No, Salon, Atheists Are Not ‘Just as Obnoxious as Christians’

Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing for Salon, thinks that atheists are “just as obnoxious as Christians.” She lowers us to their level because atheists recently fought to be treated like Christians in a Florida school district.

The backstory is that the World Changers of Florida, Inc. held Bible distributions at a number of public high schools in Orange County, Florida this past January:

The Central Florida Freethought Community, rightfully demanding that they be given equal treatment, planned their own giveaway of atheist literature.

The problem was that many of their books were censored. The school district said they could pass out some things, but not all of them:

Williams argues that the atheists went too far in asking for equal treatment:

Just because you’re in the right doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it…

[The atheists] asked for permission to distribute some materials of their own, including books and pamphlets with titles including “An X-Rated Book,” “Jesus Is Dead” and “Why I Am Not a Muslim.” Which if I’m not mistaken is a douche move.

Why is it a douche move?

Yes, the titles are provocative, but the content is hardly hateful or pornographic. “An X-Rated Book,” for example, really just consists of direct quotations from the Bible. So if it was okay for the Christians to hand out, why not the atheists?

Jesus is Dead is a scholarly examination of whether or not the historical Jesus ever existed. It’s by no means a book of hate.

Why I Am Not a Muslim is self-explanatory, but needless to say, it’s not an attack on students who are Muslim.

And as anyone who has read it can tell you, Sam HarrisLetter to a Christian Nation is a calmly reasoned response to the letters Harris got after the publication of his first book.

Williams is judging every book by its cover and title and not its content.

In short, this wasn’t a “douche move” on the part of the atheists. If they handed out anything objectionable, the objectionable parts came straight out of the Bible.

Williams goes on even though her tank is already running on empty:

But idiocy isn’t fixed with more idiocy. A petulant strategy of “You let them do this and if we can’t do that we’re going to sue” is absurd and immature. The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s threat that the “plaintiffs intend to repeat the distribution every school year, unless the school prohibits all such distributions, including bibles” doesn’t sound like a blow for freedom of expression; it just sounds whiny. And when you say you’re “committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church” and you’re fighting to distribute anti-religious materials in state-run facilities, you’re not separating church and state either. You’re promoting an explicit agenda.

She doesn’t get it.

When school districts and governments promote Christianity, no one thinks anything of it. That’s Christian privilege at work, and it’s very hard to challenge “tradition” like that unless you try to get them to treat non-Christian groups the same way.

In Williams’ mind, Bible distributions and Nativity scenes at City Hall might be a problem but a simple request to take them down should do the trick! She lives in some fantasy world where Christians play by the rules.

We’ve tried it her way. It rarely works. Christians don’t do the right thing unless we force them to do it.

The far more effective strategy has been to get government officials to put up Flying Spaghetti Monster scenes next to Nativity scenes, or to put up signs proclaiming “Axial tilt is the reason for the season” next to “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Only when faced with promoting atheism do government officials and school administrators realize they would be better off not promoting any religion in the first place. It would be great if they knew that to begin with, but they don’t, so we have to make them feel uncomfortable. We have to show them that they’re not doing something harmless when they promote even a universal “God”; they’re actually excluding all non-Christians in the process.

Similarly, when it comes to Bible distributions in public schools, Williams right admits, “This should never have happened in the first place,” but asking nicely doesn’t get the point across like asking the school for permission to distribute literature that’s unpopular.

Students still have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. We haven’t been able to stop the recitation and very few Christians understand why it’s a problem. But imagine if you told Christians students to pledge allegiance to “one nation, under no god”? They would be up in arms trying to get the “atheist Pledge of Allegiance” out of the classroom.

We still have city councils that pray to Jesus at meetings and say they’ll allow other groups to deliver invocations, too. But when an atheist tries to recite a secular invocation? Chaos.

“In God We Trust” is on our money and most people think nothing of it. But maybe if “In God We Don’t Trust” were on there instead, Christians would come around and agree with us that our currency shouldn’t be taking sides on whether or not God exists.

Atheists aren’t being “obnoxious” when we force government officials to treat us like they do Christians — we’re being strategic under the rules of the law. And it works.

We can’t keep playing defense and expect to win. Sometimes, we just have to take a page from the Christian Playbook and beat them at their own game.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Jasper

    Very nicely described.

  • Rich Wilson

    Just because it’s unfair to tell you to give up your seat is no reason why you should be a douche and refuse to give up your seat.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Why is Salon so eager to publish low quality content so long as it bashes atheists?

    Nasty atheist-bashing in Salon

    Frans de Waal tries to give atheists a good hiding in Salon; Anthony Grayling takes him down

    • baal

      They have posts that bash atheists and are one of the rare sites that have posts that support atheism as well. I’m fairly convinced at least 2 of the folks on their staff there are readers if not posters here or on FTB.

  • Rev. Ouabache

    We need a phrase to describe these type of people who come in late to a controversy, don’t bother to get all the details, and start yelling that everyone needs to be more civil to each other. I’ve seen it way too much online lately.

    • C Peterson


      • Carmelita Spats

        Now THAT is funny!

      • Alessia Lane

        C Peterson, you win the internet!

    • 3lemenope

      That was the original definition for “concern troll”, as I understand, in the way back time. Before Facebook and [We]blogs were a thing, in the popular sense of the term.

    • Iggy Knows What I Mean

      Of course atheists aren’t being obnoxious when they demand equal rights.
      But they are being obnoxious when the ridicule, insult, and threaten believers. Atheist discussion boards are full of hateful remarks, and people are beginning to recognize many of them as Hate Sites that are no better than any other hate site that attacks particular groups whether it is because of race, religion, disability, or national origin.

      • C Peterson

        Ridicule and insult are not inherently hateful, and indeed, are entirely appropriate in many contexts… particularly when the beliefs under discussion are ridiculous! Even so, most atheist forums devote very little attention to ridiculing or insulting believers themselves (although many Christians consider it an insult simply to have their ideas challenged), and a lot more to attacking the belief systems themselves. And threats? Well, it’s a big Internet, but I’ve never personally encountered any directed against Christians from atheists (although threats in the other direction seem rather common).

        • Isilzha

          How many death threats from xians did that high school girl get over that banner?

        • Robyn Su Miller

          C Peterson, you do not have to go far to see male brutes using atheism as an excuse to heap hate and death threats on women. I came to this article via “We fucking love atheism” a site that uses terms for vagina with frequency and just today called for the death of some ignorant Christian woman, just because she’s bonehead stupid about atheists. I called the hate out so much I can no longer post there, because the thugs are very sensitive little guys when it comes to being outed as haters.

          • Robyn Su Miller

            ps- I am very pro-ridicule. But women are slaughtered and raped every day by men and it’s time to make the pro-rape culture boyz —and their sister apologists—squirm.

          • C Peterson

            Bullshit, pure and simple. There are certainly men who abuse women. To suggest that atheism contributes to this is ridiculous. To suggest that such views are higher among atheists than among Christians is entirely unsupported.

            • Rich Wilson

              To suggest that atheism contributes to this is ridiculous.

              I don’t think she suggested that. Your anecdote was “Well, it’s a big Internet, but I’ve never personally encountered any directed against Christians from atheists” and hers was “called for the death of some ignorant Christian woman, just because she’s bonehead stupid about atheists”

              • C Peterson

                Maybe. The problem with incoherent rants is that it can be difficult or impossible to figure out what the ranter is actually saying.

                One thing’s for sure, it was out of place in this discussion.

