I just finished read Greta Christina's blog post entitled "Atheists and Anger" and thought it would be a challenge to make up my own list that would be a bit more recent.
One thing that bothers me is when believers label outspoken atheists 'militant' because in most cases, I think the label is not applied properly. If an atheist were to act out violently, then I could see the label being applied but being outspoken means they're using words to try and get their message out. Perhaps if an atheist was advocating for suppression, oppression or violence, someone might be right to suggest that they're 'militant' but otherwise, I just don't see it.
So here's my list of things that bother me, piss me off or annoy me at times.
1. It pisses me off when people like Pastor John Hagee and writer Joseph Farah say that atheists can't be real Americans:
Here’s what he said in a talk captured on YouTube by the group: “This nation was not built for atheists or by atheists. It was built by Christian people who believed in the Word of God. To the atheists watching this telecast, if our belief in God offends you, move. There are planes leaving every hour on the hour, going every place on planet earth. Get on one, we don’t want you and we won’t miss you, I promise you.”
That may sound harsh, coming from a Christian minister of a mega-church with 20,000 members.
But let me take what Hagee said a step further.
Atheists can’t be real Americans in the truest sense of the word – and People for the American Way should be renamed People for the un-American Way.
2. It makes me angry that Canada still has a publicly funded Catholic school system that tells students that gay people are abominations. It steams my ass that these lessons are paid for by me and other Canadian taxpayers. Not only does Canada have a publicly funded Catholic school system, but no other faith group (that I'm aware of) is funded by the tax payer.
3. It really makes me angry when Pastors call for concentration camps for gay and lesbian citizens and their congregation actually defends them.
4. I get angry that Middle Eastern countries often use religion to oppress and maim their citizens. In Saudi Arabia, women aren't even able to obtain a drivers license and in some Middle Eastern countries, the despicable act of female circumcision is justified using the hadiths.
5. I get pissed when I read another story about superstitious religious beliefs leading to another death for witchcraft.
6. I get angry when I read a story about a father who beheads his daughter because her choice of clothing or lifestyle upset his delicate religious sensibilities.
7. It makes me angry when the leader of the largest church in Christendom calls the systematic abuse, rape and cover-up of children by pedophile priests a 'mystery'. It also makes me angry that more people aren't angry about it and demanding justice because they're a religious organization.
8. It makes me angry that someone can still be jailed because they're an atheist.
9. It makes me angry that religious beliefs make it hard for societies to have a 21st century talk about modern morals instead of having to revert to talking about 1st century morality. It ticks me off that huge swaths of the world are beholden to ancient literature. It would be like governments and its citizens having to consult with the Iliad or Macbeth before making policy decisions.
10. It makes me angry that Atheists are held in such contempt that only 54% of Americans would vote for an atheist candidate, based solely on their lack of belief. Not to mention that only 58% would vote for a Muslim (probably largely) because of the enmity that lies between the two religions.
11. It makes me angry that high schools think that the mere mention of the word 'atheist' is enough to disrupt the education process.
12. It makes me angry that apostasy charges still exist and can be carried out against atheists and even people of different faith groups, such as Christians.
13. It makes me angry when children are made into walking zombies by severe indoctrination techniques, such as those employed in the movie 'Jesus Camp'.
14. It makes me angry when religious groups try to shove their religions where they don't belong. For example, when they try to legislate prayer in schools or creationism in the classroom.
15. It makes me angry when public school systems think it's okay to segregate non-Christians from the classroom because they want to publicly recite the Lord's Prayer. It doesn't seem to dawn on many of them that they're free to recite the Lord's Prayer silently whenever and wherever they choose.
16. I find it silly that religious beliefs can lead to superstitious stupidity, like when the Salafist group called the 'Popular Egyptian Islamic Association' warned people not to eat tomatoes because it's a Christian food. How did they come to this ridiculous conclusion? When a tomato is sliced a certain way, apparently the inside looks like a Christian cross.
17. It makes me fume when bigots use religious beliefs to do things like deny or ban same-sex couples from renting a hall. Statements made by people like Mrs. Stewart like this one, make me pretty damn angry:
“I am a biblical Christian and I do not believe in homosexual marriage, that’s correct. And because marriage is a covenant that God created for man and woman, as a biblical Christian, I cannot help them into or celebrate that sin”
18. It makes me angry that governments feel justified in using their religious beliefs to create public policy, even in societies that are supposed to be secular in nature. They also don't hide it but feel justified in doing so publicly. Take this for example:
The national GOP Platform states:
We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
We affirm every citizen’s right to apply religious values to public policy and the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs, removing religious objects or symbols, or becoming subject to government-imposed hiring practices.
To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America’s Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.
So zygotes are people, Catholic charities should be able to get federal money while refusing service to divorcees, and, of course, icky gays can’t be good soldiers.
These are not accusations I’m leveling at the GOP. These are official positions taken by the national party.
19. I get angry when I watch morons like Pat Robertson use disasters to spread fear, hatred and their religious beliefs. I find it despicable behavior.
20. Last but not least (man, I could make this list so much longer) I will borrow one of Greta's points because she says it so much better than I could:
I get angry when believers treat any criticism of their religion -- i.e., pointing out that their religion is a hypothesis about the world and a philosophy of it, and asking it to stand up on its own in the marketplace of ideas -- as insulting and intolerant. I get angry when believers accuse atheists of being intolerant for saying things like, "I don't agree with you," "I think you're mistaken about that," "That doesn't make any sense," "I think that position is morally indefensible," and "What evidence do you have to support that?"
And on that point: I get angry when Christians in the United States -- members of the single most powerful and influential religious group in the country, in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world -- act like beleaguered victims, martyrs being thrown to the lions all over again, whenever anyone criticizes them or they don't get their way.
Greta then ends her blog piece by stating why she thinks some atheists - and specifically herself - are so angry. She does a pretty admirable job pointing out that all social movements like the "labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, the modern feminist movement, the gay rights movement, the anti-war movement in the Sixties, the anti-war movement today" were built on anger in one way or another. She says that social movements take time, effort, considerable time and people just wouldn't bother if they weren't angry. She also says that believers telling atheists to basically shut up is really like telling them to disempower themselves. She uses the metaphor of David and Goliath to illustrate her point by saying: "in a battle between David and Goliath, you're telling David to put down his slingshot and just... I don't know. Gnaw Goliath on the ankles or something".
I don't agree with everything she said in the article but she makes a number of very good points. I do think those of any faith (or no faith) need to be careful about alienating those who might be allies. For example, there are Christians who are fighting against homosexual bigotry every bit as valiantly as any atheist. There are Christians who are fighting to keep religion out of politics as well. Painting with too broad a brush is usually a very big mistake.
In this case, I'm sure that many of the things mentioned in this article make some religious people angry as well.