Alozno Fyfe: "When Atheists Attack!"

I direct your attention to this post by Alonzo over at Atheist Ethicist.

He laments what he perceives as a common occurrence in atheist blogs/articles: the tendency to take an isolated incident involving a religious person and use it as a hammer with which to crush all religion. Excerpt:

There are those who have taken every act performed by somebody who (claimed to be) religious and turned it into an attack on all religion. From 9/11, to every instance in which somebody who was religious has molested a child or stolen money from a church or viciously assaulted another member of the community, these have all been held up with a sign that says, “See what religion does!”

I must absolutely agree with Alonzo here, while simultaneously wondering if I’ve been guilty of the exact same thing. I do hope I haven’t, as I’m acutely aware of when religious people use an isolated incident involving an atheist to make the same kind of broad generalisations and group indictments about we non-religious folk and I’m acutely annoyed by it.

We, being non-religious people who give enough of a crap about religion’s influence on people and society to actually write posts like this, need to avoid being hypocrites. When responding to an attack or an article exposing a the hypocrisy of a religious person or group, our response has to be proportionate. It’s not good reading about, for example, yet another pastor being found guilty of seriously breaching his own faith’s guidelines – or the laws of his nation – and proclaiming religion as the source of his evil. That he used religion as a means to his greedy or lewd or hypcritical or criminal ends doesn’t necessarily indict either the religion he claimed to subscribe to or the rest of his followers. However, it can shine a spotlight on the fallacy that religion precludes people from doing illegal or immoral things. Saying “religion made him do it” is as bad as saying “atheism made the Nazis do it”. It’s not only factually wrong, it’s entirely unreasonable and hypocritical.

In quite a few of my own posts I know I’ve used offensive, crude language to express my displeasure at the actions of a religious person or group, but (without having sufficient time to check through all my previous blatherings) I hope I haven’t been guilty of tarring every religion and all religious people with the same brush I use to shellac the Pope or Sarah Palin or any other of the faithful cranks that have become the honoured subjects of my work. I do not for one second think your average, everyday Catholic is as deserving of my ‘praise’ as their ancient, feeble-minded murderous virgin bastard of an Emperor – though I certainly think more of them should simply grow a pair and tell the Vatican to butt out of their private lives and let them decide when to conceive children & if and when to end their marriage. I don’t think every American Evangelist Christian deserves to be flogged mercilessly the same way multi-millionaire faith-healing charlatans like Benny Hinn do – but I do know that Hinn and his tax-evading ilk wouldn’t be where they are without millions of devoted, hoodwinked (and quite possibly greedy – see “Prosperity Gospel”) disciples sending him their hard-earned money every single day. After all, you can’t light a fire without dry kindling (or Jiffies!).

However, having said that, every motherfucking last member of Fred Phelps’ gay-hating, military funeral-picketing, offensively coloured, worded & designed sign-painting, wilfully & consciously mentally retarded Westboro Baptist Church can go fuck themselves with a chainsaw.

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