Death threat #10

Back when Skepticon was getting on its feet, I received nine death threats over the space of two years.  One of them actually made the threat by showing up on my front porch.  Anyway, I decided then that when I hit my tenth death threat I would throw a huge party.  I was certain that Skepticon 3 which, up to that time, was the biggest of them all would earn me my tenth death threat.  But the threat never came, and I’ve been sitting on nine for the last three years.

Until now.

Earlier today Jesse Galef, the SSA’s Communications Director, was on CNN.  The anchor took a negative position and Jesse handled it with aplomb.  At one point she said some people would consider doubt in god to be dangerous.  Jesse stayed on point: that SSA groups are there to empower and protect atheist students, which is the opposite of dangerous, since nobody at that age should have to deal with intimidation.

Then my office phone rang.

It was a man asking me very pointedly what SSA groups do.  It was obvious about five words in that this guy was not a happy camper.  But I was good.  I channeled Jesse.  When he asked what we provide these groups, I gave him the link to the services page and even read him off a few.

He asked if I was enlightened.  I said it wasn’t my call.

It was then that he informed me that I was a faggot.  I snorted.  He didn’t like that.  I guess I wasn’t taking him as seriously as he would’ve liked.

I explained to him that my sexual orientation was none of his business, but that it wouldn’t matter if I was gay because there’s nothing wrong with it.  He told me I was responsible for the moral decline of our youth.  If only they could grow up to be as moral as this guy.

I asked him, “u mad, bro?”  He said he wasn’t.

He told me I didn’t know who I was dealing with.  I guessed an angry guy on the phone.  He said he wasn’t angry.  I told him I was out of guesses.

He said he was a well-known musician with a lot of money and influence and that he was going to shut us down.  I laughed because it was funny.  Maybe he’ll write a song about how mad he is.

He explained to me that biologically, homosexuality doesn’t work.  I told him sex was also for fun and that they seem to enjoy it.  He said he was tired of us pushing the homosexual agenda.  I asked what that was.  He said to remove god from the country.  I told him that “homosexual” probably didn’t mean what he thinks it means.

He said that’s the problem with us atheists, that all we do is laugh at Christians.  I explained to him that I wasn’t laughing at him because he was a Christian, but because the things he said were so silly.

He asked how I’d feel about sweeping my teeth into a dustpan.  I said that was either an implied threat or a terrible argument.  He said it wasn’t a threat.  I said it was a terrible argument then.  He said it wasn’t an argument.

I said he should just send his army of lawyers after me.  He asked if I was mocking him.  I said I was.

Then he went back to how I’m a faggot and how he’s going to take us down.  I laughed uncontrollably.  He then said I’d better not be in a place with dark shadows and that he was going to show up at the SSA office today at 1pm and tear my head off.  I thanked him for being lucky number 10 and invited him to the party.  He called me a smartass.

He said we were destroying these kids to which I gave an adamant, “No!”  I explained to him, very firmly, that people like him were the justification for my job.  If not for believers whose knee jerk reaction was to try and win by intimidating others, who believed this to be acceptable because they believe in Jesus, then students wouldn’t need the safe haven of an SSA, or a place to be with their peers safe from bullies like him.

Then it was full-on that I’m a fucking faggot and he’s going to tear my head off.  I said I’d take his eloquent counsel under advisement.  He said I was mocking him.  I told him he was right.  He said it was because he was Christian.  I said it was because he was saying funny things.

Then he hung up.  I guess he was mad.

Here’s the deal.  Did I push him?  Sure.  Should I have done it when I work with a whole office of people who have to worry that some dude’s actually going to come to the office and try to hurt me?  Probably not.  Short sightedness on my part.

But god dammit, religion does not win by having good arguments.  It never has.  It wins two ways: the first is by demanding that we take them seriously which is why, when we don’t, it drives them up a tree.  Sorry brah, you don’t get to demand I take you seriously when you say those kinds of things.

