Respectfully yours, /r/atheism?

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Today was a good day for Christianity. No fewer than three separate /r/atheism posts admonished us for being disrespectful to this dangerous delusion.

I just disagree with the anti-theist idea. It may be valid, but ... If someone is content in their religion, and it helps them cope or gives them a set of morals, I don't see anything wrong.
I am just looking for an atheism subreddit where I can feel like I'm amongst likeminded people who aren't seemingly only interested in bashing religion and feeling superior. ... most of the time all I see is comics or self posts making fun of Christians, Muslims, or other religious groups. Any time a religious person fucks up, you're damn right /r/atheism is here to point and laugh and pat each other on the back.
... to be honest, I feel many atheist give Christians a reason to hate us. Why is it that so many atheists choose to make fun of the theists?

These folks aren't butthurt Christians complaining about how mean it is that we have the temerity to say unkind things about them in our own sub-reddit. They're atheists, no fans of God, and they seem earnest and well-meaning. They come from genteel backgrounds, apparently, and it shows in their upbringing: They believe in being gentle and soft-spoken, in turning the other cheek and respecting the beliefs of others.

Wait, what: Turning the other cheek? What have Christians ever done to us? Well, regular readers of my stuff will know I carry a few grudges, while Greta Christina is downright angry.

As educated, reasonably well off young white men in the USA, our complainants apparently haven't had much trouble with Christians: They haven't been assaulted as other American atheists have been; or lost their jobs, their spouse, their children or the roof over their head for not believing in God. But hey, those are the lucky ones!

In Nigeria, Christians burn children alive for witchcraft. In Uganda, Christians lock up homosexuals for life. And in sub-Saharan Africa, the Catholic Church and evangelical US organizations condemn hundreds of thousands annually to a horrible death with their condom policies. Yes folks, people are dying because of Christianity. This isn't a matter of different opinions, it's a matter of life and death for entire populations.

On the other side, people are worried about offending Christians when their beliefs are held up for ridicule.

The posters I've quoted aren't here to speak for themselves, but I know what they'd say at this point: Their parents, their neighbors, their town's church congregations are all decent, friendly people who don't burn children, and none of them has shot an abortion doctor lately. It's completely unfair of me to tar all Christians with the same brush for the abuses of a few.

Oh yeah?

The laws in 45 out of 50 US states withhold the right of marriage from homosexuals. All but one state outlaw prostitution, and federal law brings draconian punishments down on recreational drug users. Sex education is a faith-based abstinence-only disaster nationwide. All this and many more inhumane laws didn't vote themselves into effect: They all needed majorities. At 80% for the country, Christians are that majority. Like it or not, they are the ones responsible when laws from 500 BC find their way into the books of a 21st century society. They support this practice with their votes, their letters to their congresspeople, their donations and their tithes. Christians pour billions into the Catholic Church and continue to defend it from prosecution for child molestation. Christians pay for Rick Warren's trips to Uganda. Christians financed the massive campaign for Proposition 8.

Thanks to an incessant Christian campaign, atheists are the most hated group in America. George Bush Senior felt that we shouldn't get citizen's rights. Half a dozen states still keep laws on the books to keep atheists out of public office. Unenforceable, but why are they still there? Most Americans (and these are mostly Christians, mind you) would rather allow their daughter to date a Muslim than an atheist. Well guess what: We don't like Christians either.

Christians believe in an implausible myth about one or three supernatural beings as documented in a collection of old fiction books written 1900 or more years ago and heavily forged, edited and redacted in the meantime. The super-being in these books is deeply immoral and clearly insane, yet they look to it for moral guidance and inflict its morals on the societies of America and other countries. Objectively speaking, these people are not just a bit soft in the head but they are also doing a lot of harm to themselves, their country and the world. Why are these kooks still in business?

The answer lies in an old confidence game. Religions demand respect. Because, historically, churches had the power to torture and kill people who didn't agree with them, they still get respect today, and nobody dares to criticize their bullshit. And in a wet monkey experiment spanning centuries, Christians still jump to defend their institution from criticism. Respect for... nothing.

This respect for religions is highly unusual. No other human idea or institution is shielded from criticism in the way religions are, and that's why it's so hard to reform and humanize religions. Religions stifle all thinking and dialog directed at them. Sam Harris explains why this is such a bad thing.

This, now, is where mocking, ridiculing, disrespectful atheists come in. If Christians -as a group- aren't willing to back off from inflicting their religion on other people, and if they continue to try and uphold respect for their silly faith, then I feel justified in acting against them in self-defense. Pacifist self-defense at that, in the best Gandhi tradition: The cost we extract is only to their dignity.

These folks are, as a huge group, propping up an evil, horribly harmful organization. For this, I would like for them to be denied respect.

You may argue that ridiculing people for stuff they aren't personally responsible for is unfair. Yep, just like it's unfair to be affected by religion even though we're not religious. If anyone has a suggestion for a more fair solution that gets results, let's hear it!

Public ridicule helped take down the KKK. Really, ridicule works, so I'm hopeful it will help with Christianity too.

So... if you hear about Christians doing stupid shit, by all means post it so we can ridicule them! One brick at a time, that wall of respect is coming down.

Reddit companion post

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changed January 28, 2011