            • Master Knight

              Agreed, there are as many abusers percentage wise in all religions…

        • Master Knight

          Why do you challenge my ideas? Why can’t you just be an Atheist and preach to like minded people? Those people will talk to their friends, and those friends to more friends and you can grown an Atheist church. I mean Yeah I like Chevy better but I’m not going to pick Ford apart for everything I can to make them look as stupid as possible…I’m just going to buy my Chevy and move on. If someone asks I’m going to be positive and say well here is what I know about my Chevy, and this is why I like it…I’m not going trash talk Ford to try to make them look bad. So why can’t you just say what you know about Atheism, and how it works for you, instead of abusing believers by saying Christianity is stupid?

          • Dax

            I don’t think buying a car is really comparable to questions about the nature of our existence.

      • Rich Wilson

        If your standard is discussion board comments, I guarantee I can find plenty of obnoxious at WND or Blaze or Fox.

        • WallofSleep

          Don’t forget Breitbart, Hot Air, etc. The number of blatantly racist comments and overt threats in those sites comments are staggering.

          • kaydenpat

            Or Youtube comments.

      • LesterBallard


      • Feminerd

        “The ideas of Christianity are wrong and hurt people” is not the same as “Christians are evil and should all be threatened with something awful”.

        This site, as well as every other that I have read (though as C Peterson notes, it is a big Internet), falls into the former category and not the latter.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Actually, jondrake (or is it Grady today?), it’s mostly just a sock puppeting, lying, libelous, egotistical gossip or two.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        1) Ridicule: if you wish not to be ridiculed, be less ridiculous.
        2) Insults: welcome to Teh Interwebs.
        3) Threats are probably illegal. Report them ot the proper authorities.

      • Michael W Busch

        Who here is “threatening believers” ? No, “vocally disagree with” is not the same as “threaten”.

        And ridicule and insults are not by themselves hateful – they become so only when they are bigoted or unjustified.

        • Kodie

          It’s threatening their beliefs! They really believe we are satan and in demonstrating what’s wrong with their belief, actually damning them, as opposed to the imaginary damning of us that they do, since there isn’t really a hell.

      • Houndentenor

        Threats? Well, I would certainly object to that. Ridicule and insult are as American as apple pie. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the insults hurled back and forth between Adams and Jefferson. My right to free speech includes the right to mock other people and even insult them. Threats are, of course, out of bounds.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Lovely example there!

          • Houndentenor

            They really should be required reading. No one in modern politics is as mean with their insults nor as creative. In fact any reading of political discourse from the 18th and early 19th centuries is fascinating. I’d especially recommend the broadsheets and song parodies.

            • Feminerd

              Oh yes, there were some amazing turns of phrase and incredibly insulting insults hurled back then. Anyone who thinks that people were “genteel” in the 1800s should really read the things people called each other (in public! in writing!) before saying that.

            • Hat Stealer

              I agree. People tend to think that todays political discourse is uncivil, but it is NOTHING compared to what it used to be. You don’t see politicians these days accusing their opponents of being Russian prostitutes, or of having sexual relations with a monkey.

              Those were the good old days…

      • Ton_Chrysoprase

        Can we play a game of “one of these things is not like the others”? Hint: there is a difference between mocking people’s choices and inhererent attributes people have no control over. I hope you just realize that you are a really horrible person and see how this innocent piece of ridicule can help you to become less so.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Christians have labeled so many things “hate” that actually aren’t that the word barely has meaning anymore.

        But I guess when your entire sense of acceptance is “Agree with me 100 percent or you’re hateful and I’m being persecuted,” you could say what you’re saying and not be lying your ass off.

      • The Other Weirdo

        threaten? How’s that, then? We’ll send them to nothing? We’ll make death threats against their families and children like Christians have been doing to atheists? What do you mean by ‘threaten’?

      • Kodie

        There is no nice way to say “your beliefs are unbelievably wrong”. Whattaya gonna do?

      • Broken Halo

        Ah, the old Criticism-of-Ideas-Equals-Hate-Speech Gambit.

        It wasn’t convincing the first 10^100 times someone trotted it out either.

      • kaydenpat

        Don’t visit atheist discussion boards then if you find them so distasteful.

      • Regina Carol Moore

        I have found that obnoxious people are going to be obnoxious whether they are atheist or Christian. Well-mannered people are going to be well-mannered whether they are atheist or Christian. As an atheist, I want atheists to be polite, intelligent and well-spoken, but they all aren’t. In my experience, there is a higher chance that atheists are going to be intelligent and have very good points to make, but they aren’t all polite. I’m not even as polite as I want to be. That’s just life.

      • skwerl

        “I’ll tell you what you did with Atheists for about 1,500 years. You outlawed them from the universities, or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or their writings of any kind, drove them into exile, humiliated them, seized their properties, arrested them for blasphemy. You dehumanized them with beatings and exquisite torture, gouged out their eyes, slit their tongues, stretched, crushed, or broke their limbs, tore off their breasts if they were women, crushed their scrotums if they were men, imprisoned them, stabbed them, disemboweled them, hung them, burnt them alive… And you have the nerve to complain to me that I laugh at you?” -Madelyn Murray O’Hare

      • Justin

        It’s high time we stop lumping in religion with race, ethnicity and gender. It’s the one major mistake of the Civil Rights Acts. Religious affiliation isn’t immutable. It’s a choice. It’s more akin to political affiliation than to race, sexual orientation, or ability.

      • Jcartm

        You know it’s really hard to be nice to people who attack you when you disagree with them and then claim you are persecuting them it’s almost jaw dropping. I don’t think Christians know what persecution is sorry it’s true. Also yes I Hate religion I think everyone should look at what religion and the people who follow it have done. You may call me rude but I have been threatened by Christians before and on these sites your talking about yes they often disagree very vocally but I’ve never seen a threat towards anyone on them except for the ones by the Christians that troll the sites.

    • Michael W Busch

      Isn’t that a form of tone trolling?

    • Baby_Raptor

      Doesn’t that fall under concern trolling? Or am I applying that too broadly?

    • BlaqueKatt

      the media?

    • Liam Bean

      Lately? Where have you been? It happens all the time and has done so for years.

    • Justin

      I call it davidbrooksing.

    • BradleyHart

      I think the word you are looking for is asshole.

  • Matthew Baker

    Salon for those days when you think to yourself I have too many braincells and need to kill off a few. Just a few not as many as would be killed by say infowars, the blaze or world news daily.

  • blackbeltatheist

    Just to be clear, students don’t have to recite the pledge. Otherwise, well said.

    • C Peterson

      Yes, but in practice, refusing to do so is likely to result in the student being socially isolated or even opening herself up to bullying and discrimination, even from staff. We’ve certainly seen that both with the pledge, and with other “voluntary” expressions of piety at schools.

      • blackbeltatheist

        No argument here. Just wanted to clarify in case there are students reading here. They need to know that they have the right to refuse to pledge.

    • Savoy47

      I had an outraged teacher call me because my son would not stand and say the pledge. My son stood his ground and did not bend to the teacher’s demands. This was days after 9/11 and the teacher was in hyper-patriot mode. He didn’t like what I had to say to him either.

      What the teacher did was equivalent to pointing to him and saying, “He’s a traitor. He’s is not with us, he is against us”.

      • kaydenpat

        Good for your son for being so brave. That teacher should be ashamed of himself.

  • Atheist for human rights

    Williams is an idiot. Atheists are nothing like Christians.

    Although I will concede that New Atheists are a lot like Christians given their propensity for islamaphobia, which is something evangelical Christians have in common. And Especially New Atheist mystics like Sam Harris.

    • Iggy Knows What I Mean

      Sam Harris has gone off the rails. Seriously, there is something wrong with him.

      • revyloution

        I don’t see that. I think it’s hard to find out what Harris really believes. I think he just enjoys asking difficult questions.

        • Atheist for Human Rights

          There is nothing difficult to understand about mysticism and the paranormal. It’s very simple: they are B.S. just like religion.

