TedxVienna – Niko Alm – The End of Freedom of Religion


Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Tijana Mihajlović So, this is what driver’s licenses
used to look like in Austria. Quite unhandy, huh? Usually, they don’t have
the edges cut off. Mine is cut off because
it’s not valid anymore; I got myself a new one. And it’s the story of – I got my new driver’s license. I wanted to change
the unhandy driver’s license to a new one in credit card format,
which I happened to bring here. And I went to the
Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2008, and got myself a brochure that I read, and I found some rules on how pictures in driver’s licenses
are supposed to be. And one rule specified that you’re not allowed
to wear any hats of headgear in your driver’s license pictures, except for religious reasons. I found that unfair. Why could you wear a headgear
for religious reasons? Why can’t everybody wear a headgear?
Equality before the law, right? And that particular exception
isn’t even covered by law. So, this is nothing
but pre-emptive subordination on behalf of freedom of religion. And I wouldn’t have to care,
because I’m firm believer myself. I do believe in the
Flying Spaghetti Monster. And – (Laughter) as a firm believer
in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I picked my favorite pasta strainer
and took pictures, and went back to the
Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for my driver’s license. I was wearing the pasta strainer
all the time, nothing to conceal. And – (Laughter) I had the pasta strainer on my head,
I had it on in the pictures. The man behind the counter, he didn’t say
a thing that the pictures weren’t fine. So, I applied, they took my application, I went home, waited for my
driver’s license to be issued. Nothing happened. I waited for weeks. Instead of my driver’s license, I received an invitation to go see
the Public Health Officer, okay? (Laughter) I went to see the Public Health Officer, and I found out she had to judge
on my level of lunacy. And she asked me
why I did that, I told her, and she declared me sane immediately. She notified the authorities, I assumed, “Everything
is going to be fine now,” went home and waited
for my driver’s license to be issued. That was in March of 2009. Nothing happened for a month. And I waited, nothing happened. In October of that year, 12th of October, my driver’s license was secretly issued. I received no notification
thereof, and waited. Actually, I did forget about the thing. Until a friend told me this year, in July,
that my driver’s license was already there because his uncle works
at the DMV and he told him, and it was ready to be picked,
and I went there and picked it up, and it had my picture on it. And I took that picture
and I left the building. I went back to my office,
wrote a short blog post on the story and published it on my blog. And I found out the Austrian
Press Agency is reading my blog. They called me, they asked me whether they can send out
the picture along with the story, and I told them, “Go ahead. Do it.” And what happened was,
in the following week, I had about 50 interviews
with TV stations, radio stations, online magazines, newspapers,
all around the globe. The story even went on Rolling Stone. Yeah, it’s something I failed
to accomplish with my band. (Laughter) That’s not the only thing that happened. Two weeks ago, somebody posted
an event on Facebook, the Pastafarian International
Headgear Day. October 12th, remember? That’s the day the driver’s license
was issued two year ago. And, as you can see, (Laughter) these people not only have a refined taste
in culinary sieves, pasta strainers; they’re also annoyed. (Laughter) They’re annoyed
by the same thing I’m annoyed, that freedom of religion is abused
to create legal loopholes. And that is a problem because it violates
the basic principle of democracy, and that is equality,
equality before the law, that stipulates that no one is to be
discriminated or privileged because of his religion or belief. And of course there are
exceptions from equality. If you consider handicapped parking,
that’s a special right, but that’s a special right
that has a base in reality. There’s a material need
for that special right. When it comes to religion, when individuals or organizations
ask for special rights, what are they grounded on? They’re grounded on “holiness.” People declare things or thoughts,
feelings, behaviors as holy and demand for special rights, and these are only subjective claims. And, if you consider a few examples,
there’s, for instance, ritual slaughter, where animals are killed
by cutting throats. And I’m no expert in cutting throats,
and apparently that’s a fun thing to do, and I don’t want to spoil the fun. And, in Germany, this is considered animal cruelty
and there are laws against it, but exceptions are being made
on behalf of religious freedom, because some members of some confessions
are allowed to kill animals that way. That’s not the only example.
