Canadian Radio Broadcaster: Why Won’t Atheists Just Shut Up?

Canadian radio broadcaster Michael Enright wrote an essay yesterday in which he blasted atheists for not having a sense of humor and talking about it so damn much:

It’s not that atheists don’t believe in God. That’s fine. It’s not against the law. Atheism is a coherent system of beliefs arrived at, I am sure, after some very serious and sober consideration.

Atheists are not being prosecuted or silenced. They are lovingly tended by media interviewers, me included, and their nuanced arguments are politely acknowledged.

The problem to me is that they won’t shut up about it.

The public, endless public profession of atheism to me reflects a whiny, whinging self-pitying narcissism.

In the last ten years or so, atheism has taken on some of the elements of fundamentalist Christianity.

Maybe he doesn’t get it because he’s Canadian. But on the off-chance he’s put more than a second of thought into this, then his ignorance is staggering here.

Atheists aren’t being prosecuted (or persecuted) or silenced? Tell that to Asif Mohiuddin and the relatives of the assassinated Dr. Narendra Dabholkar Too foreign? Then talk to the young atheists whose administrators put up barriers to them starting groups on their campuses or punish them for not standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance. Or try speaking with all those atheists in Congress. (I’ll wait.) Or realize that several states’ constitutions still ban atheists from holding public office, even if those laws can no longer be enforced.

We’re lovingly tended to by the media? Tell that to Joe Klein of TIME magazine who incorrectly and unfairly maligned atheists with a throwaway line about how we’re never seen doing volunteer work after disasters. Tell that to commentator S.E. Cupp who said she would never consider voting for an atheist (despite being an atheist herself) or pundits who said there are no atheists in foxholes.

There’s a reason we don’t shut up about it. Religion has a stranglehold over the majority of our country as well as our policies. It’s religion that’s used to block women from controlling their own bodies and gays and lesbians from getting married. We can’t count on Christians to do the right thing, though some try, so we speak up, online or (if we can) in person. And you know what? We’re better off because we refuse to be silent.

It’s not narcissistic to say you’re an atheist when everyone around you has no problem wearing their cross necklaces, talking about how they’re praying for good luck or baptizing their children, and there’s a church on every block. Enright is so used to being in the majority that, when people in the minority say they’re different, he’s taken aback and finds something wrong with it.

And this idea that we’re like fundamentalist Christians, that we desire to miseducate children despite the evidence, that we want our country’s laws to reflect our own beliefs, that our lives revolve around a poorly written book, is just plain lazy. If you give us evidence that God exists, we’ll change our minds. If you give a fundamentalist Christian evidence that the Bible is wrong, they don’t care; the Bible says it so it must be true. Enright’s line says less about atheists and more about fundamentalist Christians who are so often used as a basis for comparison for other groups who are supposedly unlikeable and annoying.

If Enright ever loses his job for producing tripe like this, I’m sure he can find work on this side of the border at Fox News Channel or any of the Christian radio stations or TV stations that atheists don’t have, either.

(Thanks to Phyl for the link!)

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.

  • Frazzah

    These kind of people make me think that they actually know that their beliefs cant stand any criticism, so they must insist everyone shut up about it.

  • DougI

    He’s as ignorant as the racists on Fox News telling Blacks to shut up about racism since Obama got elected President. Yeah, Atheists aren’t being thrown in prison for being Atheist, doesn’t mean the oppression has ever stopped.

  • rwlawoffice

    Since when does people no agreeing with you equal persecution? Other than those that are being imprisoned overseas, the examples you cite are simply you not being happy that people don’t agree with you and see the world the way you do.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Ask your Christian friends that. They’re the ones screaming persecution when someone disagrees with them.

    • Pattrsn

      So you wouldn’t object to a law banning Christians from holding public office?

    • Highlander

      So how would you feel if administrators at your kid’s schools wouldn’t let them form a bible study group because none of the teachers want to be advisors for them? Or how about if your kids were forced to say Allahu Akbar before every school day?

      • rwlawoffice

        Again I ask, if a teacher doesn’t want to sponsor an atheist group because that teacher doesn’t agree with that belief, how is that persecution?

        • phantomreader42

          The persecution is that the students aren’t allowed to form a group because teachers don’t agree with them. They’re being denied the right to peacably assemble, when other clubs are granted that right. Are you too dense to comprehend that?

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            To be completely accurate, the struggles they have to face in order to get their legal rights. Whether there’s a willing teacher or not, they are entitled to their club. But schools often do anything in their power to deny them that right.

            For the most part we have the law effectively behind the rights that we are making noise about. We’re making noise because even with the law behind us, we still have to make noise to keep from getting walked on.

