Atheists Behaving Badly

As many of us know, a favorite tactic of the atheist blogosphere is to cherry pick stories that put religion, or religious people, in a bad light. A constant, steady stream of such stories helps them to maintain and propagate their negative stereotypes. With that in mind, it would not be hard to balance out their approach by looking for stories about atheists or secularists that don’t get much attention from the atheists. So, in the name of balance, I offer you some stories of atheists behaving badly from just the last couple of months of 2013. After all, with all the hate that exudes from the atheist blogosphere, it was only a matter of time before some it started to work its way into the real world.

Atheists and Christmas

Some atheist (or atheists) decided to harass a family because of their Christmas displays:

A Newton family received a note from their “neighbors” criticizing their Christmas decorations. The “neighbors” who sent the letter wanted to point out that the entire neighborhood is not Christian and may not want to look at their decor, especially given that it is “cheap, tacky and kitschy.”

The note stated that the “neighbors” have held their tongue in the past, but felt it was important to make their concerns known this year. Because “not everybody in the neighborhood is Christian” they believe that people do not want to “see such a flagrant display” of Christian beliefs.

The “neighbors” conclude the letter by telling the family that they are free to worship and celebrate however they’d like and they are even “free to have bad taste” but they ask the family to do those things in the privacy of their own home.

We all know that atheists love their anti-religious signs. Well, some atheists decided to trespass on someone else’s private property in order to spread their memes:

‘Twas just six days before Christmas — and someone planted anti-religious signs on the front lawn of a man of faith.
“This is the one that was on the big sign out front,” said homeowner Chris Cox, showing KCRA 3 a poster that reads, “Question everything – even your god and your bible.”
Cox found the message on his front lawn Thursday morning, sitting right in front of his religious sign proclaiming, “Unto you is born this day, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.”
Cox has been displaying his sign faithfully for 20 years without incident.
“It’s interesting how people (preach) tolerance but they don’t practice it,” Cox told KCRA 3.
Someone also propped up anti-religious signage in the park, right across the street from Cox’s Sacramento home.

Atheist violence

PZ Myers has joked about punching religious people in the face. It looks like another atheist did more than just joke about it:

Police Chief Jarrod Campbell said in his eleven years with the department, he’s rarely seen “an incident this brutal.” Campbell is referring to Sunday’s brutal assault on a pastor by a self-described militant atheist with a criminal past.

The suspect, 28-year-old James Maxie, of Springfield, Ohio, was attending the service with his girlfriend. According to Rev. Hayes, Maxie was vocally confrontational during the service as if “looking for an argument.” After the service the couple approached Hayes. She told police that when Hayes asked if Maxie was abusing her, Maxie attacked him, striking him several times in the face in the church hallway.
“I questioned his girlfriend in his presence if she felt safe,” Hayes said. “He was very, very upset that I’d even suggest that he would hurt her. Then he turned around and hurt me very badly.”

Atheist Fantasizes

Luckily, this did not make it into the real world, but deserves note for because it is the creepiest story. It looks like creationist Ken Ham was the subject of some atheist “satire”. The atheist wrote on his blog:

And being such, I’ve decided that for my Christmas dinner I will capture and cook alive, slowly, Ken Ham himself. I’ve a lovely place in a secluded wood all picked out with a human size iron pot of oil just waiting for me to plop Mr. Ham into and bring slowly to a boil. There’s no need for me to gag him either because we’ll be SO secluded, no one will be able to hear even his loudest yelps of pain. Man, this is gonna be a great Christmas. I’m glad Mr. Ham took the time to remind me of how evil and nasty I am just because I don’t believe in his god. He took away any last twinge of morality in me that might’ve said, “It’s wrong to boil people alive in oil and eat them, so don’t.” Oh well, he has no one to blame but himself for becoming my Christmas dinner! Hee Haw! How’s that for imposing my a-theism on you, eh, Mr. Ham?

All reason. All evidence. All the time.

Yeah, right. The unifying them behind all of this atheist activity is the same theme that unifies the atheist blogosphere – hate.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in atheism, Balance, New Atheism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Atheists Behaving Badly

  1. There is a little difference you seem to miss: Believers, especially Christians, never seem to tire of pointing out, that they have some form of absolute morality (even if they can’t agree among themselves what it actually IS), are guided by god (even if they can’t agree among themselves what exactly he says), etc. So every example of Christians behaving badly is another nail in the coffin of that claim. Atheists, on the other hand, are just human, most don’t claim that atheism itself makes you a good person – it, at best, removes (some) problems with being a believer.

