This is not ok

A few days ago a couple churches in Bend, OR were vandalized.

This is unacceptable.  It is religion that tries to win by intimidation, mob rule, and essentially any tactic other than having the best arguments.  Just look at what has happened with Jess Ahlquist when she asked her school not to break the law: the religious people in her community, in droves, engaged in a massive smear campaign against a high school student.  Whoever did this has lowered us to their level, and has given them a grand opportunity to smear atheists which they will no doubt attack like a school of piranhas (thankfully, the Friendliest of Atheists has already reached out to the churches and brought a gaggle of atheists with him).

Religion begs to be disrespected, and we should have no problem doling out contempt for it en masse.  However, we should do it with our minds and our own resources.  Put up our own billboards that say religion is a crock.  Verbalize your irreverence for faith whenever you feel so moved (especially if it’s in public and especially if they have opened the door for you to do so).  Hell, flat out call a spade a spade and point out that when people believe idiotic things that they are well on their way to being idiots, if they’re not one already.

Be pissed off – if you’re not, you’re not paying attention.  Religion is injurious to humanity and we should be downright furious about that.  But don’t transition it beyond an ideological war.  It makes it sound like we can’t win on the strength of our ideas alone.  We are better than vandalism.  Whoever did this is wrong and nobody I want to consider an ally.

And to all you other atheists out there, it’s time for us to show we have the moral high ground.  We piss and moan about how the Catholic Church shields pedophile priests on account of loyalty to their own.  Well our loyalty should be to morality, not to other atheists.  Let’s hear some loud condemnation of the assholes who did this with all of the abrasiveness we exhibit for wretchedness from the hands of religion.  This type of thing is wrong regardless of whether the perpetrators believe in god.

PERSONAL: Sorry to disappoint you, Julian.
Update and pics from #AACon15. MST3K cast members were at my talk.
PERSONAL: Mid day lab pics from the wife.
You guys are wonderful.
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Heather

    agree completely. and to add to insult, they’re not even quality tags! flowers care not for religious satire, late-night hooligans!

  • xero ankh

    tagging is never okay, whether it be done by religious people or not. it’s rude, disrespectful, and just plain wrong. if you’re going to do graffiti, at least make it artistic.

  • Brandon

    Yeah, whoever did this is giving in to the same harmful knee-jerk reactionism that defines the Religious Right. “I wanna do something, and I wanna do it right now!” was probably streaming through their minds; problem is, just “doing something” isn’t constructive. We’ve got to use those traits that truly define the secular movement as a whole: logic, rationality, morality for all, and good ol’ common sense.

  • Russell P


  • Revyloution

    This is my hometown. When I heard the news, I fired an email off to the church volunteering to help clean it up. They never got back to me, but I guess they had quite a few people who made it right.

    In addition to Hemants work, the Portland OR Center for Inquiry, and the Central Oregon Atheists (of whom im a member) sent letters of condemnation for the action to our local paper.

    All of the quick actions by these secular groups has headed off any backlash against the secular community here. I know there was quite a bit of controversy about atheists donating money to a church, but the effect was quite clear here in town. Everyone knows that who ever did this doesn’t represent the rest of us godless folk.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I’m pretty sure that His Noodliness (pbuH) would “Really Rather You Didn’t” engage in pointless vandalism. I’m guessing this is more likely to be the work of a disaffected kid from one of these churches who is fed up with being dragged to their brainwashing sessions and is lashing out. Certainly not a True Pirate.

    Overall, Hemant’s (and other’s) quick response has wound up turning this negative event into a positive one. We’ve gotten news exposure for being good neighbors, the churches have had to face the fact that we’re pretty nice people, and Hemant is being interviewed on TV. (OK, it’s Fox news, so I’m withholding judgment as to whether that’s a good thing.)

  • James Croft

    Good for you – it’s important to call this stuff out.