Militant Atheism?

By Jennifer Filipowicz (aka Super Happy Jen)

I posted this a while ago on my blog.  This morning it occurred to me that it belongs here.

The other day I was at dinner with my family when my mother refered to me as a militant atheist. It bothered me. One because she waited until I was out of the room to say it (possibly to avoid a theological discussion). But really it was the word “militant”. To me this describes someone who is agressive in forcing people into their way of thinking, maybe even using violence. Does my mother really believe I’m like this? If my mother doesn’t understand where my beliefs stand, how can anyone?

Unfortunately I ended up making some throw away remark about the world being better place without religion. I don’t really believe this! For a lot of people believe in some kind of supreme protector watching over them provides comfort through hard times, the ability to deal with death and despair. Belief can comfort whether God exists or not.

What the world would be better off without is dogmatic thinking. “God says X and you do Y so you’re going to hell” type of mentality. This is what causes wars, it’s what causes politicians to backpeddle on human rights issues, it causes intolerance for anyone with a difference of opinion. But this is true of dogmatic thinking even when it’s not tied to a belief in a particular deity. Rigid adherence to political beliefs, for example, can be just as dangerous. A truly militant atheist could fall into this category too, if he looked down on others for having religious beliefs.

Perhaps what my mother meant, was that I am a proud atheist. I refuse to be ashamed of not holding any religious beliefs. I wear my “Atheist Angel” t-shirt all the time, because I want everyone to know that I’m an atheist. Not because I want everyone to be an atheist. I want people to understand that atheists are not evil people, and I think people that have met me will agree that I’m a nice person. Also I want people to understand that they don’t have to cherry-pick a religion. You can just not believe in God and that’s okay.

Yes, I do sell atheist t-shirts (to be fair, this was originally my husband’s idea) but I don’t force anyone to wear them. I don’t even advertise them particularly aggressively. And I try my darndest to make sure the designs promote atheism, without denouncing religious faiths.

I don’t personally believe in God. I think if there were a God, of the sort that is described in the bible, performing miracles all the time and interfering in everything from floods and hurricanes, to procreation and sporting events, then there would be evidence of Him everywhere. Science would already have collected all the data and put together a “God Theory” and I wouldn’t have to “have faith” in order to believe. The lack of evidence for God, for me, is evidence for His non-existence. There could be supreme beings out there that don’t interfere with our day to day lives, that don’t answer prayers, and that don’t decide who lives and who dies, but that’s not the sort of being one builds a religion around, is it? That may be far from a persuasive argument for you, so please feel free to substitute your own logic for my own. I’m just passively stating my beliefs here, not being militant in any way.

  • DSimon

    Great article! However, I disagree with your implication that thinking the world would be a better place without religion is militant or dogmatic. I think that the world would be better without religion, but not if it were removed suddenly or by coercion.

    Rather, I hope that people will become more rational as time passes, until eventually no-one needs religion, or any other false or unfalsifiable beliefs, in order to feel comforted or happy. Greater rationality would help humanity to deal with the world as it actually is, instead of how our distant ancestors guessed it to be, or how we might like it to be.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Yes, I too am uncomfortable with the belief in belief argument. Whilst I am content to let other people believe if they want to I still think they and everyone else would be better adjusted and happier without it.

  • Samuel

    The problems with “belief in belief” are

    1) It only works if they don’t realize their beliefs aren’t based on reality. If they do realize that than they aren’t drawing comfort from their beliefs, but their own resolve.

    2) It provides a mask for the crazies to operate under.

    3) It makes faith and innocence (re: ignorance) values as well as promoting a moral system based on purity and God instead of other people. This isn’t good as these traits are bad, especially for other people who don’t happen to hold them.

  • ThatOtherGuy

    Yeah, I always liked how in order to be a militant christian or militant muslim you had to blow something up, whereas to be a militant atheist you just had to… uh, well… have an opinion, I guess.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    Being proud of who you are certainly doesn’t sound “militant” to me. I don’t think “militant atheism” is even possible since atheism lacks any sort of doctrine. Militant anti-theism is a different animal.