There are plenty more examples. Take this for instance. That’s the kirpan. That’s a small knife that is to be carried
around by the members of the Sikh faith at all times, including children. Children usually have to go to school. So, they’re supposed
to bring their knife to school. And, in Canada, the Supreme Court
ruled five years ago that children are allowed
to bring daggers to school. Again, only members
of the Sikh faith, not everybody. So, don’t get me wrong. It’s totally fine to ask
for special rights on behalf of religious freedom, but then you have to judge whether these
rights can be extended to everyone so equality is not violated. Very skilled, or most skilled actually,
in abusing freedom of religion to hold on to special rights, privileges
or even extend those privileges is organized religion. Organized religion needs help,
it needs somebody to endorse that abuse, and that is state. And, very often, state and religion form
a type of symbiotic relationship where state allows for these privileges and, in return, demands
or asks organized religion to admit to the acceptance
of certain democratic core values. So, it’s a trade-off. And that bears the strangest fruit,
that type of symbiotic relationship. For example, think of crosses
in public schools, like we have in many European countries. In Austria, more than half of the children
in classrooms of public schools belong to a Christian faith;
a cross must hang on the wall. And the cross is the only religious symbol
that has to hang on the classroom wall. And the Austrian Constitutional Court doesn’t even consider the cross
a religious symbol. And, if you’re ever in need of a funny,
circular argument, take this one. It goes a little like this. In Austria, we have a separation
of church and state. So, if there is a cross in a classroom,
it cannot be a religious symbol, but must be a traditional symbol. So, Austria is a perfect example
of what I call a syncretistic state. That’s the prevalent model of the symbiotic relationship
between religion and state. The syncretistic state
evolved from state religion. There was one dominant religion,
and then, at some point in time – you may call it the birth
of freedom of religion – other religions were tolerated. Some of them were even elevated
to the privileged status, the state, thus, acquiring
some sort of neutrality, which is, of course,
only a pseudo neutrality, because state would have to add more and more religions and beliefs
to the privileged status to actually have neutrality. As you can see, this is a model
that cannot work. The only working model is, of course,
if Pastafarianism is state religion, like in Walkoria. Walkoria is a small island
at the coast of New Zealand, and there Pastafarianism
is state religion. So, everything’s fine. (Laughter) I’m not serious. The only actual working model is laicity, which is the clean separation
of church and state, where religion is considered
a private matter and state does not interfere
in anything that has to do with religion. So, no religion, no belief
is privileged or discriminated. This is the model of state
I call agnostic state. Freedom of religion, the term itself,
is wrong, in my opinion, because religion is only a subcategory of a more universal, larger concept
of worldviews, philosophies, ideologies. So – if you stress religion, you imply
a norm, you set a standard, and you force that norm upon others,
especially those who don’t believe. And, to include those who don’t believe
in the concept of freedom of religion, the term “negative freedom
of religion” was coined – negative freedom of religion
and positive freedom of religion, essentially meaning positive
affiliation with religion, which is just like positive
affiliation with race. And that doesn’t make sense because it’s just like speaking of people
who are white and non-white, or black or non-black, and that’s absurd because it’s racist,
and just as racist as it sounds. So, modern democracies
don’t categorize by race, they don’t categorize by origin,
by language, color of the skin, color of the eyes, favorite color, but they do, or some do,
categorize because of religion. Austria does. They even want you or encourage you to put your religion
on your registry certificate. And – the question is: Why does state do this? What’s going to happen
with that information? Is that freedom of religion? Is that what freedom of religion
was intended for? That you’re asked for your religion? No, actually not. The original concept was,
in the absence of free choice, that people were free
to choose their religion. But, over time, that concept of freedom
of religion has become corrupted. Now, freedom of religion
is something that’s self-evident. And the term is actually – What remains is that the term is used
as a tool to blackmail state and society. So, in my opinion, freedom of religion has come to an end, and we should put it to sleep,
leave it to rest in peace. So, let’s separate church and state. Thank you. (Applause)