            If those students who were told “Sorry, you can’t have a club because there are no teachers who want to help after I told them it would be bad for their careers” shut up rather than contacting FFRF or SCA, then those right might as well not exist.

            C’mon Ron, we don’t have to give you links do we? I’d be happy to buy you a copy of Hemant’s “A Young Atheist’s Guide” if you want.

        • baal

          Atheists should only speak up iff they are being persecuted?

          • Spazticus

            It seems he’d rather we didn’t speak up, even if we were (and are) being persecuted.

        • Highlander

          Lets say the reason there are no teachers willing to be a sponsor is because they fear career repercussions if they get involved with the bible study club. What then? And you didn’t answer my second question. How would you feel if your child was required to chant “Allahu Akbar” before school every day?

        • JohnnieCanuck

          How about if the teacher wouldn’t mind sponsoring the group but knows it will be a big hassle, personally and professionally?

    • SeekerLancer

      State constitutions banning atheists from holding office isn’t persecution?

      • rwlawoffice

        I agree that there should not be any religious test for involvement in government. But as Hemant rightly points out, these provisions are not enforced. They should be removed however.

    • Tainda

      We must be following the Christian example…

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Thanks for demonstrating yet again that you intentionally overlook things on this very site every day that don’t support your prejudices so that your ego isn’t required to consider facts and dwell in reality, but we already knew that. Bigoted narcissist.

    • Thom Watson

      “Other than those that are being imprisoned…,” seriously? Notwithstanding that you just ignore other examples of persecution documented throughout this site, that you so cavalierly dismiss in passing imprisonment and murder of foreign non-believers is chillingly telling. “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

      • Glasofruix

        “It went right through my head”

    • baal

      RW, my holybook tells me that half the population must not speak in public. You, as it turns out, are in that half. Under the views of my religion, you must stop posting here. Surely, you agree with my position since I have a right to hold my religous views and to demand your silence.

  • mchasewalker

    Of course, they want us to shut up, because that’s how they remain blind followers to the dogma and dominating order of their religious ideology, traditions, and socially accepted nescience. They can’t afford for us to question, speak out and denounce them, because once it is okay to do so their gods will join the junk heap of history like the thousands before them.

  • Gu

    I wish these people who don’t understand atheism would shut up about it.

    We’re like fundamentalist Christians? Because we’re fighting for all public schools to teach that there’s no god? What’s that, we’re not? All we’re fighting for is for public schools to teach science that’s generally accepted by all qualified scientists, regardless of belief or lack thereofe?

    Because we’re fighting for the commands written in our holy book to dictate women’s choices and other federal laws? What’s that, we’re not? We don’t even have a holy book? Who knew?

    Fundamentalism means insisting upon a literal interpretation of a holy text as fundamental. Show me where we’re doing that.

    • jenny

      His statement “Atheism is a coherent system of beliefs…” is further evidence that he does not understand what atheism is.

  • Tainda

    I accept atheists! As long as you stay in your closets

  • Jasper

    Why can’t Christians just shut up about their beliefs?

    • 3lemenope

      It’s a part of their beliefs that they cannot shut up about their beliefs.

      • Jasper

        Maybe someone should submit a bug report

        • Spazticus

          It’s not a bug. It’s a “feature”.

      • Deus Otiosus

        The first rule of Christian Club is: you do not shut up about Christian Club
        The second rule of Christian Club is: you do NOT SHUT UP ABOUT CHRISTIAN CLUB!

    • Scarlet

      My thoughts exactly!

    • TheShadow

      They call it “evangelism.” I call it obnoxious.

      • badgerchild

        Yeah, what’s wrong with them. In the last ten years or so, they’ve taken on some of the elements of those strident, Satan-inspired godless fringe types.

        (I kid.)

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Gah, my brain!

    • duke_of_omnium

      Christianity is like syphilis: it only feels good when it’s being spread.

  • Patricia Dawe

    On behalf of all Canada, I apologize for this moron.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      How about you take Justin Bieber back, and we’ll call it even.

      • Rationalist1

        But you keep Celine Dion, right?

      • Thiriel

        Sorry, Beiber is no longer under warranty, which became invalidated when he turned into a giant idiot, but lucky for you, the Celine Dion model still has a valid warrenty, so send her over and we’ll call it even.

        • islandbrewer

          Wait, are you reading the warranty terms under Canadian law, or regular American law? And by “giant idiot,” is that in Canadian giant idiots or American giant idiots?

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Obviously we’re going to have to take this to the International Court of Arbitration.

            Sorry!

            • heretic13

              Be sure to remember that we measure our idiots in the international metric system whereas you use the bastardized British system still: 1 kilogram of Canadian idiot equals 2.2 pounds of American idiot – giant or otherwise.

