Class Warfare Blog

July 13, 2016

Making War on Christianity

There has been this curious meme running about for the last several years that there is a war being waged against Christianity. Let me for the time being confine this feeling to this country (the U.S.) because there are Christians being killed around the globe as part of religious or religion-fueled wars and I don’t want anything from there clouding the issue as it is here.

When I first heard of this phenomenon it was in the form of the bizarre “War on Christmas” floated by Fox (Sic) News organs. Shortly thereafter came the War on Christians and War on Christianity. Whether Fox was the progenitor of both of those I cannot tell, but the meme was certainly taken up by Christian communities and with high dudgeon.

So, where could this have come from? We had many, many years of Culture Wars over abortion, contraception, drugs, crime, racism, and women’s rights but never were these characterized as a War Against Christianity. Why the shift into full-fledged victimhood?

Methinks I may have twigged to the answer.

For many centuries the “godless” and atheists have been publically vilified, especially in this nation’s churches. In our history, states have had laws banning atheists (and, yes, Catholics and Jews and …) from holding political office and special contempt was ladled on scoffing unbelievers. As long as you believed in some god you were closer to “okay” on the social spectrum than abominable atheists. We were called immoral. We were described as being bad parents, bad citizens, and bad people and worse.

Then something changed.

The internet allowed people to make comments without identifying themselves and “lo, it began.” Atheists found community and their voice on the internet and the “New Atheism” was born. It was not born out of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett as so many claim. Atheists have been writing books for centuries, but that is a one-way form of communication. Books are not part of a conversation. The internet allowed discourse.

So, a number of former friends have been shocked to find out I am an atheist and shocked that I have negative (very negative) opinions of Christianity.

I may be “painting with a broad brush” in my denunciations but I am responding to broad brush denunciations of me and others like me. No exclusion was made for atheists who wouldn’t hard a fly or atheists who didn’t eat babies, so I was included (and am still so) in the denunciations of various Christians in churches and public forums, on TV, and yes, on the internet.

Did they think we would not respond? Did they think we wouldn’t fight back? We didn’t in the past, because calling oneself an atheist would cost one one’s job and a great deal more, possibly even one’s life. Freed from those constraints, Christians are finding out what we really think.

And they think we are making war on them, further proof of their false sense of privilege. Hell of a war when the other side does all of the shooting and the responses are in words alone. You can almost hear the umbrage “How dare they, harrumph!”

Well, you can take your umbrage and place it where the sun doesn’t shine. This “war” is just getting started.

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14 Comments »

  1. There are still places in the Bible Belt where admitting you’re an atheist could cost you your job. Ask Victoria (Neuronotes). She lives right in the middle of it all.

    Like

    Comment by Nan — July 13, 2016 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

    • … as does most of the rest of my family (the Ozarks). Yep, it is virtually impossible to create an “in crowd” without demonizing the “out crowd.” This has fueled the fracture of “Christianity” into 30,000-40,000 sects (hard to get a clean number). Those “other” Christians aren’t real Christians.

      A relative of mine claimed that Catholics aren’t really Christians, to which I responded then what were all of those Christians before the 16th century and the Protestant Revolution? I was exasperated and stunned by the comment.

      On Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 12:14 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 13, 2016 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

  2. You are right. The internet allowed us to find out something we didn’t really know due to our years of stifling ourselves. There are others out there who think the whole religion thing is silly! We have found like minds willing to share their opinions. We have made friends and acquaintences. We have a community. We have a movement.

    Religion is stuck in a quagmire of stagnant. They can’t go around murdering non believers anymore, so the only recourse they have is to play the victim card. And they play it often. They are victims of their own ignorance.

    Unfortunately there are still places in our country where atheits are considered conotations of evil to be despised, hated, and shunned. An atheist in the south is in danger of losing their job, having their children facing hostility in school, or “good x-ians” throw their trash in your yard. Being I live right smack in the middle of the babble belt and have so many “good x-ians” around is exactly why I have chosen to remain anonymous. When my last young un graduates high school, will be my coming out party. After that fuck em! I won’t care anymore. The boys will have to get out of here to obtain a job worth having anayway.

    Like

    Comment by shelldigger — July 13, 2016 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

    • Don’t take unnecessary risks, my friend. These are people who claim that “God will decide” and “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” and then go out and say “Fuck it, we’re send these heathens to Hell!”

      The amazing thing is that think we will burn for ever and ever in Hell but can’t abide our presence until then. No patience, what?

      On Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 12:30 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 13, 2016 @ 1:01 pm | Reply

      • I am always amazed at a believers willingness to help gods will along. Apparently the gods don’t mind the believers making decisions for them…

        Like

        Comment by shelldigger — July 14, 2016 @ 9:18 am | Reply

  3. For your enjoyment, these are the (still active) US state laws forbiding atheists from public office.

    Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1:
    No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

    Maryland, Article 37:
    That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

    Mississippi, Article 14, Section 265:
    No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

    North Carolina, Article 6, Section 8
    The following persons shall be disqualified for office: Any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

    South Carolina, Article 17, Section 4:
    No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

    Tennessee, Article 9, Section 2:
    No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.