  • Tom

    @Samuel – I don’t have faith in ‘a’ god, but I am constantly having faith, being alive is having faith. Faith that the thoughts and dreams you have built your life on are actually relevant and helpful to your existence. Faith that when you go to sleep you will wake up. Faith is super important too being alive. Like anything you should be wary at the extremities.

  • http://www.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    It’s come to the point that merely speaking up as an atheist can cause others to dub us “militant”. Really, believers want us to shut up and get back in our closets so they can again run the world unchallenged.

  • http://www.skepticaloccultism.com pendens proditor

    It’s a case of being able to dish it out but not take it. Currently I have Mormons showing up at my door on almost a weekly basis. Never has an atheist rung my doorbell with literature in hand. Can you imagine how shrill the howls of the religious fundamentalists would be if atheists ever became 1/10th as aggressive as they are? They’d cry foul until their voices gave out.

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    My mother’s main concern is that I won’t have any comfort when I experience loss. She’s hardly a fundamentalist.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    Hi, Super Happy Jen! (I like your name.)

    I wish people would use adjectives consistently, but it seems that some people have a different meaure of what constitues “militancy” when they are talking about religion compared to when they are talking about atheism. The same actions that you describe in this post (such as wearing t-shirts with a positive message) would probably not be considered “militant” when done by religious groups.

    @pendens proditor:

    It’s a case of being able to dish it out but not take it.

    I agree. They seem to think it’s perfectly okay if they let the whole world know about their beliefs but don’t want to listen to anyone else talk about theirs.

    -Ani Sharmin

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    If someone were to wear a T-shirt that said “I love Jesus” or something to that effect, perhaps my mother would consider that person “militant”. I’ll have to ask her.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Comfort in loss:
    The beauty of atheism is that loss; of a parent, a friend, a child, status, possessions or anything, usually has only two causes. 1) Natural 2) Your own negligence. If the former you grieve and blame no-one or nothing. If the latter you take responsibility in the full knowledge of what you did ( or failed to do) and learn perhaps painfully from the experience. What you don’t do is spend the rest of your life in pointless self recrimination about some unrelated act or attitude that may or may not have pissed off some deity or other causing you to feel responsible for something you had no control over.
    There is in fairness a third cause of loss, although I suspect rarer than T.V drama would have us believe. That is the deliberate action of a third party. Again though, the blame is directed at a natural cause and how you deal with your attitude to that third party is down to you.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    @Samuel – I don’t have faith in ‘a’ god, but I am constantly having faith, being alive is having faith. Faith that the thoughts and dreams you have built your life on are actually relevant and helpful to your existence. Faith that when you go to sleep you will wake up. Faith is super important too being alive. Like anything you should be wary at the extremities.

    You don’t have faith that you will wake up; you believe you will do so based on past experience. You don’t have faith that your “hopes and dreams are … relevant and helpful.” You work to make it so. Faith is irrelevant to life.

    Faith is belief in something despite the lack of evidence, or in the face of contrary evidence. As such, the only relevance faith bears at all on life lies in the actions of the faithful; and those are concrete events which require no faith.

  • KShep

    I’ll add my two pennies to the “comfort in loss” discussion. My 62-year-old just retired mother died last year after spending a month in intensive care, on and off life support three times. During a particular difficult day that last month, when I sat down and gave serious thought to the possibility of her dying, my wife tried to point out the “usefulness” of religion by giving me the “comfort in loss” lecture. She wasn’t trying to get me to believe again (she’s a firm agnostic, if you can believe that), just helpfully trying to give me a reason why people do believe.

    I was ready for that one. I just politely asked her, “How is deluding myself supposed to make me feel better? That wouldn’t be ‘comfort,’ it would just be delaying the inevitable grief process. Knowing there isn’t anything to look forward to after dying is far more comfortable to me than wondering what’s going to happen. People think that god somehow is doing something good when ‘he’ takes people away. What possible good can come of my mom dying right now? If I were still a believer, I’d be mighty pissed at this god for taking mom away from me, and from the retirement she was looking forward to so much.”

    The missus didn’t have anything to rebut my argument. And she has leaned ever so closer to atheism since then, too.

