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Why Christians Don’t Like Atheists

Why do so many Christians dislike atheists?  I think a better way to put it, is why are so many atheists so unlikeable?

It may have something to do with calling God “imaginary” and referring to the Bible as “fantasy,” “fiction,” “made-up,” etc.

I see it frequently on forums and Facebook.  If something is in any way related to religion, or even if it isn’t, but someone in the comments mentions God, you can be sure someone will be there for the sole purpose of insulting believers.

Granted, some Christians make liberal use (pun intended) of “you’re going to go to Hell” or some variation, but they are very much in the minority.

Now, before anyone complains about me trampling on your freedom of speech, recall that I have freedom of speech, too.  Furthermore, recall that the freedom of speech doesn’t protect you from the consequences of that speech.

Freedom of speech really means that the government can’t punish you for it, such as by fining you or throwing you into jail.  It doesn’t mean your boss can’t fire you, store owners can’t ask you to leave, or that other people can’t say nasty things to you in return.

Not that I intend to say anything truly nasty.  The point is really very similar to what I tell my students: if you don’t place nicely with others, others won’t want to play with you.  (I’m not one of those teachers who say “we all play with everyone.”  I don’t even require them  to bring valentines for every member of the class [gasp!].)

Naturally, saying someone’s deity doesn’t exist isn’t a very good way to get them to like you.  Last week, at a family get-together, Mom called everyone into the kitchen to pray for the food.  One of my brothers started to make smart aleck remark about praying to an imaginary person.  Mom shut him down immediately.  No talk like that is allowed in her house!

Back to the Christians’ right to free speech.  Atheists often seem to forget that Christians have a right to express their religious feelings just as the atheists get to express theirs.

Regularly, there are articles in the news about the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation) or some other group suing some school, or city, or whatever to remove a nativity, cross, display of the 10 commandments, or something of that sort, from a public area.  Atheists like to claim that this is a violation of the 1st amendment.

The 1st amendment deserves a post of its own, but I’ll discuss it in brief here.  The 1st amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”  So, Congress can’t make laws to establish a religion or keep people from practicing it.

Establishing a religion means forcing people to believe or behave in accordance with a particular religion.  Having a display of the 10 commandments or a picture of Jesus doesn’t do this.

A school or city deciding to have such a display also isn’t the same thing as a law being made by Congress.

Prohibiting it is also keeping people from expressing their religious feelings.  What was that about freedom of speech again?

Between these two things, I think I’ve answered the question of why Christians don’t like atheists pretty thoroughly.  Please note that I am speaking in general terms, and not of particular individuals.  I don’t actually have a general dislike of atheists – just ones who behave in the ways I already described.

Really, my message is one of respect.  Not of tolerance (I really don’t like that word being applied to how we’re supposed to treat other people – I tolerate bugs and allergies and paper cuts – it’s not a word accompanied by any kind of pleasant feelings).  Anyway, the real way to get along with people and find solutions that work for everyone is to respect the rights and opinions of others.

It’s like what Thumper’s mom told him: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

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7 Comments

  1. Mikey G says:

    I generally like atheists. But part of it is I like to argue and part is I used to be one so don’t take their general criticisms very seriously. But I have the greatest respect for those who are sincerely seeking the truth but do not know God.

    I don’t like or respect the modern New Atheist movement. They cover past hurts with a thin veneer of pseudo science and call it rationality. But at the same time since I know people who were really hurt by horrendous abuses in religion so can’t be too harsh toward them.

    Though on the whole the tact you defend I would consider a breach of Christian ethics… but I don’t think I have enough leeway with you to argue about it.

  2. I feel like you may be doing any group a disservice by judging them solely (or even mostly) on their online presence. Something about anonymity on the internet seems to bring out the worst of a lot of people.

    “Having a display of the 10 commandments or a picture of Jesus doesn’t do this.”

    What it does do, if on government property, is imply that the government endorses that particular religion. What else are we to think of the 10 Commandments, a list of religious rules, is on the lawn of a US Court House? The implication is that the Court follows those rules. When, in fact, it does not and cannot.

    “Prohibiting it is also keeping people from expressing their religious feelings. ”

    You can express or display your religion however you like. You cannot have the government do it for you, even if the majority of the people in the country happen to adhere to a version of your religion.

    I’m not trying to be mean or rain on anyone’s parade by saying that. If you want a monument of Jesus or the 10 Commandments on your lawn, in full view of the street, I would be the first to support it. But having it on government property is unconstitutional.

    • I did not examine only internet presence. I could go on for some length about the FFRF and like-minded individuals. Even so, why are these atheists so much ruder than religious people on the internet?

      The Constitution does not say government can’t endorse a religion. The Constitution only says it can’t establish a religion, meaning require individuals to belong to a particular religion. Furthermore, the restrictions in the first amendment only apply to the federal government, not the state and local governments. States had laws about church attendance and the like when they ratified the first amendment, so clearly the restriction didn’t apply to them.

      • “Even so, why are these atheists so much ruder than religious people on the internet?”

        I don’t think they are. I just think you don’t experience the rude religious people, because why would they be rude to you?

        “The Constitution does not say government can’t endorse a religion.”

        Yes, actually, it does. That’s what the First Amendment means, and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it.

        • If you look at the early years of the republic, you’ll see numerous examples of displays like the 10 commandments in court houses. George Washington was sworn in on a Bible. Sessions of Congress open with a prayer. What are those if not endorsements of Christianity? Our money says “In God we trust” and courts have ruled that that is not unconstitutional.

          And whoever said I was just referring to how people have treated me? I read forums and such on a wide variety of sites. And there is a difference between just being rude and actually going out of your way to insult someone.

  3. gpicone says:

    Would anyone here mind if the next president was sworn in on the Koran?

    • Well, I would mind. You bring up a very good point, and I think it deserves a post of its own. In brief, I’m concerned about the anti-American feeling in predominantly Muslim countries and how lackluster responses Muslim apologists have been about terrorism and women’s rights.

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