The Catholic Church makes a distinction between being human and being fully human, and it does not consider atheists to be fully human. It believes that being fully human requires a relationship with its imaginary God, and that by excluding this from our philosophy we are not fully human.
The concept of people not being ‘fully human’ because they have different religious beliefs is a dangerous one. I don’t want to Godwin myself in my own post, but it is sort of how Hitler thought of the Jews, isn’t it?
Various statments at all levels of the Catholic hierarchy suggest or explicitly state that atheists, or even all non-Catholics, are somehow less than fully human. This is even taught in schools. I remember hearing similar sentiments at my old Catholic school, which led to fear, distrust and hatred of those of other religions or no religion at all. A partial list of such dehumanizing quotations from Popes, Bishops and Catholic schools can be found on Michael Nugent’s blog here. One example:
Cardinal Murphy O’Connor: “I think what I said was true, of course whether a person is atheist or any other…there is in fact, in my view, something not totally human, if they leave out the transcendent. If they leave out an aspect of what I believe everyone was made for, which is, uh, a search for transcendent meaning, we call it God. Now if you say that has no place, then I feel that it is a diminishment of what it is to be a human, because to be human in the sense I believe humanity is directed because made by God, I think if you leave that out then you are not fully human.”
To this charge of being less than human, I have only one thing to say:
Dear Catholics, Fuck You.
And no, I won’t apologise for the vulgarity of that statement. Hey, I’m only human after all, right? Oh, wait. How dare the Church be so arrogant as to declare that certain people, with full and complex lives, ideas and emotions, are not human. What are we then?
This is another, particularly hateful instance, of the meme that atheists are dead inside, empty and miserable living meaningless lives. It couldn’t be more wrong, and it is deliberately perpetuated by the religious in order to spread fear and division. As for the ‘transcendent’ that Murphy-O’Connor goes on about, I as an atheist can find transcendence in nature, music, beauty, love, meditation, a good book and so many places that don’t depend on his non-existent God and the Catholic Church.
It is supremely ironic that the Catholic Church considers a fertilised egg or blastocyst human but not a fully-grown atheist. What about foetuses who grow up to be atheist? Are they human? This literal dehumanization of non-Catholics needs to stop. Now.