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    @KShep: Perhaps grieving without religion could be likened to ripping a band-aid off quickly, rather than slowly peeling it away.

  • KShep

    Well, if it is, the wound is still bleeding. Good analogy, though.

    I’m certain that everything would be worse right now if I still believed.

  • Demonhype

    @KShep: My mom gave me the same thing when she caught me crying at the inevitability of losing my father someday. (I’m a big Daddy’s girl–the ending of Bioshock 2 always has me sobbing too!) Of course, in her case, she was trying to get me to believe again. Fact is, I was the same way when I believed in God and an afterlife, and my beliefs didn’t give me one iota of comfort. And I agree with you and asked the same thing–how is it better to be deluded?

    @ SuperHappyJen: See, my mom is all devastated that I’m an unbeliever too, but not so much because she wants me to have “comfort in loss” (that was just a cheap re-conversion attempt). No, my mom is upset because when she dies I won’t interpret every little thing, every draft on my neck, tickle on my arm, or bird chirping outside my window as “mommy’s spirit trying to talk to me”. She has realized that it will take something a hell of a lot more dramatic and direct to even convince me that something significant is happening, and even then I would have to rule out a number of other options before I would even consider the idea that dear old mom is trying to contact me from beyond the grave. I think she liked the idea that I’d be chopping some carrots in the kitchen or typing on my computer, feel a little draft on my neck, and think “hi there mommy, I love you”, and she’s really upset because it’s finally occurred to her that it’s not likely to happen. Not with me, anyway. I also think she was hoping to show me the error of my ways and rub my nose in my disbelief by coming back as a ghost or an angel, and I’d probably be more inclined to think it a grief-induced psychotic hallucination or some such thing (I’m very migraine-prone).

    But she gives me the same “militant” line too, with the same double standards. To be considered militant, a believer has to actually kill someone, but for an atheist to be considered militant, all they have to do is admit to atheism. Or write a book. Or post a snarky comment on the internet. Anything other than playing along with the believer’s POV and hiding your atheism as if it really were the venereal disease that the believers see it as. How can believers maintain their staunch faith that their faith makes them better people when you’re standing there being openly atheist and NOT killing half the neighborhood?

    Perhaps that’s their way of convincing themselves of the superiority of faith–we’re not killing anyone, so they have to pretend that being openly atheistic is the same thing as killing someone. Otherwise, they might have to rethink a few things, and that sure as hell ain’t gonna happen! :)

  • Tom

    @Thumpalumpacus – Thanks for your post made me think about the difference between faith and belief. You talk about the difference in faith and belief being evidence. However I tend to think belief is just ‘faith with reason’. Reasoning we feel no need to question and are hence satisfied with.

    What evidence do I have that my thoughts and dreams are true? None except for other thoughts and dreams. Thats hardly strong evidence. Its a matter of faith in my eyes.

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    @Demonhype: Your Mom could be the first person to come back as a ghost or angel and get us all to believe!

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Thanks for your post made me think about the difference between faith and belief. You talk about the difference in faith and belief being evidence. However I tend to think belief is just ‘faith with reason’. Reasoning we feel no need to question and are hence satisfied with.

    I prefer to ask questions, thanks.

  • Samuel

    “Being proud of who you are certainly doesn’t sound “militant” to me. I don’t think “militant atheism” is even possible since atheism lacks any sort of doctrine. Militant anti-theism is a different animal.”

    There have been militant anti-theists. Leninists, Robespierre, Spanish Republicans and the dictator of Albania qualify. It is rare because it requires going beyond taking away religions power and most anti-theists are good with winning. Eliminating tax emeption, school prayer, creationism and the requirements of respect is enough for almost all anti-theists. I think the reason is because anti-theism is such a small political component.

    “You don’t have faith that you will wake up; you believe you will do so based on past experience. ”

    Actually people occasionally die in their sleep. It isn’t something to worry about though- you will never know it happened.

