Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Atheists Are Angry (Helping Theists Understand)

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.

2: Bigotry
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.

3: War
Duh. Moving on.

4: Power
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?

5: Frustration
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.

9 comments:

  1. An excellent and thoughtful post ben. I do have a few criticisms however. I think that religion is not the only thing where you can get such extreme reactions from people for leaving - you can also get it from political groups - and not just on the far-right. I'm thinking of some of the more cult-like "trotskyist" groups for instance but even mainstream parties.

    Secondly, I don't think Breivik's actions were motivated by religion. He didn't seem to have much of a problem, with, for example, homosexuals and his "religion" just seeemed to be a cover for racism and hatred of Islam.

    I also don't think most wars are caused by religion, but religion can certainly justify war and make people more likely to support it.

    I agree with pretty much everything else you said though. I've seen religion do terrible things.

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  2. LOL at Christians not thinking Christianity is a religion ... the number of times I've said "look I'm not religious" and they go "nor am I!" FFS lol

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  3. I've been thinking about you off and on for the past few weeks, Ben, and was going to contact you today to talk about it, so it's interesting (providential?) that you posted an in-depth blog about the very topic I was going to ask you about.

    1. It was my theory that social ostracism is your most deeply-rooted and personal reason for your anger. I feel badly that you've been treated as such. What you need to keep in mind though, is that we (Christians) are not called to act that way, even if it is a realistic psychological response to someone going through such a drastic life changing event.

    Though it isn't relevant to this conversation, i still feel the need to defend that Hitler hardly had Christian views and beliefs, as stated at www.answers.org/apologetics/Hitquote.html, or www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1699/was-hitler-a-christian since I'm sure that you'll prefer hearing it from an atheist source.

    2. Bigotry has never been exclusively to Christianity, or even religion in general. I feel that goes without saying, but you're looking at things from only one view. You ask if religion fosters bigotry, isn't it a good reason to be outraged? Frankly, no, it's not. You're ignoring the blatant fact that people don't need religion to act like douchebags, and never have.

    3. I'll put about as much effort into this one as you have. Religion is an excuse, not the cause, of a lot of wars.

    4. Like bigotry and war, the love of and subsequent abuse of power is not something that stems from religion, but the fact that humans are inherently jerks.

    5. Frustration is something that everyone has to deal with every single day when they don't agree with something. Why is it such a point of contention that others that believe differently than you do? Intellectuals (especially the self-proclaimed) are more guilty of this than most, and frankly, it's arrogance. In refusing to listen to what the other person is saying, they toss it into their pool of mental generalities (read: bigotry), and rarely if ever give anyone else much of a chance for honest debate and discussion. I'm VERY guilty of this and it's something I have to work on; just ask my wife.

    6. This seems kind of petty. Yeah, it's fun to dislike and mock groups of people like the ones you've mentioned, but most people don't wrap up their personality in being against something and try to make a living off it. Doing so would be the aforementioned love of and abuse of power, as we both agreed earlier is a bad thing. The problem with your brand of atheism is that it is against everything else, and won't stop until everything else believes like and agrees with you. That's egotistical to the core. You haven't abstained from the war between theists and systems of belief, you've just switched sides.

    Let go of the anger and bitterness, man. As much as it may gall you, take a word from Paul in Romans 12:18 - "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

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  4. Thank you for mentioning me but I don't think it was necessary. Also, why do I always get compared to Jade? She's a very liberal Christian and I am not. I am a true conservative. Please stop comparing us. Thank you!

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  5. Miss Raissa is a fucking moron.

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  6. What makes me an angry as an athiest is Christianity's lack of reason and logic. The persecution of science goes back millennia...denying evolution and climate change is on par with denying the planet is in a heliocentric orbit or that the earth is flat, or that the earth is only 5000years old. Blind faith is detrimental to the survival of our species on this planet.
    Another flaw in the Christian mindset that baffles me is their alliance and entrenchment in the political right. Even as an atheist, I believe that Jesus was on to something with his message of love and acceptance. If everyone emulated his actions, the world truly would be a better place. Before going to the polls, Christians should ask themselves, "what would Jesus do?". I'm pretty darn sure he wouldn't vote Republican! How can you reconcile his message of helping the sick with denying basic health care to millions of people? How can you reconcile his message of peace with massive military expenditures and weapons of mass destruction? How can you reconcile his message of brotherly love with denying homosexuals the right to marry?

    I believe in Jesus' message. he was a very smart man and a freedom fighter against the tyranny of the Roman Empire. However, until anyone shows me scientific evidence to the contrary, logic and reason dictate that I cannot accept that he was the son of god.

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  7. Your first point on ostracism is a good one. Too many Christians cut themselves off from atheists. I have many radically atheist friends and we get along just fine. I think ostracism is a sign they're not strong in their faith. Although we disagree on a profound issue, we are still made from the same mold.

    The cruelties of the wars and the Canadian religious schools and the like are derived from the good old sinful nature rather than religion per se. Socialism and communism have killed more people even though that, too, was not part of the original plan. Mankind is capable of screwing up anything. The problem there is sin, pure and simple.

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  8. Many atheists are angry because of unresolved anger with their childhood. That deep seeded anger due to the betrayal/neglect or abuse of one's parents at such a young age leaves them scarred for life, never able to believe that a God would actually care for them. (Study basic childhood psychology and you can easily see the connection) Atheists see God as hateful, because their own upbringing was absolutely hateful, through no fault of their own. I know an atheist very closely, and he was deeply neglected and wounded as a child, left alone to cry with no one to hold him, no love, nothing. Now he is a grown man who is emotionally stunted (can't be any serious relationship) but absolutely intelligent. Many atheists seem to have high IQs, but terribly low EQs. He doesn't even know why he is the way he is, he can't even verbalize anything about his emotions to hopefully dig his way out of his past, his hurt, his wounds.

    I read up on Piers Morgans childhood (was interested because he is so deeply angry with anything God-related). Morgan's childhood sounded really rough. Seems to fit in line with the theory posed above.

    Atheists can't understand the things written about in the Bible because the Bible talks about relationships. Man's relationship to God, and man's relationship to each other. An atheist's ability to understand and be in any healthy relationship was robbed from them as infants and young children due to abuse and neglect.

    I see atheists as people to be loved more because they were so robbed of love as a child. Their anger is deep, and strong, but their also deeply hurt. Anyone who has been hurt will understand this.

    Don't believe it when someone says they are christian just because it came from their mouths. No real christian would ever hold up a sign that says "G-- hates f--s" That's just the religious fanatics, not the real church. Church (institution) is filed with hypocrites. Judge by the fruit of their lives, not by the words out of their mouths.

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