85 Responses

  1. yuriythebest

    January 28, 2012 9:18 pm

    @zacharycollier if it involves human sacrifice or anything else that infringes other's rights then we sure do. however otherwise peace be with you.

  2. pinkymixology

    January 29, 2012 3:17 am

    @zacharycollier and YOU are not allowed to violate the law. Fuck YOU and YOUR beliefs. They are worthless in what actually effects the world, and so are the beliefs of everyone who beliefs the opposite religion of yours. Your innate right is only to proclaim yourself to be an idiot and I have a right to treat you as such.

  3. Youreallnuckingfuts

    April 30, 2012 4:12 pm

    Hmmm, not based on holiness. Well, you can do what you see fit in order to meet what you believe in, so long as you do it at home and shut the fuck up about it. If I believe in an invisible man-god who says I need to jerk off 5 times a day, I don't get to jerk off and chant his name at school, even in the fucking bathroom. And the claim that I should be able to because I believe in it is based on its holiness, which is absurd. If you base anything on faith, you are retarded.

  4. Matthias Jax

    August 9, 2012 11:43 am

    This is Leyla Haidarian and she also had a talk on TEDxVienna called "Beyond King of the Mountain"

  5. betlamed

    August 24, 2012 9:57 am

    Your right to do what you see fit ends exactly where it violates other people's rights to do the same, including the rights of the state to enforce its rules. And, as Niko Alm clearly states, it is about discrimination – granting special rights to some people, but not to others. The most important transgression in that regard is obviously state funding of religious groups; where the definition of "religious group" is completely arbitrary.

  6. eedobee

    November 23, 2012 8:09 am

    An unconvincing argument. I agree with sentiments, but would have preferred a more substantial case. I mean, in the end they let him use the colander photo.

  7. Jazen Valencia

    December 28, 2012 7:04 pm

    The state has always tolerated religion, because religion teaches subservience to authority, and belief in things which can't be proven. The only states that haven't supported religion is Communism because the were the cult, and they don't/didn't like competition.

  8. LaLabutterfly

    January 26, 2013 8:52 am

    "freedom of religion is abused to create legal loopholes". it's too bad he feels that way, it almost feels like he's saying if you don't like what we do, stay the hell out of our country?. i found the argument unconvincing. if he wanted to make a bold statement he should've come up with bold systematic arguments. the very concept of democracy is flawed then if

  9. LaLabutterfly

    January 26, 2013 8:52 am

    you start picking and choosing what you want to be democratic about. On the other hand, i feel if the religions' practice infringes on anothers' human rights (kids taking daggers to school and harming others), that's when the law comes in. I don't think it is as simplistic as Niko put it, i feel there can be a rational compromise… That's just my 2cents

  10. Jez

    February 2, 2013 10:16 am

    In my opinion what states need to do is say "you don't have freedom of religion, you have freedom of worship." That way sure they're not to be persecuted because of who they choose to worship in their own time, but they can't claim special privileges (like cutting off their kids' foreskins) and call it "freedom of religion" – or at least if they do, they can be told they don't have that "freedom". France has it right.

  11. wseerldnoeoedfry

    February 3, 2013 1:08 am

    "it's based on my innate right to do what I see fit in order to meet what I believe in."

    You missed what he said at 9:20. Just to clarify what he's saying: either we all get to wear hats, or none of us do, and that argument is fine because it's just about freedom in general. But none of this BS about how you get your hat and I don't get mine because your hat-wearing is 'religious' and therefore more deserving of special consideration.

  12. RP01

    February 9, 2013 6:34 pm

    Yes I agree with separation of church and state- but I feel it is necessary for the relationship of religion and politics where various worldviews are involved.

  13. Ижис Груп

    February 12, 2013 5:39 pm

    In my religion,its alowed to choose 3 ''divine items'' be your ''divine connection with the divine itself'',and you need to have one of them in you always.My 3 ''divine items'' are HAND GRANATE,GLOCK HANDGUN and an AK – 47.Last week I got arrested because i choose to go with the AK-47 on work.Do you know any good laywer,fact are on my side,should be easy case and I'm gonna go 50-50 profit with the lawyer if win the case.

  14. bgoodfella7413

    August 12, 2013 6:58 am

    The fusion of religion and politics has always created corruption and oppression throughout history. This is why the American forefathers stressed the separation of church and state in the Constitution. Unfortunately, we see the Christian religion being used as propaganda for Republican candidates in the past decade or more. Society functions better without Christianity or Islam, so they ought to be discarded. They are simply outdated and completely fictitious.

  15. Agustin Vitti

    September 9, 2013 2:33 am

    Religion is central in the lifes of most people, a way of living. you can't put a pan on your head and pretend be religious. if you force an arab woman take out her veil you may say "we all show our faces it's equal". It's not because some people wouldnt be able to live according their beliefs. You propose a state that act as if everyone had the same ideological needs. Of course some rights are more important than religious freedom safety for example (kifs whith knifes…) but thats other theme

  16. GrumpyOrang

    October 9, 2013 9:45 am

    "It's not because some people wouldn't be able to live according their beliefs"???