    Texas, Article 1, Section 4:
    No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.
    So, who is really being discriminated against?

    Like

    Comment by john zande — July 13, 2016 @ 1:13 pm | Reply

    • What about people who think Christians are going to Hell?

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      Comment by oogenhand — February 13, 2017 @ 11:39 am | Reply

      • My apologies, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. Could you elaborate?

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        Comment by john zande — February 13, 2017 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

        • What would those US State laws think of someone who considers Christians to be a kind of devil worshippers who will burn in Hell?!

          Like

          Comment by oogenhand — February 14, 2017 @ 9:08 am | Reply

  4. Atheists found community and their voice on the internet and the “New Atheism” was born. It was not born out of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett as so many claim.

    Yes, atheists found a voice online but I have to disagree with you, Steve: the internet aided but did not start New Atheism. The ‘New’ bit is important to understand because it means it is somehow qualitatively different from ‘atheism’ of old… even atheism written about by many good thinkers and famous writers to a (relatively) large and receptive audience.

    So I don’t think atheism being online and available to the masses makes this qualitative difference you presume it possesses to start New Atheism. Something else, something more, defines the ‘New’ part and this is where the Four Horsemen come into it: the call for activism, the call for public criticism, the call for the reduction and elimination of religious privilege, the call to take on religious apologetics, take on religious encroachment in the public domain – especially in the biological sciences – and kick the living shit out of it by using that most militant of tools: good reasons.

    Why New Atheism? And why now and not in the 90s when the online world was exploding in access?

    Let’s review the roles played by Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens and why they are considered the Four Horsemen of New Atheism:

    1) 9/11… Harris’ book explaining why we need to work towards an End of Faith not just of the very dangerous and incompatible tents of Islam that caused 9/11 but across the board.

    2) The revealing Wedge Document behind Intelligent Design (at the founding of the Discovery Institute)… Dawkins’ book explaining why The God Delusion is fueling the anti-scientific antipathy towards science in general and evolutionary biology in particular.

    3) The need for Breaking the Spell that Dennett thinks is thwarting various academic and social research and honest inquiry into religious belief… treating religious belief itself as a neurological phenomena (as a subject and not an object).

    4) The pernicious side of the religious equation Hitchens explores explaining why God is Not Great when weighing the benefits and costs of the role religious belief contributes to ongoing human suffering.

    All four produce massive best sellers and launch talks around the world to sold out audiences about why religious belief in all its forms requires public challenging and removal from the public domain (areas like education, healthcare, law, the military, governance and policies, medicine, and especially science among others). All four call for people to stop privileging religious belief and this defines the qualitative difference between atheism of old and New Atheism: ongoing and sustained and loud criticism every time religious belief is used as a justification. This activism is picked up by many good thinkers and terrific writers and we see a slate of works entering and penetrating the public consciousness to such a degree that online readers begin to see that this wired community is where religions come to die before the withering attacks made by good reasons and good reasoning. This growing and widespread criticism of religious beliefs from the general population then affects the younger wired generation with criticisms of religious claims made about reality by various scriptures and beliefs in a divine and creative causal agency. These arguments dismantle the justifications used for religious beliefs by good reasoning, by evidence-adduced reasoning (rather than addled faith-based imaginings) combined with good writing. This affect is so pronounced that in less than a generation we’re fast reaching a tipping point in the West where religious privilege will be offset by a dramatic rise in the number of Nones, religiously unaffiliated and a growing minority of non believers; It’s still an an ongoing battle but one that New Atheism can proudly claim to have helped to bring about not by non belief alone but by reasonable and rational activism by many. That’s New Atheism.

    Like

    Comment by tildeb — July 13, 2016 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

    • I think this is a classic case of “find a parade and jump out in front” leadership. I remember when bookstores couldn’t sell books like “The Tropic of Cancer” because they were “pornographic.” Atheism books were often treated the same way (available only in a plain, brown paper wrapper). So, what would the Four Horsemen have to say without an audience? They would still be in the fringe of society. The two have to go together. And, I argue that the only difference between the “old Atheism” and the “New Atheism” is not just a matter of tone, but of volume.

      That the FH could go around the world on grand atheism tours is not far removed from Ingersoll talking at Chautauqua events or on a speakers tour. Robert Ingersoll was a atheism rock star who was invited to the White House … in the 19th century. I still think the biggest change is in the number of us in the echo chamber and that we were only emboldened by finding people of like mind

      And I love your well-thought out (usually better than mine) comments and posts. I cherish the intellectual relationships I have in this little circle. It allows me to be honest with myself and to learn, too..

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 14, 2016 @ 9:28 am | Reply


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