My Two Cents

Commentary on the Atheist Movement

Persecution? Political Gain? What is the real motive of the atheist movement?

I have had a few online conversations with atheists lately where the topic consisted of discussing the factuality of Christian persecution. These commenters, and similarly the atheists that I know in real life, are insistent that there is no commitment toward Christian persecution in the atheist community. There was a time when I would have agreed with them but these days my opinion is changing.

I am in agreement for a secular government where there is no prevalence of law toward any one religious perspective and as a result the separation of church and state. But what I see alarms me. Because what I see is a hijacking of the secular philosophy by a zealous atheist movement.

Sign of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, ...

Sign of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Organized atheist groups, under the legal guise of separation of church and state and the public mission statement of promoting secular government, are launching a campaign which cloaks an intentional defamation of Christian theology. I didn’t arrive at this conclusion easily and in fact argued against it many times before in conversations with fundamental Christians whom I thought to be small minded, bigoted, elitist and ignorant of Christian history and scientific advancement. But when something glows in the dark I can’t ignore it.

If the mission of the atheist movement is truly to ensure a religiously neutral government then why has it become necessary to instigate law suits against school systems and universities for student activities which have no intent of lobbying governmental policy? Why is it necessary to put up billboards which mock and ridicule Christian theology? Why is there a billboard in Time Square that says “Keep the Merry, Drop the Myth” with depictions of Santa Claus and Jesus? Is it anti-Jesus, anti-Santa, anti-Christmas? Because it doesn’t have one thing to do with separation of church and state or protecting atheist’s civil rights.

If the atheist movement is merely to protect the civil rights of atheists and ensure separation of church and state then there would be no need for anti-Christian billboards or frivolous lawsuits. It seems to me that what is really being fostered here is an environment of religious intolerance and to recruit and convert to the atheist community through an unmannered abuse of freedom of speech.

Whether or not Christians are being persecuted by the atheist movement depends on how someone defines persecution. Without doubt Christians are being intentionally maligned, disrespected, mocked, and ridiculed. The question is why: Do certain atheist groups so utterly hate and despise Christians that they are compelled toward malicious behavior or is there an ulterior motive?

Someone expressed to me that the billboards are not intended to turn theists into atheists, as declared on, but rather to encourage pew atheists, or closet atheists, to come to terms with their disbelief and step out into nonreligious freedom. If that is the case then billboards should be erected which promote atheism without demeaning and insulting the religious beliefs of others.

And speaking of others – Where are the billboards that oppose the stonings and beheadings by Islamic extremists? I suppose no atheist organization really wants to offend a religion where infidels are executed. (insert chicken cluck here).


19 thoughts on “Commentary on the Atheist Movement

  1. Great post. I like your engaging style of writing. On being mocked, you have a right to a theological position. You don’t have the right for that position to be taken seriously. I’d also be interested in seeing the exact phrases you claim to be ‘insulting’. Are there really billboards up saying “Religious people are idiots”?

    • Thanks for reading. I think I am asking legitimate questions. A sample of some billboards that I question: “God is a space alien, baptizes dead people”; “God is Sadistic, Useless Savior”, “God is an imaginary friend, choose reality”; “You know it’s a myth…this season celebrate reason”; “Atheism: Because I’m not fucking stupid.”

      I’m asking, how does any of the language in those billboards promote separation of church and state or atheists rights? I take no issue with other atheist billboards which say, “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.” Or “This is what an atheist looks like”; or “Millions of people are good without a belief in God.”

      You say I have a right to a theological position and that I don’t have the right for that position to be taken seriously. I agree with you. I also acknowledge the same applies for atheists and the assertions of theories on origins. I have friends who are both atheists and Christians and who are genuine, good and moral people What right should I have to defame either of them solely on what they choose to personally believe? To mock or ridicule someone for what they believe is simply being a bully. I despise bullies. I especially dislike bullies using arrogance to pose intelligence, which is the way I tend to perceive many of these billboards since most of them equate atheism to reason, implying to believe differently lacks reason.

      • Thanks. I didn’t know about those billboards. They are worded slightly more strongly than is necessary, as you’ve identified. I like you think that mocking people is a bad idea.

        However there is only one billboard there that mocks people, and that is “Atheism: Because I’m not fucking stupid”.

