I just finished watching the movie Motorcycle Diaries about Che Guevera’s traveling experience with his friend Alberto Grenada and it got me thinking about Che’s later revolutionary life, which obviously led me to thinking about the Cuban Revolution.
When Fidel Castro, with help from Ernesto "Che" Guevara and other revolutionary leaders, overthrew the Batista regime they installed a communist government. Communism is not and, especially in the 60’s, was not highly commended by most people (to say he least) in the US and it became the focal point of malicious media coverage of the Castro regime. One aspect of Castro’s rise to power that is almost completely over looked because of the focus on communism is his atheist standpoint. He nationalized all land owned by churches and exiled all the priests. This atheist government still persists today, although religion, by no means, has been completely driven out of the country. I think this is absolutely great, not the part about exiling people because of their beliefs but the creation of an atheist government. I believe his reasoning for exiling members of the clergy was probably that Castro was worried that they would help organize a counter-revolution against his atheist government.
Atheism seems to go hand in hand with communism for some reason but as far as I know, Atheism is not a prerequisite for socialism, communism, or any left leaning ism I can think of so I’m not exactly sure why the two seem to correlate so closely throughout history. It is also too bad that atheist governments have historically also been very repressive in that atheism (as well as many other requirements that limit freedom) is forced upon the people, such as in North Korea and China. Although I suppose it would be difficult for an atheist government to claim religion is allowed but that if you do believe in a God then you cannot hold any power in government.
According to one poll I found on the web only 3-9% of the US is atheist or agnostic. Those numbers are far too small for an atheist to become president of US at the moment but I would really like to see it happen. To the best of my knowledge there has never been an admittedly atheist or agnostic congressman even; too bad really.
Anyone want to help me organize a group that discusses and disseminates information about atheism, democratic socialism, and the next American Revolution?