Atheism and Areligion in the Czech Republic: Unmarked Identities of the Czech Redditsphere

Based on self-declared religious affiliation, the modern Czech Republic is regularly cited as the most areligious country in Europe and one of the least religious countries in the world according to internal and international survey data.[1] When asked, most Czechs choose not to affiliate with, or perhaps affiliate against, a church or religious tradition.[2]

With that said, the Czech Republic, as with most nations, possesses a quite complex religious environment. In some ways it might be characterized by widespread irreligiosity evidenced by unparalleled levels of church absence, while at the same time home to an alternative spiritual milieu resembling that of many Western nations.[3] What is clear however is that the prevailing attitude among Czech natives is one of church avoidance and indifference, if not opposition, toward primarily Christian institutions and their adherents, and a more general concept of “organized religion” and religious people.[4]

To investigate how areligiousness in the Czech Republic manifests itself in the every day life, I conducted Reddit-mediated interviews with self-identified atheist/agnostic and non-identified areligious Czechs. Based on the Redditors’ responses and within the framework of social unmarkedness (described below), three themes emerged: non-identification of nonreligious identity, non-discussion of religious topics, and marking religious people. Overall, the Redditors described their environments as devoid of religion, both in its manifestation in social dialogue among homogenous groups of (assumed) areligious people and in the degree of its relative importance for the Redditors’ self-concept.

Continue reading “Atheism and Areligion in the Czech Republic: Unmarked Identities of the Czech Redditsphere”

What’s going on in Dearborn, Michigan?

I really didn’t want to do another “Muslim thugs” post. However, as I cruise the dark depths of the Internet for potential leads on deceptive news stories, I can’t ignore this hateful virus taking over the /r/The_Donald subreddit. To be fair, this subdomain is mostly harmless, layered with various pro-Trump messages and attacks on Megan Kelley (and her poor ratings). However, peppered throughout, I have found posts reading, “Michigan has a NO GO ZONE for Christians where Sharia Law rules and Police do not enter. And MSM will NEVER report on it” and “CHRISTIANS WIN BIG LAWSUIT AGAINST MUSLIM THUGS IN DEARBORN, MICHIGAN!

So what the hell is going on in Dearborn, Michigan? Well, if your someone who will believe anything they read or (more realistically) someone who will believe anything that they want to believe, this tiny mid-western city is the epicenter of a plot to Islamize the United States. The total population of Dearborn is roughly 100,000,[1] and it is home to somewhere between 30,000[2] and 40,000 Arab Americans of various national backgrounds.[3] According to the 2000 US Census, this ratio (30%) represents by far the largest concentration of Arab Americans per capita in any place in the US.[4] Assuming that the city’s reputation as a jihadist utopia is unfounded (see analysis below), I have a feeling that this demographic reality in Dearborn is the real source of its mythic reputation.

With the anticipation of the US quickly becoming a “majority minority” nation[5] and the rise of White Nationalism into mainstream politics,[6] Americans are looking for a scapegoat. Muslims are a natural target; Americans already hold very negative perceptions of Muslims as compared with other religious groups according to the Pew Research Center.[7]

Demographic fears and racial hate have materialized into narratives used to justify their own existence. Swarms of Muslims men mindlessly rampage through Western (White Christian) cities, assaulting people and property, imposing Sharia Law while waging jihad against our freedom and individuality. This trope, similar to an impulsively violent zombie horde or an assimilating pack of Borg invaders, is well played out in fiction but also mirrored in the real world, providing a disturbing insight into our social psyche. These false narratives serve to simultaneously dehumanize and vilify the target group, labeling them as both inferior and evil, but even more importantly, they induce a sense of combat urgency. Fear of imminent harm leads to irrational judgments, even more so if one is already predisposed to think the enemy is subhuman.

Before I dive into this week’s analysis, I want to be clear: I do not intend to only focus on Islamophobic misinformation with this blog. I recognize bigotry and ignorance within and against all religions, cultures, and individuals. However, as an American, in this time, I am exposed to certain political and religious beliefs more often than others, and am prone to responding to my direct social environment. With that, I’ll start by listing some of the trouble the Muslims of Dearborn have been causing lately.

Continue reading “What’s going on in Dearborn, Michigan?”