      • DB45

        I think we more than made up for him with Rush.

        • b s

          And for that, you can be forgiven for just about anything.

      • Dan Summers

        NO NO NO…You keep the Bieb! He is all yours. He is our gift to you!

    • GodlessPoutine

      Perhaps we can send him to the same desert island Rex Murphy should go.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      It’s okay, Patricia. Considering the balance of owed apologies between the US and Canada you guys must be owed millions of mea culpas.

  • Rationalist1

    I used to like Michael Enright. He hosted a great 3 hour program on CBC Radio 1 called Sunday Edition and had some excellent interviews. Something must have happened in his life to bring out such a diatribe. (Note : at one time he called the Catholic Church the greatest criminal organization in the world)

    But no matter what, we won’t shut up and we will uphold our right to live in a secular society.

  • L.Long

    Atheists & Humanists were among the 1st to fight against slavery.
    we were among the 1st to fight for equal rights to women and later for the blacks. We were among the 1st to scream against the japanese american imprisonment. We are among the loudest about gay rights.
    And so many women, blacks (and soon gays) say that Atheist/Humanists are of satan and should be quiet and get back into our closets or else. It makes one sad to think about it.

    • getz

      You have it all wrong. If the straight non-black men get to enjoy the privilege of hating atheism while ignoring what other straight non-black men had to go through in order for the religion to be adopted, then gay black women should be allowed to ignore it as well. It’s just a reminder that they’re basically the same type of people. No slaves without kings among their ancestors, and no kings without slaves among theirs.

      The simple reality is that if people were so good at learning from the past, the examples of discrimination you referenced would never have occurred. The fact that they’re expected to learn from events that happened to their own “kind” is part of why they don’t.

  • Oscuro

    I’m an Atheist too and I tend to agree in general. Some take their Atheism to levels similar to that of fundamentalist Christians/Muslims. Fanatically taking to their own disbelief.

    My most hated group….free thinkers. Man….these guys just love the sound of their own voices.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      I have yet to see an atheist demand a city consul meeting being the an open denial of God, and then throw a shit-fit when they don’t get their way. I have yet to see atheists organize to legally deny the rights of those who disagree with them. I have yet to hear an atheist state that when the president fails to specifically state, “There is no God blessing us,” that it is a sign of the end of the world.

      So yes Atheists in general are like religious fundamentalist.

    • Pattrsn

      Have a nice cliche

    • C.L. Honeycutt
      • Oscuro

        Nice

  • Willa Spatz Cartwright

    Well, why don’t religious people ‘just shut-up’ – instead injecting their beliefs into ever damn little thing?

    • Dan Summers

      In Canada we really don’t have the same religious problems the US has. I don’t recall ever feeling like having to tell(Outside of my family on rare occasion) to keep their religion to themselves.

  • MaritimeStateofMind

    “Maybe he doesn’t get it because he’s Canadian.” Wow, thanks. Just when I was going to get mad at Enright for making sweeping generalizations…

    • jenny

      I could be wrong, but the way I understood what he meant by that was that Canada is not as infused with religious influence in culture and politics as the United States is, and not as intolerant of atheists.

      • MaritimeStateofMind

        Exactly what bothers me. Neither point is entirely true, and both generalize about the position of atheists in Canada, which is what Enright was guilty of to begin with.

        • jenny

          OK, point taken. But it’s worth noting that Hemant’s generalization was not a disparaging one— he was basically “accusing” Canada of being less wacko than the US. :-)

          • MaritimeStateofMind

            Haha, true, but believe it or not that causes problems as well. A lot of the time atheists in Canada talk about the problems in our society, we get reminded that things here aren’t nearly as bad as they are in America (as if this is a reason to stop agitating for change in our own country). It’s probably the most common way believers try to get Canadian atheists to politely shut our mouths.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              To which the proper response is of course something like, “Well, [Christian person complaining], you just argued that you yourself should shut up about everything, including my complaints, since you have it even better than I do.” :P

            • jenny

              True— I suppose that would apply to us here in the US as well. Just because atheism and blasphemy are punishable offenses in countries like Pakistan does not mean that we don’t need to worry about issues of bias, discrimination, and free speech in the US. (And that extends to women’s equality issues as well; e.g. just because women in Saudi Arabia have it much worse, doesn’t mean that sexism isn’t still a problem here.)

            • tracy two crows

              See,I live in the deep South,where being an atheist CAN get you killed.(sure as hell has gotten our houses shot at and cars and homes vandalized,but nope,no see police to help).So when they tell me to just shut up about being an Atheist,I tell them”well,if you Christians had something else better for my mouth to do besides play cannibal at Communion,I might,but I don’t like eating people.”Love how they call us”baby eaters”,and then turn around do THAT.Yeah,I’m a smart arse,it’s a survival strategy.Their response is usually to get completely scalded dog po’d and run away screaming “Heresy!”&clutching pretend pearls.Which,is all I wanted them to do in the first place.Leave me alone. LOL. Works very time.

