Atheists Have Their Kirk Camerons Too.

Think we’re the only ones who have obnoxious, loud-mouthed fundamentalists who simply exist to antagonize others?

Wrong.

Atheists have Kirk Camerons too– their called the American Atheists. This past year they’ve been showing their civility and good-will by taking out billboards in various places (something I wrote about here) to mock people of faith.

Classy, I know.

Instead of sending the message of “We’re here, we hold a valid worldview, and we want to be good neighbors” the billboards send the message of “We’re here, we’re right, and the rest of you are idiots”.

It is no different than Christian fundamentalism. As I’ve written before, I see fundamentalism as being less about religion and more about attitude. When one holds belief (or non-belief) in arrogance rather than humility and insists that anyone who disagrees is flat out wrong, it’s fundamentalism.

For their newest trick? The American Atheists have taken out a billboard near the Super Bowl stadium to promote an upcoming convention by mocking prayer, something their president calls a “superstition, plain and simple.

I’m so tired of it all.

I’m tired of when my side does it, and I’m tired of when their side does it.

Why? Because regardless of which side is doing it, it’s a provocative gimmick designed to keep the whole cycle going. It’s not going to end until one side opts out of the cycle completely by simply refusing to play by these rules.

The cycle goes something like this:

Our fundamentalist put out an obnoxious billboard meant to antagonize people of no faith or a different faith. When they freak out, we say: “see how unreasonable and nasty those atheists can be? They really need Jesus“.

And so, they respond in-kind (keeping the whole cycle going) by putting up billboards designed to antagonize us right back, and when we freak out they say: “see how unreasonable and nasty those Christians can be? Their faith system is toxic.

As one of my atheist friends put it yesterday, we follow this cycle and then “lather, rinse, and repeat”.

It’s all a ploy and we’re both idiots if we don’t wake up and realize that.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of my Kirk Camerons and I’m tired of theirs.

When will we realize that we’re actually creating the toxicity, and that we can end it by opting out of this tit-for-tat system?

Ironically, I think the teachings of Jesus have some wisdom to offer both sides– I’m sure most of my atheists friends are reasonable enough to agree that Jesus was a wise first century rabbi and might have some good teachings.

Jesus actually spoke about these unhealthy cycles that we so often get sucked into during his most famous sermon, often called the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon he teaches the way out of these cycles is to refuse to respond “in kind” when someone harms  you– or even just antagonizes you. According to Jesus,  it is the response that keeps the system alive. Refusing to hit back, is what kills the cycle.

I say, let’s stop responding like this– both of us. Let’s kill the system that keeps trying to convince us we’re enemies and find ways to be good neighbors and work together for common good. Both sides are guilty of the toxicity so long as both sides insist on playing by toxic rules.

The answer is to simply refuse to play this way.

A great first start would be to stop erecting billboards on either side and use that money (which is probably an astronomical amount) for a joint cause to better society instead of wasting our money to feed an endless cycle that is distracting us from the things that really matter.

I’m telling my Kirk Camerons to stop, and I hope they will send the same message to theirs.

(Also, see John Shore’s post on Fundamentalist Atheists, here)
About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus (Release date, August 2014), tells the story of his journey out of lifeless religion and into a fresh expression of Christianity. He is also a contributor for Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a Doctor of Missiology/Intercultural Studies student at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society for biblical scholars. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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