    It's the same as saying that you're not allowed to cover your face while entering a bank. There's an actual logical reason for this. It's not the states problem if your religion forbids it. Unlike race, religion is a choice. Like not eating pork, it's you making all these restrictions for yourself, you are NOT allowed to blame others for not catering to your needs or not giving a shit about your "special" needs.

  17. Agustin Vitti

    October 10, 2013 12:17 pm

    no, it's not de same, as i said "Of course some rights are more important than religious freedom, safety for example" but thats not the case in the example of wearing or not a hat. are you ok if the state decides tomorrow that every citizen most piss over a cross to enter a public bulding, eat pig in every meal and forbids all kinds of hats?. we should try to live in peace insted of this nonsense.

  18. GrumpyOrang

    October 11, 2013 1:19 am

    I wouldn't be ok with that, but only because the decision makes absolutely no sense. Why piss over a cross? why eat pork? Why forbid hats? That's taking away people's freedom to choose whether or not to do all those things.

    It's about fairness, simple as that. The state is not to give special privileges to ANY Religion. If you're allowed to wear special hats, so am I. If you're allowed to say you don't eat pork, I"m allowed to say my Religion says I can ONLY eat Ribeye steak and lobster.

  19. GrumpyOrang

    October 11, 2013 1:23 am

    If you want to not eat meat, that's fine, just don't whine about seeing other people eating meat. If you don't want to marry someone same sex as you, that's fine, just don't whine about others doing so. If you don't want to have an abortion, that's fine, just don't whine when others do. If you impose rules upon yourself such as "I must pray x times a day" don't whine about being discriminated against when your employer says "we're not giving you that time, take it or leave it".

  20. Agustin Vitti

    October 11, 2013 3:47 pm

    the examples you put have nothing to do whith my point. I'm saying is that the state should not set rules that impede people live according to their beliefs (as long as this believes don't compomise safety, health or other right more important), after that each religion it's free to give it's opinion in meat eating, gay-marriage, abortion, etc. and the one who listen them will decide if he finds them convincing or not

  21. Walang Personalan

    November 22, 2013 4:18 am

    This premise to end religious freedom because it is corrupting "democracy" and "rights & freedom" is self defeating.  Even the concept of freedom and equal rights has issues.  Whose freedom and rights? Surely Niko Alm knows that freedom/right of one would be the end of another.  Since democracy is the rule of many, then it is inevitable that the minority's right will be compromised.  Atheists–which are a minority compared to large scale religious community–is beaten down by the same democratic rule they try to found their thesis on.  All I'm hearing is a minority's attempt to overrule the majority–a direct negation of democracy.

  22. Tom Cotter

    December 6, 2013 1:53 pm

    I want my identity. I think individuals should have an identity. Does religion actually give you an identity? I don't think so. Religion is more reflected of what is more institutional than individual. Are there any rights for education? Are there any rights to food, shelter & medicine? Do you have a right of protection?
    Semantics aside, religion is like an authority without ever having to be elected or can never be fired. I think we can give up religion, like we give up needing a diaper.
    Once potty trained, you don't have to wear one.

  23. Jaro Marcin

    July 24, 2014 4:48 am

    Many good points, but don't you think the statement "Organized religion=organized abuse" goes a bit too far? The truth is that in real life anything traditionally associated with power in Western culture, be it Christianity, the fact that you're white or male, tends to be discriminated against these days. The government might let you hang a Christian symbol on the wall, but the laws it creates and enforces are often in contradiction with the Christian (our any other faith). I agree with the separation of church and state, but I would never go as far as to say that religion equals abuse. Like anything else in this world, religion can be used to abuse people. But it doesn't do so as a rule.

  24. Luis Colon

    July 5, 2015 3:09 pm

    Religion poison the world, once religions gone are for good, humans will be able to breath again  and think to make a better world for Peace- and working the resolve the issue with poverty around the world and protecting Nature.. there is so much to do besides religion, educate people cause better times are coming= EVOLUTION…

  25. billybob

    November 22, 2015 8:22 pm

    This guy and anyone who thinks like him is a Nazi by an other name.
    We should look for ways to make it easier for people to spend their lives as they see fit rather than looking for ways to restrict people we don't agree with.
    So sad that the value of liberty for all is disappearing in the world today.