              • jenny

                Wow!!! :-( That is horrifying! It’s definitely not that bad up North. The most I have to put up with (in Massachusetts) is the occasional person talking about Jesus or arguing with me about the veracity of the Bible. Seems like the Puritans migrated south. (However, you may recall the story about Jessica Ahlquist, who was ostracized and received threats of violence when she successfully petitioned to have a religious plaque removed from her high school in Cranston, RI.)

              • James Kujawa

                Why won’t we atheists just shut up? Because I have only one life (so do you). A pretty beautiful planet, (and Universe) to live in. Scientific advances that are now being called miracles. (Because no one has walked on water lately, and the toast jesus just isn’t getting it anymore). Science is curing cancer, not prayers. Last, but not least, 2/3 of the batshit crazy humans believe the earth is 10,000 years old and want to blow it up because jesus is stronger than allah and buddha etc., etc. and us Intelligent humans are supposed to believe that dinosaurs were in the garden of eden with adam, eve, and a talking snake! While us atheist types (eg. scientists) want to land on Mars, you guys want to attack another nation that doesn’t have toilets or running water,

      • Rationalist1

        Yes and no. Our PM is an evangelical Christian who probably is a YE creationist, several provinces fund Catholic schools, our national anthem has the line “God keep our land, glorious and free” and the preamble to our charter acknowledges the “supremacy of God”. That said, we’re about half as religious as our neighbours to the south, not quite up to Europe, but getting there.

        • islandbrewer

          And Britain is officially a Christian monarchy with an official state religion (CoE), and yet, in many ways, it has become more democratic and more secular than the US. Dammit!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      *sigh* Bad wording on my part. I mean Canadian as opposed to American, not Canadian as opposed to smart.

      • kashicat

        I understood what you meant, anyway. :-)
        –Phyl

      • MaritimeStateofMind

        Haha, I got that, and believe me Canadian as opposed to smart is something we’re better at embodying than outsiders often expect. My beef is more the assumption that anti-atheist bias isn’t something that has to be dealt with here like it has to be in the US. We have government funded religious school systems, a federally mandated Office of Religious Freedom, and a fundamentalist Christian prime minister. The things that are wrong with Canada all too often get brushed aside with “well it’s not as bad as it is in America”, so my beef is with one of my humanist heroes (that’s you!) saying Enright doesn’t understand because he’s Canadian, followed by the implied ‘and they don’t have to deal with theist/atheist division like we do in America’.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    One day on my walk to work, I decided to count bumper stickers. On my ~2 mile walk. I got 38 cars with Jesus fish or religious bumper stickers, 3 of those damn co-exist bumper stickers, 7 pro-Islam stickers (I live near a local private Islamic elementary school), and two Darwin fish. There were no explicitly atheist bumper stickers.

    So I guess that Atheists are so awesome, even our silence is deafening to the likes of Michael Enright.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      You must live in a fairly progressive area if there were two entire Darwin fish tags that had not been vandalized.

      • Gus

        I see about one Darwin fish a month around here. And usually it’s when we have friends over.

      • Dan Summers

        I had a magnet bumper stick on my truck that read “333 half Evil” and no one ever touched it. I have never seen a damaged Darwin fish ever around here. Around here (Edmonton Alberta) I rarely see the Jesus Fish or any religious symbol on vehicle.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Canada, you lucky dog!

  • randomfactor

    No sense of humor? Why, I laugh at religion every day!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Any change from the status quo feels uncomfortable. It makes some atheists uncomfortable to hear atheists speak up. I will say I think that “movements” are getting better and easier. There’s a big difference between told to shut up and keep your disbelief to yourself, and being lynched for it. At least in the US, although we may be the most distrusted polled minority, we’re all frankly pretty damn safe, relatively speaking.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    In what world are we the ones without a sense of humor? I have not met an atheist that wanted to ban something because it was blasphemy. I think I have a great sense of humor and I will laugh at something that is generally funny. Hell, my favorite past time is mocking bad movies.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      You and the Lousy Canuck, mocking bad movies. Together? I see he has a post up, also not shutting up about Michael Enright.

  • icecreamassassin

    There are a multitude of groups out there that have very different ideas regarding what does and does not exist in objective reality. These ideas regarding objective reality have ramifications on how we approach, interact with, and solve problems in, reality.