          • WallofSleep

            Hmm… something we completely agree on. Nice.

      • Michael W Busch

        There are many things wrong with Harris’ ideas (I have argued some of them with his fandom at some length). That does not mean there is “something wrong with him”. It simply means that he advocates wrong ideas.

      • Houndentenor

        When you listen to what he actually says about Islam, you may find the logic in his positions. If you only read the headlines you’ll fall prey to the idiocy of moral relativism. I’m not going to stop denouncing honor killings and female genital mutilation because it might upset people who practice that religion. I certainly don’t pull any punches when it comes to Christians. Why on earth should any other religion be treated with kid gloves. A lot of what goes on in Muslim countries is fucked up and shame on people in the west for apologizing for the horrible mistreatment of women in that part of the world.

        • Atheist for human rights

          That is straw man. No one is justifying honor killings.

          Harris is saying Muslims should be treated differently under the law even if they haven’t committed any crime.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Wait, we’re supposed to tone back our criticisms of Islam? I thought we were too scared to speak out about it and only picked safe, gentle Christian targets made of rainbow-soft toilet paper and jesus side-cuddles. Geez, you inconsistent atheists, make up your minds. Are you militant Islamophobes or cowards!

          • WallofSleep

            Depends on who you ask. To moonbats we’re militant Islamophobes. To wingnuts, well we’re not just cowards, but craven appeasers.



            • C.L. Honeycutt

              That’s a quality “feel good” song for me. It can’t not make me smile. Thanks a LOT for ruining my atheist rage, pal!

              Just for that…


              • WallofSleep

                Don’t start with me, buddy. You will lose.


                • Feminerd

                  Nono, keep going! Happy songs for atheists that are immune to joy, love, and all good feelings!

                • WallofSleep

                  Well shoot, if that’s what you’re looking for, all you had to do was ask…


                • Feminerd

                  Not … quite what I meant, but it works. I meant to keep posting the happy musics lol.

                • WallofSleep

                  Dang. I was hoping for a “I’ve seen enough Aphex Twin to know where this is going.”

                • Feminerd

                  I am quite the sheltered little nerdling, I’m afraid. I didn’t really listen to music at all until I got to college, and even then it was mostly rock and alt-rock.

                • WallofSleep

                  “I didn’t really listen to music at all until I got to college…”

                  I just… I mean… that almost makes me want to cry. You poor soul. Reading that makes me nearly as sad as seeing one of those “sponsor a starving child” commercials.

                • Feminerd

                  Well, I should amend that. I listened to classical music. So I wasn’t totally music-starved :) I love the dark Russian composers so much- Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich are my favorites. But contemporary music, not so much.

                • WallofSleep

                  Oh thank Science. I was really getting depressed there for a minute. Heh. Just kidding.

                • WallofSleep

                  But if you like the upbeat ska stuff, here’s some old school stank, with a young Bob Marley on vocals.


                • Feminerd

                  Much liking. It reminds me, in a very oblique way, of the YoYo Ma and Bobby McFerrin lullaby.

                  Oh hey look, it’s on the Youtubes.

                • midnight rambler

                  This definitely fits that bill (not what you may think it is):


                • WallofSleep

                  I don’t even… that has to be…

                  If I weren’t already an atheist, that would make me so. Because what GOD would allow that?

                  Yet as an atheist, that nearly had me believing there might be a Lucifer.

                  I spoke to boldly before when I insinuated to CLH that I could bring forth musical monstrosities that would buckle knees.

                  Please sire, you are the victor. I beg of thee mercy.

                • midnight rambler

                  There’s also this, which I think improves greatly on both originals (no real video, so you can focus on the music; there are video versions but they don’t add much, unlike the one above where the video is essential):


                  After I found those two I checked out other mashups, but frankly they don’t come close to measuring up. I think I got spoiled…

                • TCC

                  I don’t even have to watch that video to have that inane song pop into my head. I hate you for that.

                • WallofSleep

                  I try my best.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Impressive. That has earned a place in my very limited YouTube Favorites list.



                  A song that is utterly without meaning (much like our existences) unless you also watch the video.

                • Rich Wilson
                • WallofSleep

                  Damn, Rich. This was but a minor skirmish, and then you went all Mutually Assured Destruction on us. I’m at a loss. I concede.

                • Rich Wilson

                  That little WMD has been burning a hole in my brain for 13 years. Although I first heard the studio version. Yes, there is such a thing. And it’s worse.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Jesus what the fu

    • Michael W Busch

      Far from all new atheists are Islamophobic, and the definition of Islamophobia is often misunderstood. Someone vocally disagreeing with the teachings of Islam is not sufficient to call them islamophobic. If you wish an example of a new atheist who roundly and eloquently opposes islamophobia, you may look up Avicenna at A Million Gods (e.g. ).

      Note: the above does nothing to justify the many incredibly wrong ideas that Harris has advocated.

      Edit: Also, stop the ableist language. Williams is simply wrong.

      • WallofSleep

        “Note: the above does nothing to justify the many incredibly wrong ideas that Harris has advocated.”

        Indeed, yet for some reason that seems to get lost in the fray. I don’t follow Harris very much, but I have read a couple of things that leave me shaking my head and thinking “Dude?!? Helping or hurting? Helping or hurting?”

        But that doesn’t completely invalidate the things he does get right, and the incessant cries of “Islamaphobia!! Hate site!!!11ty” any time he is even casually quoted or mentioned have become a mountain of tedious hyperbole.

        • Michael W Busch

          Many of Harris’ ideas are hurtful, and some of his actions are quite actively dangerous. But it certainly is confusing to see people pretend that he somehow represents all atheists, all new atheists, or anyone other than himself (and on occasion Project Reason).

      • WallofSleep

        That’s the second time you’ve used the term ableist in response to someone else using the term idiot. I highly doubt either usage was meant in the almost archaic “profound mental retardation” sense. I doubt most folks who use that word even know the etymology, nor have any intention of being ableist by doing so . Hell, I didn’t. I had to look up both ableist and idiot just to understand what you were getting at.

        However, I am more than willing to be proven wrong.

        • Michael W Busch

          One of the problems with ableist language (as with sexist language) is that often people don’t intend to be bigoted when they use bigoted words. But intent isn’t magic, and linking being wrong with being mental disabled is a mistake – even if the original meanings of the words concerned are almost archaic.

          Also, the problems of bigoted speech aside, it is a mistake to say “you are wrong, therefore you must be lacking in intelligence”. Many people of normal or extraordinary intelligence are profoundly wrong about many things.

          • WallofSleep

            “Many people of normal or extraordinary intelligence are profoundly wrong about many things.”

            You are right about that. But I doubt most people are using the term idiot in that context. Like I said, I had to look that shit up just to understand the context of where you were coming from.

            You’re the first person I’ve noticed to use those terms in that context (spoiler alert: I don’t often run in intellectual, linguistic circles), and I’ve always thought of the term as synonymous with “stupid” or “ignorant”, but never as meaning “profoundly mentally retarded”.

            As I am sure you know, the meaning of words change over time, such is the fate of our horribly malleable language. I can’t recall the last time I heard someone use the word “terrific” to describe something truly terrifying, or the word “fantastic” to describe something so unbelievable that it must be born of fantasy. Ah, wait. Yes I can. Never.

            Short story long (sorry for the rambling), I think you’re splitting hairs far to finely where the word “idiot” is concerned, but that’s your prerogative.

            It is unlikely that I’ll ever stop using that word in the context I’ve become accustomed to, and if that compels you to call me ableist, that’s really more your problem than mine.

            Still, I’ve enjoyed your input on this matter and many others here, and at the very least you have compelled me to learn something new (to me). For that I thank you.

