alienating atheists one story at a time…
Have you ever wanted to be a published author? Are you an atheist or an agnostic secularist? If you answered yes to both questions, the (Non)Prophet blog has a contest for you. All you need to do is write about being an ordinary humanist who doesn’t offend religious people in 800 words or less. Sounds easy, right? Well, before you get to writing, you may want to check out an example of what they actually want as explicitly noted in the post.
The link will take you to an article by the blog’s author lamenting his experience with a group of atheists, agnostic and secularists who wanted to separate themselves from religious affiliations instead of singing the praises of religious values and morals while comparing them to their humanist ideas. Instead, he says, he’s more at home in theology class amongst believers, drawing up parallels between humanism and a religious morality codex. And he wants you to write him a nice, fluffy story saying pretty much the same things he did.
It could be that I missed something here, but how exactly does one establish a humanist or secular identity by complaining that all the non-theists around you are so pushy and negative in a ridiculous caricature? The very same faitheists who are so concerned that you don’t describe all religious people as fundamentalists bent on exterminating science and education in the name of their god, are the very ones who rush to categorize pretty much every atheist who actually insists on secularism and a firm separation of belief and opinion as a whiny, cantankerous, antagonistic loudmouth. Then, when they receive a rebuttal, they act offended and surprised, going on to complain even more about how rude and evil those atheists are by picking on them.
It’s annoying, petty and a pretty clear attempt to get on the good side of religious people. By positioning themselves as nice and non-threatening to seem harmless to theists, the faitheists seem ready and willing to add to the stream of condescension and berating the religious crowd likes to lay on atheists, all while claiming to be really atheist and support the secular and humanist community with every fiber of their being. Just not when it matters.
Look, atheists don’t steal candy from babies, they generally don’t go out and spread the word of atheism, and not every religious person they see is a target for verbal abuse. Chances are, you’ve met at least a few dozen atheists in your life and have no idea that they’re atheists because they wouldn’t badger you with it. Out in the real world, I have friends who are liberal Christians, conservative Jews and moderate Catholics. I’ve been out with Methodists, Lutherans and pagans, and had a long-term relationship with a Buddhist. And while I never shy from conversations about beliefs and ideas, I don’t feel I have to antagonize them.
The same goes for the vast majority of atheists I’ve met and though in large groups we can get a little out of hand, I could promise you that the only way you’ll find an atheist knocking on your door in the morning to preach science and skepticism will be for a hidden camera gag. To call atheists a pack of dogmatic fundamentalists while giving real theistic fundamentalists a free pass and calling oneself a “non-believer” is dishonest and if I daresay so, cowardly. It sounds like a cry for everyone to like you while you pander to whatever group is bigger.
Really, it’s ok to be religious. I hear a lot of people do it. Just don’t call yourself a devoted atheist while enjoying everything religion has to offer because that’s not fair to everyone involved. Like Chris Steadman, the author of the (Non)Prophet shows in his article, it seems to be more of a way of being a fascinating curiosity for a high minded group of theists around you interested in why someone wouldn’t believe in a deity. Of course I wonder what answer someone who sets up an atheist blog that dishes out antagonistic and generally pretty negative stories about outspoken atheists would be able to give them…