This is a bit of a public service, really. Part weblog post, part PSA. It was inspired by a "report" by Miss Raissa (yes, I'm going back to that well again). Specifically she said that 95% of us atheists are angry people. Now, while I find such a label basically useless (almost all humans are "angry" at times, and if you only bring up subjects that make them angry, of course you'll think they're always angry) I view this as an opportunity to educate. Here are a few reasons atheists are angry regarding religion. (note: I know plenty of others have written or blogged or vlogged about this. I hope to try to concentrate on things that others have left mostly untouched or come at the issues from another angle) This is sort of long. You've been warned.
1: Social Ostracism
Less than 24 hours before I started writing this post, I had a 4-way twitter discussion with 3 conservative christians (all of whom were black, interestingly enough). It started as a debate between over whether Adolf Hitler was christian (he was) and shifted to whether or not atheists and christians can be friends. Original_Cindy (who's awesome and should be followed by more folks) said her best friend is atheist, Raissa said christians can't have close friendships without compromising their faith, and the other guy used 2 bible verses (2 Corinthians 6:14 and Proverbs 27:17) to say nonchristians and christians can't be friends at all without disobeying god. For a laugh, look up Proverbs 27:17 with that interpretation in mind.
While we can laugh at this sometimes, it's a serious thing. Young people are punished by their parents for being atheist. Families are torn apart for one member losing faith. I've experienced similar personal strife for my atheism. When I was christian, I was quite active in the church. I even began training to become a youth minister. I was also an early online evangelist. I gained some fame on some older, now-defunct social networking sites like 6degrees.com (or was it .net? Or sixdegrees?) for my rather large christian following, and for witnessing to pagans and atheists. I withdrew a bit from christian activism as I began questioning but I never stopped being active until my faith went on life support. When I finally became atheist, nearly all my close christian friends left me, both online and in real life. Of my close core of a dozen or so real life friends, all but 3 left either permanently or temporarily, and most refuse to speak to me to this day. Of my christian online friends, all but 2 rejected me for my atheism, though it turned out 1 went atheist shortly after I did. My family, thank Crom, had a less severe reaction when I told them 3 years later, though my dad thinks much more lowly of me now and blames me for my 2 brothers leaving the faith (one went atheist before I did, the other is a self-proclaimed non-christian who denies evolution and believes in the christian god). See, before this, I had a much less negative view of religion in general and christianity specifically, but the hate and scorn from former friends I got just for no longer agreeing with them on one point showed me, firsthand, why so many former christians are so bitter. I've overcome most of that pain, but it is truly horrible to be so hated by those you love over such a small thing.
Strongly related to the first point, but different enough to warrant another entry. I've already blogged about how right wing politics I'd based on hate and greed. Guess what? The "hate" part is almost wholly the religious right. Who opposes gay marriage the most? I asked Miss Raissa how one can oppose gay marriage without hating gay people, and for secular arguments against gay marriage. Her answer left me unconvinced, and that's because, frankly, there are no secular arguments against gay marriage, and no reasons aside from bigotry to keep/make it illegal in a non-theocratic country. Yet gay people get regularly hated on, bullied to the point of suicide, and groups like NOM and the AFA (fuck those assholes) are outright persecuting gay folks for religious purposes.
Of course, bigotry towards other religions, and atheists, is another reality that religions often foster. We need only to look to Anders Breivik's recent actions to see what that can do, though I can easily point to the furor over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque (not a mosque, not at ground zero) the rancor over atheist billboards and bus campaigns, sharia law, 9/11, the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Muslim/Hindu tensions in India and Pakistan for other recent examples. And let's not forget Canada's Catholic and Anglican run residential schools, which did their best to end First Nations culture here. The last one shut down in the 1996.
The fact is, religion has supported some of the most heinous cases of bigotry in human history. And I can come to that conclusion without using things like slavery and segregation (and before anyone brings up christians who helped end these practices, the bible was used both in support and opposition of both ideas, and interracial marriage. Don't ignore history.) The fact is that hate has been a huge part of organized religion as far back as we have recorded. And it still goes on, justified by faith. Is that not a good reason for outrage?
Another great example actually comes from miss Raissa herself. I tried my damnedest to be friendly, polite, and nice to her. Then she started the "FreeMabus" hashtag. Mabus, aka Dennis Markuze, was a guy who threatened plenty of atheists. Full story here. And Raissa, knowing the whole story and the escalation and actually showing up at conferences attended by people he threatened, wants the guy freed. So he can kill atheists. And yet she doesn't hate us. I even tried to flatter and befriend her after that, thinking maybe she just needs a nice atheist to show her we're not all evil, but she's too hateful. She can't even accept me as a human being. I'm not hurt by the rejection of a person I'll never meet, I'm hurt that that attitude exists.
Duh. Moving on.
Religion has an insane amount of power, and as we've seen through things like Blue Laws, the anti-abortion lobby, and the creation science advocates, the religious don't seem to think they have enough of it. Perhaps you'd see why that bothers some people...if we don't adhere to your religious beliefs, we shouldn't be forced to adhere to your morality. And just because you don't like the idea of evolution doesn't mean the anti-science ramblings of Ken Hamm or Kent Hovind are right. That stuff directly damages society by misinforming the youth. Evolution is a fact. Period.
Of course, the worst are the anti-birth control activists who advocate abstinence and spread lies about condoms and other forms of birth control. The blood of millions of people who died of preventable sexually transmitted diseases is on their hands.
Is there any reason we should not be angry at these people?
Remember that guy from the first point? At the end of our discussion, he said Proverbs 27:17 wasn't about friendship being beneficial (though the KJV, which he used, specifically said that "friends" sharpen each other). He said "For the record it is refering to the type of rel. you should hold for mutual growth." In other words, friendship. How do you talk with someone like that? Or creationists who are proven flat wrong on some point and yet repeat their defeated argument? These people are plain idiots. It is hard not to be angry at a group that churns out millions of people this stubborn and stupid. It really is.
6: Putting the "Bother" in "God-Botherer"
Why do people hate Juggalos, Bronies, and Twihards? They keep pushing their favourite band/tv show/books on us when we aren't interested. And religious types do the same. I mean, I don't mind it, but many do. Religious people hand out tracts at public centres like malls (I did that a few times with one church I was with). They bother us at our homes and protest things like abortion clinics, books and movies. At best, they're seen as nuisances when they do this, but every so often we get a book burning or attempts (sometimes successful) to censor stuff we like.
So, in other words, we're angry at religion because it often makes the religious act like real assholes, get people killed, spread hate, annoy us, frustrate us, and do their best to make us either obey their god or suffer.
Hopefully this has enlightened you, and hopefully, it's inspired you to work within your religion (yes, christians, christianity is a religion) to to make the world a more peaceful place for people of all walks of life.