    • Houndentenor

      I’m so sick of being attacked from both sides about this. The far right idiots attack me for not being as Islamophobic as they are and far left morons attack me for criticizing heinous acts that are standard practice in Muslim communities. I guess I should be proud that a confederacy of dunces is on the attack, but it’s frustrating sometimes.

      • Michael W Busch

        Do not use ableist slurs. Both islamophobes and those who let the evils enabled by Islam go unchallenged are simply horrifically wrong.

      • WallofSleep

        Well, if you’re getting lots of flak, that just means you’re over the target. Sure, it’s maddening, frustrating, and annoying, but being in the right and doing something about it often is.

  • Frank Key

    Well, you do raise some points that atheists are not in complete agreement with.
    We do not all agree:
    1. … that atheism should be promoted as a competing philosophical system
    2. …On the contents of the most notable atheist books and other literature
    3. …On gaining an equal seat at the podium
    4. …On playing by their rules
    5. …On the methods used to get public institutions to adhere to CvS separation laws
    6. …on the necessity of a strong counter-propaganda movement.
    7. …that all of William’s comments miss the mark. Many atheists do sound whiny.

    When I first came out as atheist, I told others that I did not seek to become an atheist but in my earnest quest to prove my Christian faith true, atheism found me. I really do not want us to become the gnats swarming in people’s faces whenever CvS issue arises. I think we need to become more refined with our public opposition and target the opportunities with methods that will not appear to be whiny or gnatish. Williams may have correctly smelled the smoke; now we must deal with the fire.

    • WallofSleep

      There are many valid, peaceful methods to achieve a goal, and trying to beat them at their own game is one of them. If you don’t like it, find your way of getting things done and go do it.

      And I could not possibly disagree with you more in your characterization that this is whiny or gnatish.

    • alanbrendan

      “I did not seek to become an atheist but in my earnest quest to prove my Christian faith true, atheism found me.”

      Mind if I use your quote? Very well said.

      • Frank Key

        No problem but please use in context. My experience of becoming an atheist paralleled that of CS Lewis’ becoming a Christian as he wrote in Surprised By Joy. (The tone of the phrasing I used was inspired by this): ““I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion. “Emotional” is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events. It was more like when a man, after a long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.”

  • A3Kr0n

    Being an atheist I’m insulted that she considers me ‘Just as Obnoxious as Christians’. I try very hard to be much more obnoxious than Christians. But now I’m watching a video called “Imagine No Religion 3: Peter Boghossian” where Boghossian says I shouldn’t be rude. Dammit!” It’s a very good video BTW.

    • WallofSleep

      I know, right? When she states:

      “Just because you’re in the right doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it…”

      she’s pretty much invalidating my entire way of life.

      • Houndentenor

        People have said this about every group that ever stood up for their rights. They said it about African Americans, they said it (and still do) about gays and they say the same thing now about atheists and other nonbelievers.

        • kaydenpat

          It’s a way of telling people to shut up.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Yeah, I don’t even know what the fuck I’m going to do now that I’ve been put in my place about my obnoxious habit of being offended by lies, bigotry, and the enablers of such.

  • ortcutt

    You would think equal treatment and viewpoint non-discrimination would be obvious concepts to anyone, but I guess not.

    • WallofSleep

      For many, equal treatment under the law means that they get their way, and the rest of us need to just shut the fuck up about it.

      • Kaze

        What’s wrong with getting your way if it doesn’t hurt others in the process?

        • Feminerd

          What’s wrong with getting your way when it does hurt others? That is the relevant question.

          • Kaze

            Well, yes, but I guess the thing we should ask is “Does what we want hurt others?”

            • Feminerd

              That is true. That one’s a very hard question to answer; it requires imagination, empathy, and deciding if the quantity of harm outweighs the benefits we will receive. For example, using air conditioning is harmful to the planet, so technically I’m harming everyone. The harm is so small, and the benefit to me so large (I live in Texas, where people die of heatstroke on a regular basis), that I do it anyways.

              In this specific instance, Christian privilege does harm others quite a lot. Alienation from and unfair treatment by government officials are real harms. People fighting against bigotry are not on the same level as people fighting for bigotry, and to say “a pox on both their houses” without examining their truth-claims or reasons for making waves is irresponsible and unfair to the people who are correct.

  • LesterBallard

    Fuck her. (Is that obnoxious enough?)

    • WallofSleep

      “Fuck her.”

      You first.

      • LesterBallard

        So . . . never mind.

  • nwwh

    I felt embarrassed for her after reading it.

  • DougI

    So her point is that if we do nothing then the problem will go away? Or is it that those who fight for civil rights and equality are obnoxious and annoying. No doubt she would have been one of those women denouncing the Suffragists as annoying.

    • Houndentenor

      Yes, 100 years ago the same arguments were used against the Suffragists. 50 years ago against Dr King. And 30 years ago against Harvey Milk. I’m particularly “fond” of the term “militant” since that is the adjective for “annoying person not willing to to ride in the back of the bus any longer.”

  • Robert E. De Leon

    Robert E. De Leon Can
    someone please explain to me why some people are still unable to see
    the reason why the Orange County Public School System had to be sued and
    why the distribution of Atheist literature had to be done? I don’t
    think David Williamson
    , could have been more clear! It’s not something that the Freedom From
    Religion Foundation or Central Florida Freethought Community wanted to
    do ! There was NO choice but to proceed with litigation in the name of
    all religions and those that do not believe in religion. Mary Elizabeth
    Williams wrote in her article that she agrees that religion has to no
    place in public schools. She has two children of her own that she does
    not want to be influenced by outside groups and voices her own concerns
    on why she feels that way but does not offer up and alternative solution
    to fix the problem. Do you know why that is? It’s because there is no
    other way than to fight fire with fire. Litigation is always the last
    option to come to a resolution, so if you can’t offer up another
    solution, then please don’t criticize the amazing work and sacrifice
    that is being done by the CFFC, FFRF and all other secular groups that
    are busting their butts off to make sure that our First Amendment
    Constitutional Rights are upheld.

  • Michael W Busch

    Cut out the misogynistic slurs.

    • WallofSleep

      The b**** thing I was willing to ignore, but the “no right to exist” is too goddamned much. She ain’t fucking Hitler for fuck’s sake, just a “journalist” with a shitty opinion. Tone it down, dude. Fuck.

    • Michael W Busch

      No. She has just as much right to exist as any other person does.

      Nor is she “trash”. She is simply a person who believes something that is wrong.

    • Hat Stealer

      She at most called you obnoxious. That is hardly ‘saying evil about you.’

  • WingedBeast

    I think it’s a true statement as far as it goes.
    The thing is Christians don’t *have* to be all that obnoxious in order to invisible all who do not share their faith. They can just very politely and very nicely refer to an “everybody” that just doesn’t happen to include anybody but Christians. That’s one of the measures of privilige, how easily one can casually forget that other people exist.
    So, to achieve the same level of treatment in common discourse (not even factoring in fundamentalists and others who seek to blatantly shove their religion into faces), yes, we have to be more obnoxious. Being more obnoxious is how we achieve a visceral feeling of what it is like to be us for a given context.
    Are we as obnoxious as fundamentalist Christians demanding that the nativity scenes be on public grounds? No. We have to be *more* obnoxious, because we can’t politely and nicely refer to an “everybody” that just refers to us. We have to obnoxiously and purposefully refer to a majority that, repeatedly and even in the face of the obnoxiousness we’ve already put out there, forgets that we freaking exist.

    • Regina Carol Moore

      Well said, Sir!

