I've come to a conclusion. Far too many atheists are far too willing to just accept the prejudices of religious people as being "their right" and far to unwilling to step up and call bullshit on obvious prejudice and bigotry.

This stems from an argument I had with my girlfriend last night, well not so much a true argument really. Let's call it a heated discussion. Let me give you some background, she is currently attending college online at the University of Phoenix. One of her current courses is Essay Writing, for her final project she must write an essay 1500-1750 words on a topic that will be interesting to both her and her classmates. She asked for my help picking a topic and I suggested she use the same topic she'd used for a recent assignment in her Critical Thinking class - you don't need religion in order to have morals. The difference is the Critical Thinking essay was to be posted in her private forum where only her and her teacher would see it. The Essay Writing final project is to be posted in the public "classroom" forum where all the other students can see it. And here comes the dispute - she refuses to use that subject because she doesn't want to "offend" any of her classmates.

Wate... wut?! You're afraid you're going to OFFEND one of your classmates by posting an essay that says you don't have to be religious to have morals!? In order to be offended by that topic you would have to have some very strong views that you *DO* have to be religious to have morals. I mean my girlfriend IS an atheist or at least she most certainly ISN'T religious and tends to agree with me that organized religions are BS and generally dangerous to humankind. If anything she'd be a deist, but agnostic is probably the most accurate description. It blew my mind. We're talking about people who are basically saying that you're a bad person who lacks morals and has no sense of right and wrong - just because you don't believe in god. You don't want to offend THEM?! How is it possible that you aren't offended by their whole world view?

"But that's just what some people believe." She says to me.

And? Some people believe that they are superior to other people based purely upon the color of their skin. We don't go tip-toeing around watching our words to make sure we don't offend THEIR beliefs, do we? She just couldn't seem to comprehend why I was so fired up about the issue. It ceased to have anything to do with the subject of her paper. It was purely about this insane statement that we should watch what we say or write so as not to offend people who's very world view is offensive to us. To me, it would be like her saying "I don't want to write my essay about racism because it might offend racist people." It's the same thing. You're talking about a group of people with a bigoted view of the world who pass judgment on those they've never met and think they're superior to another group... hey, is this sounding familiar yet?

Why do religious people get a free pass? Why do we allow them to get away with things that NO other group would be allowed to do or say just because "god told them" that's the right way to think. Why are we expected not to "offend" this outdated, ancient, archaic belief system? How is it considered wrong and unacceptable to say anything negative about religion when they find it perfectly acceptable to spread their own contempt for homosexuals, atheists, and anyone that doesn't follow their interpretation of their "holy" book? How does the guy standing outside a soldier's funeral holding a "God Hates Fags" sign cry foul when somebody says something that hurts his feelings?

What is the deal with this double standard that expects people to treat the religious with some kind of specially reserved respect while they are allowed to show zero respect for anyone that doesn't share their beliefs? What kind of BS is that?

Or maybe I'm just looking at it the wrong way. Maybe it's kind of like people with Down syndrome being held to a lower standard than normal people. If that's the case let's start calling it like it is - this is a group of people with a severe mental disorder/handicap. We should hold them to lower standards because their disease restricts them from understanding that they are acting like a bunch of arrogant, judgemental douche-bags.

While we're at it can we separate them from the normal kids like we do other children with "special needs"?

Views: 58

Comment by Nix Manes on October 6, 2009 at 8:48pm
This is a tough one, actually. The fact that this is an 'essay writing' class does play into it. Sometimes it's just not worth it to pick a fight (if that's what she thinks she'd be doing) in certain situations. You might think of it as being asked to choose a movie to watch and then discuss with a group of several dozen people you don't know. Would you purposely pick Religulous or The Passion of the Christ? Maybe. But probably not ;)

Now, I agree that no one should censor themselves all the time. When we see something the religious people do that's harmful, stupid, ignorant, etc., then we should say something--especially if asked. However, it's not always the best thing to say something unsolicited that you know will piss people off. You don't accomplish much, other than to get people to put up defenses and get mad.

There are more subtle and effective ways to let people know where you stand. In the end, they're more effective. Tact is okay, as long as it doesn't produce permanent silence.

That's my opinion, for what it's worth.
Comment by Galen on October 6, 2009 at 9:18pm
It's a long-instilled "value" that people's religions should be "respected" and you shouldn't "offend" anybody's beliefs. Personally, I agree with you. I'm an ANTI-theist myself. I don't feel any need to respect somebody's batshit insane beliefs. Just because they're old and shared by a lot of people doesn't mean I owe them any special treatment. It always helps me to replace "God" or "Jesus" with "Thor" or "Xenu" or some other random fictional character and that helps me to get a slap in the face about how fucking crazy whatever bullshit they're spewing really is. "Jesus Santa hates fags!" Yeah, well, so what?
Comment by SabreNation on October 6, 2009 at 9:35pm
NixManes - I can understand that and that is essentially her view on it. It's just our different personality types. She tends to avoid confrontation. I welcome it. I love debate. Few things in this world give me as much satisfaction as completely dismantling a person's argument/belief point by point. Like I said, it wasn't so much about her refusing to use the topic. That was what got the ball rolling but it eventually got me to thinking about the crazy double standard applied to the religious. That was the point of the blog, the stuff about her essay was just to "set the scene" so to speak. Just an example of what I'm talking about in action.

Galen - Agreed. I'm not so much Anti-THEIST, just anti-organized religion. I have no qualms with someone that wants to practice religion in the confines of their home and keep it to themselves. It's when you let these crazy fucks get together in groups that the trouble starts.