  26. Lisa winn

    November 23, 2015 7:28 pm

    Bluntly, religion is created by man, faith is not and their a huge difference between the two. but that's not the purpose of my post.I've been watching alarmist videos like this with considerable amusement.First.   You'll note that the drivers license isn't even American.       Second.   he's speaking of events that happened in a different country.What this is really all about is the fact that religious organizations, churches, leaders, persons have been basically told you will no longer be allowed to use your Christian or religious privileges or dogma to suppress the rights and privileges of others based solely on the fact they are gay or not Christian or religious.                                                                                                                                              So, you now start getting videos like this, OMG our religious rights are getting trampled, OMG their trying to force everyone to be gay, or even OMG their going to give rights to all the pervs , weirdos and pedophile gays out there.             Typical alarmist bullcrap and so old hat nearly the same thing was used to instill fear of  American born Japanese so they could be taken and hoarded into concentration camos ON AMERICAN SOIL  in world war 2.I can already imagine the troll and hate filled post coming hehe and I wait with considerable amusement to see what inanity get's pulled out of the woodwork.That being said  Do not listen to these alarmists, Religion had free run for so long now that an assumed privilege they've had for so long had been removed their going to try to turn it into some crazy war and run around spouting loss of rights , religious freedom , ect ect ect.Sorry folks your not getting back the privilege to suppress others rights just because their gay.

  27. Eye. CU2B

    December 26, 2015 6:32 pm

    What Eye have Learned from this VDO is that Freedom of Religion is also a Freedom 2 Discriminate and More. maybe 2 justified Genocide. Like what isis does in Syria in 2015.

  28. realguitarneverdied

    February 6, 2016 12:49 am

    Too bad the point is that RELIGION is used as a reason for bypassing tha law..
    AND NOT that the law is abusive..

    So the point of the talk is that stupide laws about "cattle management" are not strict enough hug ?


  29. G Hansford

    March 30, 2016 11:02 am

    The problem with freedom is that one person's freedom will inevitably conflict with another person's freedom. I want to be free to express my religious beliefs whilst another person wants the right to express their non-beliefs. Our present system tries to cater for both groups. If you ban religious freedom and say what people can and cannot do, say or believe, then that same principle needs to be applied to the non religious at the same time. Ultimately as a society we gag constructive discussion on a whole range of topics, not just religion.

  30. Hondo Trailside

    May 9, 2016 6:46 am

    He asks what is the basis for giving religions special rights, which he considers rational in a case like handicapped parking but irrational in a case like protections for religions. He has a point, but it seems a little blind given that Austria gave us Hitler who murdered 6 million jews, and members of other religions like Catholics.

    It's messy coming up with the areas where religions get special rights, but most people can uncover their heads and it makes identity easier to determine, without going to more intrusive tech like retinal scans. So why give a special right to religions, well hundreds or thousands of years of practice; there is nothing inherent about driving and having no head covering on your license, you can for instance wear hats while driving, one is just balancing someone's religion against some convenience the sate wants for an identity card, that is basically arbitrary; the state could decide to litigate every religious practice that comes up, but they are too lazy to do that either. So who's right should be respected a deeply held religious one, or a series of shortcuts that make the life of officials a few seconds easier?

    A better question is why does the state license drivers? They accept licenses conferred in foreign countries of dubious reputation. How serious are they really, a US license is good in the UK where they drive on the other side of the road. They could simply say you have to be insured and leave the rest up to insurance companies. Of course the companies couldn't violate those rights either, but at least that would be less troublesome, and in general they could find ways to get the job done.

  31. Khalid Safir

    August 21, 2016 1:44 pm

    This is of course a hot topic today, not really because of religious people but because of the media stirring up misunderstanding and hatred. Religious people tend to be friendly, their religions tell them to be so. The vast majority are really upset when atrocities are committed in their religion's name since most followers of all religions believe their religion is about love.
    Anyway, I found the end of this talk really abrupt and confusing. Could someone explain the last few sentences: "Now religion has become something self evident. And the term has become a tool to blackmail state and society. So in my opinion, freedom of religion has come to an end, so we should put it to sleep, leave it rest in peace. So let's separate church and state." What does it mean to say religion has become self evident? I can see to some extent how religion can used to blackmail the state but I think those cases are really only when the state has hijacked that particular religion for it's own purposes. Then the speaker suddenly jumps to say freedom of religion has come to an end – maybe he's right – but I don't get what he means but that. I'm religious and I agree we should separate church/mosque/synagogue/temple etc and state.