  • medussa

    I can’t believe this is even an issue…

  • David Williamson

    Thanks Hemant. I replied to her directly. You can see that at our public Facebook page (cflfreethought). Here was here reply: “Thanks for the email and your perspective on the situation.”

  • Houndentenor

    Am I really as obnoxious as a Christian? Let’s compare. I don’t go knocking on the doors of strangers to tell them about atheism and convince them to give up their beliefs. Many Christians do. I don’t clutter my workspace with quotes from Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dillahunty. Many Christians clutter their desks with Bible verses. I don’t feel the need to push my lack of belief into private conversation. I only mention my lack of belief or question other’s beliefs when someone else has already opened that door (note that I’m posting this on an atheist blog, not a theistic one. I never post about atheism on theists’ blogs). But somehow the very idea that I don’t believe creates some sort of equivalence between what I do and what the typical Christian does? Bullshit.

    • eli

      In Puerto Rico they made it illegal to deny access to the Jehovah’s witness wishing to enter gated communities. People are forced to give these religious groups access keys to the gates.

      • Kodie

        That is really fucked up.

      • Houndentenor

        In my apt building in nyc they would press buzzers until someone let them in. Several people in my building worked nights so it was really obnoxious for them to be waking people up like that. They were told this and kept doing it anyway. One of my favorite memories from that time in the city was my building’s super chasing them out of the building and down the street waving a broom at them.

  • Richard V Simeone

    Great article!

  • BlaqueKatt

    what gets me is atheists usually do “ask nicely”, numerous times. We don’t like having to spend money on court battles that could go for better uses, we don’t run to court unless it’s necessary, it’s a LAST RESORT, not the first resort. Are we supposed to call a major press conference every time we do? Though the media comes out in droves once the asking nicely has failed miserably, and the lawsuits are threatened or filed. Then it’s “oh look they’re suing/threatening to sue, but we’re not going to represent the facts, or present any backstory, because then it would be a non-issue and we wouldn’t get the ratings from the outrage we just manufactured.”

  • Jeanette Norman

    That type of reaction just shows how urgently such efforts toward equality are needed. People are so accustomed to Christian privilege that they are outraged when anyone else expects the equal treatment that they are entitled to under the law.

  • Rob Curry

    I see no constructive suggestions in this poorly written Salon article. It looks like a self-indulgent exercise by an author setting herself up to look down her nose at everyone else.

    Worse yet, it is intellectually dishonest to make a false equivalence between aggressive evangelicals and a local secular community responding in the only truly effective way available.

    Mary Elizabeth Williams may pour out her scorn by calling the people standing up to evangelical aggression petty names like “jerk” and “loudmouth” and “douche,” but what does that accomplish? Perhaps it makes her feel like she stands above it all, but this is really only mudslinging. How does that help anyone?

    Every struggle for equality and justice seems to bring out the self-righteous naysayers who sneer at those working to make a difference. How dare they take action! How crude of them not to be passive doormats! We shall call them names and declare ourselves morally superior as we sit here and do nothing.

    Maybe the people she degrades as jerks know something she does not. She alleges that they are only whiners, but is this true? They’re taking action to fix the problem. She merely complains while offering absolutely nothing as an alternative to the activism she heckles and condemns from afar. If that’s not whining, what is? What a hypocrite!

  • Barry Kort

    I trust in the Divine Process of Becoming Aware, but I also appreciate the Divine Process of Becoming Aware take a Devil of a Long Time to make any grudging progress.

  • MichelNakouzi

    Friendly and atheist does not go together, since they consider themselves mere beings and human is limited in their understandings to just being nice or maybe an archeological definition. but being human is our natural kind of life that specifies our being in this dimension that no other being can be called human but we
    Stay Blessed People

    • baal

      ESL? I can’t make heads nor tails of it.

    • Rich Wilson

      being Drosophila is their natural kind of life that specifies their being in this dimension that no other being can be called Drosophila but they.

      • MichelNakouzi

        True, and it is another insect that have no sense of high values that unique our being human

        • Rich Wilson

          No, they have their own high values. And in species more closely related to us, those same high values overlap more with our own.

          (I could go on for days giving you examples, but this is the most recent one I saw)

          • MichelNakouzi

            related to us in being and bound by instinct. Still our human is what specify our existence in truth and not only of reality

            • Rich Wilson

              If you’re not in the US, you probably won’t be able to see this but I hope my description will suffice:

              From what I wrote on this blog on an earlier thread

              A lot of this is old stuff that’s been on Nova before. But there was one really startling one (for me), at 41m. They describe an experiment where they teach chimps and human children how to open a puzzle box, but they add in some unnecessary ‘ritual’ steps (tapping and such). Both learn the task. Later, they replace the opaque sides with clear ones, so you can see what’s going on, and that the tapping is unnecessary.

              The chimps stop the tapping right away, while the human children maintain the ritual. They speculate that it’s part of our ability to learn. We expect the adults to teach us, and teach us correctly. But the cost is (now my speculation) that we maintain the baggage of things that aren’t correct.

              So another important distinction between us and other great apes seems to be their ability to discard useless ritual. Which is perhaps why we’ve never observed chimps and bonobos building shrines and praying to gods that don’t exist.

              (Edit: fixed typo, “unnecessary ritual steps”)

              • MichelNakouzi

                science confirms that evolution occurred with no overlapping between species, and what you are referring to as related is just a categorization that varies according to field of study, like one of the categorizations that includes us with animals is just to identify botanic. However we are related to all beings in this nature, one way or another. this is called the world of reality which is OF nature. But the TRUTH is what exists IN nature. And there is a truth in the wake of every reality. I do not believe in science just as you may not believe in the Bible. and these are not my words, most scientists says that science isn’t a fixed knowledge. So what you explained about this video and I understand well, may change tomorrow to a better concept. It is just the latest that science comprehends so far and liable for a change at any time. To me thought is of a more unchangeable truth in knowledge. That is why when science gets to a truth in thought it becomes a fixed knowledge of a reality. Just like gravity exists, but what is gravity we still do not know exactly in science, it is still a guessing, though we are better in knowing what gravitation is.
                And so our high values, we know how they work in neurons and surrounding. but those are just their verbs or the apparent of the whatisity of nouns. which we can say it all in one word, human.

                • Feminerd

                  Science works. You are typing on a computer that translates electron movement into a series of 0s and 1s that translates into machine language that translates into symbols on a screen that you can read. Science made that.

                  You probably have, at some point, taken antibiotics. Science did that. You may have had surgery. Science did that. You probably live in a house with central heating or cooling; science not only made that possible, it made the whole house (most likely made of treated wood, particle board, and sheetrock) possible.

                  No, we don’t know everything. A lot of what we think we might know is in flux. There are some things though that are so sure, so uncontradicted by any other evidence, that we call them fact. The theories of evolution, disease caused by germs, and elemental atoms are among those. Would you not take antibiotics, arguing that we don’t know exactly how some bacteria make us sick so the whole theory is just a theory? Or would you take the drugs that kill said bacteria?

                • Rich Wilson

                  science confirms that evolution occurred with no overlapping between species, and what you are referring to as related is just a categorization

                  Science confirms we share common ancestry. We overlap in the exact same was as you ‘overlap’ with any of your siblings, or cousins. Just less so with further distant cousins such as chimps and even less so with much further distant cousins like sea slugs.

                  I’m afraid your English language skills are losing me with the rest of it. Science is a way of discovering the truth with increasing levels of certainty. Religion is a way of making up answers that make us feel good.

