The biggest challenge facing atheist public relations efforts is that most theists do not think about atheism and would prefer not to as they it is an unreasonable, arrogant and unattractive worldview. As a result, many atheist campaigns, particularly one's by militant atheists, are designed to be provocative which has the effect of further lowering the public's view of atheism/atheists (see: Views on atheists).
In areas of the Western World where theists are in the majority, atheists on the left end of the political spectrum, using the strategy of identity politics, have made various attempts to portray atheists as an oppressed minority, but this has not much lessoned the low opinion and/or antipathy many theists holds towards atheists for multiple reasons (see also: Views on atheists). See also: Atheism and public relations
For example, the atheist population in the United States is skewed towards white, atheist men in both adherents and positions of influence within the atheist community (see: Western atheism and race and Atheism and women). So it is difficult for atheists to portray themselves as an oppressed minority.
Historically, atheists have often used oppressive governmental actions to promote their ideology/worldview (see: Militant atheism and Suppression of alternatives to evolution and Atheism and mass murder). And atheists are not known for the empathy and charitableness (see: Atheism and uncharitableness). And in many cases atheists organizations have acted in a manner that displays an emotional tone deafness for the consequences it will have on public opinion (lawsuit to remove a grieving mother's roadside cross erected in memory of her late son who died in an accident, attempted removal of the World Trade Center cross, lawsuits to remove beloved community Christmas manger scenes, etc.).
In addition, atheism is seen as symptom of moral decay and atheists have often promoted and engaged in immorality (see: Atheism and morality and Moral failures of the atheist community and Atheism and hedonism).
Another problem the atheist community faces in terms of its public perception is its intellectual cowardice that first became noticeable within the Western World since the 1980s and has continued to the present (see: Atheism and cowardice and Creation scientists tend to win the creation vs. evolution debates).
American woman Natalie Rothschild irritated by atheist whining
In an March 6, 2012 Belief.net article entitled God save us from atheist whining, Natalie Rothschild wrote:
|“|| This idea that closet atheists need to be coaxed out into the open, and that they need to claim the right to rally together as proud non-believers, has become a central tenet of the ‘new atheist’ movement. The approach comes across as a curious blend of therapeutic thinking and fearmongering, and it is expressed with a kind of fervour that would not be altogether alien to the deeply devout. Silverman, for instance, believes that the Christian right ‘has unleashed an unparalleled slew of efforts aimed at Christianising the country’. The same kind of shrillness is heard among those religious people who imagine that atheists are tearing down the social fabric of America and are conducting a ‘war on religion’.
In an article outlining the importance of coming out, Silverman speaks of the ‘fear of rejection’, the ‘shame’ and the ‘mental and physical’ toll experienced by closet atheists. Admitting you’re a non-believer is, Silverman says, ‘the first step’, but he implores readers also to be ‘proud, open, honest’ atheists and not ‘another closeted victim of the Christian right’. The advice here reads like a 12-step programme for people recovering from religion. Rather than a positive clarion call for secular values, this is a self-help scheme for people who see themselves as traumatised abuse-victims.
But are Silverman’s sentiments even borne out by reality? Are atheists really a beleaguered minority in the US? Is it really a great taboo today to profess that you do not believe in God?
The so-called ‘new atheism’ movement has been headed up by esteemed writers like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, and supported by famous people like Bill Maher, Tim Minchin and - unsurprisingly - the band Bad Religion. In other words, this is an outspoken crowd that does not need to cower in fear or meet behind closed doors. The Reason Rally will take place on the Mall, for god’s sake, on the doorsteps of the US political establishment.
See also: Atheism and social outcasts
Mary Kochran's article at Belief.net declares that whiny atheists are pathetic
In 2011, Belief.net reprinted a portion an essay written by the American Mary Kochran entitled You Whiny, Sniveling Little Atheists Are Pathetic which declared:
|“|| You whiny, sniveling, little, pusillanimous cowards. You have the audacity to tell us Christians that we are “weak” and that our religion is a “crutch.” You are supposed to be so “courageous,” venturing forth boldly into the existential mystery of being alone, facing with stoicism the nothingness that awaits you at death, priding yourself on your realism and self-reliance. You are a bunch of feeble fakers.
Yes, you are outsiders. Go start your own...country. This one was started by Christians... It is Christians who established and largely Christians who fought and died to maintain the freedoms you enjoy. And Christians are still the majority. Apparently your vaulted belief system doesn’t equip you to handle being in the minority. That’s interesting, isn’t it? After all, this was and is a societal situation valiantly handled by millions and millions of Christians who suffered — and currently suffer — real oppression, violence, torture, economic deprivation, and cruel deaths. But you have to go through turning off the TV once in a while and so your precious puny feelings are hurt. How delicate and frail your mental architecture is!
You are a pitiful joke. Trembling over the mere mention of God. Running like babies to court because of your brittle feelings. “Oh, but judge, but judge, I saw a cross and I just can’t stand it.” “I heard someone say ‘Merry Christmas’ and it hurt my feelings.” “I just can’t sleep knowing there is a manger scene at the courthouse.” “The sight of the Ten Commandments makes me wet my pants.”