  32. James Watson

    February 27, 2017 11:26 pm

    To claim religious rights on behalf of Pastafarianism is moronic. The whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) concept is to provide a crucial element in various lame-brained 'arguments' against theism. Those 'arguments' have the following general form: (1) there is as much (or at least as much) reason to believe in the FSM as there is to believe in God; (2) there is no good reason to believe in the FSM; therefore, (3) there is no good reason to believe in God. The first premiss is about as ridiculously false as any that has come down the pike. The second is obviously true, and is easily seen as such partly because the FSM was deliberately chosen as something in which, obviously, no one actually believes. To claim religious rights for an ideology to which we all know that no one actually adheres–nay, such that its whole point depends upon it obviously lacking adherents–is the height of foolishness. It is analogous to claiming handicapped rights for men born with the heads of lizards.

  33. E B

    April 4, 2017 10:17 pm

    Servus, Niko! I am wondering if Austria still has a regular state tax that goes to the Catholic church? I thought people could opt-out of it but they were had to pay, by default. Danke und pfiati!

  34. Dimitrios Katelouzos

    May 1, 2017 8:26 pm

    Niko, you touched a very sensitive subject and you did it with humor! Only you knew that it was a sensitive issue and you have been overwhelmed by pressure! At the end it was difficult for me to understand what you wanted to say! Yet, it was an interesting view and a good point. Well done! If you do it again, just comb it a little bit!

  35. Angela Day

    May 4, 2017 5:01 pm

    Help! president Trump of America just visited cuz I could have order to give more freedoms to religion but only religion! Christian!!!

    Please send a an intervention now! before America bowls of the world…. literally.

  36. Luciano Freire

    May 4, 2017 10:15 pm

    Islam is going to put an end to most freedoms – particularly freedom of religion – in Europe within the next 20 years.

  37. Al Al

    May 5, 2017 5:21 pm

    FREEDOM from BEING FORCED to do stuff is way way more important then "equality" …should vegitarians be forced to eat meat in school lunches? Should people who think its wrong be forced to serve in the army? should you be forced to make a floral araingement with a nazi/christian/pedo/commie/whatever symbol on it ? Should you be forced to teach your kids stuff you think is wrong? Should you be forced to excercise every day? Should you be allowed to eat what you like or should somone pick your diet?Be real real real carful gloating about sticking it to the religious weirdos because your laying the ground for YOU to be forced to do stuff that you really find wrong or bad…the issue isnt that religious folks get an exemption …its how much power you let government have over forceing you to do things…..NOT what 'side' that power happens to be on this week

  38. TheRenegadeMonk

    May 22, 2017 4:48 pm

    I'm not the least bit religious but this is very childish argument.

    Assuming absolute equality is a necessity.Why?

    As he points out we accept different rights for different needs e.g. disabled parking.
    If we want to live with people who are not us we have to accept that different people have different needs and this includes a degree of tolerance for different beliefs where the dividing line is harm/impact on others.

    In most cases simply discussing conflicts between rules and religion is enough to come to a compromise. In Britain Sikh children carry a representation of the dagger.

    Problems only arise when fundamentalists like him refuse to bend. Equality is not about making sure we are all given the same.
    When John has 6 cars and Sam has none handing them each one car doesn't make them equal.

  39. Paul Hedges

    June 1, 2017 5:50 am

    Shame the speaker doesn't actually understand basic legal concepts like equality. Equality is about people's needs and requirements in relation to a variety of factors (which can include disability, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, race, religion or belief, etc.), and many of these are not objective but subjective. Equality is not about a uniform "one size fits all" but what is appropriate to any particular group or individual. Ill founded talk, the guy needs to do some homework before ranting in public.

  40. balduran2003

    June 16, 2017 9:13 pm

    the instant he defended handicapped parking decals his argument lost all credibility. he proves that he is opposed to religious people having special privileges, but not opposed to anyone having special privileges. he doesn't believe in equality under the law as he claims, he believes that some people should have special privileges just not by virtue of religion.

  41. Good Medicine

    June 28, 2017 1:17 am

    If that is the case then one can get away with anything under the banner of religion or freedom of religion. Just change your religion each day and you can have any special privilege.