Shine - It wasn't about the teacher though. Like I said, she used the topic in her Critical Thinking class where it was just her and the teacher that would view her assignment. It was when it went beyond that, the people she didn't want to offend had no control over her grades. I agree with your second point completely though.
Comment by Manolo Matos on October 6, 2009 at 9:57pm
The crazy thing is that a co worker told me just that the other day. "It's impossible to have morals if you are not religious. That's why you need to take your son to church." My reponse was: "That's the reason i want to move away from here." (I am from Puerto Rico but live in Kentucky now) Needless to say, I was the one that was offended. http://loquemedicenlasvoces.blogspot.com/
Comment by Reggie on October 6, 2009 at 10:15pm
While I agree with the sentiment, I'd say we should choose our own battles and not choose the battles for other people. I am not consistent in how I deal with religious folk at all. Usually circumstances and my judgement dictate when I should press points home and when I should let it go.

But, yeah, sadly it is controversial to many people to make a claim of morality without religion.
Comment by CJoe on October 7, 2009 at 2:30am
As much as I run my mouth on T|A, I definitely pick my battles in public. In fact, no one at works has any idea I'm atheist. They probably assume I'm a Christian because I can add my two cents whenever they're having religious conversations and none are the wiser. Because I was Christian, it's easy to speak their language and make valid points, which plant little seeds of doubt, without their defenses every being piqued.

I avoid these conversations most of the time even though I do like a good debate. I feel like it requires the right setting. I guess it's mostly about being able to finish what I start. If I get into a religious debate at work, there's no way to really go into depth. This is the worst topic, I feel, to make quick, one-liner points. It's too complex to just casually bring up, even in a 1700 word paper.

Buuut, at the same time... she does have a captive audience. Do they respond? I used to take the same classes so I know what the format is (a lot of dumb people on there, too).
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 7, 2009 at 6:18am
You know, I always believe that even when at risk of offending someone, one should speak out. However, I do think you should take into consideration the repercussions of what you say, in this way I don't mean to necessary say don't write the essay on that subject, but more think about what you're saying it and how you are saying it. For example - no offence, but if the essay had the attitude in which you are writing this blog, it probably won't go down very well. However if she just wrote it about some things that people generally know about, plus adding a few things they don't and encouraging the thinking process of the reader/listener, it will go down a lot better.
I have learnt over the past few years, that honesty is the best option nearly everytime - as long as it's done in the right way.
Of course there is a sense of pick your battles going on in these comments, and I can identify with that - for some situations there is a danger that, that one area of your life becomes an constant debate with people - which isn't healthy, especially when the debate is going no-where.
Comment by Reggie on October 7, 2009 at 10:24am
Quit being wusses! All this dancing around, picking your fights, blah blah blah. Oh, be nice, don't want to offend any of the stupid bastards.

I think there is room for all types of approaches to this issue. While I agree that deference and respect for religion is not something that should be offered, neither do I think I am showing respect by holding my tongue at each and every "Bless you".

Personally, I have more luck using finesse over blunt force. Invariably attacking anything and anyone religious would be a good way for me to get ignored or put the theist on the defensive. Instead, I find that theistic friends tend to come to me with questions and listen intently to my thoughts on the matter of theism.

Don't get me wrong. There are times that I am just as "militant" as anyone, but only when I think it is called for or might do some good. In the battle to win hearts and minds, being right is not enough.
Comment by Reggie on October 7, 2009 at 2:53pm
Then they win.

Maybe, but maybe not. There are some people who should be confronted at every turn. But perhaps my experience with theists is much more subdued than yours. Many of my friends are not overtly philosophical and I can only guess as to what their views are on religion. In a way, our friendships are atheistic in that religion or theism just rarely comes up. My parents simply avoid the topic with me altogether. My co-workers mostly leave it out of the work environment.

I'll share my atheistic viewpoints on topics unapologetically with anyone, anytime, but there must be context and relevancy. Otherwise, I'd be that raving atheist always carrying on about no gods (like we all do here!). But, if someone told me that so and so was in heaven, I'd probably laugh at them. If I am being assaulted with religious messages by people around me (as opposed to general media), then I would confront that as tactfully as I could in some cases and quite rudely in others.

Of course, I have one person excluded from this which I plan to write about soon.

Reggie: I love you man. =)

Haha, I love you, too, Neal!
Comment by CJoe on October 7, 2009 at 5:54pm
Thank you Reggie. It's not about offending or respecting the "stupid bastards". We do want them to listen! No one's going to listen if they're offended! They're going to stereotype us as "bitter, angry atheists" (as they already do) and dismiss us out of hand. Why do we care? Because we're not a big enough movement to feel confident we won't get smashed out of existence if we're not careful. And I mean that! We're LUCKY that we have a voice right now; we're lucky our society has progressed enough that it finally allows this sort of free-thought. But if you piss enough of 'em off, they'll have no problem stoning us or burning us at the stake, just like they did in the good old days.

So, if we want to continue making progress, we have to think before we speak. We are walking on egg shells! It's annoying as hell, but... I actually want them to listen to me. I want them to ask me questions like they do Reggie. I had the opportunity to deconvert one of my best friends because I wasn't offending her!

Religion has never waned and come back, Neal. This is the first time in history there's been such a large group of free-thinkers. Yes, different types of religion have ebbed and flowed, but there's never been a time there wasn't some brand of it ruling the masses. Ya win more flies with honey, after all.


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