  2. Kevin says:

    Does any Christian still say that atheists can’t be good people? I’ve never once heard this claim, but I am open to the possibility. What I have heard, and what I agree with, is that if atheism is true, then morality is basically popular opinion, which can tolerate all sorts of evils.

    Regardless, Michael’s point was that atheists love to point out every time something bad happens because of a religious person, while completely ignoring every time something good happens (in my experience, this is completely accurate), so he decided to do the same thing to them. Good for him. In particular, as atheists “come out” and more of them adopt the juvenile and hateful tactics that the new atheists encourage, we will be seeing more and more stories like the one about the Christmas decorations.

  3. Ignostic Atheist says:

    Excellent response, sir. I couldn’t hope to add to it.

  4. jayman777 says:

    Atomic Mutant:

    Belief in absolute morality and guidance by God does not entail that a Christian will be morally perfect. Thus, examples of Christians behaving badly are not nails in the coffin of either claim.

  5. Michael says:

    AM, there is a remarkable parallel you seem to miss: Atheists, especially New Atheists, never seem to tire of pointing out, that they are committed to being “good without God” (they put that on billboards, even if they can’t agree among themselves what “good” actually IS), are guided by science, reason, and evidence (even if they can’t agree among themselves what exactly these say), etc. So every example of Atheists behaving badly is another nail in the coffin of that claim.

    BTW, Atomic Mutant, I noticed you had not one word of criticism for such activities. Not one.

  6. agnophilo says:

    So you are basically saying “this is nasty and unfair and hurtful when atheists do it, so I’m going to do it too!”

    Congratulations, you’ve built a monument to your own bad behavior.

    Yes it’s wrong to stereotype and to single out individual bad behavior as though it were representative. It is however not quite the same thing to point out vast, sometimes centuries long bad behavior which is explicitly and overtly defended, justified and enabled by biblical doctrine and performed in the name of god. When the pope, the religious leader of over a billion catholics, makes it policy to cover up for and enable child rape and because he is the pope the very idea of him going to jail is considered laughable, that is not quite the same as some christian dude being a jerk to someone. It is reasonable in that instance to say that maybe something in the christian (or perhaps just the catholic) doctrine or institutions is very wrong here. I came to the conclusion years ago (which I have somewhat modified since then) that religion was evil not because a christian person was mean to me or some christians did some bad things, but because I couldn’t find a single atrocity in american history that wasn’t justified and promoted and called good based on the bible.

  7. Michael says:

    So you are basically saying “this is nasty and unfair and hurtful when atheists do it, so I’m going to do it too!”
    Congratulations, you’ve built a monument to your own bad behavior.

    So, rather than quote me and respond to the actual words I wrote, you would rather lash out at your own paraphrase. Are you trying to insist on an unbalanced, one-sided approach to things?

    I came to the conclusion years ago (which I have somewhat modified since then) that religion was evil not because a christian person was mean to me or some christians did some bad things, but because I couldn’t find a single atrocity in american history that wasn’t justified and promoted and called good based on the bible.

    Why so provincial? Can you find a single atrocity in human history that wasn’t justified and promoted as for the good? If not, should we abandon the notion of good?

  8. agnophilo says:

    My paraphrase was intended to simply briefly sum up what you said over several paragraphs, not misrepresent what you said (which I don’t think it did). You criticize your own behavior. It would be more appropriate to say “see, I could do the same, see why it’s not valid” or maybe end the blog with “see how hurtful it is when people try to associate you with cruel, evil people”? But instead you do something you know isn’t valid (or nice). To paraphrase jesus, if you were ignorant you would be without sin, but you are not ignorant so your guilt remains.

    As for being provincial, I should’ve been more clear – I was describing why I, many years ago, concluded something – at the time I was not very familiar with world history. But since then I have found the trend toward organized belief being used to control, abuse and hurt people to be far from a local phenomenon. As for it being useful, I’m not so sure. Take away religion and people don’t suddenly start murdering each other or stop being charitable or concerned for one another. I know this not only because of my own experience of losing faith, and from other anecdotal experiences with other atheists, but through statistics – countries like norway and sweden that are the most secular have some of the lowest crime rates in the world and give away some of the highest percentage of their wealth nationally to poorer countries. In examining the question of why we are moral I have found that it has more to do with biology and being hard-wired for empathy and things which pre-date all modern religions. So just as the fact that a christian person does an evil thing that doesn’t mean his religion made him evil, the fact that a christian person does a good thing does not mean his religion made him good. I mean either could be true but they are not necessarily true. And I am not convinced that either is (generally speaking) true at all. I think religions tend to just intensify whatever we are, because we all focus on the bits of the bible that appeal to us and tend to ignore the rest. What I think is the harm of religion is not that it makes people good or evil, but that it makes good people go along with evil things and silences criticism of those things. It is, in other words, used to manipulate people. It may be that this is a corruption of the original intent and there could be a purer form of christianity that would be almost entirely positive. But as it stands christianity has a gruesome past.