    I fail to see how shutting up about it is anything but detrimental to progress. I guess I just don’t get it – it’s not like we’re talking about favorite colors or anything. We’re talking about *aspects of objective reality* that are disagreed upon.

    As rare as the stories are…you know *why* there are some kids who have been prayed to death out there? It’s because you jack-holes refuse to *talk about* it. YOU are the ones who allow people to, with all of the *best* intentions, commit horrible atrocities because you don’t have the f**king balls to have a dialog to try to come to some agreement about OBJECTIVE REALITY. You know, the objective reality those parents seem to think allows for pleading to the master of the universe to cure their daughter of diabetes or some such.

    But we’re the a**holes because we think that reality MATTERS.

    • onamission5

      But don’t you know that in all of history there’s been no problem so bad that ignoring it hasn’t made it go away.
      Oh wait…

  • cryofly

    ” They are lovingly tended by media interviewers, me included, and their nuanced arguments are politely acknowledged.”
    Not only Mr. Enright has doubts, he has answers too.

  • onamission5

    If that’s his idea of polite acknowledgement and lovingly tending to us atheists, I’d hate to see what his idea of being a dismissive, condescending jerk to us is.

  • brian schneider

    “Maybe he doesn’t get it because he’s Canadian”
    What?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Sorry — see comment elsewhere. Poorly worded on my part.

      • brian schneider

        No problem Hemant, I’m just being a little snarky.
        The guy does sound like kind of an ass.

  • DB45

    “Maybe he doesn’t get it because he’s Canadian.” What the heck is that suppose to mean? Just because he is Canadian makes him stupid or something? I’m not defending what he said , but that statement was just down right ignorant.

    • Eli

      Americans tend to think of Canadians as less, uh, lets say “extreme” than we are. So I think he was implying that perhaps being Canadian, he doesn’t have as much opportunity to encounter the same level of religious fundamentalism that we do. Probably incorrect, but I do think that’s our general impression of Canada.

    • jenny

      Yes, I’m with Eli here— I made a similar reply to another comment. I think he just meant that maybe the guy doesn’t get it because he’s Canadian, and Canada is not as filled with religious wackos as the US is. Hemant is not the type to insult people based on their place of origin, so there is no way he could have meant that Canadians are stupid! If anything, I think he meant it as a compliment.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Sorry — my fault for the sloppy wording. I meant Canadian as opposed to American, not Canadian as opposed to smart.

  • EdmondWherever

    Hemant, surely you mean that religion has a STRANGLEhold over the majority of our country, and not a STRONGhold?

    • Spazticus

      Perhaps. But it could very well be a STRONGhold… A wall of separation between church and reality.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      That’s what I meant! Fixed in post.

  • Devilbus65

    He’s what is wrong with America,and he isn’t even American.

  • Mark W.

    “Maybe he doesn’t get it because he’s Canadian.”

    FUCK YOU!
    Maybe you should have read the comments where most people (i.e. other Canadians) blasted him, or in your own comments where Canadians are apologizing for this guy, as if there is any reason to apologize for someone else.

    • jenny

      I think that this particular statement by Hemant was poorly worded—even poorly thought out, given the reactions I’m seeing—but I don’t think you’re taking it the way he meant it. I think he just meant that Canada is not as extreme about religion as the US is, and that might explain why Enright doesn’t get what outspoken atheists are in such a huff about. (It was, I think, kind of an offhand joke —at the US’s expense, not at Canada’s— that misfired.)

      • James Stevenson

        Yea I read it that way too… though in fairness its a wording that swings both directions. ‘Because he’s canadian’ can be read equally to be demeaning or enviously. Its only really the wider context of the article that made me settle on the latter rather than the former.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

        Yes, this is what I meant.

  • Sacha

    I cringe every time I hear this gasbag on the CBC. He’s the softest interviewer you will ever hear and a booster for all things woo woo.

  • calesuar

    Awesome points Hemant. thank you.

  • TravellingBeard

    Pity…love the show, and will still listen to him. Now, to find a way to have him read your post.

  • Rain

    A landmark? Professor Grayling, I’d like you to meet Professor Dawkins.

    The dude has no clue. The rest of his article is just as clueless lol.

  • GWBohn

    Enright is a rwnj bonehead who appears on Adler’s show. Ignore the moron.

  • dwb1957

    I listen to him every week here in Toronto, and I was yelling back at the radio this time.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    “Some of the elements of fundamentalist Christianity”? Which?

    He should look into the actual research that Altemeyer and Hunsberger did on Atheists. While not completely non-Zealous and non-Dogmatic, Atheists generally tend far short of the levels of even intermittent Churchgoers, let alone regular attendees or actual fundamentalists.

