Another Atheist Condemns the Attack of a Christian Pastor

Dusty Smith makes clear in a way only he can that the “militant atheist” who beat up a Christian pastor ought to be condemned and certainly doesn’t represent the vast majority of the atheist community. (If you’re offended by NSFW language, you should probably step away now…)

Also: I’m a vegetarian. Just thought you all should know.

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.

  • cyngus

    Before more “atheists” start to condemn the attack of a guy, who happens to go to church to become Christian again, and attack a Christian pastor , let’s make it clear: Was the attack in the name of atheism?
    What if the guy was not an atheist but just a Christian who does not believe in hell? Fights between Christians is something common since Crusades.

    • Rip Van Winkle

      I don’t even know why this issue even emphasizes the religiiosity of either person involved. It was one twat who beat up a dude who was stupid enough to make derogatory comments about him while he was present. I don’t agree with the actions of either person, but the pastor sure wasn’t completely innocent. Talking shit about a dude while the dude is right there is kind of asking for it.

      • FTP_LTR

        Don’t forget that it wasn’t just ‘talking shit about a dude’ – it was talking about the potential for a violent dude being violent.

        I wouldn’t say he was “asking for it” but I think the pastor would probably agree that in hindsight it wasn’t a surprising outcome.*

        *Disclaimer: The violence wasn’t justified; the pastor was doing the right thing out of concern for the future potential DV victim; the victim is never to blame;

    • David McNerney

      I think that’s skirting very close to ‘Yeah, but he’s wasn’t a True Atheist™’.

      It’s disingenuous when Christians do it – and we, as atheists, shouldn’t do it either.

      If the guy says he was an atheist then that’s good enough for me. But he didn’t beat up that pastor because of any common values that we share.

      Unlike, for instance, anti-gay bigotry which is completely grounded in shared religious values.

      • grumpy_otter

        That is pretty much exactly what I said on Hemant’s first post about this attack. We have to accept responsibility for even our abhorrent members. We’re better than the other side, I’d like to think.

      • cyngus

        “If the guy says he was an atheist then that’s good enough for me”
        Hmm… It seems that it was enough for the pastor to scream: “I am persecuted for being a Christian! This time beat up by an atheist, unlike before, when I was beat up or killed by other Christian flavors or other religions”

        (I can “hear” the typing of imbeciles writing “Atheism is a religion”)

        I still didn’t get a serious answer about why violent action of a guy comes from being an “atheist”. Sure, the violent verbose of the pastor was from someone whose job is to proselytize, paid to spread his religion, but “atheism” is not a job that would include “beating up pastors”.

        As an atheist, I don’t see anything in this quarrel to be linked to atheism, so I cannot condemn the acts of an “atheist”, for atheism has nothing to do with beating up pastors.

        • David McNerney

          If you read the follow on reports here on friendly atheist, the pastor didn’t realize Maxie was an atheist until after the event, and it ws the press that hyped up the militant atheist thing.

          • cyngus

            It was up to a judge to consider if the pastor was attacked because Maxie was an atheists, or that Maxie attacked because he was an atheist.

            The pastor did not go to court, because when he found out that Maxie is an “atheist”, he preferred to play the martyr card – a liar for Jesus, and get the “true atheists” to condemn a guy who couldn’t do better than beat up another guy.

            As a Christian, who don’t believe in hell, I do not condemn that, as an atheist, Maxie felt offended. When a pastor says “you’ll go to hell”, it is an insult for Christians as well.

            The physical attack was wrong no matter if Maxie was theist or atheist, but also, it was wrong for the pastor to call that attack as from an “atheist” and play the martyr clown in front of the press, instead to go to court to settle.

    • primenumbers

      Sounds like he’s one mixed up guy. The problem being that he’s violent and nothing to do with being a Christian or atheist.

      He is our collective responsibility because he’s part of our (whole) society, but he is not the collective responsibility of atheists or Christians specifically.

      • cyngus

        We have laws that punish verbal and physical abuse. The priest could simply sue the aggressor and make him pay for medical bill.

        However, the priest was a son-of-bitch who preferred to play martyr and make unbelievers in his religion feel responsible.

  • mikespeir

    Of course, we have to condemn this sort of thing. But you know how it’s going to sound to Christians, right? Just like it sounds to us when one of them does something horrible and the rest of them try to distance themselves from the crime.