The other way religion wins is by intimidation.  It wins by creating an environment where people aren’t out of the closet for fear of losing their jobs.  It wins by constructing an atmosphere of bullying and ostracism in public schools.  It wins by telling us over and over that rejecting a clearly fallacious story is something for which we should be ashamed.  It wins by keeping us silent out of fear or disgrace.

That’s despicable.  It’s a weapon that must be taken away from religion.  And it’s exactly what this man was doing.

When I didn’t buy his story of having the influence to harm me, he went to violence hoping that would get to me.  Something I’ve learned in my years of receiving death threats is that if somebody’s going to do something, they’re just going to do it.  People who aren’t going to do a thing bluster and go through all the ways to intimidate hoping one of them sticks.

And I’ll be damned if I let someone like that intimidate me.  I’ll be damned if I let religious people win that way.  Nothing short of evidence is good enough, and anybody going the avenues of the guy who called me loses all right to call anybody else immoral or depraved.

So…that being said, death threat #10 party at Skepticon 5?  Seems like a fitting place since that’s what got me started getting phone calls like these.  :)


So…he hasn’t shown up yet.  Either he’s late or he bore false witness.  Were I a betting man, I know where my money would be.

Maybe he meant 1pm Pacific Time and he planned to hop on his private jet to come tear my head off.  I should’ve taken his wealth and influence into account.

You know what would really grind this dude’s gears?  Donate to the SSA for SSA Week!  :D

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.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

    I admire your sang froid. I can never do that, because I fly into a rage and get all rage-quakey, so I’m about as intimidating as a dandelion in a strong wind.

  • John Eberhard

    When you get death threats from the adherents of the religion of peace and love, you’re doing something right. Way to go. Count me in for the party.

  • http://www.thereluctantskeptic.com Rachel Pridgen

    I will be there with bells on.

    Gotta get back to blogathon.

  • http://legendsoftheheathentable.wordpress.com/ Gordon

    That conversation was an interesting one to overhear.

  • Ray Moscow

    JT, you da man!

  • GBJames

    Congratulations on the big 10!

  • Rory

    Well done, sir. I’m sorry that we live in a world where the mere existence of the SSA drives someone into such a fury that they’d threaten someone with physical harm, but that just underscores why the work that you’re doing is so important. And the fact that you get to mock idiotis to the point of apoplexy is gravy.

  • GBJames

    Congratulations on big #10!

  • Ouabache

    He said he was a well-known musician with a lot of money and influence and that he was going to shut us down.

    Ted Nugent? Pat Boone? Meatloaf???

    • Ringo

      Yeah, my initial reaction was: JT talked to Meatloaf?

    • gwen

      My first thought was Billy Ray Cyrus!

      • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

        Miley would straighten him out.

    • Fastlane

      I was thinking Charlie Daniels.

      • Robster

        Isn’t the ol’ Charley down in Georgia with the devil?

      • Eric RoM

        Whenever I hear the name “Charlie Daniels”, I’ve vowed to say “fuck that guy.”

    • Bruce

      I was picturing Dave Mustaine. He’s a real piece of, um, work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Mustaine#Christianity

    • equisetum

      Or Bradlee Dean. A real winner, that one.

  • Loqi

    Congratulations on #10!

    Correct response when receiving terroristic death threats from an impotent christian blowhard:
    A) Call the police
    B) Call a lawyer
    C) Troll the shit out of him/her

    Glad you chose C. Makes for much better blog material.

  • Alverant

    “He told me I didn’t know who I was dealing with.” *
    You were dealing with someone who things being called homosexual is an insult. That says a lot right there. A name for the police would be nice since death threats are a crime. This guy really was pathetic. Unfortunately he may also be the kind of person who thinks he can prove his manhood by doing something violent (sort of like that kid who shot himself in the head on a dare).

    * Whenever I hear that phrase I keep remembering the response Hannibal Smith on the A-Team gave. “Oh yeah I do. You’re the king cochroach around here. Now we can do this the hard way or the easy way. In about a minute, I and my three friends are going to unleash on you your worst nightmare. You’re going to wish the earth opened up underneith your feed and swallowed you whole.”
    Bad guy: “What’s the easy way?”
    Smith: “That WAS the easy way.”

