatever they want, and we can believe whatever we want." The effort is to alter public views about religion in general ...

ALG: Well, I know former Mormons, and they are damaged people. At least, they felt that religion did so much harm in their lives. And it's such a patriarchal religion. There's every reason for us to criticize these kinds of religions.

If you look at the power of the pope -- with one word he could really end the population problem by endorsing the use of contraception, and everywhere he goes he creates more misery. That's the history of the Catholic Church.

Not just when it comes to reproductive rights, but with warfare and persecution. Think of the women killed as witches because of one Bible verse. It was also the Protestants. So they're not … they have a lot of the blame. But religion has a lot to answer for.

So yes, I'm not going to have an argument with my neighbor next door because she goes to the Episcopalian church. We get along fine. She's pretty liberal. But if someone asks me about doctrine and how I disagree with it, I'm going to be very open. I think it's very important.

There should not be a taboo where you can talk about everything else and debate everything else, but somehow it's not allowed to talk about religion and analyze it, like we do everything else. Making known that you dissent is not allowed.

It's just indoctrination from an early age to not only believe in religion, but to think that it's a sin to criticize religion. So how can you overcome that unless you are very public, writing books like the God Delusion, unless you're putting up bus signs and billboards and doing your own media, which is what we're doing? And we think it's a public service.

And we think there's nothing more important than working for the First Amendment. And I think those of us who are not religious tend to be purists on this topic of separation of church and state. So we think freedom depends on free-thinkers.

And free thought is a term we like. It's an umbrella term. It means people who form their opinion based on reason, rather than faith, tradition and authority. And so that encompasses atheists, agnostics a few deists in the classical sense, like Thomas Paine.

And we very much believe in what we do around here. We don't believe in a god, but we believe in this world. And that's the message behind "imagine no religion." Think about how much better off we would be without clinging to the supernatural and expecting a god to do what we need to do for ourselves.