Why is it easy or easier to be an atheist in Europe?

I tend to observe a lot of discussion between religious people as well as atheists both in the US and in Europe. There is overall a stark difference both in the tone of the discussion and what is being used in the discussion. It probably comes down to the fundamentals of the role of religion for most people in those two areas of the world.

In the US the role of religion is very important and not only for people personally but also in public life. Surveys have shown the importance of the religious beliefs of a political candidate on his/her electability. People tend to distrust people of other religions and atheists. The discussion between religious groups and between religious people and atheists tends to include reference to scriptures as well as highlighting conflict between religion and science.

In Europe we tend to take less note of religion and look mostly at it as a personal issue for people. We tend to be sensitive to the right of people to practice their religion as long as it does not involve violation of national law. Discussion on issues relating to religion tend to have very limited or no reference to religious texts. It does not really matter to people if a politician is religious or not and in most cases we don’t really know. The conflicts between religious people and atheist/humanists/agnostics tend to be about the technicalities of the role of religion such as if priests from a specific version of Christianity should be allowed to visit public schools to “teach” about religion. I have taken part in many of those discussions and can not really remember any reference to the Bible but lot of references to traditions and national history. Also there seems to be much more respect of all involved in the discussion than seems to be in the US. There are of course elements that are similar to the Americans in this regard but they are much fewer than the others.

In Europe I can be more or less sure that I will not be discriminated against because I don’t belief in some god. I am more likely to be discriminated against based on being a foreigner in the country that I live in. If I apply for a job no one would be interested in my religion or lack thereof unless if it would impact my ability to do the job.

Europe is not perfect and has horrible history of religious violence but we have broken out of it and opted for more tolerance and inclusiveness. We have seen what can happen with mixing politics and religion too closely together. Christians in Europe do not tend to be skeptical of science on religious grounds. They tend to doubt methodology, if the data is accurate and the conclusions based on those data. So like everyone else as after all we should question everything.

In Europe there is much more concern from some groups of people about the role of fundamentalist religion, especially fundamentalist Muslims, in our societies than of the fact that many people do not believe in existence of any god. So in short Europe is a good place to live.

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