  • Chris

    You really should keep some type of conversation recording device handy. This would be Youtube gold.

  • Paul Hunter

    I have a Shotgun, so I’d tell him that the police and the paramedics with an ambulance are on the way!

  • http://www.atheistforums.org Jeremy Goss

    If you don’t have an angry mob calling for your head, I would say you were doing it wrong. Cheers for number 10. Fanatics only have 2 courses of action, intimidation and violence. Give them hell.

  • https://www.facebook.com/faithfreegriefsupport Rebecca Hensler

    It appears that the increased visibility since the Reason Rally and Teresa coming out at the American Atheists Convention have resulted in some pushback. I’m even starting to see it at Grief Beyond Belief, though that may be just one obsessed crazy person with a tendency to Capitalize his words Randomly and ignore the conventional rules of Punctuation.

    Humor has always been a powerful response to harassment. In my twenties, I learned that laughing at men who sexually harassed me was far more upsetting to them than yelling obscenities or explaining to them why sexual harassment is bad. That said, the resulting humiliation is probably somewhat more likely to lead to physical retribution.

    I suspect that you are correct in thinking that a person who is going to engage in a physical attack will simply do so, rather than “bluster and go through all the ways to intimidate hoping one of them sticks.” However, I fear that an actual physical attack against an atheist leader, spokesperson or group is likely in the near future. Name a successful civil rights movement that didn’t involve at least one.

    That said, I think you handled your caller well. Plus, the transcription is funny as f***.

  • ZeL

    Your “famous musician” reminds me Ted Nugent. Also, I’m down to party.

  • TychaBrahe

    Darn. If I’d known there’d be a party when you got your next death threat, I would have done it myself.

    If I threaten to chuck rabid tribbles at you, is it good for a beer?

  • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

    So there for the party, though there is one question I have to ask.

    Are you 100% positive that the box of cereal wasn’t your 10th death threat? I mean, this is pretty unambiguous, but it might be #11.

    It’s something to consider.

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  • http://talkorigins.org jatheist

    Please make sure to post something ~after~ 1:00 today just so we know that this psycho doesn’t follow up on his threat… and if he ~does~ show up: pictures please! ;)

  • Carol Eberhard

    I’m sure this fellow meant all this in the most loving Christian way imaginable.

    Well done, keedo!

  • https://twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole

    Ted Nugent called you!

    • Gus Snarp

      +1

  • IslandBrewer

    Oooh! Is it Dean Bradlee? He probably sees high school groups as direct competitors for his “ministry”.

  • IslandBrewer

    Sorry, “Bradlee Dean”. Whatever. whatshisname, the high school proselytizer who regularly violate the Establishment Clause and records it on youtube.

  • Dan Dorfman

    In a nutshell: He mad ’cause you stylin’ on him.

  • http://writtenaftermidnight.wordpress.com/ Jaime

    So, he went with the “corrupting the young” tactic? Why is there never and original bigot?

    You handled that amazingly well. However, I’m deeply disturbed that this happened to you, especially since it’s happened repeatedly. Ironically, I just had a conversation with someone about religious discrimination where they insisted it doesn’t actually happen. The sad thing was that they believed it. Kudos for bringing this to light.

    • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

      “Why is there never and original bigot?”

      My guess? I think it has something to do with Brazilian energy drinks.

      That, or because originality requires being able to produce original thoughts, and what we generally hear from bigots is just the prejudices passed down to them from the previous generation. The development of an original idea would put them in the dangerously frightening territory of potentially having to question their previously held assumptions.

