The website Atheism Exposed claims that religion is under attack and that an all out counterinsurgency campaign is needed to defend the godly:
Militant atheism should concern all believers. It is a form of fanaticism on a par with extreme religious movements. Like religious extremism it is characterized by intensity and arrogance. Like religious extremism it tears at, and ridicules opposite viewpoints. It is often aggressive, disrespectful, sarcastic, intolerant and, most of all, blasphemous. Its aim to kill faith and hope and to leave as many victims as possible with a psychological vacuum that they will fill with their empty and destructive ideas.
Quite a litany of evils. And who are these so-called “militant” atheists? The usual bunch, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris (what, no Daniel Dennett or PZ Myers?) along with the likes of David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Madalyn Murray O’Hair and Albert Camus. With the exception of O’Hair (who used the Supreme Court as her foil) all the rest were writers and scholars who probably never handled a weapon in their lives. In the minds of fundamentalists it seems the pen truly is mightier than the sword.
If all it takes to be militant is writing your opinion boldly there must be militias arming in every church and creative writing workshop across this nation. Janet Napolitano has her work cut out for her. But what’s even more ridiculous than the religious claiming that tepid critiques of religion are militant is when atheists adopt the label themselves. Across teh interwebz self-proclaimed “militant atheists” are fighting against tyranny right now from a blogspot account in their mom’s basement.
I have two things to say about this. Adopting the militant atheist slogan is totally unnecessary and counterproductive. Until you actually take up arms, leave the militant part for those groups who genuinely deserve it. And, to be clear, I’m not against militant action, but it should be reserved for actual oppression (like the French Resistance in WWII, the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, or so you can be first to get 40% off that new plasma screen on Black Friday). Otherwise, stop feeding into the paradigm that religious critics set for you.
Here’s the other thing. Christians and Muslims say that they want their views respected. Fine. As soon as they respect the views of atheists. However, that’s not going to happen unless we keep pressing to make atheism so mainstream that attacking us seems absurd. Paul Madore, one of the leaders promoting the anti-gay marriage amendment in Maine, stated that it bothered him that homosexuality was becoming so mainstream that criticizing the “lifestyle” was becoming unpopular. He warned people that if gay marriage was allowed to stand it would become even harder to attack gays.
In case you haven’t noticed, it has become very unpopular for anyone to speak unfavorably about homosexuality. If this repeal effort fails, this reality will get much worse.
He’s absolutely right. That’s how change happens. We want people like him to be embarrassed by their community when they make homophobic statements. We want to shun those views into obscurity. The same applies for the freedom from religion. As long as being an atheist could keep someone out of public office, there is work that needs to be done. Let the religious have their views, but they’re not allowed to impose them on others. Here endeth the rant.
Author’s Note: The above image, and many more like it, can be found at Atheistcartoons.com.