Good Atheist, Bad Atheist. Good Christian, Bad Christian…

… Yes. There exists people that fall into each category and if you’re looking to validate your preconceived ideas about one group finding that validation is easy to do. We see what we seek. If we are looking for examples to cast Christians in a negative light or are looking to vilify atheists finding conclusive evidence supporting either is quite easy to do.

It’s easy for me to immerse myself in Catholic blogs and media and from inside my bubble think the whole world is Catholic and shares my views. I’m sure the same can be said for any member of a religious community. It’s what we seek out. Catholics seek out other Catholics, and atheists seek out other atheists. Sometimes atheists seek out the most negative stereotypes of Christianity they can find to confirm their already preconceived notions about us. And vice versa. Our minds are made up.

Nobody likes to be wrong. Myself included. I’m guilty of clinging to negative stereotypes about Muslims. Everything I read online or see in the news confirms, in my mind, this dislike and mistrust. I’m sure if I tried hard enough I could find something that would challenge this prejudice but it’s easier to hate. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it’s true. I sort of can’t really hide this ugly fact about myself. It’s in my writing for all the world to read. Pray for me, please.

In a more recent example of times when I should have been the better person and just left well enough alone, I called an atheist blogger hateful for exploiting the Sandy Hook tragedy to advanced his agenda against Christians. He used one tweet, out of the hundreds of thousands in support of the victims and their families, to paint all Christians as vengeful religious fundies.

I still contend it was a hateful cheap shot on his part and I think very little of this particular atheist who has the audacity to refer to himself as “friendly”. In reality he is the flip side to the evangelical fundamentalist coin. He is the atheist version of the Westboro Baptist Church. The Fundy Atheist. Yes, there is such a thing.

The incident forced me to recall all the times I’ve done the exact same thing. When a Christian church is burned to the ground by Muslim hands I am quick to post something nasty about the “religion of peace”. Hi, pot. You’re black. Love, the kettle. I do this because I need to have a reason to validate my hatred. It makes it easier to continue to hate and not to not feel bad for doing so. Again, pray for me. Please.

I suppose this makes me a fundy Catholic.

When his readers lashed back and attacked my comment boxes and email account with personal insults and streams of creative cursing I understood their need to tear me down. It all goes back to the human fault of pride. We all want to be right and on the right “team”. So no, I didn’t take it personally at all. In fact I was quite impressed with some of the more colorful abuses. I hadn’t laugh that hard in awhile.

I know this small sampling of atheism is not representative of the whole. Most just want answers to what they think is the unanswerable and are genuinely inquisitive and intellectually curious individuals. I can find no fault in that. And some just deserve our pity and prayer. I can only imagine how scary the alternative to atheism is for them. They have a desperate need to be right. Everything depends on them being right because if they aren’t… well. I understand this desperation is the the driving force behind mocking Christianity and must remind myself of this every time I encounter a barrage of hatred oozing from the internet. It’s not personal. It’s fear.

So while my first reaction to all this negativity was “Gee, atheists sure are a joyless, hateful lot” if I’m intellectually honest with myself I have to acknowledge there are good atheists and bad atheists. Just as there are good Christians and bad Christians. It’s all on what we seek.

“One can overcome the forces of negative emotions, like anger and hatred, by cultivating their counter-forces, like love and compassion.” – Dalai Lama

“To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted.” – Titus 1:15

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