    Some of the research on the SDO scale developed by Sidanius gives suggestions that might point to there being half a grain of truth, but it’s the RWA scale that Altemeyer developed that lines up most sharply to religious fundamentalism.

  • Al Dente

    I find myself commenting on the same thing over and over. I’ll shut up when Christians quit trying to push their religion on everyone else. When they quit pressuring kids to cite God every morning in a pledge; when they quit trying to put thinly veiled religion in science class as “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design.” When they allow comprehensive sex ed in health classes instead of ineffective “abstinence only” education; when they quit fighting abortion and birth control every chance they get. Believers hold that their morality is objectively true and claim the right and responsibility to force it on everyone else. As long as they claim this holier than thou attitude we have to constantly exert our rights.

  • GodlessPoutine

    No fair, I haven’t had a chance to get over Rex Murphy yet. As a Canadian, I apologize for this.

  • Mario Strada

    Guess what, when soccer players are interviewed, they constantly go on about soccer. Can’t they just shut up?
    And what about Baseball players? Give them half a chance and an all sport channel, and you’ll hear baseball, baseball and more baseball. Can’t they talk about anything else?

    • ShoeUnited

      And Football players won’t shut up about Jesus. Here I thought it was a game about throwing an egg around for 60 minutes.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    And you know what? We’re better off because we refuse to be silent.

    And it’s not just the atheists who are better off.

    Their religious friends and families are better off when they are unburdened of their prejudice and stop throwing away their loving relationships over stupid stereotypes.

    Christians are better off because they’re challenged to actually live up to the best teachings of their prophet instead of being coddled, pious prigs and bigots. Their actual religious freedom is safer because atheists stand in the way of would-be theocrats who would love to establish a narrow and intolerant Federal version of Christianity that most Christians would dislike.

    Society as a whole is better off because atheists protect the integrity of science education. This is the same science that puts life-saving medicine into the veins of everyone including Christians, prevents epidemics, puts food in their bellies, finds the oil they love to burn, puts computers in their homes and cell phones in their hands, keeps bridges and buildings (including churches) from collapsing, gives us all fair warning that continuing to pollute our planet is having lethal consequences, and offers us alternatives to that self-destructive path.

  • Conrad Marshall

    Thanks Mehta!

  • Urbane_Gorilla

    I think Christians aren’t aware of the overwhelming presence of religion in every day life. Just look at the volume of Christian media for example:

    Today, approximately 2,400 Christian radio stations and around 100
    full-power Christian television stations send out the Gospel message via
    Christian music, preaching and teaching programs, and Christian talk
    shows. NRB estimates that between 300 and 400 Christian production
    companies produce programming for radio and TV stations, in addition to
    thousands of churches that broadcast some content, usually Sunday
    morning services.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/from-radio-to-the-internet-christian-broadcasting-at-90-48986/

    BTW.. Consider the marketing possibilities there…

    • JohnnieCanuck

      And then there’s KLYN aka Praise 106.5, a Christian radio broadcaster located in Lynden, Washington, just south of the Canadian border. Does it aim to keep Washingtonians informed of all things Christian? Not really. Its antenna is pointed North, North to the BC Lower Mainland which is more than 10 times its US listening audience. It’s illegal for Canadian radio stations near the border to use omnidirectional antennas so they splash into the States. The reciprocal doesn’t seem to be enforced.

      Bringing the Word of God to the Heathens in the North, including how to raise your children with the proper application of a rod, thanks to Focus on the Family fiend, Dr. James Dobson, Jr.

      Heavy on the marketing of local advertisers, too. Don’t think they get good responses from the Canadians in the audience.

  • mel897

    It’s because it’s very different in most of Canada. Nobody gives a hoot if you are an atheist. It doesn’t matter for politicians either. Nobody is even curious about their affiliation, unless it was something really unusual or extreme.

    • WillThor

      Not exactly true. In rural ridings, and very occasionally in sub/urban ones, a representative’s faith can sometimes be an important matter. That certainly seems to be the case in Manitoba, even if the media still generally stays out of it. We have a considerable conservative Christian population, especially outside of Winnipeg, and they do vote along those lines, and the elected representatives do as well.

      Of course, much of the country’s population lives in one of its major cities, where religion usually (not always) isn’t an issue. That’s almost certainly true in Toronto, where I assume Enright is based, which is probably coloring his perceptions of what’s going on.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Heh, you shouldn’t trust your spell checker to tell you how to spell ‘colour’. It’s a subtle agent for the exportation of American culture.

  • Gus

    Who is it who’s whiny, whinging, and self pitying, anyway? Who has a persecution complex? Where’s he getting this stuff? Does he mean the fact that there are people who expect separation of church and state? That’s whining? In the United States that’s respecting the law and the constitution, and we atheists aren’t alone in that (thank you, Rev. Barry Lynn).

