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Interesting read on Ex-Christian

November 22, 2010

On Becoming a Passionate Atheist.

Interesting read, and I agree with it for the most part.  Not sure about comparing our (atheists) plight in modern-day America to that of African Americans of the 1960s–I think that’s a bit strong, though it is similar it is not nearly the same.  Perhaps you can compare it to the plight of homosexuals in the 1980s.  Thankfully I haven’t seen any theist-only bathrooms (there is a gas station near me that has an anti-atheist remark programmed into their pumps, telling people who don’t believe in God to take their business elsewhere, though).

But really, why is being out and vocal about atheism any worse than being out and vocal about your evangelical Christianity?  Why is wishing someone “Happy holidays” any more offensive than wishing a non-believer a “Merry Christmas”?  If I believe that our nation is suffering from a lack of reason and healthy skepticism, why is it unacceptable for me to stand on a soap box extolling the virtues of free though when it is perfectly acceptable for the nutcase downtown to tell everyone they are going to burn for all eternity in hell if they don’t turn from their wicked ways?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. godlesspaladin permalink
    November 22, 2010 3:25 am

    I agree, conflating it with what blacks when through isn’t exactly even. Sure we’ve been hated as a group longer than any other people (I’d image the Jews are a close second, but even early Jews didn’t like atheists) but at least we weren’t systematically sold into slavery for centuries.

    I think the plight of gays in the 1980’s is a little better fit, but we still don’t have our version of the Stonewall riots. I think this is simply because atheists aren’t by in large out as gay people, and we don’t regularly congregate in specific public places.

    As for the double standard, this really pisses me off too. I have signs on the back of my car, and it really upsets my family. They don’t understand why I can’t accept all the stupid fish decals and be quiet. They go so far as to park their car directly behind mine whenever company comes over, just so the guests won’t see.

    I think the reason for the double standard is pretty obvious. There is special protection given to religion in our culture. Out of the trinity of no no conversation topics (money, politics, religion) religion is the most sacred. (Yes, painful puns intended ~_^) Our society also dramatically values faith. How many stories in the media have the theme of an atheist character finding faith by the end of the story? Dennett has a great book discussing this called “Breaking the spell.”

    • November 22, 2010 3:40 pm

      I think that, perhaps, the big difference in the way atheists are treated vs. the way blacks were treated in the past, and homosexuals are only just now recovering from (somewhat) is that we haven’t been denied basic human rights. Sure, we face persecution for our lack of belief, and it is nearly impossible for us to become elected to office, but there are no laws against what we stand for.

      (Though, if we were to remain silent this could very well change. That is the purpose of groups such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, to ensure that the government isn’t taken over by religion.)

  2. limey permalink
    November 22, 2010 8:49 am

    I found the link to the 1960s black struggles rather distasteful to be honest. Atheists don’t suffer in anything like the way the blacks did.

    I have had the benefit of hearing both Atheists and Christians bemoaning the treatment that they each get from one another. My conclusion is that both sets of complaints sound the same. Each accuses the other of being set in their blinkered ways and each comes from the position of declaring that they are right.

    They each talk about the other in language that assumes there could not be any common ground. Or worse actively avoids any common ground. I find that sad and disappointing.

    To me, the atheist who insists on saying ‘Happy Holidays’ because they can’t bare to say ‘Merry Christmas’ is just as embarrassing as the the Street Preacher trying to get passers by to listen to his ramblings.

    In my view the created animosity between Christians and atheists can only hurt both groups. Hard nosed Christians will view it as an attack on their righteousness and will become even more fervent, in turn they will encourage the milder Christians to become more fervent too.

    While its possible many fringe Christians will turn their back and embrace atheism, some won’t and encouraging the mild or the hardened Christian to think rationally is going to be much harder.

    I feel very uncomfortable with much of the anti-religion rhetoric I read on atheist sites and blogs.

    Christianity thrives when its attacked. Preachers preach harder and the regular Christian pays more attention.