        All of the others mock the religion itself. I am fine with mocking religion as opposed to people that believe in it since, unlike people themselves, there is no reason it should be respected on any level. Dawkins etc have talked about this before now; about how you can offend someone’s political views, you can offend somebody’s taste in music, but not their religion. They argue all of those things should be on the same level.

        “I especially agree with you that antagonizing people for their beliefs will make little advancement in engaging an open conversation where irrational opinions and beliefs may be dispelled. If people feel belittled they will also feel that they have to defend themselves resulting in no open thought whatsoever.”

        This is a really brilliant point and very true. I agree absolutely. 🙂

  2. First I want to say that I come from a Christian background. Second, let me say that I am now an atheist. I have often wondered myself where the line is. I have two very opposite ideas or urges. One is that religion, in general is destructive to society and individuals, and until it is ridiculed and shown to be something that does not deserve respect as “sacred” then atheist organizations are doing the right thing. They are shocking people into thinking about their faith in a way they did not think about it before, or they are just making theist angry. My other inclination is, how do you have a civil discourse about religion at all if the attitude is one of mocking what Christian or other religions believe? There needs to be a humility in how we approach people, because as atheist we understand that people really do not chose religion in the beginning but it is a social construct, that only later becomes an actual belief. As an atheist, I can respect you as a human and I can find your beliefs ridiculous, as you can mine. As far as an Islamic billboard. This is America we only have one or two communities where a billboard about Islam would even make sense.

    • I left the christian faith many years ago. I stand in agreement that religion is a human construct that in many cases hinders and disempowers people to grow intellectually and socially. I choose to keep the door open to spirituality and contemplate the supernatural but I disagree with attempting to coerce or persuede anyone to choose to believe one way over another, or to believe in anything at all.
      I especially agree with you that antagonizing people for their beliefs will make little advancement in engaging an open conversation where irrational opinions and beliefs may be dispelled. If people feel belittled they will also feel that they have to defend themselves resulting in no open thought whatsoever.
      There are an increasing number of people who are growing disenchanted with religion and are identifying with being nonaffiliated with a religion. This speaks to me that people on their own are coming to terms with indoctrinated beliefs. Nothing changes overnight and it takes time for people to let go of dogma and the fear of hell. Eventually they will, but the process will take much longer if we make them feel as if they are being attacked.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. You are certainly correct in suggesting that the definition is the key to the issue, at least as you approach it. Your definition of persecution appears to include everything from criticism to establishment challenges which your narration doesn’t even begin to address in a reasonable manner. Simply put, your definition is overly broad to say the least. That you have a history of arguing the other side does not do much to help matters. I could probably find a real case of abuse myself if I looked around, but you haven’t. The persecution in THIS post is little other than trick of story telling.

    • I was not attempting to define persecution as I see it to be subjective. However, I can see how someone who is genuinely committed to the belief of their doctrine would in time begin to see ridicule and mockery as acts of harassment and antagonization which will translate to some as a form of persecution. As such there is conversation in Christian circles of the “persecuted church” and “prophetic persecutions”.
      You assume much about me. Personally I was never someone invested in doctrine nor did I feel the need to defend what I have been skeptical of myself. I am questioning the message of these billboards and the purpose they are intended to serve. If they are, as proclaimed, intended to call out closet atheists who are hesitant to tell Christian friends and family that they are atheists, how does a billboard which inflames the situation help them to have a dialogue with them?
      I appreciate that you read the post and took the time to comment.

      • I’m not suggesting that your goal was to reach a definition. My point is that you use a definition which is quite broad, to the point of equivocation. And no, I made no assumptions about you; I was responding to your post, as written, no more and no less.

  4. Some comments on you post:

    “If the mission of the atheist movement …” First of all, there is no atheist movement.

    “If the atheist movement is merely to protect the civil rights of atheists and ensure separation of church and state …” To whatever extent someone wants to label what atheists do as a movement, civil liberties and church state separation are just two of MANY reasons for atheist individuals and groups to do what they choose to do.

    “Whether or not Christians are being persecuted by the atheist movement depends on how someone defines persecution.” We all know that christian persecution syndrome is built into the religious texts, to suggest that modern day, American christians experience any definition of persecution is silly. And ridicule is not persecution.