    What else is there? Are there really a lot of atheists claiming to be victims in the media? Does he see a lot of that? Oh sure, we get together on our own blogs in the comment section and bitch a bit. We’ll call out church/state issues when we see them. We’ll advocate to keep religion out of public school classrooms. And yes, we’ll criticize the hell out of religion, especially out of the dominant religion in North America. But is that whining? Are we claiming victim status? Is there a lot of that in the Media? His experience with atheists is that he’s interviewed Dawkins and Hitchens. Did he find them whiny? Persecuted? Certainly Hitchens has never once come across that way that I know of. Neither has Dawkins, to my knowledge.

    No, I don’t think we’ve got the least bit of a martyr complex. In spite of being a very small minority of the population, in spite of polls showing that we’re less likely to get elected or be accepted as marriage material than Jews, Muslims, gay people, and Mormons, in spite of the fact that there is sometimes real discrimination and bullying, there’s really very little whining or claims of persecution. Certainly nothing to the claims of persecution that you’ll hear out of Christians every time the law is enforced and they’re told they can pray on their own time anywhere they please, but they can’t lead a public school class in prayer during class time, or they can’t force other students to be taught their religious beliefs in science class.

    I think he’s got the whole martyr complex bit quite backwards.

  • Trickster Goddess

    This is a whole other level of privilege: a guy with a microphone and a weekly show on a nation-wide radio network telling a minority group to shut up.

    Aside: Does anyone else think that essay sounds like it was ghost written by Rex Murphy?

    • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

      Já, what’s with the “poke the Atheist” mentality coming out of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation lately? Did someone at the Office of Religious Freedom [sic] kidnap Murphy and Enright and replace them with Stepford Essayists?

  • Layla13

    Someone call a wwwwaahahhh-bulance for Michael Enright.

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    “The public, endless public profession of atheism to me reflects a whiny, whinging self-pitying narcissism.”

    And now you know how the rest of us feel about your silly, self-righteous cult.

    “In the last ten years or so, atheism has taken on some of the elements of fundamentalist Christianity.”

    What, you mean extremists? Yeah, you get that in any group once it gets large enough. Let me point that our extremists say mean things on the internet, yours firebomb abortion clinics.

  • Miss_Beara

    I don’t have a sense of humor? I laugh constantly at the fight against marriage equality and reproductive rights! Not to mention countless other things done in the name of some sort of god!

    HAHAHA
    HAHA
    HA

    … ha.

  • Mitch

    You want to talk about no humor? Crack a joke about Enright’s deity of choice (or any serious theist, really) and see who laughs.

    Quick side question: what point is he trying to make by bringing A.C. Grayling into the article? I don’t see any connection beyond “Hey, he and Dawkins both wrote books on atheism.”

  • David Trueman

    Challenge Michael Enright to spend a month wearing an atheist T shirt, or a small badge on his suit collar (in his case) and identify without let or qualification as an atheist to everyone he comes into contact with and is asked or challenged. Let us see if he thinks we whine too much then. And we are atheist all the time.

  • ShoeUnited

    Joe Klein never saw this article.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    funny, I think the same thing about religious people every day. I know they are religious but why do they have to shove it down our throats all the time.

    I’m being sarcastic of course. I recognize the right of theists to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Too bad so many of them don’t recognize the rights of those who don’t believe.

    BTW, the same argument (practically word for word) is used by anti-gay bigots all the time as well. “Yes, you’re gay but why can’t you just hide in the closet like in the old days. Why do you have to flaunt it?”

    It’s a load of crap is what it is.

  • Jacob Russell

    It’s just a tiny opinion piece from a guy who has lambasted organized religion more times than I can count. One little word about boring saps like Dawkins, one little article about how obnoxious some Atheists can be, and done in a conversational tone and very low key. No reason to get in a huff.

    • satanaugustine

      “No reason to get in a huff” is another way of saying “Shut up.” Your entire comment is dismissive, no matter how conversational you may think it. The point – which you so obviously miss – has fuck all to do with Dawkins. He’s complaining about all atheists who complain. His ignorance is amply illustrated by Hemant. It’s worthy of getting “in a huff.”

  • Hell in

    Fuck religion and its donkey it rode on.

  • PL

    I don’t know anything about Michael Enright, but I will bet it is because he is Canadian. We don’t have the religious problems as much as the US does. There are, of course, religious idiots everywhere, but it is not anything here like it is in the southern states of the US. They are a laughing stock. We don’t have religious idiot politicians. If we do they are such a minority that I can’t name one, but I can name Michelle Bachman. We teach Evolution in our schools, and no one blinks an eye. If he is a Christian, then I have no doubt that he is sick of hearing Atheists yap on, as they all are, but a lot of his perspective will be because he is Canadian.