                • MichelNakouzi

                  (Science confirms we share common ancestry)
                  Who is exactly the ‘we’?
                  (I’m afraid your English language…)
                  Yeah, I know what you mean, I always encounter that first impression, but it is actually the contrary to public belief language, please read it again the way I want to express it.
                  (Science is… Religion is…)
                  that might be your opinion which might be anything of your liking, but being wise is not always to our comfort.
                  Science is for nature, Wisdom is for life.
                  science is knowledge, but knowledge is not only science, it is science, art and thought.
                  to say it from its endings, God does not exist of this dimension or nature or reality, because He is not “”OF”” it, But His presence surely does exist, as truth exists “”IN”” reality. So if we try to prove God’s existence by dimensional facts, it is like science defining ‘TIME’ as the NOW. or our brain’s understanding ‘TIME” as a past, present and future, which is not of TIME originality, or the ‘whatisit’ from the TIME perspective. it is just a strategic approach in understanding TIME. which is a singularity non-dimensional unit, though apparent (as we try to define it) in how it works or what it does. And we still do not know why TIME seems not to exist at nano level, refuting all our definitions and understandings of TIME, which exists but only apparent beyond nano level.

                • Feminerd

                  If god(s) existed, we’d be able to see evidence of its presence. Since we don’t , that’s pretty good evidence that it doesn’t exist. If gods exist “IN” reality, show me the god parts. Point them out. If gods exist in our reality at all in any meaningful way, they interact with the world, which means they leave evidence of that interaction. No evidence means no interventionary gods at all.

                  You’re right, we don’t really understand time very well. That just means we don’t know. That doesn’t mean God-did-it. It means we don’t know. Because we don’t know, I’m going to need some serious scientific citations for the argument that time doesn’t exist on the atomic or subatomic scale.

                • MichelNakouzi

                  (If god(s) existed, we’d be able to see evidence of its presence.)
                  (Since we don’t , that’s pretty good evidence that it doesn’t exist).

                  Wrong. that is limiting sight to looking with no vision
                  (…Point them out)

                  Easy do. but I’m afraid that your statement still requests materialistic evidence, while I’m trying to say that first we have to REALIZE the evidence. only then the materialistic evidence can be understood as a confirm.
                  (they interact with the world)
                  Yes, interact but do not interfere with our own will or decisions, because we are free-born. And that is another legacy which can not be found in our molecular genes, though can be refined but not learned by experience, I mean no one can teach you free-born or how to be human. it can be apparent in how it works in neurons or dimensional surrounding. it exists “”IN”” nature but not “”OF”” nature. It is the sort of realizing evidence first then materialistic proof. Do we agree on that? then we can move on to talk in God.

                • Feminerd

                  No, we do not agree on that. All evidence is material. Every last bit of scientific progress we’ve made has been based on things that are testable either through observation or experimentation. Our neurons are part of a natural world, and while we don’t know how they work in aggregate, we’re trying to figure it out.

                  I got taught how to be human. I learned how to speak, my morals and ethics, and acceptable social interaction through observation of and interaction with parents and peers. Children who are denied these things (interaction with others) never do quite develop as “human”; there’s been enough horrific cases of abuse and neglect for us to be able to state that. We absolutely must be taught to be human, and that teaching breaks down under extreme stress (starvation, torture, etc).

                  What sort of “realizing evidence” do you mean? That we have neurons that are reasonably simple in the singular, but do something amazing when cross-networked together like in our brains? That’s nature, not gods.

                • MichelNakouzi

                  (((What sort of “realizing evidence” do you mean?)))

                  The sort of you do not ((( taught how to be human)))
                  And the sort you do not restrict its define to a science field which only fulfills the needs of its study and is not accepted as a definition in another field of scientific study. Human define in anthropology is not as its define in sociology or philosophy or history or medicinal… each has its own defines that serves its own field of study. Meaning to say that our human in being is not short to science, or limited to being.. that the most we can understand of it is as being decently nice.. it is our image of GOD that specifies us in nature.. it is our breath of life that unique us in all beings. Whether we like it or not, it is not a choice.. Believe or not, it will not add or deduct a thing but to our self.

                  So you do not get taught how to be human.. though I may agree with you that it can be enhanced by outer experience.. and it is apparent in how it works (neurons and all) or what it does (surrounding and all).. but no one can teach you LOVE or FREE-BORN. Science works on it as apparent verbs.. but its nouns are a legacy that can never be found in our biophysical genes.. they exist in nature but are not of dimensional nature.
                  We are human-beings only by being human

                • Rich Wilson

                  Who is exactly the ‘we’?

                  Our DNA shows all signs that we share common ancestry with all other life. And it’s not just the parts that are in common, but the few parts that are not in common. And it’s not just the parts for which we know the function, but the parts for which we know the function but the function has mutated to ‘off’ in one or both species.

                  If what we understand from comparative molecular genetics isn’t true, then we are designed by a god with a warped sense of humor.

                  I have not (I don’t think) said God doesn’t exist. I’ve only said that my godless understanding of the world works, without God. Whether or not there is something outside of known reality does’t matter. It’s like speculating that I might live in a computer simulation. I might, but it works to live my life as if I don’t.

                • MichelNakouzi

                  My argument is not in the manner of negating what you are saying, on the contrary
                  I quite agree with half the truth, but trying to make you realize that what you are saying is short in defining our kind of life
                  We are not limited to our bio-physical being and bound to our sensuous nature or restricted to our dimensional existence. This is our reality, but it is our truth which
                  unique us in this universe. The truth of being human

                  This human existence in nature and is not of nature, is broader in meaning than just being nice, or speaking adequate, or being limited to the understandings of an
                  archeology field of study. It is the born-with(s) that can be refined through experience, it is the high values that are not learned but they are our own kind of life, the us not only in reality but also in truth.
                  Yes people learn the ABC, but People are honest
                  they do not learn how to be honest, people learn how to lie. And the biggest lie is to ourself trying our best to convince our believing that we are nothing but mere- beings, This is what you call the illusion of a life, “And that who looks outside dreams but
                  who looks inside awakens” –quote of wisdom

                  For us, is not like for all beings, except in what concerns our bio-physical being,
                  which we share with all beings one way or another. 97% of our being are an instinct we share with the animal kingdom, 99% of our being is an action and a
                  re-action process we share with any being in this dimension. This is our reality

                  But for us, not realizing that we are unique in being human, is not to cope with our kind of life, and overlooking our truth, conceited with the importance of our
                  knowledge, but what is of more importance is the how we use what we know. The know-how using our knowledge to our benefit as humankind and our survival as human-beings, in the broader meanings than what is only apparent to our physical sense by realizing our non-dimensional existence which is actually our cause and purpose of all what we do apparently, that even the act of eating
                  does not stop at being physical but extends to the satisfying of our inner self.

                  The sort of realizing
                  Human as our truth in nature
                  Being is our reality of nature

                  We are not only humans in the image
                  And we are not just mere beings in existence

                  So this (Imight, but it works to live my life as if I don’t.)
                  Can be an own choice
                  But it can also be
                  changed to rhyming our life with what we are in truth and reality

                • Rich Wilson

                  We are not limited to our bio-physical being and bound to our sensuous nature or restricted to our dimensional existence.

                  A lot of people (e.g. Deepak Chopra) say this or very similar. And they say it with great authority and certainty. Perhaps you all have some sense I don’t have, like describing ‘red’ to a blind person. It seems obvious to you, like 2+2=4. But when I ask “how do you know” I never get a path to knowledge that I can reproduce.

                  There’s a purple dragon behind you that disappears as soon as you turn around. Trust me, it’s there.

                • MichelNakouzi

                  We call it the Lion of Judah

                  Trying to prove that you exist to your own very mind is just absurd
                  It simply knows
                  And sometimes it takes time for your mind to accept what your heart already knows
                  Do not hold back knowing yourself in God
                  It is always a good start

  • Alice75

    She directly contradicts the last line of a previous article of hers. Hypocrite,

  • Carolyn Parsons

    Wow, rejecting an essay by Robert Ingersoll? He is an historical figure who was like a rock star of his day on the lecture circuit. It shows the ignorance of the school district on issues of history and education.

