Photo Credits: Sure Job
India: Ravi Kumar began the legal process two years ago of filing a plea in a local court asking that he should be allowed to use ‘atheist’ as the last element in his name. On January 2nd, 2018, the civil judge ruled in his favor: the order said he had the right to be identified as "Ravi Kumar Atheist" in his official records. After he changed his name in his school certificate, his birth certificate, national identity card and bank cards, he approached the authorities for a "no caste, no religion and no God certificate."
According to the BBC, in India you need a religion certificate only if you change your faith. And caste certificates are given to those who belong to disadvantaged groups and would like to avail of the quota in government jobs or universities.
Ravi Kumar Atheist received a certificate on April 29th indicating that he was an atheist and that he didn’t belong to any class. After that, news channels reported about Ravi’s story, the officials realized that they had "exceeded their jurisdiction" and said it was not for them to say whether God existed or not. They asked Ravi to return the document and promised to replace it with a modified one describing him as a caste-less atheist but he refused. Instead of returning the document, Kumar filed an appeal, which was denied by a higher court.
“The high court says there is no need for me to have a certificate, but there is,” he insists. “When the government issues religion or caste certificates to people, I too have the right to have a certificate that identifies me as an atheist. I’m also a citizen of this country.”
This 33-years old man says he realized there was no God when he was just six or seven. "On Diwali every year my father bought a lottery ticket and prayed to the Goddess Lakshmi but he never hit the jackpot. And then one day, four boys were beating me up and I prayed to Lord Krishna for help, but he didn't come to my rescue," he says. After all these prayers did not work, the boy realized that they were similar to fairy tales or belief in Santa Claus, untrue.
As he grew older, he says he became aware that "religion and caste differences were being used by politicians and religious leaders to fool people and prey on their weaknesses."
Ravi Kumar says his atheism has convinced him that much of the world's problems are rooted in religion.
"India and Pakistan use religion to justify conflict, the world is on the brink of World War Three. People say they believe in religion, but they lie 24 hours a day, they think bad thoughts, they use swords and guns to kill and maim. There is so much unhappiness in the world.
"I ask, if God created the world, why did he create so much pain and suffering?"