      Honestly, that sounds harsh, and I suppose I’m being a bit snarky, but really I do think that’s at least part of it. Original concepts require deep thought, and deep thought leads to new revelations. Look at Libby Anne over at Love, Joy, Feminism. She came from a highly conservative family having been homeschooled and part of what lead her to an acceptance of evolution and eventually atheism was trying to find ways to poke holes in a Darwinian friend’s statements. So long as she relied on the things she was taught by her parents, her worldview stuck. When she was forced to do research in an attempt to defend those things, the whole structure fell apart.

      Whoever this person is (I almost wrote “musician,” but I feel a little insulted by the very thought), they rely on time-tested arguments that they heard growing up because it sounds convincing to them. If they were to try and come up with an original argument, the odds are in favor that they would start questioning their current ones to try and replicate that success, which will lead to them not being able to find it and throw their entire worldview out of whack. Most are not willing to take that risk.

      • http://writtenaftermidnight.wordpress.com/ Jaime

        That’s a very thoughtful response. I have a similar story myself. I also come from a fairly conservative family, and while I am still religious, I’m a lot farther on the liberal side of things now. That did happen to a large degree because I got tired of repeating someone else’s words, I wanted to understand for myself. The result is that my opinions changed radically.

        • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

          I believe this to be one of the reasons why the New Atheists have been as successful as they have been, even to the point that when they don’t persuade people out of religion, they often do talk them into concepts like evolution, the benefits of stem cell research, etc.

          Far too often I hear people discussing how atheists (or LGBT people) would do so much better if they weren’t so insulting and mean (“shrill” is the word often used for athiests, “radical” for LGBT people, though there’s overlap). However, it seems to be more effective to make people’s blood boil to the point that they want to prove us wrong, go do the research, and let evidence chip away at their thoughts.

          That’s a really amazing story on your end, mostly because people raised in conservative families don’t often want to, of their own volition, search out alternate arguments. I would hope more kids would want to come up with original arguments, if only because it helps them sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

          • http://writtenaftermidnight.wordpress.com/ Jaime

            Exactly. It bothers me a lot when these groups simply ask to be treated with human dignity,and they’re attacked and accused of everything from malice to treason. Interestingly, I was also Home-schooled myself. Most of my education was self-directed, so that might be why I was comfortable in doing my own research with other things.

  • Randomfactor

    “He told me I didn’t know who I was dealing with.”

    Then he’s probably not as famous as he thinks…

    • jolo5309

      Next time might I suggest saying “No I don’t, are you sure you are famous?”

  • skepticallydenpa

    If he ever calls back, you should let him know he missed his appointment.

    Commendations on your 10th death threat.

    I’ll be happy to show for the Skep5 “JT’s 10th death threat” party.

  • Ken Myrback

    Death Threats are a crime. If this guy is as bright as we think your phone should have his phone number and name. You could, call and leave a message after 1.00 on his machine. Sorry I missed the teeth smashing. I’m leaving for the day, sorry I missed you.
    Yes, I’m evil. But hey it’s only a hobby.

  • aurophobia

    JT, if I ever get to meet you in person, can I give you a hug? Because you’re all kinds of awesome.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Please! I love hugs. :)

      • spudbeach

        I’ll just shake your hand. I think it would come across as more genuine.

        Hopefully, I’ll see you at Camp Quest Ohio in a week and a half. Be sure to tell this story to Rose and Pearl and all the other campers. This is a scary story for the ages!

  • http://jbzero.blogspot.com J.B.

    He ran through the whole gamut of right wing cliches:

    “You don’t know who you’re dealing with” which translates to
    “I have nothing to actually impress/threaten you with.”
    homosexual agenda
    appeals to famous people
    appeal to biology-ish thing that right wingers think makes sense (two dudes can’t make a baby + jesus = being gay is wrong)
    threats to sue
    threats of violence
    threat on your life
    then being insulted because you were “disrespecting his religion.”

    you really need to put together a bingo card for these calls.

    • Jen

      After reading your comment, I couldn’t help but imagine him sitting there on the phone call and suddenly shouting BINGO and hanging up on the guy. LOL

  • Rich Wilson

    If you don’t already, you should record all calls, and warn callers that all calls may be shared with either local authorities, and/or the internets for the amusement of all.

