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Here is an interesting list of the best countries to be an atheist.

In Japan, it is tricky to think about separation of church and state, because those have not been merged together in the familiar (to us) ways in the first place. Yes, Buddhism was used as a spiritual training of samurais, WWII officers, and now of corporate management. And some ministers and parliament members savour stirring East Asian commotion by visiting the Yasukuni Shinto shrine. But that does not look like typical (for Abrahamic religions?) manipulation by faith, social pressure to conform or mass psychosis. Japan is historically a very hierarchic society - was it ruled without an ample assortment of fantastic stories? What role did natural isolation and hazards play?

by das monde on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:17:18 AM EST
Why isn't Estonia on this list?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:34:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My guess: because the article is not based on a comparative study of all countries, but could rather be named "8 countries I've heard it is good to be an ateist in".

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 02:56:51 PM EST
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Then again, one could argue that Estonia has had enough Austerity™, one could make the case that it's not a good country to be in. Full stop.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 03:20:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That feels like a very strange thing to list. I've been lucky in where I've lived I guess.

Speaking of which, why isn't the Netherlands on the list? Yes, a strong religious and conservative segment, but I've worked with some of theme and I don't think they'd hold me back in my career or anything.
Any Dutch want to disagree?

by Number 6 on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 11:33:52 AM EST
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The Dutch non-religious majority might be in a similar situation as the social-democratic (at heart) majority: they are free to have their own view of the world, but politically, they are being marginalized silently.

Belgium is just as free in this respect, even if nominally catholic.

by das monde on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 11:49:06 AM EST
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Interesting. Thank you.
by Number 6 on Tue Sep 11th, 2012 at 05:38:08 AM EST
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In my own experience, people in Japan seem so completely and totally ignorant of any coherent form of religion that it is a complete non-presence in society.

As in, people are aware that there are monks and temples, but not really sure why, and they don't care.  It's common to be against killing bugs, but totally okay with eating meat, and totally unaware of the religious origin of their aversion.

Even those who are seriously into traditional festivals and ceremonies view them more as a hobby, something to do, than in any way that is recognizably religious.

by Zwackus on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 10:06:31 PM EST
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I think, a kind of faith is necessary in Japan when you want to climb the social ladder. Then you have to respect and trust a lot. This subtler kind of social control (typical for India perhaps as well) is being copied in the West nowadays at large, apparently.
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by das monde on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 11:44:18 AM EST
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