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Are You a Militant Atheist or a Christian Fundamentalist?

Are You a Militant Atheist or a Christian Fundamentalist? October 20, 2021

Are you a militant atheist or a Christian Fundamentalist? Other than the differences in ideologies, both have a lot in common.

Let’s first define our understanding between these two warring factions.

Militant atheism defined

[A] Militant atheist is defined as one who is militantly opposed to theism, theists, and religion. Militant atheists have an extreme hostility towards religious theism that entails a desire to see religion suppressed by force.

The most pertinent part of this definition is that it refers to atheists suppressing religion by force. This does not happen in my world, in America, the land that prides itself by promoting freedom of religion. When I’m out and about I don’t see atheists running around in fatigues brandishing weapons and forcing Christians to stop following their religion.

Although this may happen in other parts of the world.

In order for atheists and fundamentalist to better understand each other, both sides need to value free thought, in preserving the ability to keep and open mind. / Image by Guy Dugas from Pixabay

In my recent post Should America Start Outlawing Religious Groups I talked about Russia listing Jehovah’s Witnesses as an “undesirable” religion. Being a member of an undesirable religion in Russia is a criminal offence. So, it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that Russia (a communist / atheist nation) could send soldiers armed with Kalashnikovs to round up believers who practice certain religions.

What’s our most comprehensive understanding of what a militant atheist is? It’s a person who really, really opposes Christianity and other religious faiths. One can spot them on forums everywhere, engaged in all-out offensives against the proponents of religion. These militant atheists may not be brandishing weapons, but their verbal cause much psychological harm.

Which is interesting when you factor in that atheists don’t have an organized set of beliefs to defend. How can one defend an ideology when they don’t follow an ideology?

Christian fundamentalism defined

Fundamentalist Christianity is a form of Protestantism that is reactive to modernity and attempts to make a militant defense of “the fundamentals” of Christian faith.

Unlike militant atheists, some Christian fundamentalists do wear fatigues and brandish weapons. Like these Christians in the Rod of Iron Ministries.

But at the risk of being labeled a Christian apologist, I’d say many Christian fundamentalists are getting wrongly lumped in with white nationalists, other radical evangelical sects—and frankly, just kooky cults which promote violence under the banner of religion.

Perhaps our best understanding of what a Christian fundamentalist is . . . is a person who really, really believes in the inerrancy of the Bible. I.e., that every jot and tittle should be followed. Moreover, that the laws of our land should be governed by Christian laws of morality much like fundamentalist Islamists think the world should be governed by Sharia law.

Dem’s fighting words

Either or, dem’s fighting words as far as this atheist is concerned.

I may not believe in gods, but I also don’t believe homosexuality is punishable by death.

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. Leviticus 20:13

Nor do I believe as the Qur’an teaches,

“Those who commit adultery, men or women, give each of them a hundred lashes” Qur’an 24: 2.

Obviously, atheists live by a code, or a set of ethical principles that are worth fighting and dying for. (And figuratively fighting for in online forums.) Personally, I’m okay with the ambiguity, of not following a prescribed set of religious values to give my life value. I spent decades living in a fishbowl; following the 10 commandments and about a zillion other unspoken rules of conduct that every good Christian must do to remain in the good graces of his church. As an atheist, I’m content in simply aligning myself to a standard code of values one can find beautifully conveyed on many a humanist or secular website.

Here’s a wonderful guideline on how to live a meaningful life without religion.

Brace yourself. Religion is not all bad

I did want to get to the meat of this post which I alluded to in the title: Are You a Militant Atheist or a Christian Fundamentalist? This isn’t a misprint. What I wanted to throw out as food for thought is this: Aside from the obvious differences in ideologies, my question would be, do you still possess an open mind?

Because the tactics used by militant atheists and fundamentalists are similar. Both sides feel strongly about what they believe, and both lack a willingness to hear the other side out. Neither side seems willing to give an inch, and even less willing to concede when the other makes a valid point. While both sides feel free to argue their points, what’s getting lost is the intellectual ability to remain a steadfast freethinker and understand how valid those opposing points can be.

Religions have been a source of comfort for many for tens of thousands of years. Throughout this time, there have been periods in history in which organized religion was leading the charge in the acquisition of knowledge and spiritual growth. Those who follow religions then, have much to contribute to help us all better understand both pathways of discovery.

Atheism, on the other hand, isn’t a new phenomenon of the modern age. There have always been atheists; people who either refused to follow gods or who opposed the horrors and depravities of the religions of their day. What atheism has to contribute, is in helping individuals to be rational and objective thinkers. To free believers from being mindless followers.

