Theists claim that atheism is a religion. Compare some of the key markers of religion to atheism:
- Religion involves worship. Atheists do not worship anything. No gods, no demons, no ancestors, no animals, no celestial objects, no kings or other humans, no acts of nature, no inanimate objects. If you can name it, we don't worship it.
- Holy books. Atheists have no holy books. The books we believe in are works of science, philosophy, and history.
- Holy men and women. Atheists have no holy men or women to interpret our books or rituals, or tell us what to believe. Instead we have learned people to teach us how to think critically.
- Temples, churches, mosques, and other places of worship. There are no places where atheists gather to worship. Atheists may meet in mundane places like offices, restaurants, and conference halls. However, we discuss issues that affect atheists. No worship takes place.
- Rituals. There are no atheist rituals. We do not symbolically consume the flesh and blood of a god, for example. We do not circumcise our children for religion's sake. We do not sacrifice animals. We don't eat human flesh. We don't dance naked under the full moon. We don't test the depth of our belief by letting snakes bite us.
- Afterlife. Atheists don't believe in a heaven, a hell, or reincarnation. We have one life, and death is total oblivion.
- Rules and commandments. Atheists don't have any. There are no rules handed down from ancient atheists to control us. We use empathy and reason to guide our behavior.
- Conformity. For atheists, lifestyle is a matter of personal choice. We dress according to our own dictates. We eat what we want (and can tolerate). We associate with whom we choose. We are not and do not strive to be uniform in how we live our lives.
- Holy days. Atheists do not have holy days. Our days of rest are based on tradition or secular schedules. There are no holidays based on atheism.
- Tithing. Atheists don't tithe. We may voluntarily donate to atheist organizations, however. Atheist organizations are dedicated to education and activism. Specifically, they promote the separation of church and state; and protect the rights of atheists to be free from religion. Unlike religion, no one ever got rich through atheism.
- Proselytizing. Atheists don't proselytize. We believe in freedom of choice, meaning choice of belief or no belief at all.
- Prayer. Atheists don't pray. We never offer thoughts and prayers in time of need. If the occasion calls for it, an atheist may take action, such as promoting a solution, raising or donating funds, collecting goods, building or rebuilding establishments, circulating a petition, protesting, or performing helpful services. Of course, many theists offer more than thoughts and prayers, too.
- The supernatural. Magic, witchcraft, wizardry, sorcery, and voodoo are a few supernatural elements that theists may believe in. They also may believe in prophetic dreams, extrasensory perception, faith healing, and ghosts. Atheists do not believe in the supernatural.
All religions have most or all of these key markers of religion. Atheism has none. Therefore, atheism is not a religion.