  • http://iamaperture.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger

    And Justin Beiber seems like such a nice kid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gloomcookie613 mandymcnalis

    Awww man. Being at home all day makes me miss out on the crazies. If you need a number to forward your idiots to, by all means, let me know! hahaha.

    “Allow me to transfer you to our unofficial customer service volunteer”

    *ring*

    “How can I help your hate today?”

    “I’ll come rip your head off!”

    “Come at me bro, hope your GPS is up to par, I live in the sticks. How do you feel about mountain lions and bears? We’ve also got banjos so I hope you don’t have a purdy mouth.”

  • NateHevens

    Who’s the guy who dd the ESPN(?) Football theme before being fired for saying some stupid shit on Fox News or something like that?

    I wonder if it was that guy…

    • spudbeach

      Hank Williams Junior

  • Alukonis, metal ninja

    “Something I’ve learned in my years of receiving death threats is that if somebody’s going to do something, they’re just going to do it. People who aren’t going to do a thing bluster and go through all the ways to intimidate hoping one of them sticks.”

    This is pretty much it here, really. JT, you might want to check out The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker, who specializes in determining whether threats are real or not. It’s a very interesting read about learning to listen to signals your subconscious picks up on instead of going “oh, but that’s silly, there’s no way anyone would REALLY hurt me!” and so forth. There are chapters specifically related to public figures that you might find illuminating.

    Caveat: the domestic violence chapter is kind of victim-blamey because the author grew up in a DV household, so he sort of fails in that one respect. Otherwise it’s a very interesting read!

    • Carol Eberhard

      I have read “Gift of Fear”, and it is definitely worth reading. I will show it to J.T. next time he is home. :)

      • RenDP

        Both you and Mr. Eberhard seem like awesome parents, and JT’s lucky to have you! That’s all I wanted to say :)

    • SanaHill

      I’ve read that book, too. Good recommendation! It’s a must-read.

  • gAytheist

    I think you handled that very well, JT. There’s only one thing I would suggest you had done that you apparently didn’t do. After you hung up the phone, dial *69. Unless the guy blocked his number when he called, you would be given the guy’s phone number. Then report the threat to police and give them the phone number.

  • efrique

    Such admirable calmness and wit. Thank you.

  • Sherman

    While I agree with the message of this article, there are a few phrases I take issue with. For example: “[Religion] wins two ways: the first is by demanding that we take them seriously, The other way religion wins is by intimidation.”

    I am a Religious man. My faith is called Wicca. We don’t do any of the crap mentioned above. Please don’t group us with those ass holes.

    Thanks

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  • Josh

    Reading this made my day. Well played!

  • stubby

    Be safe, JT. You guys should record your calls.

  • NateHevens

    Has he shown, yet?

    Aside from the obvious fact that he hasn’t…

    Has he?
    :D

  • Robster

    Why can’t the christian dude pray to his imaginary, silent, invisible, ineffectual friend to bring JT down?
    See, nothing to worry about.

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  • Gus Snarp

    Man, I always wish I could be that quick in an argument. I handle myself well enough online, but in person I always think of the perfect riposte about five minutes too late. But “Homosexuality doesn’t mean what you think it means”, damn that’s good. Well played, sir. Well played.

    And I think you’re right, this guy was angry already, you tried polite at the beginning, he wanted it to go the way it went and I don’t think you motivated him to do anything different from what he was going to do anyway. Besides, every once in a while a threat like that is a real danger, but it’s statistically far more probable that he’s just a bloviating coward.

    • Dev Null

      There’s only so long you can play the polite card if they’ve decided to be angry. My wife and I were accosted in the street by an angry crazy once. She defused him with her verbal judo so thoroughly that he was walking away when I made the mistake of opening my mouth: I said “Have a nice day”. He was immediately back, 6 inches from my face, shouting “What did you fukkin say man?” So recognising that he was just taking manners for weakness, I screwed my face up into a snarl and shouted back: “I fukkin said fukkin have a nice day man! So do it!”