Thinkadelics Related Articles

Should America Start Outlawing Some Religious Groups?

The Disturbing Trend of Weaponizing Faith

 

About Scott R Stahlecker
Scott Stahlecker is a former minister, a member of the Clergy Project, and writes for Thinkadelics about the joys and benefits of living as a freethinker. He is the author of the novel Blind Guides, Picking Wings Off Butterflies and How to Escape Religion Guilt Free. You can read more about the author here.

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16 responses to “Are You a Militant Atheist or a Christian Fundamentalist?”

  1. I thank you for that. I truly mean it when I say, “I couldn’t have said it better myself. It fits so perfectly with our (my wife and friends) worldview.

    Thank you so much for a great blog!
    -Mark

    ps I can’t remember the last time I heard the word “tittle”. Made me smile

  2. First, a quibble. Russia stopped being Communist in the 1980s. It’s a rather nasty oligarchy but both de jure and de facto capitalist.

    I don’t object to religion or churches per se. If you want to go to services every week and give your religious leader large amounts of money so he can buy his private jet then go for it. Have a nice time.

    However I do object to some of the things that religions and churches do. Catholic bishops own about 15% of all American hospitals. They do not allow those hospitals to give any contraceptive medications even for non-contraceptive reasons because Baby Jesus cries whenever a woman takes the pill. Creationists want to have science education replaced with teaching a particular interpretation of religious mythology. Many fundamentalists excuse their homophobia by pretending that God wants them to hate. I get more than annoyed by these and similar things. Keep your religion to yourself and I couldn’t care less. Try to impose your religious practices on me and people I care about and I’ll tell you how I feel about that. I don’t think that’s particularly militant.

  3. Your quibble about Russia not being communist is duly noted. I knew when writing this post that was defaulting to the Russia I learned about in the 80’s.

    I’m thinking you really constrained yourself by only listing a few things that you object too that religions and churches do. I’m sure you have much more to say about that subject. I know I could go on and on and on with my objections.

    One of my biggest quibbles with religion is that it promotes itself as being a moral authority. Disciples in turn, tend to believe their opinions are God-ordained. You mention an example, that fundamentalists excuse their homophobia by pretending God wants them to hate. This is a prime example of how religions coerce people to think and do evil.

  4. Agree with Michael; it’s easier to be a Jew or Muslim in Russia than it is in much of the USA, particularly the south and Idaho and Wyoming and Ohio.

  5. I can’t speak to how racist they may or may not be. In the western part of the old USSR, the people were vastly, majority-white…but the eastern side of the USSR has Asian people and the southern part of the USSR touches Turkey and the -Stans.

    However, I can tell you that the USA is not only racist, but also divisive. I know when I went to college in what’s nominally the south, I had roommates who hated that I was (nominally) Methodist. They hated Catholics. They hated Buddhists (a couple of foreign students). In short, they hated anyone who wasn’t Southern Baptist. From my readings on Patheos, I see that the fundagelicals hate everyone, including other fundagelicals who don’t attend the same church.

  6. That’s true about Russia. It reminds me of some of the indigenous people that dwell in Alaska, who I’m sure I am incorrectly identifying as Asian. I lived near Dallas when attending school, and spent a year or so training for the army in the south. I don’t recall many racial issues back then. Except the kind that you mention, like believers who hate other kinds of believers that don’t believe as they do.

    I feel fortunate to have grown up in Hawaii. (You can relate I’m sure.) As a white kid I was in the minority, but I never felt any discrimination.

  7. Regarding Russia (as opposed to the old Soviet Union)…these days religion is back with a vengeance. I’m not sure if the Russian Orthodox Church is explicitly stated to be a state church, but it certainly is de facto.

  8. Interesting. Religion seems to thrive when conditions are hardest for people. Maybe Russia under the rule of Putin is driving more of its citizens towards religion. Maybe Putin is tolerating the growth of religion because religion also has a way of pacifying the masses.

  9. While “atheists don’t have an organized set of beliefs to defend”, the key word there is “an”. There’s several different types of atheist beliefs; the variations most often considered significant seem to result from differences in what basis they bridge from “is” conclusions to “ought” conclusions.

  10. They don’t–technically speaking. But there seems to be a few common “beliefs” as you allude to that many atheists ascribe to.

    When I think about atheists, I tend to think of ex-believers who became atheists after following Christianity or other religions. Many of these atheists can easily point towards many things that they “don’t” believe anymore, probably more easily than they can point to things that they actually stand for.

    There are, of course, atheists that have never followed any religious faiths.

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