    “If that is the case then billboards should be erected which promote atheism without demeaning and insulting the religious beliefs of others.” Promote Atheism? That would be like promoting A-astrology.

    I’m an “active” atheist because the voice of non-believers is disproportionately subdued. I speak up because many non-believers either can’t or are not confident enough to. The non-religious are the globe are far more numerous than most people assume.

    • You say there is no atheist movement yet the internet if rife with references to it, including quotes from notables such as Blair Scott, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, who all refer to a movement, and then of course there are the organizations such as National Atheist Party, Atheist Alliance International, American Atheists, Dawkins Foundation for Reason, Freedom From Religion Foundation all soliciting memberships and donations to fund events and campaigns.

      You say that questioning the possible persecution of american christians is silly. Yet, harassment, discrimination, pursuit, intimidation, annoyance, irritation, hounding, harrying, bullying are all alternative descriptions of persecuting behavior. It seems that your interpretation of persecution would require more abusive behavior. But others can very well feel persecuted by perceived ongoing harassment, which certainly includes ridicule.

      You question, Promote atheism? What is it then that these organizations are doing if not promoting atheism?

      I agree with you that there are numerous non religious people who are hesitant to speak out and I applaud you for giving them voice if you think they need representation.
      Thank you for reading the post and sharing your point of view.

    • Evangelical atheism, that is an interesting term. I see adequate comparison to the lifestyle philosophy of atheism and theism in methodology and pattern. Yet many proclaimed atheists are sensitive to such descriptions. I’ve wondered if that is because they so bitterly despise the idea of deity religions or if they simply see their shadow when debating theists.

      • Usually the demons we see readily in others are the ones we fight within ourselves. And yes, I know many don’t approve of being called religious but if they truly admitted it they have faith that there is no god, because logically you just can’t prove a negative. I’ve always thought the truly non religious are the agnostics.

  5. I’ll admit that I fell into that trap for a long time when I initially lost my faith many years ago, but I’m trying to move past that. One of the driving forces of my disassociation from Christianity was that I refused to arbitrarily omit a potential source of information, particularly enlightenment, on the basis of it not fitting in with my current theology. I would be a hypocrite if I arbitrarily omitted the bible as a source of information. I also refused to consider someone “outside” of Unity on the basis of them being a “sinner”, so again, I would be a hypocrite if I considered someone outside of Unity on the basis of them being a fundamentalist Christian.

    I just hope that we’re not heading towards another age of throwing the baby out with the bath water, like we did in the “Age of Reason” when we dismissed a lot of “pseudosciences” like astrology, alchemy, and herbalism. I’m not an atheist. Atheism is not an option with my life experiences. But I do love science. However, loving science does not preclude the application of spiritual principles in my life. In fact in many ways it reinforces them, I.e. Gaia Theory, Quantum Mechanics and the role of the Observer, the way everything is connected and composed of essentially the same building blocks. It is my feeling that we will not surmount the changes happening in the world by holding to the “us vs. them” paradigm, but by embracing a more holistic, Unity based world view, and realizing that there is no them, there is only us.

    • It’s interesting that you mention Age of Reason because I often think that is what some atheists are striving for, a new secular age of reason where religion would be considered a form of a psychosis rather than an independent choice of lifestyle.
      I refuse to exchange one form of dogma for another, and despite arguments against it, everything I see in the atheist movement is parallel to religious dogma minus a deity. Even though I think some certainly worship Dawkins and Hawking.

      I also refuse to take the mystical and mystery out of exploring my life. And I agree with you that changes will never occur within a “us vs them” paradigm. I embrace the idea of oneness, one consciousness.

      I think I have mentioned it before, but the bible can be read much differently when indoctrinated concepts are discarded.

      • Even Hawking admitted that a lot of quantum mechanics hit a point where they fall apart if we completely dismiss the concept of an intelligent force guiding things. They use terms like “First Cause” and “Unmoved Mover”, but it still rings to my ears as an attempt to quantify the nature of God.

      • It rings that way to me as well. And the disclaimer of “overcoming astronomical odds” that is always present in defining creation. Its just defense of speculation that is desired to be true….just like the dogmatic bible reasoning of some believers.

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