  • Mike Fay

    Today I was at St Vincent’s Hospital and one Receptionist offered me “The New Testament>”..I replied..”I already have my Fiction book here”…some Detective Novel….She was not happy….who cares?..Doctors walking around healing through Science and they want to give out Babbles?

  • Robyn Su Miller

    Salon is a sexist woman-hating publication and the only women allowed to write for it are those who have been indoctrinated to think saying “douche” is hip instead of vile and sexist. So this Mary Elizabeth Williams not only doesn’t get it, she’s a tool. Thanks for this article. For the record, we should go back to our ORIGINAL pledge, which simply said, “one nation, indivisible…” the “under god” was patched in during the McCarthy era, iirc. Ditto “In god we trust.” We had a national motto that better suits the United States. It was e pluribus unum….out of many, one.

  • Mick

    For years I’ve been of the opinion that a nation with “In god we trust” on their currency can’t be trusted.

  • Doy Bowers

    OUTSTANDING ARTICLE. And so factual. I’m just waiting for the “Satanic Church of America” to demand equal time and to pass out their literature. That should be very entertaining. (Where’s My Popcorn?)

  • Guest

    It’s funny that they say this (No, Salon, Atheists Are Not ‘Just as Obnoxious as Christians’)…I think the exact same way, except it’s not the regular Atheist or agnostics that just want to coexist with Christians, it the extremists that try to censor my private business, call me unprofessional, and then on a hidden page that I can actually see through a false profile call me a F**khead…and I’m the unprofessional one? Continue to hide behind your little Facebook page…COWARD! In my world it’s not about Christianity, its about freedom of speech, and you can talk all you want to about your beliefs as long as you’re not degrading mine. You’re a poor excuse for a woman, and it’s really sad that more of “your people” are behind me than they are you…Isn’t that sad…You call yourself a leader…You’re a joke, and it won’t be long before I out that FACT. You can be an Atheist-Agnostic-Buddha-Islam-Christain and still get along.

  • Master Knight

    It’s funny that they say this (No, Salon, Atheists Are Not ‘Just as
    Obnoxious as Christians’)…I think the exact same way, except it’s not
    the regular Atheist or agnostics that just want to coexist with
    Christians, it the extremists that try to censor my private business,
    call me unprofessional, and then on a hidden page that I can actually
    see through a false profile call me a F**khead…and I’m the
    unprofessional one? Continue to hide behind your little Facebook
    page…COWARD! In my world it’s not about Christianity, its about
    freedom of speech, and you can talk all you want to about your beliefs
    as long as you’re not degrading mine. You’re a poor excuse for a woman,
    and it’s really sad that more of “your people” are behind me than they
    are you…Isn’t that sad…You call yourself a leader…You’re a joke,
    and it won’t be long before I out that FACT. You can be an
    Atheist-Agnostic-Buddha-Islam-Christain and still get along.

  • Bethany Opara

    Were the Christians only distributing Bibles? Because if so, I don’t see why the atheists need eight books and more. I think that’s overkill.

    Anyway, and don’t anyone yell at me, but do atheists have an emotional investment in their literature? I’m a Christian, and banned Bibles would bother me because they’re like a letter from a dear friend. The Bible gives me hope and purpose, and I know more than one person who has stopped being suicidal (and thus had their life literally saved) by my faith. The emotional investment I have is part of why I think it would be wrong for anyone us to tell we can’t talk about it or share our beliefs in public. Not only that, but our belief system tells us to go out and share the gospel. Now I have read multiple articles about it and looked for a reason, so please don’t ridicule me, but can anyone give a reason for an atheist to share their non-faith? Because most of the time it seems to be a spiteful attack on religion (with Christianity as the main target).

    • Rich Wilson

      Different people will have their own ‘emotional investment’.

      Part of mine would be someone else restricting my speech while allowing someone else’s. There’s a simple matter of equality at stake. Keep in mind that distributing material was Plan B. What the atheist groups really hoped for was that the school (which is for everyone, Christian, Muslim, atheist, Buddhist…) would not be a place for distributing religiously orientated material of any kind.

      Your right to ‘go out and share the gospel’ is not an excuse for me not being able to share whatever philosophy or idea I want in a like fashion.

      • Bethany Opara

        I can’t ‘excuse’ you from being able to share whatever message you would like to. We should all have the same right to share ideas. I just haven’t been able to figure out the purpose of sharing the ‘message’ that God doesn’t exist. You’re trying to prove an absence.

        There is no reason why a school shouldn’t be a place to share ideas, religious or otherwise. Belief does affect how a person thinks about certain ideas. A freethinker should want to see ideas floating around and discussed, instead of trying to silence certain ones that make them uncomfortable.

        Anyway, Separation of Church and State wasn’t originally meant to keep religion out of the public sphere. It was meant to limit the government’s ability to dictate what the American people believe and to keep the government from siding with a specific religious organization. It could be argued, though I think it would be wrong to argue this, that it can’t even apply to atheism as a form of protection because it would be a real stretch to call atheism a religion. Rather, I’m do believe the Freethought Community should be able to spread whatever ideas they like but I don’t see the point of spreading an idea unless it’s one you find worthy of consideration. If they’re spreading atheism to squash a religious idea, that’s spiteful and while I don’t think it should be illegal, I don’t have to like it.

        • Rich Wilson

          (not sure why you’re quoting my noun and using it as a verb)

          We should all have the same right to share ideas. I just haven’t been able to figure out the purpose of sharing the ‘message’ that God doesn’t exist. You’re trying to prove an absence.

          Atheist publications are largely in response to religious doctrines being cited as a reason to tell people what they can or cannot do. Not all, but that’s most of it. If nobody used religion as a justification for controlling my life, I’d have very little to talk about religion wise.

          There is also the related philosophy of Humanism, which some of those publications are about.

          It was meant to limit the government’s ability to dictate what the American people believe and to keep the government from siding with a specific religious organization.

          Yes? And? A government institution handing out books from a particular religion is what?

          We’re not trying to remove religion from the ‘public sphere’. None of us (ok, you’ll find a few people who are very angry at religion for good reason) Most of us don’t care about the multitude of churches in our neighborhoods, or the assumption that we thank God that we made it to our destination without crashing or all the people we know and work with and are related to wearing crosses and praying over meals etc etc etc.

          We’re not trying to take away your faith. We’re trying to get you to stop pushing it on us.

          I hate to speculate about someone else, since you know you better than I do of course. But it strikes me that you’re so used to things being a specific way that you’re really mostly disturbed by something being ‘different’. You have a reasonable outlook that we all should have the same freedom to express, or not express, our religion. But there’s just something bothering you about people expressing non-religion.

          Try this exercise. Look for places where billboards or politicians or others in your community express a specific religion message to other people. I don’t mean “I’m saved” I mean Psalm 14. Or “God bless you”- knowing the other person is an atheist. If you’re bothered by what you see as atheists “trying to squash faith”, then do you see all the times that faith tries to squash atheism?

          Thank you.

          • Bethany Opara

            Your phrasing sounded odd to me at the time.

            I get that some people (specifically the homosexual community, though I know there are others) feel attacked by certain religious communities, but this isn’t a Westboro Baptist protest. This is a groups of people following a religious belief in a way that seems pretty innocent.

            I get that a lot of people are sick of hearing the gospel. They already thought about it, the church gave them an awful experience, they just don’t want to think about it. It’s just that we have to keep pressing it in case someone hasn’t heard, someone does need it, or in case we’re right and you’re going to lose out in a massive way if you don’t change your mind. It sucks that people have been so turned off to this, but we really believe we’re inviting you in to an eternal paradise by spreading the message. In believing that, we’d have to be pretty selfish to keep it from you.