    I certainly don’t pretend to know or have all the answers, but I really don’t think the level of animosity that I see displayed is either warranted or called for.

    • November 22, 2010 3:35 pm

      I didn’t make the link between the black struggles, the author of the post I linked to did. I pointed out that I felt it was not a good comparison.

      • limey permalink
        November 23, 2010 6:21 am

        I am aware of that. Sorry that my reply didn’t make that clear enough.

  3. November 22, 2010 3:02 pm


    But really, that gas station….holy cow.

    I once came across an ad from a car dealer announcing their oil change specials for Christians only…

  4. godlesspaladin permalink
    November 22, 2010 7:02 pm

    I wish this were fake…

    In response to Limey about Christians and atheists equally complaining and equally having nothing to complain about, I merely point to this graph to highlights the fact that there IS a difference.

    While I agree, as I pointed out earlier, that the comparison between atheists and blacks was in poor taste, their is something they have in common. I’m sure you’re familiar with “White privilege,” the assumption that “white” was the normal default, and that anybody else was an “other.” (There is more to it than that, but you get the idea) Women had to fight male privilege, gays are fighting heterosexual privilege, and now atheists (along with other non-Christians) are having to fight Christian privilege.

    Christians are complaining because people are challenging them on these privileges that just assumed were normal. Whites did the same thing when their privileges were challenged, so did men, and heterosexuals. Sure they’re going to complain and be just as abrasive as atheists, but they are not two equal sides of a coin.

    • November 22, 2010 8:23 pm

      Never wanted a Christmas tree until just now.

    • limey permalink
      November 23, 2010 6:39 am

      amusing image, I’m sure its also based on carefully gathered evidence which is listed somewhere so that it can be scrutinised.

      I’m not so convinced by the ‘white christian norm’ argument. I can point you to a couple of atheist friends of mine who will certainly agree with your point, yet I can also think of some christians that I know who would say that atheism is the norm and christians are the denied minority.

      Each has their own interests to promote, so which do I believe?

      Maybe its a different balance over your side of the pond, but here in blighty, I honestly can’t see how one is dominating another.

      • November 23, 2010 10:53 pm

        Oh, well that does make a huge difference, you’re from the UK. Yeah, you guys don’t have nearly the same situation, indeed, most of Europe doesn’t either. In the US the majority are Christian, and a goodly number of those are fundamentalist evangelicals. Especially in the part of the country where I and Godless Paladin live (nicknamed the “Bible Belt”).

        The story about the gas pump and the Christmas tree sign aren’t really isolated incidents around here, they are the norm. People will boycott stores if they have their employees use the more generalized, “Happy holidays,” greeting in place of the Christian, “Merry Christmas!”

      • November 23, 2010 10:55 pm

        Here is a site with a little more information on the number of adherents worldwide for major religions, including “nonreligious”:

        The numbers are a few years old but there is a lot of data included. I’m inclined to believe these numbers a bit more than the other graphic (since I can see where the data came from, in the other I cannot. It is possible that the one GP posted is based on US numbers, not worldwide). Not that the 16% nonreligious is said to be about half theistic and half atheistic, so about 8% worldwide are atheistic while 33% worldwide are Christian and over 54% of people worldwide adhere to one of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity).

        Atheists are in the minority with 8% vs 92% theist in the world population.

      • godlesspaladin permalink
        November 23, 2010 11:01 pm

        Yeah, like TSA pointed out, being on the other side of the pond makes a huge difference. Ad for the graph, if you’d like to see the statistics that eco it, check out the religious precentages here on the CIA world factbook page about the United States.

        You’ll see that the overwhelming majority of people are Christians and the graph has it generally correct. For some reason religion is an extremely important topic here in the states. It’s not unusual for people (especially where TSA and I live) to immediate ask you “So what church do you go to?” after just meeting you. I dream of fleeing to Europe where this is not the case.

  5. godlesspaladin permalink
    November 24, 2010 12:26 am

    Here is something disgusting that you’ll see only in America: Father loses custody of his 3 kids for being an agnostic.

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