    • WingedBeast

      Well, part of the issue is that we aren’t distancing ourselves from this crime.
      We’re saying yes “of the category ‘atheist’ this person fits the qualifications of being so qualified and we, the majority of the atheist community, are offended by his actions and would be offended by his actions if his atheism was a part of the motivation.”
      For the record, his motivation was that the pastor had asked his girlfriend if he (Maxie) was ever violent with her.
      But, none of us is trying to say “Oh, he’s not really a member of our category” or “his actions have nothing to do with the rest of us” or “he’s perverting atheism”.

      • mikespeir

        ‘But, none of us is trying to say “Oh, he’s not really a member of our
        category” or “his actions have nothing to do with the rest of us” or
        “he’s perverting atheism”.’

        Well, I don’t read minds, but I do have a little experience as a human, and I expect that at least for some of us that really is what we’re trying to imply.

        • WingedBeast

          Then, let us avoid those particular messages and object to them as well.

    • getz

      Criticisms of Christianity don’t depend on discovering crimes and associating Christians with them. Crimes and other examples of misfortune that hit the news are just examples that allow people to point to more fundamental criticisms of religion. For example, the issues with prayer(simplified: no support for the claim that any magic communication, beings, or actions result from it) applies to all attempts to communicate with magic beings and/or expect responses. It applies equally to a prayer to find socks to a prayer to heal Steves.

      However, should people rely on prayer to heal any of those Steves from an illness their body can’t handle on its own, that Steve might die, and his death might hit the news, and atheists might point out how foolish it was to attempt to heal said Steve by contacting a magic being.

      Even when Christians distance themselves from that, they are ONLY distancing themselves from the death. Beyond that, they will continue to say that the belief in magic communication is reasonable, that their are beings to contact, and those beings can and/or have responded before. All points worthy of criticism even if people are fortunate enough to avoid any tragedies resulting from them. A reference to modern medicine might be made, but only as a cover for supersittion(if they get proper treatment, then it’s okay to ignore improper treatment, right?)

      Likewise, if any Christians want to equate an atheist doing something stupid with a criticism of atheism, they would have compelling support for the validity of their claims regardless of the behavior of atheists.

      So if this looks the same to Christians as a criticism of religion following a tragedy, it’s just a reminder that they’re not willing to look at the fundamental issues with religion itself. And that is generally true regardless of whether a story about an atheist hits the news. It’s just more of what people deal with all of the time, so there’s no reason to treat it like it’s novel. Even if you go out of your way to mention that you’re addressing religious claims on a fundamental level there are people who will be outright confused by it and let you know that not all religious people are extremists.

  • Brian

    Dusty is awesome, love his videos.

  • Georgina

    Imagine – a militant vegetarian atheist Quaker!
    Its all the fault of [lack of] education. I suggest that the ‘holy’ book of atheists should be a dictionary.

  • Kimpatsu

    “Also: I’m a vegetarian.”
    But I thought you ate babies, Hemant!

    • Hemant Mehta

      Babies are the exception to the rule. Obviously.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        It’s okay, babies are not meat. Just try to teach algebra to one. They’re obviously vegetables. Plus they don’t keep well in the crisper, and I don’t eat them often enough. See? Vegetables. QED.

  • grumpy_otter

    Mr. Mehta, any update on setting up the fund for the pastor you mentioned in your first post about this?

    • Hemant Mehta

      I still have not heard back from the church or reporter and I’m hesitant to set anything up without first speaking with the pastor.

      • John Gills

        Wise move. Keep us posted.

      • cyngus

        The pastor used this incident to make himself looks like a martyr for Christianity.

  • waybeyondsoccermom

    I love this guy.

  • cyngus

    I think that Judge Judy would conclude as such:

    “Pay for the medical bills, and loss of wages, if the pastor incurred any. I don’t believe in your excuse “I am an atheist”, so you can beat up a pastor.”

  • Cogito Ergo Sum

    He’s the everyman atheist, perhaps much like the atheists that may well be found in Alabama and Mississippi in 250 years. (Edit: Apparently, Dusty is from Mississippi, but he’s clearly part of a nearly nonexistent minority.)

  • Brian

    Not to invoke the No True Scotsman fallacy, but wasn’t the militant atheist in church because he wanted to become Christian? I feel like that should really affect the tenor of the coverage of this.

    • cyngus

      It seems that it is how Christians recognize militant atheists: militants atheists go to church to become Christians but in the end they beat the crap out of preachers.