  • Eurekus

    One thing that I hate when I’m called a militant atheist. The theist who accuses me of being one tells me I have a ‘god shaped hole,’ hence the reason for my militancy.
    My response to this. I’ve never forced anybody to believe what I believe and I’ve only ever used reason. What would they have me do anyway? Idly sit by as their church sucks 10%+ of their wage and guilt trips them into spending huge amounts of time running Sunday school. Wouldn’t that be unethical of me? Damn they’re idiots! What a con.

  • http://davidellisart.blogspot.com/ David Ellis

    I’m reminded of the transcript of a debate between a Christian and an atheist I saw on a Christian website once. The biographical information at the end starts “X is a committed Christian….” for the one and “Y is a militant atheist….” for the other.

    Gave me a chuckle.

  • Tom

    @Thumpalumpacus – Ahh you misunderstood me, I was simply saying that when science explains something it requires a certain level of given understanding. It’s impossible and a paradox to be able to describe and understand everything in the universe: so at some level you have to take things for granted.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Yes, I’m just not satisfied with the conflation of “faith” and “belief”. Of course science makes working tentative assumptions. Faith places those assumptions off-limits to questioning, and that is why I reject using “faith” and “belief” interchangeably.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Tom,
    Science must provisionally accept things as must we all for anything. We can not be 100% certain of things, so everything is provisional. If you are going to contend that this means that it’s all faith, then the word “faith” no longer carries any real meaning.

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    I don’t consider faith a virtue, but I’m not against it. Perhaps this is because I don’t personally know anyone who’s hard core crazy about their religion. At best it’s a harmless quirk that some of my friends are Catholic, Pentacostal, Muslim, etc. Kind of like my love of Star Trek.

    @OMGF …agreed. There’s a difference between not being 100% sure of everthing in the universe and worshiping a mythical sky God.

  • Zietlos

    By chaos and uncertainty, there is a slim, but non-zero, chance my molecules will align perfectly and I will fall right through the chair I sit on and then the floor below. 99% is more than enough for me.

    I think Demonhype (I haven’t seen you before, you new here or just my unobservantness?) has the right of it in the end for parents and such. I’ve got a very superstitious mother as well, that seems like it could be the case. Her most recent attempt was spilling water on a couch while I was out of the room and then insisting a ghost did it… The metaphorical one more burning bush is not an inert water stain on upholstery beside the kitchen… But I must salute her for her continuous efforts. I look forward to the day where she’ll burn down the house to try to convince me the Power of God exists.

    In one way, bringing up everyone’s favourite horseman, Dawkins had the right of it: Memes. People want to be remembered. That continuous thinking that wind in the drapes is a ghost helps comfort them that they in turn will be remembered when they die in the same way. A way for memes, memories of the person, to continue existing after they cease to. Logical if looked at in that regard.

    …One last thing: That freethought flakes T-shirt is cute. :)

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    Thanks Zietlos. You know, no one has ever bought that one. The popular ones are Russel’s teapot and the chimp one. I always thought the freethought flakes would be nice on a bag.

  • Zietlos

    No one? It’s so lonely without a nice home…

    Kinda makes me sad. You need to be more aggressive in your marketing! Sell low, buy high! (Wait… That’s not right…) I can see why the teapot and the chimp are popular, they tend to be either more “acceptable” (the chimp) or obscure to those who would attack you (the teapot), so they’re good for making statements without making statements.

    Not too into bags personally, but it might make a nice fabric shopping bag, I suppose, what with the commercialized theme to it. Plus you could act up like the shopping bag was a bonus and try to get people to believe its a real product.

    As for the article itself, I forget where I first found a link for it, but the atheistcartoons “militant” comic, reminds me of that: To be a militant atheist, one only needs a t-shirt… You know, I should start calling all Xians who wear crosses or crucifixes “militant”, just for equality.

    You’re doing a really good job keeping up the articles while Ebon is away, by the by. Thank you.

  • Demonhype

    @SuperHappyJen:

    I think that’s part of her problem–she’s realized how hard it might be to ‘convert’ a skeptic with no a priori belief in supernatural phenomena. No matter what she does, us damn militant atheists won’t jump to the supernatural conclusion the way she wants us to! :D

    @Zietlos:

    I’ve been here for a while. I don’t always comment, but I read this blog every day. Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say, and other times I just dont’ want to get bogged down in an internet argument, for time concerns as well as eyestrain headache/migraine concerns. (I’m studying animation online, so I already spend far too much necessary time in front of a computer!) Which is why I don’t often come back to respond when I do comment, either on this or other blogs.

