The Issue of Christian Discrimination Against Atheists

Discrimination against atheists is a very real issue. In some parts of the world atheist persecution is a serious problem. Today’s post looks at reasons why some evangelical Christians discriminate against atheists. Its my goal at this blog to call it out and offer strong pushback. This is an issue that has been completely neglected by many people. In the course of time I intend to write about and report on atheist discrimination by evangelical Christians. Also this explains what is coming down the pike on this topic for the next couple of months.

The persecution of atheists is a grave violation of human dignity throughout the world.

Catholic Bishop Declan Lang on atheist persecution

“Education is important because, first of all, people need to know discrimination still exists. It is still real in the workplace and we should not take that for granted.”

Former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman

“Discrimination is not liberal. Arguing against discrimination is not intolerance.”

Richard Dawkins

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatians 5:14 NIV

I want to put up a post about atheism today and also explain what is coming down the pike for the next couple of months on this topic. I want this blog to be flexible and responsive to many issues and trends. In early June, actually June 4 to be exact on the national mall at the base of the Lincoln Memorial will be the Reason Rally. It is aimed to be the largest gathering of atheists in the country. I attended the last one in 2012 in my faith crisis. I plan on attending this one to observe, listen and hear what is said. There is also going to be a number of activities in the Washington, D.C. area and I am poking around to see what I can go to. For the record I would love to attend this dinner but I don’t have $600.00 to shell out for the event. What I would like to do for the Reason Rally is dedicate two weeks to secular humanism and atheism and just write the heck out of it. So for those of you reading expect that agenda. These are some other topics that are coming in the weeks ahead:

  • I need to finish it, but the next atheist post I want to throw up explores the issues of having secular humanist chaplains in the United States military. After all what do you do if you are in the U.S. Army or Marine Corps and you don’t believe in God yet you have to deploy to someplace like Afghanistan or Iraq? What support system do you have in place? I want to wade into this debate and explain why this Christian believes that secular humanist chaplains should exist. Honestly…if you are going to serve your country and take those risks you should have all the support that is needed. I hope to have this as my next post.
  • I intend to do a profile or a post on the Center for Inquiry. The Center for Inquiry is a large and well established atheist organization. I want to write about the various atheist organizations to educate people on them.
  • I am poking around now but I am looking for an atheist church to attend and sit through one service. There has to be one in D.C…. I have found one in Baltimore. If I can’t find one in D.C. then I will attend the atheist church service in Baltimore and write about it. What is it like? What do they do? How is it structured? How does it feel to regular Christian church?
  • I am trying to get atheists or agnostics to tell their stories of how they de-converted. What happened? What was the tipping point? Up above you will notice that I decided to promote this more actively in addition to emailing people that read or participate at online forums.

 

When Christians Discriminate Against Atheists.

It is my goal at this blog to build and create a bridge between some Christians and atheists, agnostics and skeptics. I believe its long overdue, necessary for discussion, and plus I really don’t see anyone out there doing this exactly. I want to be able to give a safe place for both sides to discuss and share thoughts and feelings. In the current “Christian” culture with way some people act I think the best way to have this is online. There is one topic that I have been meaning to capture, and write about and today I am going to do this issue. Its crucial, its key and its something that cannot be ignored and dismissed its too much of a problem.

What am I talking about? I am referring to the issue of evangelical Christians who discriminate against atheists. This is a massive problem, it happens more often than people think and its my goal at this blog to call it out, contest it, and push back.  This is something that is counter productive and creates barriers and obstacles that are needless, wrong, and out right uncalled for in life. At this blog expect to see me writing about this in the course of time. I ran into this topic in my faith crisis, I read about it regularly at Hement Mehta’s blog as well as Neil Carter. Its a topic that many evangelicals ignore and stick their head in the sand. Well…at this blog I am tackling this topic. In addition I also offer this…if you know of and have been the subject of discrimination by an evangelical Christian I would be happy to give you a platform and allow you to explain what happened. These are the reasons why I believe discrimination occurs against atheists by evangelical Christians.

Insecurity:   I would propose to you that there are many evangelical Christians who are insecure and have a faith that is really skin deep. As such they feel very insecure about other points of views and are not solid to be able to handle differing points of view. I was like this before my faith crisis and was deeply insecure. My faith crisis actually purged this from me, that is one of the reasons why I like interacting with atheists and am looking forward to attending the Reason Rally. David knows who David is and I feel comfortable in my skin. I don’t feel threatened by differing points of view. Now had you asked me in 2006 then yes I would have told you something different as I would be deeply insecure and uncomfortable with other points of view.