  9. Kevin says:

    Agnophilo, I would just like to say thank you. Even if I disagree with some of what you said, you come across as a reasonable person who actually thinks about things and can see shades of gray, which in my experience has been very rare among internet atheists. So again, thank you. Very refreshing.

  10. Michael says:

    My paraphrase was intended to simply briefly sum up what you said over several paragraphs, not misrepresent what you said (which I don’t think it did).

    I wasn’t saying “this is nasty and unfair and hurtful when atheists do it, so I’m going to do it too!”” In trying to make me look childish and emotional, you had to resort to paraphrase complete with exclaimation point.

    But instead you do something you know isn’t valid (or nice). To paraphrase jesus, if you were ignorant you would be without sin, but you are not ignorant so your guilt remains.

    My guilt exists only as your subjective opinion. What I do is to mimic the atheist blogosphere in the name of balance. As we can see, it did not take long for a new atheist to pop up to condemn this approach. But given that I am merely mirroring the standard approach of the atheist blogosphere, condemnations of me are really condemnations of the atheist blogosphere. Yet oddly enough, we don’t see many atheists explicitly condemning such behavior. Hmmm. You, for example. Quick to show up and judge me Guilty. Perhaps you have some links of you making the same judgments on other atheist blogs? Let’s see them.

    I also noticed you ignored my question: Are you trying to insist on an unbalanced, one-sided approach to things?

    As for your sermon that attempts to clarify your “religion is evil because of American history” argument, your opinions are noted. But I’d really like you to address the other questions you ignored:

    Can you find a single atrocity in human history that wasn’t justified and promoted as for the good? If not, should we abandon the notion of good?

  11. Crude says:

    Hey all. Some responses to Agnophilo’s two comments incoming.

    It is however not quite the same thing to point out vast, sometimes centuries long bad behavior which is explicitly and overtly defended, justified and enabled by biblical doctrine and performed in the name of god. When the pope, the religious leader of over a billion catholics, makes it policy to cover up for and enable child rape and because he is the pope the very idea of him going to jail is considered laughable, that is not quite the same as some christian dude being a jerk to someone.

    1) The pope did not do that. That’s a common Cult of Gnu dream, but as a matter of record? Next to no evidence for it. If you wanted examples of truly bad popes, there are easier examples available. Why lie?

    2) But even for the cases where it’s true that a priest or bishop covered up sexual abuse, your criticism still is misplaced: where is the justification by biblical doctrine or ‘performed in the name of God’ aspect to any of the sexual abuse cover-ups? The answer is: there are none. Which is one more reason why there was a ‘cover-up’ in some areas: the acts of sexual abuse were not only illegal, but from any Christian teaching of note that you want to go by, they were dreadfully immoral and wrong. If a man sexually abuses a child and uses his power to cover it up, he’s not behaving like a Christian. Or a buddhist. Or a jew. If you want to get cute with it, he’s behaving like a functional atheist.

    It is reasonable in that instance to say that maybe something in the christian (or perhaps just the catholic) doctrine or institutions is very wrong here.

    Notice the can of worms you just opened up. It can’t be the doctrine, because you won’t find justifications for these acts anywhere in the doctrine. You say ‘institutions’, but at that point you’re removing the religious aspect and instead talking about something very typical – power. Prestige. Money. Fear. In other words, the exact things you find in many other sexual abuse cases, whether we’re talking about the BBC or public schools.

    I came to the conclusion years ago (which I have somewhat modified since then) that religion was evil not because a christian person was mean to me or some christians did some bad things, but because I couldn’t find a single atrocity in american history that wasn’t justified and promoted and called good based on the bible.

    Easy to answer: the Catholic priest sex scandal. Can you show me where it was justified and promoted and called good based on the bible?

    Also – you say ‘Based on the bible’. But what does that mean? That someone, somewhere, used the Bible to justify an act, no matter how terrible or weak or stretched the justification may have been? And as Mike said: try to find an act that wasn’t also matched to the advance of secular power, or done in the name of the common good, or that didn’t suspiciously have the obvious effect of leading to more secular wealth and/or power for the people in question.

    But since then I have found the trend toward organized belief being used to control, abuse and hurt people to be far from a local phenomenon.

    ‘Organized belief’ is, again, extremely broad. That’s not merely religious belief – that includes everything from political parties to activist groups to, of course, the New Atheists and atheist organizations of the past.

