“I Hate Religion Because…”

Blaghag’s endlessly interesting adventures as an atheist activist college student continue. This week, Purdue’s Intervarsity Christian Fellowship put up a blackboard with the words “I Hate Religion Because…” and invited Blaghag’s “Society of Non-Theists” to express their views on it.  I am wary of the word “hate” being involved here and not sure that atheists should feel hate towards religion or especially that they should tacitly validate the perception that atheists are inherently hateful towards religion.  Even if some of us do hate religion, they should be careful not to let the perception that all atheists should be expected to feel similarly.

Anyway, the Christians organizing this event were eager to understand people’s dissatisfaction with religion and do some introspection.  Blaghag appreciated the gesture and had only one complaint and it was about the contrast in perceptions about what her Non-Theist Society’s “Blasphemy Day” event from several weeks ago signified to people on campus on the one hand and what the Christian group’s comparable event was taken to mean:

I made one comment that I think the event’s organizers hadn’t thought of, and they were intrigued by. When the Non-Theists do a practically identical event – actually, more innocuous because we didn’t have “I hate religion because…” as the prompt, we just let people write whatever we want – people see us as hateful. “Why are those cranky, meany-head atheists going around criticizing religion? Can’t they just leave us alone?” But when a Christian group does the same exact thing, they’re praised for it. “Yes, we should definitely be critical of hateful, ridiculous things in religion! Speak up, question things!” It’s a double standard that really shows people’s biases.

I think the differences are two:  even though BlagHag’s event promoted free speech generally it was specifically held in honor of “Blasphemy Day” and so did happen as part of a broader day of attacking religion.  This is quite different than a group holding an event expressly and specifically designed to endure criticism of itself.  Had the “Non-Theists” put up posters asking people specifically to attack non-theists, then the gesture would have probably been met with the same approval because it would have been a comparable exercise in inviting self-criticism.  As things stand, the Society of Non-Theists event was an exercise in free speech promotion and religion criticism (insofar as religion was implied to be an opponent of free speech through its opposition to blasphemy) whereas this Christian gesture was a self-criticism gesture.

Want to know what people wrote on that blackboard the Christians put up?  You’ll have to click on over to Blaghag for that.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of her post where she’s placed the links to the large versions of the board’s three sections.  It’s an interesting board.

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