Now we see how inadequate and feeble you really are. Rage, therapists say, is the flip side of helplessness. And so we see your rage against religion in the public square for what it is: a product of your own insubstantial internal resources. Go look at yourself in the mirror if you can bear the pathetic, contemptible sight of yourself.
Poor comments of atheists at YouTube, blogs and other internet properties
Many times atheist use obscene language and engage in other forms of poor commentary at YouTube, blogs and other internet properties. As a result, their comments are often not published. A Barna Group study found that atheist are more likely to see obscene language as being acceptable behavior.
The Christian apologist JP Holding wrote about this matter:
|“|| Two weeks back I did an entry on a “censorship crybaby” on YT and how he (and others there) misuse the word “censorship” to gain the sympathy of others like them who feel put upon because the quality of their commentary is recognized for being as poor as it is. The crybaby has “responded” with a vid of his own now, though to call it a “response” would be to misuse and insult that particular word by attributing to the vid he made a dignity that word bestows which is does not warrant. Serious commentators would hesitate to use the word “response” in their own vocabulary for the next ten thousand years if I did that.
Not surprisingly, in 25 minutes of production – which included about a minute and a half of “dead air” at the end of his vid – the crybaby ignored virtually all of my critical points, and refused to admit several errors of his own (such as the claim that my reference to Congress in the free speech clause was “disingenuous” because some people didn’t live in America – an argument all the more embarrassing from the crybaby, inasmuch as I showed that in his native UK, the equivalent freedom is phrased just the same). My challenge to report me to censorship organizations was ignored, though that is to be expected since the crybaby was forced to admit that I indeed was not practicing “censorship” (but, he said, it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t like what I’m doing anyway, so I should stop!).
At any rate, I decided it was not worth a vid response of my own, but that for the record, a Forge post would be adequate.
I had made a point about a private YT channel as equal to what is called a “special library” – generally, a private collection of materials devoted to a specific topic, within which censorship is virtually impossible. The crybaby responded with the inane observation that my channel couldn’t fit this description because it is “not a library” but “more like lectures.” The idiocy of this response is par for the course for this poor fellow, and it is not hard to see why he prefers to offer victim rhetoric (as noted in entry two weeks ago) rather than arguments. In reality, films, including filmed lectures, are just one example of the sort of media that would be collected in a library. Beyond that, of course, the crybaby ignored my many points about the qualities of a special library that also match a YT channel: Not funded by taxes, set up for a special purpose and select audience, etc.
Christian patience, forgiveness and long-suffering towards atheists
Although it is not reported in the press often, due the press preferring to focus on controversy and conflict, as it garners more viewership/readers, many Christians quietly pray for atheists/agnostics - even those of the militant variety such as Richard Dawkins. The late atheist Christopher Hitchens had many Christians praying for him before he passed away and they were saddened when he died.
Richard Wurmbrand, who endured years of torture by an atheistic communist government and wrote the wrote the book Tortured for Christ, indicated that he had a compassion even for those who tortured him by "looking at men .. not as they are, but as they will be ... I could also see in our persecutors ... a future Apostle Paul ... (and) the jailer in Philippi who became a convert."
Jesus Christ said pray for those who persecute you and love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).
- Atheism and cowardice
- Views on atheists
- Atheism and social outcasts
- American atheism
- Decline of atheism
- Atheism and mass murder
- Atheism and uncharitableness
- Atheism and morality
- Atheism and deception
- Militant atheism
- Suppression of alternatives to evolution
- Atheist bullying
- Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins
Atheism and mental and physical health:
- Essay: Conservapedia obsessive compulsive disorder
- Essay: The atheist and evolutionist helpline
- Comedy and satires concerning atheism and evolution
- ↑ God save us from atheist whining by Natalie Rothschild
- ↑ Atheists Demand Grieving Mom Take Down Cross Remembering Her Son by David French, Christian Post, March 13, 2014
- ↑ http://articles.cnn.com/2011-07-26/us/new.york.wtc.cross_1_atheist-group-american-atheists-cross?_s=PM:US
- ↑ God save us from atheist whining by Natalie Rothschild
- ↑ Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2011
- ↑ Arizona to Wisconsin atheists: Quit whining!
- ↑ Atheism and morality
- ↑ Rebutting a Redundant and Ridiculous Rodent and His Ranting, Raving, and Railing
- ↑ Richard Dawkins upset that public doesn’t like him by Warren Nunn, Published by Creation Ministries International 13 May 2014 (GMT+10)
- ↑ Christians Grieve Death of Christopher Hitchens; Share Hopes for Deathbed Conversion by Eryn Sun, Christian Post Reporter, December 16, 2011
- ↑ dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs. Jesus Freaks: Stories of those who stood for Jesus: the ultimate Jesus Freaks. Bethany House Publishers, 1999, p. 67