    Take away religion and people don’t suddenly start murdering each other or stop being charitable or concerned for one another. I know this not only because of my own experience of losing faith, and from other anecdotal experiences with other atheists, but through statistics – countries like norway and sweden that are the most secular have some of the lowest crime rates in the world and give away some of the highest percentage of their wealth nationally to poorer countries.

    Norway and Sweden, two countries which (in the case of Norway, until recently) have full-blown state churches and considerable Christian influence to this day? To go by the most recent Eurobarometer poll, 22% of Norwegians believe in God, 44% believe in ‘some sort of spirit or life force’, 29% believe in neither – to say that’s a confounding factor is putting it mildly. And why are you comparing ‘atheists’ with ‘secular’? They aren’t the same thing at all – and again, it’s especially odd to talk about these secular countries with their state churches.

    I’m not saying Norway is a hotbed of devout Christianity. I am saying your illustration is not nearly so simple.

    And that’s before getting into questions of what happens when people are irreligious. Part of the reason a lot of people say ‘Being religious doesn’t have any effect on morality’ is that they are from the start A-OK with acts that the irreligious support in far greater numbers than many religious people.

    What I think is the harm of religion is not that it makes people good or evil, but that it makes good people go along with evil things and silences criticism of those things. It is, in other words, used to manipulate people.

    Let’s put aside, for a moment, that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ don’t have much meaning on materialistic atheism. What you said is just plainly false – there’s no shortage of people who spoke out against very popular ‘evil’ things (See William Wilburforce for a common example) due to their religious beliefs.

    I think the problem you’re running into here is that your best criticisms of Christianity are based on either misunderstandings, or on such broad interpretations of evidence that you end up not really having an argument against religion, but more general things – fervent belief, period, whether it’s in a political doctrine or a political/social cause or anything else. The problem is, to take that step is to have the entire case against ‘religion’ not only collapse, but to have it boomerang back – and now the very things which make you leery of ‘religion’ should almost make you leery of ‘political parties’ and even New Atheists.

    But as it stands christianity has a gruesome past.

    Not really. Christianity has a 2000 year old past riddled with good and bad. The funny thing is? Public atheism has a dramatically shorter past, and a body count and history which made the Inquisition look like a game of touch football.

  12. Sam says:

    I’ve never understood why many atheists declare religious displays to be offensive “because” of the fact that they’re atheists. Atheism is just the belief that there is no God, or (according to others) a “lack of belief.” Either way, there’s no content there besides one statement. Therefore if atheists somehow find these symbols offensive, it cannot be because of their godlessness. And if they do attribute the offense to godlessness, then their offense is wholly rooted in personal taste, not atheism. Atheists, as atheists, might look at the nativity scene with complete indifference, brushing it off as meaningless and a total waste of time, whereas others might even deeply enjoy the aesthetic of it. Any option is consistent with atheism. Furthermore, offense stems from a belief being violated, and as atheists, they have one belief, and it doesn’t even make sense to say that that belief can be violated.

    Contrast that with a Muslim neighbor whose particular brand of Islam decrees he should hate the promotion or spread of “false teaching.” Unlike atheism, his offense would be understandable from standpoint of belief, even if no rights of his were violated.

  13. Michael says:

    Nice reply, Crude.
    I’ll just add a couple more points.

    But even for the cases where it’s true that a priest or bishop covered up sexual abuse, your criticism still is misplaced: where is the justification by biblical doctrine or ‘performed in the name of God’ aspect to any of the sexual abuse cover-ups? The answer is: there are none.

    What’s ironic is that there is one very vocal person out there trying to excuse some of it as mild and harmless – the leader of the New Atheist movement.

    Agnophilo also asserted: “countries like norway and sweden that are the most secular have some of the lowest crime rates in the world.”
    Yet I found this easily on Wiki:

    *Statistics from the late 2000s indicate that crime in the city is rising.[3][4] Some media have reported that there are four times as many thefts and robberies in Oslo than in New York City.[5][6] Since 2012, the German travel guide Dumont now describes the city as being unsafe for female tourists. The guide also named Oslo “The Crime capital of Scandinavia”.[7]

    *According to the Oslo Police, they receive more than 15,000 reports of petty thefts annually. The rate is more than seven times the number per-capita of Berlin. Approximately 0.8% of those cases get solved.[8]
    Oslo has witnessed annual spikes in sexual assault cases in recent years.[9]

    *According to a 2009 European Union study, Sweden has one of the highest rates of reported rape in Europe.

    *For aggravated assault, the rate in 2001 was 667.42 per 100,000 people for Sweden, 318.55 for United States, 23.78 for Japan.[4]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s