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.”