      He was so confused that he left.

      I still feel like an idiot for not leaving well enough alone in the first place, but it _was_ pretty funny.

  • Silent Service

    I would like to apologize for my dumb ass cousin calling you, JT. Honestly, he’s not much of a threat. He’s just really mouthy and really determined to convert everybody, even if he has to scream fagot in everybody’s face. If he shows up the biggest problem you will have is running out of disinfectant wipes from all the flying spit while he’s having his rabid tirade.

    • Mr.Kosta

      Yeah? Well, tell him not to be so goddamn stupid. He was lucky this time and only was made fun of, but the next time the receiver of his death threats may record the call and go to the authorities, which wold mean your cousin would be in deep shit, and will have none but himself to blame.

  • highdudgeonaz

    That … was inspirational. And very goddam funny.

  • Mnenomenon

    I’m all for laughing at death threats and providing safe harbor for those students who harbor doubts, but as someone who subscribes to Judaism, I have to ask that you sometimes qualify your fight against religion with the fact that many religious people really don’t need others to take them seriously (Indeed, the ridiculousness of parts of the book I adhere to is way beyond my ability to keep a straight face with), and many have no cares about what religion anyone else is as long as they’re a good person, or if they care they keep it to themselves because it’s not their business, or they see atheism or agnosticism as valid viewpoints (which they are).

    I hoped that I could’ve said that ‘most’ of the religious people out there are like that (instead of just ‘many’), and that they don’t reject scientific progress or reject those of a different sexual orientation because G-d said so, but as I’m scared that they aren’t I’ll keep it out.

    Glad you’re taking the death threats lightly, hope that they remain threats.

    • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

      @Mnenomenon; “…as someone who subscribes to Judaism, I have to ask that you sometimes qualify your fight against religion with the fact that many religious people…”

      Mnenomenon, we hear “not all religious people are like that” a lot. I mean, like every time we point out anything. Not all of any group is like anything; there are greater variations within most group than between the averages of most groups.

      If the glove does not fit, we do acquit. Though we have a whole different thing for “moderate” religionists as people who make room and provide cover for extremists.

    • NateHevens

      Obviously not all religious people are like this. Hell, perhaps most religious people aren’t like this.

      Question:

      Why don’t all you religious people who “aren’t like this” speak up against it? And if you are, then why aren’t more vocal about it? It seems even the liberally religious (like liberal, science-accepting Christians) seem more interested in shutting atheists up than shutting evangelicals up, and at the end of the day, it is the evangelicals (of all religions) that will do more harm, because we atheists aren’t evangelicals… we aren’t trying to force our atheism on to anybody else. We just want to be accepted as a legitimate part of the social discussion.

      But, apparently, we can’t even have that.

      • Sherman

        And what, exactly, do you want us to do? Tell them to shut up? Ignore them? I’m Wiccan. You may not believe it, but we get even less acceptance than you Atheists.
        Atheists are generally regarded as misguided, by the Christian Nut-balls. At worst Atheist are hated for ‘Spreading Atheism and encouraging other acts that are against god.’
        Wiccans are considered homicidal (and gay)! Christians literally think that we are out to hurt them, and kidnap their children so they can be sacrificed to Satan.
        I have Atheist friends. They think I am wrong in my religious beliefs, and I am fine with that. They aren’t evangelical about it, but some Atheists are. If you’re Atheist and ‘the liberally religious’ are trying to make you shut up, then you are being evangelical.

        • NateHevens

          And what, exactly, do you want us to do? Tell them to shut up? Ignore them? I’m Wiccan. You may not believe it, but we get even less acceptance than you Atheists.
          Atheists are generally regarded as misguided, by the Christian Nut-balls. At worst Atheist are hated for ‘Spreading Atheism and encouraging other acts that are against god.’

          Atheists are not “generally regarded as misguided”. We are currently the main ones “destroying the moral fabric of society”. Most associate Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot (yes, all three atheists), and Hitler (not an atheist) with atheism, and really do believe that all atheists are like those four.