  42. PongoXBongo

    June 30, 2017 11:37 am

    Harmless acts (like headdress) are acceptable regardless of religion (or lack thereof). Harmful acts (like the animal abuse example) are not acceptable even on religious grounds. Morality is subjective and based on empathy. It is not objective and based on dogma.

  43. Rayyan Ali

    July 5, 2017 3:18 pm

    No disrespect to Atheists but you guys seriously need to rid yourself of the misconception that no religion=world peace. This is merely a case of "the bad driver blaming his car". Violence and conflicts will continue to exist even if you rid the world of all religions cause that's the way humans are. We all have our own views on certain matters apart from religion that may be incompatible with that of the others. Like politics (or even sports). These differences lead to clashes when ego emanated by either sides prevents any chances of a compromise. That and there are other negative traits like greed and lack of humility that encourage violence. Face it we humans aren't perfect. Simply abandoning religion won't necessarily result in enlightenment. If you were an asshole there's no guarantee of you turning into a saint.

  44. ZantherY

    July 29, 2017 10:13 pm

    You could make the same argument about DISABLE PARKING SPACES…. Why anyone not seeking office in a fascist/right wing party would go there? I suppose some Austrains still carry the nazi/fascist beast on their backs? Zeigh Hail mother fucker zeigh heil!

  45. William R. Bowen

    August 13, 2017 7:52 pm

    Niko has it backwards: it's religion–and specifically Christianity–that gave us the concept of equality and human worth. Yes, there are religious protections in the law to protect the freedom of conscience. But Niko is oblivious to their value as it is mostly in Britain and the United States that concepts related to the distinction between public acts and private conscience evolved. Europe is in the death throes–they can't even sustain themselves–and pied pipers like Niko are leading the way.

  46. Ferenc Mucsi

    November 30, 2017 4:31 pm

    Christians in the world are bullied, ridiculed and persecuted in many ways.
    In Asia many of them are killed, from Hollywood they are ridiculed, and now they are also bullied by legal means.
    If you say that religious people are positively discriminatied to the harm of others, you don't know what you are talking about.
    There may be cases when it is so, but the opposite is the norm.


    January 1, 2018 3:51 pm

    There has never been any such separation between so called church and or state, it's always only ever been a myth.
    If you doubt that, then try not paying your tax without having to firstly obtain the relevant documentation for any state to permit you to not have an obligation to pay it.
    The part you've either deliberately omitted or missed, is that according to the first commandment, there's never been given any right to worship as you please. 'Religious freedom' as you seem like to put it, is complete disregard and refusal to obey the giver and author of first commandment itself. It's obvious that 'the metaphor' you like to refer to, is intelligently alive and active and inspiring you, even though you deny such. lol guess who's inspiring me to tell you this instead. Now, before you go getting your knickers all in a twist, I'm thankfully not a Christian person and nor am I religious, I'm simply a converted believer in Jesus as creator and master alone. I endorse freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry, not freedom of religion, I know the difference very clearly.

    Belief or unbelief has nothing to do with taxes.
    The bottom line is,' both' is a myth, 'they' don't exist, it's one, ('plurality' is it's own smoke-ball) and it's intention is to bully you and pressure you to comply or it's only intention is to continue to try doing so, until you do. -refuse it. stand firm.

  48. Dave Judd

    March 21, 2018 12:37 pm

    Lets start taxing church's it would soon bring an end to most religions and make free thinking the way forward.

  49. Szymon Fandrejewski

    April 17, 2018 8:55 am

    Without God as a basic concept, or at least some other kind of Absolute there may be no humanity or civilasation, because according to science we are nothing more than a bunch of random atoms who happened to connect in a certain way. We are just a matter put into order, we are machines, and everything else is conceptualisation and it's purely relative. Without God, there is just chaos. Without belief in God, we are worthless (since values are imaginary, and relative) bunch of atoms. Only belief in God can provide basis for civilisation. That's why secular state is a non-sense, toxic idea, which contributes to this perfetic entity which we call "the West" a world of no values, where money is everything, because the only thing worth doing is striving for pleasure, since we are forced to reduce ourself to the role of a mindless consuming animals. That's why I consider monotheism the only solution on a collective and individual level. Without God, there is nothing.

