Public discussion regarding Atheism, from a right of center perspective, usually involves the attack that Atheists are militant in their pursuit of changing public opinion and deeply held moral beliefs. While this may be true, I think Militant Atheism is not a very good term for the phenomenon.

I believe that Anti-Theism would be more suited to describing the feelings and actions held by our most outspoken activists. It is an understandable position; many of us do have some level of passionate distain for religious institutions and dogma due to their illogical nature, hypocrisies, and level of unwarranted respect/control of and in our societies. I can certainly tell in my group that some just want to exist and be recognized while others are on a bit of a mission to annihilate the power structure and cultural respect given to religious institutions. I was once an anti-theist myself, but through many discussions, and real world interactions with many members of different faiths, as well as an examined media portrayal of the Atheist movement, I have come to realize that the public does not like being called stupid for having an imaginary friend. This should come as no surprise, and though it is important to point out the logical fallacies, reason gaps, and general stupidity of religious thought, I think it is necessary as a public movement to offer up something in place of what people are afraid to let go of.

 

The Atheist movement has many voices, directions, and opinions. While I do not advocate for everybody playing nice or even treating all religious views with unwarranted respect, I think that more should be done to emphasize positive Atheism. By this I mean explaining our points, views, and philosophies separate from an opposed stance to religion. Atheism, skepticism, and secular humanism stand on their own without having to point out the deficit in logic which religion offers. I am working to increase the acceptability of our views, while maintaining their authenticity. Anti-theism will always have a place in the movement, but if we are out to change the public's mind on the issue we have to package the message in a way that more members of the public will be willing to accept. As a political movement we must be aware of our public image and how our messages are being perceived. This task does not fall solely on the hands of our public activists, but on all Atheists shoulders.

 

For every anti-theistic claim we make, we must be mindful to also show Atheism as an alternative on its own merits. There is no god; this can be scary for many people to accept. As a movement I think we will be more successful if we don't just attack when we defend, but take some of the fear away. Explain the stance separate from an attack on people's most deeply held core beliefs, leave them knowledge of Atheism that will entice them towards reason not just tell them they are illogical for believing that our pale blue dot is what the entire cosmos was created around and for. Remember that each interaction we have with a religious person is going to affect the story told by that person to their religious brethren; the more positively we lay out our message, the better the culmination of interactions will be retold to shed a more positive light on the Atheist stance.

 

Go ahead and attack religion, there is a lot there to disagree with. But be mindful of how those messages are received, perceived, and how they will be passed on. Feel free to be an Anti-Theist, but don't forget to let them know what Atheism is.

Views: 38

Tags: Atheism, advocate, anti-theism, atheism, defending, image, militant, movement, public

Comment by Monica McGee (Monicks) on December 4, 2011 at 5:40pm

I wrote an article about this very subject. Check it out:

“Militant Atheism” — I don’t think that means what you think it means.

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