            I guess my issue is I don’t see how a nonfaith deserves respect. I get how atheists deserve respect and I hate to see them made uncomfortable by the group I claim to be a part of; I can see avoiding a “God bless you” on that basis. Anyway, I’m not sure what else to say.

            Thanks for talking with me.

            • Rich Wilson

              I don’t see how a nonfaith deserves respect.

              People deserve respect. Not faith (or nonfaith) IMO. Sometimes it’s hard for us to untangle them.

            • Kodie

              I get that a lot of people are sick of hearing the gospel. They already
              thought about it, the church gave them an awful experience, they just
              don’t want to think about it. It’s just that we have to keep pressing it
              in case someone hasn’t heard, someone does need it, or in case we’re
              right and you’re going to lose out in a massive way if you don’t change
              your mind. It sucks that people have been so turned off to this, but we
              really believe we’re inviting you in to an eternal paradise by spreading
              the message. In believing that, we’d have to be pretty selfish to keep
              it from you.

              No, you really don’t. You are not selfless, you are a pawn. It is not the church, it is people like you. It is the false basis of so many bad behaviors and so many pointless exercises, like making sure there are bibles in school, in case those poor kids are getting a heathen education from their parents. It’s trying to control government to keep your faith important – if it was important enough, it could stand on its own without the help of the public schools, and it’s obnoxious for you think otherwise. Believers like you are the obnoxious ones. You don’t mean well, you’re meddlers. You look at yourself, what are you saving, what do you base your beliefs on? Imaginary friends, wishful thinking, confirmation bias – yes, you think you are smarter and more well set for eternity, so selfless that you think the universe was created to save your soul forever. That just doesn’t match reality, and doesn’t need to be talked about in school at the expense of all the other regular education that kids are falling behind in, like math, science, and writing.

              • Bethany Opara

                You’ve left me with the impression that you think I’m wrong just because I don’t agree with you. You’ve insulted me, called beliefs I have spent a lot of time reasoning out for myself imaginary, treated a cause I believe in as a fool’s errand; perhaps you have misrepresented yourself, but you seem inflammatory and close-minded to me. I don’t want to discuss anything with you.

                • Kodie

                  No, you’re wrong because you started with the wrong assumption, and you don’t like to hear that people have a different impression of YOU, not your church, or a church, YOU, than you have for yourself. I am not going to beat around the bush – you are wrong because you start with wrong thinking, and you are offended because you never like to think of yourself as offensive to others. You’re not saving anyone when you evangelize because that’s a fantasy. If you’re offended and you don’t want to discuss anything with me, I don’t care, but you believe in a fantasy. Teach religion in school as a fiction or leave it outside of school. That’s all.

                • Bethany Opara

                  The problem with your (unfounded) attacks, is that I can’t even tell if you’re trolling me or not. I don’t like talking with trolls.

                  Just in case you are sincere however: what gives you the right to judge me off of a couple internet posts? Just like I can’t say for sure that you are an idiot, since you seem to assume I’m saying we should teach the Bible in school (I haven’t said that; I just think we should allow students to hand them out and religion should be discussed when it is relevant). You also assume I’m a Christian because
                  I want to meddle in the affairs of others (I’m an introvert; I really don’t like talking to strangers offline at all). You insist that my belief is a fantasy. You don’t seem open to discussion, but seem very keen to tell me who I am and why my belief is wrong without actually basing anything you’ve said on fact. I don’t want to discuss anything with, not because you’ve pegged me, but because you’ve assumed more than you have any factual basis to assume, and while I’ve sure there’s a three dimensional person on the other side of the screen who has some good qualities, frankly you’re acting like a fool.

                  I’m not even sure if you’ve said anything worthy of discussion, but phasing out your (unwarranted) attacks on my character, let’s see:
                  1) God is imaginary.
                  2) Kids who are falling behind can’t afford to discuss religion because they’re falling behind in other subjects.
                  That’s pretty much it. The rest is based around a viewpoint I don’t claim: we should /teach/ religion in schools (although, they do teach religions in social studies; they have to because of the prominent impact religions have had on shaping mankind). So I’ll respond to those two things, and then I’m going to stop following this discussion. You have really turned me off.

                  1) You have the right to believe however you want to, but there’s many reasons to believe God is not a fantasy. You’ve mentioned confirmation bias? My mom was stung by a bee. She prayed, and the bee sting disappeared. You probably think she imagined it then, right? She thought so too. She asked God later if it really happened, he returned the sting and he took it away again. I know this doesn’t mean anything to you, but that’s my mom and it does mean something to me. Still, search miracle healings or near-death experiences and you will find THOUSANDS of stories you can’t explain away with confirmation bias or even more patronizingly, “wishful thinking.”
                  Science will tell you there’s an area in our heads meant to process spiritual experiences. There’s a reason why atheists are in the minority. I believe we wouldn’t have an area like that if there wasn’t a supernatural world we were meant to process when we come into contact with it.
                  Science will also tell you the odds of the earth spontaneously developing life through evolution. God could make it happen. Guided evolution could work. Real evolution? Some prominent atheists choose to explain it with aliens, because they the odds are just so statistically impossible.
                  Would you like to talk about history? They HAVE to teach at least a summary of world religions because they have had such an impact on the world. I’ve known atheists who point to the Crusades, but look at the scientific progress we made. The Western world started making that progress because CHRISTIANS decided they wanted to understand God’s creation. Go read about it if you don’t believe me.
                  How about philosophy? I would be a suicidal nihilist if not for Christianity. I don’t like living. It’s hard work and there’s no purpose to it if you’re not enjoying it and God’s not real. There is nothing you could offer as an atheist that fills that void. There is no reason to respect my own life, without a higher, religious purpose. Believing in God is a very practical, reasonable, comforting experience for me. Who are you to try to take that away?
                  2) This is hilarious because I come from a family of teachers, and I could tell you a whole lot about the issues our schools are facing. My mom has taught for decades, and was dealing with special education in an inner-city schools last year. You know what kids are lacking? Do you know why kids aren’t learning? It’s not because some students are allowed to discuss religion in schools (they’re really not allowed to, much) or because some students are handing out Bibles. It’s because due to several factors, such as the extreme focus on standardized test scores which means that teachers have to teach to the test instead of creating life-long learners out of the children, lack of parental discipline which is some a moral foundation would help with, the fact kids are physically made to run around instead of sitting in a classroom for hours, the demand for teacher accountability when many teachers are doing all they can and the parents and administration are not doing what they should, etc. Anyway, what I was saying is really only applicable for a high school or college classroom: when religion is pertinent to the discussion, than a student should be allowed to bring it up. That’s it.

    • Ann Onymous

      Perhaps it’s because it’s rare to hear a Christian asked the reason for his/her beliefs, but the second you say you’re an atheist you’re inundated with arguments and proselytization.
      There’s a massive difference between “share our beliefs in public” and “pass out literature to public-school children, in violation of the law, when we’re already the vast majority.”
      There’s a vast difference between “spiteful attack” and “We think you’re wrong. Let us explain.”
      I, personally, think religion is incorrect and harmful, and I am free to share and explain that opinion. Religion deludes people and often leads them to attack and persecute others. And when people think they’re right and many don’t know their position exists, it’s only natural to try and explain it, at the very least to spare us having to explain why our atheism isn’t because we “can’t admit there’s something greater than you.”
      Christianity, being the religion of roughly 80% of the US, doesn’t really need spreading.
      I am sure that gay people who committed suicide due to Christianity exist, and 2 people (minimum) is a horrendous sample size.