    I understand the idea that perhaps this is about wanting to be remembered, but she also knows that we still cry over some of our dead pets years later! What makes her think I’m going to cry over my beloved Pooky kitty, but relegate my own mother to the Abode of the Forgotten? I think that’s part of it though–she “feels” their presence and thinks that I won’t “feel” that same way unless I believe literally in ghosts–despite the fact that many people have those same feelings with no supernatural beliefs or explanations necessary.

    Your mother is way more committed to your belief than mine, I think! I’m surprised my mom hasn’t tried that! Heck, I just had yet another argument with her–she’s got this annoying uneducated-working-class-hero attitude, so every time the “college girl!” disagrees with her or explains how statistical analysis or psychology or history or science don’t work the way she thinks they do, I’m intrinsically calling her “stupid”. If anyone, especially me, disagrees with her in any way, that is a direct attack on her intelligence. It’s a good thing she steers clear of internet discussions, or else her martyr-complex would be even more unbearable! :)

    I shouldn’t talk to her, I know, but it’s impossible to avoid. SHE KEEPS BRINGING THIS UP, despite the many times we’ve agreed to give it a rest! She claims I’m a
    “militant” atheist, but she’s the one who has to shoehorn her New-Agey sermons into every conversation (never mind the fact that I heard it all when I still believed in that stuff and if it couldn’t retain my belief then, why would I find it convincing now?) And the only reaction that won’t piss her off is “that is a brilliant, insightful, and totally representative interpretation of (a, b, or c), and I totally agree with you! You are so wise!”

    How the hell does one interact with someone like that? I am grateful to the FSM that she hasn’t gotten it into her head to fabricate miracles and paranormal/supernatural phenomena to either try to convince me she’s right or to confirm my “close-mindedness” to her own satisfaction. I don’t know how you deal with that–I don’t think I could!

    Yet another reason to be glad she’s afraid of computers! :)

  • Tom

    Faith places those assumptions off-limits to questioning

    Religious dogma place those assumptions off-limits not faith it self, you need to have faith that a well accepted scientific theory is reasonably accurate if your are going to utilize it in your own science, but your certainly able to question it scientifically.

    I guess I live in a very agnostic/atheist part of the world and I don’t have people ranting about their faith in my face, so the word faith doesn’t have such a negative in-connotation to me. I was responding to Samuel calling faith ‘useless’ and ‘bad’, An example of someone who struggles with faith in there existence at the most basic level might be a schizophrenic. Everyone here seems capable of accepting their existence without too much stress despite how little we know about it.

  • Tom

    non religious faith – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKPjHwyYZVQ ;-)

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    …you need to have faith that a well accepted scientific theory is reasonably accurate if your are going to utilize it in your own science…

    No, you need to have a reasonable expectation that it will work. We gain that through the methods of science. Science is not a faith position, nor is it an exercise in faith. If it were, we wouldn’t continually test our scientific positions, we wouldn’t hold that things are provisionally correct, nor would we use methods like peer review and verification to ensure that our science is as accurate as possible.

  • Tom

    @OMGF – The faith part is in the reasonable expectation. Why do we have a reasonable expectation? Our thoughts and senses have told us so, and we have faith their true. We must have faith in our thoughts and sense we have little choice. Staying alive is very hard if you don’t

  • Tom

    @OMGF – Oh My God Fuck? like the nick. OMFG would be cool too. Oh My Fuck God :-)

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    This argument is getting bogged down in semantics and probably will not be enlightening. But OMGF is right in my book. Faith is holding to a view of the world without evidence or despite contrary evidence. The basics of science are built on axioms that so far have proved to be “true” and have a track record of working. This maybe inductive reasoning, it may also only be an approximation of truth given our limited view of things, but it is not faith.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    The faith part is in the reasonable expectation.

    No, these are contradictory in definition. One has faith when one does not have a reasonable expectation. We have resonable expectations because we have evidence to back them up.