Sense of Entitlement:  Another issue that I think contributes to discrimination by atheists is that many evangelicals have a sense of entitlement. They feel entitled to the “Christian national view” that consumes some evangelicals. This sense of entitlement is a major issue in that it makes some evangelicals arrogant. They expect things to be a certain way and they often create their own bubble in which to live. Its a vicious cycle in that one feeds the other and when confronted with the changing world they feel a deep sense of entitlement.

Fear:   I would also propose that there are many evangelicals who live in fear. They fear differing points of view, or outside thoughts. They fear looking at an issue from the vantage point of someone’s else shoes. Some evangelicals look at the changes in culture, and change produces fear. In history people have done a lot of despicable and shameful things out of fear. Fear is a powerful emotion that some people appeal to, and in parts of the Christian faith some people know that they can use fear to appeal, control and influence another person. Its an issue of manipulation really. I’m trying to differentiate but some of these issues go together as they all feed each other.

Misunderstanding: I also want to emphasize that many atheists are misunderstood and mischaracterized. When I was in my faith crisis I was very much misunderstood…no one knew where I was coming from. This is one of this issues that you have to experience and go through in order to understand. What I have learned is that many atheists are very different and unique. They think, feel and look at things very, very differently. They are also very intellectual and many are committed to knowing truth and answers. Its what drives some of them. Now there are other atheists as well, such as some just want to live their life and go their own way. I wrote a post about the different kind of atheists  awhile back which you can read here.

Culture Wars Connection:   Another factor to consider is that there are a lot of evangelicals who have married their faith and politics. As such it drives some to wage the culture wars. There are many evangelicals that want to legislate abortion laws, or engage in Presidential politics. I think of the endorsement Trump picked up at Liberty University as an example. Since many evangelicals are committed to waging the culture wars it leaves some to take aim at people who stand in their way. From my point of view I think the single best thing that could happen to the Christian church is to first divorce itself from politics, and second become a minority people group out of the sphere of influence. The sooner that Christian culture dies in this country the better that would be for the Christian faith. But that is for another post. I think the culture wars describes why bills about religious liberty are being introduced in differing states across the country. As the linked blog post states this one bill in Kentucky has the propensity to discriminate against atheists as well.

Evangelical Mindset:  The last point that I want to highlight which I think results in atheists being discriminated by some evangelical Christians has to do with the evangelical mindset. There are some Christians too focused on their tribe, too focused at winning at all costs, and suffering from too much tunnel vision. Depending on which spectrum you exist on the Christian scale determines where you will fall on this issue. Some are very insular and withdrawn, while others can be more marginal. It can be slippery when you try and define evangelical at times as well given how broad the spectrum can be.

 

An Example for Evangelicals to Follow: UK Bishop Declan Lang

Recently in the United Kingdom Catholic Bishop Declan Lang issued a statement about the persecution of atheists. You can read that statement here. While this deals more with what is happening in the Middle East and South Asia I still believe that this should have been a while back. Here is how the statement opens up:

Two years ago Ahmed Rajib Haider, a prominent atheist blogger was ambushed as he left his home in Dhaka and brutally murdered by a gang wielding machetes. The killing came against a backdrop of intimidation and attacks on people who had publicly repudiated or challenged religious belief.

Since then Bangladesh’s atheists have lived and died in fear. During 2015 at least five more were murdered. Avijit Roy, an author who wrote extensively on atheism and science, was hacked to death as he left a book fair with his wife. Weeks later Washiqur Rahman, an IT manager who blogged in his spare time, was stabbed in broad daylight. In the Northern city of Sylhet Ananta Bijoy Das was killed on his way to work, shortly after being invited to address a high profile press freedom event in Europe.

These next two paragraphs I think are the most significant in the post. I would encourage you to read the entire post to see their context. Why? It acknowledges the persecution of atheists. And it calls for their protection.

