An Open Letter to “Good” Atheists who Respect Religion

Dear Conformists,

Hi. Are you rolling your eyes at me for calling you a conformist? I know I shouldn’t insinuate that your admiration for religion and its beauty is a way of appeasing roughly 89% of the world population which you know is religious; that it is just a way of getting a cheap nod, because let’s face it, even if you sweep every atheist reading your book, essay, column or blog off her/his feet, the world’s applause-o-meter barely registers a sound. Make the theists happy, and that is what gets you likes on Facebook.

It could just be that you genuinely believe in religion as, not an absurdity or a pernicious force, but something benign; something we can easily coexist with. That’s your opinion, and it’s fine.

Then there are those who believe that it’s okay to be an anti-theist who criticizes religion, but we should be still be respectful towards other people’s beliefs. No argument there. That is ideally how it should be done.

Unfortunately, anti-theists cannot be expected to act more “ideally” than any other group indulging in activism, online or otherwise. What’s more unfortunate is that most theists, with their inordinately thin skin, are more likely to find the idea of anti-theism itself pretty provocative. You’re just very likely to be labelled “smug”, “arrogant” and a “troll” if you’re not diplomatically starting off every sentence of your criticism with, “Yes, religion is great and I deeply admire some of your religious personalities, but….”

Brendan O’Neil, in a recent article on The Telegraph, wonders how atheists have become “the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet”. History is not his strong suit, because atheists have always been regarded as the “most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet”. Islam calls them, “the worst of all beasts” and the bible refers to them as “corrupt fools”. And that’s how its followers have treated the godless for the past…I don’t know…about 2000 years.

That is why it is necessary to salute the valor and courage of our theists and “good-guy” atheists, defending us all against the rise of smug atheists who make disrespectful internet memes. Actually, no. You are an embarrassing redundancy, right up there with the white activists fighting for men’s rights.

In any kind of activism, there will always be a minority that resorts to tactics that may be considered distasteful. Like vegans calling you “murderers”. Socialists calling you “thieves”. Feminists calling you “misogynistic assholes”. Anti-theist atheists – those claiming (not unreasonably) that religion is a malignant force – are expected to act far more diplomatic and civilized than all other kinds of activism. It is because the subject they deal in is still considered so sensitive, the slightest pinch induces massive butt-hurt.

Atheist debaters are expected to work with teaspoons where all other activists are allowed to work with spades. And it is because of this, that atheists come off as more acerbic and abrasive than than those who criticize any other ideology or system they find harmful.

I don’t need to apologize for atheist trolls any more than feminists, Occupy folk, Democrats, liberals, LGBT and human rights activists have to apologize for the dicks they contribute to the internet.

And as for respecting religion, I don’t need to respect any religion claiming that I, as an atheist, am so vile that I deserve eternal torture. That’s like you calling me a “prick”, and demanding that I respect your belief. Sorry, can’t do; especially when you’re passing on their hateful ideas to your kids, and then scratching your heads when they grow up to be bigots.

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    • Her Desultory Musings
    • February 10th, 2014

    I’ve recently relocated to Pakistan and everyone here thinks it’s their prerogative to enforce a twisted notion of Islam on me. Just when I was beginning to get weary of the many ridiculous jamiyat women who constantly harass me to cover my head (I decided to give myself a hard time and enrolled in a second degree at a govt medical institute in conservative Punjab, joy!), I rediscovered your blog. Your piece just gave me ammo against all the people whose religion I’m frankly getting quite sick of respecting. So thank you for that momentary peace.

    I have a question for you though- a rather personal one, feel free not to answer if it invades your personal space. Did you ever live in the motherland as an adult? And if so, how did you survive here/ where are all the fucking like minded people? Imma die here, forever alone. I feel like there is very little space for existentialist feminists in Punjab (Karachi is too cool, I’m jelly). Also, whining without wine is so very sad.

    P.S. I realize how ADHD I am and how long my comment come rant is.

    • feeakshow
    • March 7th, 2014

    Love this article! write another one! !

    • The American Alibi
    • March 9th, 2014

    You sound like you have a dick in your mouth.

    • The Syed Atheist
    • April 25th, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Syed Atheist.

    • Danish
    • August 18th, 2014

    I didnt knew how to contact you, so im just commenting here. Where are you !!! ???? I check your site for an update and its been 9 months.

    I hope you are okay and just been busy. But please blog !

      • feeakshow
      • September 10th, 2014

      I agree Im actually quite worried

      • Thank you so much for your concern!

        I’m fine. I’ve been using my actual name these days to write, as that allows me to stay mainstream and exert more (hopefully positive) influence. I’m keeping this blog active in case inspiration strikes, and I’m forced to keep my identity concealed to express myself fully.

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