The things you get called for questioning religion

I knew Greta’s been called all these things already, but it’s striking seeing them all gathered together in one paragraph. From her latest on AlterNet:

I’ve gotten tremendous hostility over the years for my attempts to persuade people out of religion. I’ve been called a racist and a cultural imperialist, trying to stamp out the beautiful tapestry of human diversity and make everyone in the world exactly like me. I’ve been called a fascist, have been compared to Stalin and Glenn Beck. My atheist activism has been compared to the genocide of the Native Americans. I’ve even been called “evil in one of its purest forms” – as have many other atheist writers; I’m hardly the only target of this. All this, for trying to persuade people that their idea is mistaken, and our idea is correct. The atheism itself gets hostile opposition as well, of course: it gets called immoral, amoral, hopeless, meaningless, joyless, and more. But the very idea of presuming to engage in this debate — the very idea of putting religion on one side of a chessboard and atheism on the other, and seeing which one gets check-mated — is regularly treated as a bigoted and intolerant violation of the basic principles of human discourse.

  • http://bensix.wordpress.com BenSix

    A small point…

    I’ve even been called “evil in one of its purest forms” – as have many other atheist writers…

    As stupid as that essay doubtless was it was Christina’s sentiments that he/she applied those words to rather than her. I think the difference is important. For example, she presumably believes that at least many forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and so on are evil but that the men and women and cleave to them needn’t be themselves.

  • http://marniemaclean.com Marnie

    I’ve been called a racist and a cultural imperialist, trying to stamp out the beautiful tapestry of human diversity and make everyone in the world exactly like me.

    If this has been said by a christian, muslim, momon, scientologist or anyone else whose religion actively proselytizes, then this statement is the height of irony, and proves, once again that the worst invective the devout can throw at atheists is that they are as bad as the religious, which doesn’t make a very strong case. Of course, they are still wrong. Debating one’s own view often comes at the behest of a believer. It is only when the arguments discomfort the believer, that the atheist accused of “attacking.” All of this, of course, while the believer regularly listens to arguments proclaiming their own views sound and true all others as damned.

    • iknklast

      Yes, it is ironic that people will ask me what my religious belief is, then when I tell them, accuse me of “attacking” them or engaging in hate speech.

      Or, like a friend of mine from high school – I’ve known him for 30 years. He recently asked me a question, which I answered thoughtfully. He then said “it’s obvious you are eager to engage” – which he saw as a bad thing. He’s known me for 30 years, and I’ve been a non-believer all of that time. In all that time, we NEVER had a conversation about religion, until he asked me a direct question (sort of – it was more of a passive aggressive question). Then, when I answer, he accuses me of being “eager to engage” and ready to throw down the gauntlet to believers everywhere – which I actually am, and I don’t see that as an insult – but I’d never engaged with him, because he has always left me to (not) believe, and not bothered me about it. So, I “attacked” religion, not “I answered the question he asked as honestly as possible”.

  • mnb0

    These things only happen to me on internet, they never happened in daily life. But I am born in a liberal country (The Netherlands) and living in another (Suriname) where religious people have learned to deal with deviating opinions in a relaxed and tolerant way.
    But I already told you that before in that red/blue state thread.

  • The Goldstein Squad

    And Christians have been penalized by professors for expressing Christian views.

    I have experienced it myself. One Prof even called me a name after class but denied it to the Department Head.

    Now I go equipped with recording devices.

    You know this goes on Chris, I hope you aren’t going to try and pretend like it doesn’t. The Public Universities are thoroughly secular and trending to atheism.

    You know its true.

    • http://marniemaclean.com Marnie

      @The Goldstein Squad

      I’d be curious to know what the discourse was that prompted you to express “Christian Views” in a classroom that wasn’t about religion. It doesn’t make it ok for someone to call you names, but, especially at a public university, christian doctrine is an intrusion in any class that isn’t about religion, akin to someone trying to sell you life insurance while you are studying mathematics.

      Something being non-religious is not inherently anti-religious.

    • Alasdair

      Not this bullcrap again. Interesting fact: more teachers and professors have lost their job for trying to teach evolution than have ever lost their job for advocating Christianity.

    • Sas

      Who else suspects the “name” called was something like “inconsiderate”, “rude”, “disruptive”, or some other 100% accurate description?

    • Mr.Kosta

      Yeah, cool story, bro.

    • had3

      Any subsequent name calling since carrying the recording device? Usually people who call others names don’t stop doing that and especially don’t stop if he/she is unaware that the conversation is being recorded.

    • Observer

      What did he call you?

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Did the Christian views involve how icky teh gays are? Or how everyone who doesn’t share your religious beliefs is going to Hell? Or some crackpot piece of pseudo-scholarship like “Intelligent Design”?

      I could say more, but oh why bother.

    • Anri

      And Christians have been penalized by professors for expressing Christian views.

      I have experienced it myself. One Prof even called me a name after class but denied it to the Department Head.

      Now I go equipped with recording devices.

      You know this goes on Chris, I hope you aren’t going to try and pretend like it doesn’t. The Public Universities are thoroughly secular and trending to atheism.

      You know its true.

      (Bolded for emphasis.)

      I know it must be frustrating for you that the better educated someone is, the more likely they are to reject your Ancient Book of Fairy Tales. But that’s just the price you pay for a reality-based education.

      Remaining ignorant, and surrounding yourself with other ignorant people, is by far and away the most effective solution to people being critical of your religion.

      Perhaps if your religion was a bit less demonstrably wrong, it would be less villified by those people who seek truth.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    I know it’s true that universities don’t teach adequate punctuation.

  • khms

    As stupid as that essay doubtless was it was Christina’s sentiments that he/she applied those words to rather than her. I think the difference is important.

    While we’re on that topic, it clearly weren’t GC’s sentiments he was up in arms about, but a ridiculous straw-man version of her sentiments that had pretty much zero similarity to anything she ever wrote. In other words, he tried to burn a strawwoman.

    I think the difference is important. I also think calling that stupid is an insult to stupid people – this is a case that is easier to explain with thoroughly bad faith.

  • Mr. Mattir, MRA Chick

    I’ve known a local Catholic family for 15 years, participated in their children’s church related service projects and volunteered alongside the family in numerous secular community volunteer efforts. I am a monogamous middle age straight stay-at-home homeschooling mother who does not drink, smoke, or use drugs. I am patient, generous, and creative. I’m a good teacher and mentor. None of this has mattered in the least since I am a liberal, non-theistic Jew instead of the Right Kind of Jew™. Even before I started being more outspoken about atheism, they warned their son that we have “dangerous ideas”, that he should not be deceived by our family’s intelligence, and that if he visits us, it would be best to play outside when visiting us since our house contains “disturbing materials.” (I think this is a poster for marijuana legalization, or perhaps a book on atheism in Judaism.)

    This sort of thing is what made me decide to come out as an Official Atheist™. No amount of good, pro-social, community building, nurturing kindness can ever outweigh the suspicion that one might not believe the right way and prevent the name-calling.

    (The stuff about the straight monogamy homeschooling SAHM was just to point out that I conform to virtually all of this family’s behavioral norms, not to imply that this makes me particularly ethical in and of itself.)

  • Robert Hagedorn

    Truth comes on different levels. Google First Scandal.


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