    And, no it’s not simply a case of following our thoughts and senses. My senses tell me that the sun revolves around the Earth. It certainly looks that way and feels that way, but we know it isn’t so. The evidence is against it. Senses can be fooled or tricked and so we rely on the practices of science which are objective and non-faith oriented.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Religious dogma place those assumptions off-limits not faith it self, you need to have faith that a well accepted scientific theory is reasonably accurate if your are going to utilize it in your own science, but your certainly able to question it scientifically.

    No, the assumptions are off-limits due to the definition of faith. Once you question any assumption, you have demonstrated a lack of faith in it. No faith is required in science, because the baseline assumptions have either been supported by the data, or the assumptions are made plain, and laid open to questioning.

  • Tom

    @Steve – Yeah it is getting bogged down in semantics, disappointed we don’t have any Joe Cocker fans here too :-) Science is a tricky one because it seems contradictory to faith, especially because the concept is abstract.

    @OMGF – Your senses may deceive you, but your thoughts tell you otherwise: that is how you know. The evidence you are speaking about is a thought you have had. That thought is informed by other thoughts and sensory perceptions you had (some one telling you so or you read). That is not evidence either.

    @Thumpalumpacus – There is no theory in this world that doesn’t begin with fundamental assumptions, in this way every theory (you guys will like this) is born out of faith.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Science is contradictory to faith. The axioms that we build on are as true as our perceptions will allow. We could descend into solipsism at this point but it is futile and not germaine to the discussion. Faith is not foundational to anything in science because all axioms have at least the illusion of reliability and so can be built upon. Faith by any definition does not require any amount of observational consistency. I am tempted to paraphrase regular commenter D who says things like ‘faith is a word and words are made up’ to point out the futility of discussions like this. You want faith to mean something that most of us here don’t. Eventually all discussions of epistemology flounder on the rocks of subjective experience but unless we want to spend our lives in endless navel gazing we have to ignore that and keep asking questions. The fact that many of the realities of the universe confound “common sense” yet are still applicable in a practical way suggests that we are at least functuonally correct in our basic assumptions

  • Tom

    Eventually all discussions of epistemology flounder on the rocks of subjective experience but unless we want to spend our lives in endless navel gazing we have to ignore that and keep asking questions.

    Thats my point, your could ‘flounder on the rocks of subjective experience’ or you could make a leap of faith (ignore as your call it) and start to understand the mechanics of your experience. We would agree that science is an brilliant vehicle for doing that, religion not so.

  • http://www.croonersunlimited.com Jim Speiser

    So you sell t-shirts! Right after 9/11, I designed and sold a t-shirt that said “ATHEISTS LOVE AMERICA TOO!” with a big American flag emblazoned on it. The post 9/11 era brought a lot of flag-waving – which I joined in on – and patriotic talk – me too – and a lot of singing of “God Bless America” – which I…couldn’t bring myself to sing (or if I did, I made it “God-less America”). I was feeling a little left out, so I designed the T-shirt. I didn’t go crazy marketing it, either, but I did get a few sales, and generated a few comments. I still wear mine on 4th of July and the like. I’ll be sure and check out your wares.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Words mean things. To apply the term “faith” to scientific premises which have been shown true and are thus not re-proven is nonsense.

    Perhaps Tom would be so kind as to point out an article of faith held by scientists?

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    I’m delighted that an article I wrote has generated so much discussion.

  • DMT

    Atheist needn’t concern themselves with the word “Militant”, it is simply being used as a propaganda label.

    Muslims, Jews and Christians have 2 things in common. 1. The same God. 2. Atheist are the biggest threat to dogmatic control.

  • D.L F

    Great minds think alike. I just wrote a very short article asking if I was a militant atheist on my own blog but yours is much better than mine. LOL Because atheists are humans there will be a percentage who are just overall jerks but I don’t think that is what most people are referring to when they use the term militant atheist. Many religious people view any outward indication that a person is an atheist as their being militant. So, a person who wears an atheist t-shirt but is not argumentative can still be labeled militant just because they aren’t hiding their disbelief.