The persecution of atheists is a grave violation of human dignity throughout the world. In Saudi Arabia, where “calling for atheist thought in any form” is defined as an act of terrorism, writers have been flogged after publicly promoting humanist or secularist ideas. Most recently the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to eight years in prison and eight hundred lashes, for publishing work considered to be atheistic.

and then this next paragraph…

Confronted with these injustices we must not stand by. Moreover we should recognise that the oppression of atheists does not only violate the human rights of people like Fayadh, Alexander, Alber and Karim, but represents a degradation of the fundamental principle that people should be free to hold their own beliefs without fearing for their life or liberty. History has shown time and time again that when one minority group is oppressed with impunity, others soon face the same fate.

I believe that what Bishop Lang has done should be a model for evangelical Christians. When are people like Al Mohler or John Piper going to speak out about atheist persecution globally, or address atheist discrimination domestically? The time is really now and I find that statement about respecting atheists and calling out their protection to be significant. What needs to happen is that the evangelical Christian church really needs to repent for how they have treated atheists. For contempt, anger, hatred, cutting off, disassociating, tearing down, discriminating, and all inappropriate behavior needs to be called out. Its my goal to look out for atheists on the blogosphere and life, and its my intention to challenge the evangelical Christian church on this issue. It is overdue and long needed to be addressed. Let me know your thoughts about all this. Do you agree? Am I off base? If you are an atheist will you share some of the discrimination that you have endured from evangelical Christians? As always I love you guys!

9 thoughts on “The Issue of Christian Discrimination Against Atheists

  1. Thank you. I could go on about so much within this post. (In particular you struck a nerve with mentioning Mr. Mohler.) But I will leave it at thank you. Before I left the faith I don’t even think I would have been as open minded as you’re being here.

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    • Charlie no one is talking about these issues and they need to be addressed. Its my goal and intention to flush out these issues and have them discussed. But discrimination of atheists by some evangelical Christians is a serious topic. Its sinful, and its wrong. A good chunk of my blog is going to be addressed at issues in my tribe, and garbage like this needs to be called out. I hope you will hang around, you are welcome. And for what you endured from the depths of my heart let me say I am sorry. I wish I could have prevented any discrimination. If you want to tell your story of de-conversion I would be honored to give you a platform.

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      • I really do appreciate your heart in all of this. It sucks how people like Richard Dawkins with his militant atheism or the major rebellion acts of The Satanic Temple are almost a necessary thing now, just to attempt at getting Christians to realize their own bigotry and closed heartedness. Sadly most of those same Christians don’t actually realize it, they just become more enflamed. People like you are a gem amongst a group of people that have become known for hate, not love. I would gladly converse back and forth if you have questions here and there about my “deconversion.”
        One thing I must preface though, I have gone through much to get where I am and although I hate to speak in definitives, I know that if one thing is sure it is that I will never return to Christianity. So if hearing some of my story helps you relate better to others then I’m all for it. Just please don’t try to “reconvert” me. 🙂
        Thanks again.
        -c

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  2. Eagle, I appreciate you and Bishop Lang bringing word of the Bangladesh atheist crisis. I’m very lucky. I live in the United States and the most common public reaction I get when people find out I’m an atheist is polite interest. It used to be “But you act so Christian!” however that has declined in recent years. I can’t imagine being openly atheist in such a hostile land.

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    • Blue…I’ve seen the Center for Inquiry posting on the situation in Bangladesh in the past. Its part of the reason why I read a lot of atheist blogs and material. Its important to stay informed.

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  3. I agree that Christians should treat atheists as they would wish themselves to be treated. For example, discussion should be done with humour and respect.

    Apart from that, I’m left scratching my head. Just who are these evangelicals who are persecuting atheists? In what way?

    The persecution you highlilght all seems to come from the Muslim world. This isn’t happening in the West. And it is nothing to do with evangelicals, at least I’ve never seen anything remotely that you could call a form of persecution.

    If you want to see how atheists treat evangelicals when they have political power, you only need to look at the former Soviet Union. And the New Atheists have some pretty totalitarian ideas lurking around when it comes to religious believers and their children, thinking religion in itself is a form of child abuse. Most atheists (not all) at best hold everything in contempt that you, if you really are a Christian, should hold most sacred.

    You asked for opinion as to whether you are off base: well, you are!

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    • Thanks for your thoughts. It is good and healthy to hear different points of view and for that I am grateful. The most boring blogs are the Neo-Calvinist blogs because al they have are comments of “Greta job!” or “loved the post” and all differing points of view are killed. You are always welcome to your opinion.

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