I hate it when this happens.
It’s hard enough to find local atheist groups that have entertaining, fun, enjoyable meetings. One of the best parts about those events, though, is having conversations about religion. You can’t always have those kinds of discussions at work and home.
Personally, I like it when Christians come to these events. If they want to have a serious discussion about religion with a bunch of atheists, bring it on. Let’s have some fun and hash out our ideas over drinks.
When an atheist blogger took his wife (not an atheist) to one of these events, he left quite disappointed:
… Even though my wife does believe in god, she has a VERY strong belief that it is her personal belief, and she has never made any attempts to force it on others, or even question those who do not share her belief (in this way she is “better” than me I suppose).
I believed that with this common ground (belief in separation of religion and politics) that my wife would be welcomed into this group, even if there were other differences of opinion. I believed that the members of this group would be respectful of my wife, and focus on the commonalities and not the differences. I believed that nobody would attempt to attack her for her beliefs.
Apparently I was wrong.
But this was not to be a civil conversation on this particular night. Profanity, dismissal, contempt, vitriol… These would be the best words to describe this evening.
Needless to say, my wife is not really interested in going back in the future, but I did feel that with all of the negative attention I give to religion and the religious, that I had to be fair, and point out a personal example of when an atheist crossed the line, and sounded just as ignorant and bigoted at the christian fundies that I so detest.
Of course, a couple bad atheists don’t represent all of us.
But let it be a warning. If an atheist you know is being rude or unnecessarily dickish about it, stop them. Those people make us all look bad. It’s even more embarrassing when other atheists — sitting right there! — don’t make up for their bad behavior.
We complain about the Christian bigots who are always in the media spotlight and how moderate Christians rarely call them out in public.
Let’s not fall into the same trap. Especially when the problem is so easy to solve — if it’s happening right in front of you, take control of the situation.
Same goes for bloggers. If you don’t like what someone is saying, if it’s mean-spirited without making a point, call them out on it. It’s not about stifling their right to express their feelings. It’s letting other people know that you don’t agree with what someone else is saying — they need to hear that.