    • Spuddie

      Isn’t Quebec Province still pretty much a satrapy of the Vatican?

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Not necessarily so, not anymore.

        It was called the Quiet Revolution. Probably why you haven’t heard of it. The population is now more secular than the rest of Canada in polls. Not sure what political influence the Church still has.

        The Church used to have complete control over schools but that was changed, with the provincial government taking over. Not sure if they still get religious instruction in school. Used to be 2 to 3% of Québec girls became nuns, most of them as teachers.

  • ExTex

    This hipster-facist fuckstick does not represent Canada in any way. Rest assured.

  • skwerl

    Atheism is not “a system of beliefs.” It’s the solitary belief that gods don’t exist. That’s it.

  • PrimateZero

    That picture of Michael Enright told me that this is a man who just loves the smell of his own farts.

    • Spuddie

      Definitely not. I like the smell of my own farts and I am nothing like him!

  • WillThor

    Maybe I’ll shut up about it when the Christians in my home province stop using their religion as justification to oppose legislation that would force schools to allow the creation of gay-straight alliance clubs. Maybe I’ll shut up when said schools all willingly go along with promoting tolerance without having to be forced to by the government. Maybe I’ll shut up about it when the Christian radio networks stop being a bunch of asshats and playing bigoted programs like Focus On The Family (yes, that shit gets airtime up here). Maybe I’ll shut up when Conservative Christian MPs and MLAs stop trying to push their agendas on their respective legislative bodies. Maybe I’ll shut up when faith healers, mega churches, regular churches, and all the other frauds stop bilking poor, desperate Canadians out of their life savings.

  • C.K.

    I wonder what the real demographic of those of us who “won’t shut up” actually is, and how much statistical evidence there is for it? Are we a vocal minority, or do a comparative handful of folks like Hemant (no offense here) pull all the weight?

    Regardless, I think the issue many Christians take with the popular stereotype of the Atheist is that he is deeply deconstructive, and from their points of view, offers little or nothing of value in terms of compensation for the elements of their belief system that he rejects. What’s more, he appears to them overbearing.

    The crux of this discrepancy, is that modern Athiesm is woven with response to the perceived threat of Christian fundamentalism and (generally, insofar as I am familiar) Christian/Western Monotheistic cultural dominance in the affairs of the public and the state. Atheists want a culture wherein they can be themselves and be considered legitimate, equal, and respectable members of the community despite the open, candied belief so many monotheists enjoy. Due to the fact that this has often been denied to us, we tend to voice what are effectively not just criticisms of religion and theism, but representations of our concern and unwillingness to be disregarded and put into circumstance wherein our values would be further threatened.

    What do you think, and how can we best improve our circumstance as well as that of our fellows?

  • LarryCook

    Excuse me, but he said he has atheists on his show and he calls himself a “media interviewer” who politely acknowledges atheists’ nuanced arguments. But he wants them to shut up? I doubt that would make him look like a very good interviewer. And logically, one of the first things to do when you want someone to shut up is stop asking them questions.

    Atheists should shut up as soon as Patricia Dawe apologizes for Michael Enright on behalf of Canada.

  • Rachael

    Why is it that I have to go to work everyday hearing my co-workers saying “God bless you” and “God is with you” and all that stupid shit? I don’t ever go to work and hear “Hey, God isn’t real you guys.” That’ll be the day…

    Now WHO needs to shut up?

  • ORAXX

    Atheists aren’t about to shut up, just to make your life easier Mr. Enright. Atheists can see the damage religion does, even if you can’t, and we’re done being quiet about it.

  • Dan Summers

    Being Canadian I can understand where he is coming from completely. It appears that atheists are complaining a lot. Their concerns make it into the media and goes against what is already established. But it’s about time it does (especially in the US) since there is rampent discrimination towards atheistic beliefs in the US.

    In Canada we really don’t have any of these kinds of issues that the US has with religion. Our culture is more about embracing differences and multiculturalism, Canada can be described as a Mosaic while the US is more like a Melting Pot.

    Atheists in Canada have it just as good as anyone else. I have never heard of some one religious beliefs being an issue in regards to a employment or in public schools in my area. I’m sure there is a little friction some where, but no where near the level we hear form the United States.

    Atheists in Canada are not silence or prosecuted against that I have seen at all. As an atheist in Canada I don’t have a lot to complain about.

  • dutch

    Feeling sorry for the atheists in north America! Europe has left religion behind, except for the muslim “new comers”. In the sixties ya all should have revolted against the churches as part of the establishment – that is how we freed ourselves.


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