          Out of all groups in this country, atheists are the least likely to be voted for president, more Christians would rather their children marry a Muslim than an atheist, and most US-Americans believe Muslims and Homosexuals are closer to their view of US society than atheists are.

          I’m not denying what you go through as a Wiccan. A Wiccan and two Pagans (one is Celtic, the other Nordic) have expressed interest in being part of the branch of the SSA I’m trying to start at Florida Atlantic University (and yes, we will be accepting them with open arms and without argument). We have discussed this in the past, so I’m aware, at least second-hand, of what Wiccans and Pagans go through, sometimes on a daily basis.

          Don’t forget… many evangelicals think atheists worship Satan, and I have yet to hear an evangelical call Wiccans traitors to the US, while I have seen and heard such things about atheists, twice to my own face.

          But if you are not Christian or Jewish or Muslim, then I don’t expect you to do anything. My comment was to liberal/moderate Christians, Jews, and Muslims, who seem to turn a blind eye to their evangelicals in an attempt to make atheists disappear.

          Wiccans are considered homicidal (and gay)! Christians literally think that we are out to hurt them, and kidnap their children so they can be sacrificed to Satan.
          I have Atheist friends. They think I am wrong in my religious beliefs, and I am fine with that. They aren’t evangelical about it, but some Atheists are. If you’re Atheist and ‘the liberally religious’ are trying to make you shut up, then you are being evangelical.

          I can tell you why you’re wrong; because the very concept of atheism is offensive to, if not the majority of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, then a good amount of them. The thing that makes them fear atheism is the very idea itself. You may be a Wiccan, but at least you believe in a soul, in spirits and ghost, maybe an afterlife, and perhaps even a higher power. So the religious can, at the very least, connect with you at that level.

          Atheists tend (it’ not true for all) to believe in none of those things, but the worst is saying there is no higher power at all. We challenge human exceptionalism, and all that comes with it. We challenge the idea that anything exists beyond this life. So a good amount of religious people view us as a direct threat to their worldview.

          But see… we aren’t. I’m not trying to convert the religious… in fact, I’m hard pressed to think of any atheists who are. Demanding that we be recognized and respected is not evangelism. It’s civil rights.

          • NateHevens

            Damnit. Why can’t I edit my post? I screwed up the tags…

            And that’s going to grate on me, too…

            Help?
            :(

      • Adrienne

        We do. However it is quite hard to get a message of “hey we aren’t all crazy” posted over another hateful message (got to love sensational journalism). Also, much as the author of this article realized those type of people are close minded and set in their ways. Often dangerous as well. Personally I would like to live long enough to raise a family and educate the next generation in acceptance

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/ Greg Laden

    That guy would be going to hell.

  • Sarah

    “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
    -Winston Churchill

  • kayden

    Could you have taped his conversation and handed it over to the police? Threats of violence are against the law and this “Christian” homophobe should suffer the consequences of his actions. Wonder why he mentioned that he’s a musician. Weird.

  • Adrienne

    I just wanted to say that not all christians are like this guy nor do we all feel we have to “win” via intimidation or even “win” at all. I dont know for sure that heaven exists and neither does that asshole. I think you were hilarious with him and that joking is really the only way to deal with close minded bigots. Not all christians are stupid and not all christians (or religious people for that matter) think that the way to “save” people is be shoving religion down others throats. Unfortunately these people are just the loud ones. As a christian I openly admit that I could be dead (pun sorry) wrong and as a lesbian I just don’t think my God would be willing to damn ANYONE to hell. But a few bad apples, eh?

  • Mark Welch

    Jesse Galef rocks for being a happy atheist in the face of an unreasonable attack, especially for being so young and keeping it together.

    And JT rocks for calling out the religious intimidation bullshit. I think we need both approaches and more in our movement and I applaud both.

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  • SanaHill

    You’re terrific, JT. I admire your composure. Keep up the good fight.

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