How to be an atheist terrorist.

Christina here…


A story circulated the web the other day regarding some comments made by Ken Reid, a supervisor representing the Leesburg district (in Virginia). He said, in regard to people who have issues with the local holiday displays on taxpayer property:

It’s strictly this group of terrorists. They’re fanatics who basically want to stamp out religion in all public life and property.

We’re terrorists now!

I wondered though, what it means to be an atheist terrorist. So I consulted the internet.

According to people across the web, here’s how to be an atheist terrorist:

1. Oppose the use of taxpayer funded property for the promotion or advancement of religion, including the opposition of exclusively religious holiday imagery placed in taxpayer-funded spaces in an attempt to defend the constitution.

2. Oppose a cross erected atop a water tower because you believe it violates the first amendment.

If you can’t find actual violent acts committed by atheists, make some up:

3. Atheists bomb a building containing creationist books.

Or take the actions of a single psychopath atheist and label them as terrorist actions.

4. James Lee takes hostages at the Discovery Channel

Terrorism is a very manipulated and ill-defined word, and when people accuse atheists of being “terrorists” for opposing public displays of religion and the like, they devalue the word into a meaningless pejorative.  James Lee comes close, but even a Fox News editorial argued that James Lee wasn’t a terrorist:

Terrorists are evil warriors willing to risk their lives in acts of war designed to topple a government or achieve their well-thought-out and usually intellectually consistent, if horribly misguided, vision of cultural or religious or economic change.

Mentally ill, violent people (and most mentally ill people obviously are not) often express bizarre, delusional beliefs, not infrequently of a religious nature. These delusions can be fueled by schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and other conditions, and complicated by substance abuse.

I’m not so sure the presence of mental illness means a violent act wasn’t a terrorist act. I think a terrorist act is a terrorist act, even if the actors have a mental illness.

Even the U.S. Department of defense defines terrorism in a way which is open for interpretation:

The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” Within this definition, there are three key elements—violence, fear, and intimidation—and each element produces terror in its victims. The FBI uses this: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” The U.S. Department of State defines “terrorism” to be “premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

However, according to a couple of government officials, you don’t have to be violent or unlawful at all to be a terrorist: just oppose the use of public land for religious imagery.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

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  • baal

    Sure, why not? Words tend to have a liberal bias when used in either the dictionary or connotative meanings. Is it really fair to hold Ken Reid and people like him to mere standard-ish English when he’s making public pronouncement? I’m sure in his heart he understands and we would too if we would only look at the world through his eyes (or His EYES, or even HIS eyes as the case may be).

  • Richard Seese

    In order for us to know why we would be called terrorists, we must talk with these people. We must find out why they think that. If they are thinking this, then what are we doing so wrong that merits that. When I think of the word “Terrorism” or “Terrorizing”, I think about what people are doing in the name of a group or organization. Yes, Terrorism is a scapegoat word, and if we lived 50 years ago at this pace that we are in the secular communities, we would be labeled communists instead of terrorists.

    • Azkyroth

      In order for us to know why we would be called terrorists, we must talk with these people. We must find out why they think that. If they are thinking this, then what are we doing so wrong that merits that.

      …….is it possible that we aren’t doing anything WRONG and they’re just plain fucking unreasonable? Like, at least in principle?

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    But don’t you dare use “terrorists” to describe Christians who use terror strong encouragement to terrorize convince gay people into hiding in terror of their lives reconsidering their lifestyle.

    • RuQu

      When Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left to die for the “crime” of being gay, he was brought to the town where my college was for medical treatment (that did not save him).

      On the anniversary of his death, the Westboro Baptist Church came to “Celebrate the Anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s Entry into Hell.”

      What message does that send to the LGBT population at the university? That people would speak out in support of murdering someone over being homosexual?

      But saying “hey, can you please not put quotes from your religion on public property in accordance with the law?” is an act of terrorism.

      • baal

        I’m somewhat close to the Anoka-Hennepin school district in MN. Yeah, one thing is very much not like the other. The Michele Bachmann’s friends opposed a school rule to the effect that you have to leave people alone when they tell you to go away. That was too much of an abridgement to their freedom of religion. the school was forced to set up an anti-discrimination board. The xtian hate group are still at it, however. They managed to get a ‘reparative therapy’ idiot onto the anti-discrimination board. The message is clearly one of terror.

  • Loqi

    Oh cool! The Council of Evil must’ve promoted us from “bullies” to “terrorists!” That means we get dental coverage now, right?

  • Charlie

    Maybe the thing to do is to stop identifying as atheists and start identifying as Satanists. Then we can argue for the need for a “Fair and Balanced” approach to tax policy and public land outreach subsidies. We can teach “Both Sides” of the Jesus controversy. Was he a philosopher spreading a message of peace or was he actually an enemy of the free-market crashing over the tables of innocent retailers and financial service providers when he wasn’t shoving innocent demons into the orifaces of valuable livestock and flinging them off the nearest cliff? We report, you decide.

    …or we could skip all that and they just get the fuck off of our lawn.

  • John Horstman

    As I have stated before, it’s not my atheism that makes me a terrorist, it’s my campaign of brutal slayings of high-profile advocates of corporate serfdom. Sheesh, get it right, guys.
    (Note to FBI: I’m not serious; this is a joke.)

  • Uncle Bobolink

    I don’t think the F.B.I has a sense of humor.