  50. Lars Hasselby

    June 7, 2018 5:02 pm

    I believe I have been touched by the noodle. Henceforth I shall sprinkle myself daily with Parmesan.

  51. Brandon Davidson

    June 26, 2018 12:49 pm

    This guy gets to decide what is material and what is important to other people? Also "organized religion=organized abuse"? I agree with everyone else in the comment section, this guy is clearly out of it and untethered from reality.

  52. socksumi

    September 2, 2018 8:27 pm

    While I mostly agree with this guy, he come accross as very nervous and it hampers the effectiveness of his talk.

  53. Kali

    September 18, 2018 12:33 am

    The religious Right is abusing the right to freedom of religion, giving x-tianity all the freedom, and leaving all other religions out of their frantic rants for their freedom to practice their religion, holding x-tianity above all other faiths, and using that freedom of religion to smash the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community. No other faith is being given the same freedoms as x-tianity, not only in the US but other countries as well, like Russia. and that freedom is being used to take away the freedom of other people, not only their religious freedom but other basic human rights as well, including the right to live. x-tianity is being used to persecute people of other faiths and to circumvent the rights of people who are already downtrodden enough as it is. organized religion does equal organized abuse. screw that.

  54. dtrenaissanceman

    September 20, 2018 4:05 pm

    To the speaker I would say you're onto something but you haven't reached a complete take on the problem. It's not as ridiculous as you think for the state to say a cross is a "traditional" object. At the least, in the eyes of the state a cross should be neither secular nor religious– neither sacred nor non-sacred. Those should be non-categories, even when it comes to texts. So if there were a few sincere pastafarians in a classroom, that wouldn't be grounds for banning pasta strainers from said classrooms. It's not a simple problem and I don't have the solution myself.

  55. FlyingFree333

    December 2, 2018 4:04 am

    The religious comments are just pathetic, as always. Let's face it, if religious people could think they wouldn't be religious.

  56. Dan Jakubik

    January 21, 2019 3:33 am

    This is obviously a leftist liberal atheist speaking here. I'm a conservative atheist who began life raised into Roman Catholicism. I'm all for separation of church and state. Not completely with this man's views from 2011.

  57. Dan Jakubik

    January 21, 2019 3:41 am

    What leftists don't understand is its not about skin color and race. All cultures are not created equal over the 10,000 year development of human civilization.

  58. michael sorensen

    April 4, 2019 6:43 pm

    We are at a crossroads if we are not careful all of our freedoms will be gone. Christianity made our western civilization, our science and our democracy possible.

  59. DJ Apollo

    April 16, 2019 9:57 pm

    This guy seriously needs to one-up his intelligence. Your emotional tantrums don’t dictate whether religious belief should or should not be allowed privileges.

  60. Firas

    July 23, 2019 5:39 am

    Equality can never be established without Respect. Respect for all, respect for each other with the little and big differences we have, respect for all groups, all individuals …………….. without any personal biases. I understand if someone did something to loose your respect but if anyone who is reading this has any kind of prejudice then the world is not ready for equality. If the world are still ran by super prejudice countries (with bias leaders to their own benefit or against groups or with a specific group or for economical and wealth reasons or or), then were is equality?!?!?!
    Burn everything called politics and create a new system called 'live and let live'.
    When Austria or USA or any 'human rights' country see it enough that I am a highly educated person who comes from a decent family, visited them and many western countries before and with no shady history (which we all know that this information is available in a click of a button now)?? or the fact that I am Muslim play a role in how much my application will take, how focused my interview at the embassy will be about whether I plan to return or stay there and of course ending up with getting a single entry after a while and being searched really well when I reach and asked crazy questions that they know the answers to already?! And heaven forbid I have some facial hair, then a good amount of the passengers wont even be able to close their eyes for a minute.
    I am very much with all to be given the freedom to wear head hats, scarfs and more and take the other 'perks' I just mentioned.
    At least many people distant from religion can do what Niko did or find the truth and subscribe for a religion of choice but for me and people like me, even if we loose our faith and become agnostic, we will always be looked at and treated as 'Muslims'

  61. pathfinder

    August 19, 2019 5:48 am

    Wow, how original: the flying spaghetti monster. Cynicism is a sure tool for a weak and closed mind.

  62. Greg Lindstrom

    September 29, 2019 5:54 pm

    Isaiah 52:15 so shall he startle many nations kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand.


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