Why Are The Religious So Threatened By Atheists?

religionI've noticed that since atheists have become a bit more vocal, religious folks have become exceedingly nasty about their faith. Their tactics are those of a cornered injured animal - vicious, unfair, ruthless. It doesn't make sense to me. You'd think, considering their beliefs, they'd be indifferent at most to people who are atheists. Why are they so threatened?

Have you ever listened to a pseudoscientist hyping their product? They do the same thing. They tell you they have a secret that only they know. They say everyone is against them, that THEY are holding back information that you can purchase for only $49.95, or 3 easy payments. They make themselves out to be the victims when in fact they are victimizing every poor fool that buys their stupid crap.

The religious do the same. They claim they're oppressed, downtrodden, victimized. When in fact they are the oppressors, the victimizers, the ones with jackboots on the necks of sheeple. Hypocrisy is vile and repugnant, and they use it like it's gold.Why is it so offensive to people of faith that some people come to realize there are no gods? Why do they feel the need to use so much energy to lash out at atheists and freethinkers?

Are we really a threat? And if so, why? For instance, this blog is really for people who have a believing problem, who are atheists or agnostics. This blog is for Freethinkers. It's to help people who already question religious dogma. I don't try to change anyone's belief system. Occasionally a religious person comes along and leaves a nasty comment.

This site isn't for the religious. That's pretty clear. So why do they feel the need to attack when they aren't even being addressed? Why do they go all over the place, on tv or wherever, and spout forth lies about atheists? Why don't they just leave well enough alone?

If there's a war on religion, or a war on christmas, it wasn't started by the atheists. It was clearly started by the religious as a preemptive strike against people who think for themselves.

Is it a numbers game? Are they afraid we're so clearly right that they worry we'll empty their pews with simple logic and common sense? And empty pews mean less free money to the church. That might be part of it.

I have no idea. To me it's a complete mystery. As an atheist, I basically believe in the idea of live and let live. Do your thing, believe whatever you like. Even feel free to share your beliefs with others. Go to church, if you like. I don't care. But give everyone else the same courtesy. And if anything you do is harmful to others, then it's not acceptable.

This is where I get really upset about parents indoctrinating their kids into religion. It's so cruel to teach a child she will burn in hell if she thinks an impure thought. (I was so terrified of burning in hell when I was young, I went to 3 different churches and got baptized in each of them.)

Anyway, if you try to impede society with your limiting and crazy beliefs, that's unacceptable. So creationists, if you're so worried that your precious children might learn real science and actually open their minds to evolution and (gasp) reality and common sense, homeschool your kid. I don't like it, but that's your right. But trying to get the government to teach your kids creationism or intelligent design (which is the opposite of intelligent and we all know it), that's insidious to society and weak and lazy on your part.

I still haven't answered my question. Mainly because I'm not a religious nut who feels the need to proselytize and bend others to my will and put their heads under the same jackboot I'm under. I'm a simple atheist with simple ethics, one of which is to NOT be a hypocrite. So I don't have the answer. If you do, please feel free to comment.


  1. Go through history and since the very early years, the christian religion has tried to enforce a single way of thinking - orthodoxy. Read what some of the early 'saints' wrote about the gnostics, the pelagians and others; recall the slaughter of the Cathars, the Holy Inquisition and the St Batholemew's day massacre; recall why the Pilgrim Fathers left England - a dual reason they couldn't practice their peculiar form of puritanism by imposing it on the country where the established church sought conformity. And so on. What this shows to me is a persistent inability on part of the christian mind which cannot tolerate any form of deviant thought. This is not necessarily to condemn all present day christians but the evangelical branches in particular.

    This manifests itself in the UK and the USA with whining about persecution when atheists/humanists dare to show their heads above the ramparts. They also much like the nazis and the tyrannies in 1984 love to focus on hate figures - gays, abortions and evolutionists - let alone free thinkers. On long reflection, I conclude that the reaction is a nasty mix of hypocrisy and self pity and is actually an insecurity about their beliefs - if these were well founded they should be able to stand challenge and indeed relish defending what they believe. The fact that their ministers and adherents cannot and have recourse to abuse and threats whenever anything is said is most revealing.

  2. Hasn't everyone gotten "caught" still believing something that wasn't ? It doesn't feel good....like that's better info ,so I'm glad I'm not still mistakenly believing that!-no,often it's embarrassing and denial works well.....but using reason ,logic,and science ,a mature approach teaches that when mistakes are made....or delusions are exposed.....we all do this.....we must readjust our knowledge and go forth.......things that are supposed to be eternal,though,are not to be 'adjusted'.........this subject ,of shooting holes in dogma with facts is related to an interest I've had that I sometimes wonder about : the day to day work of modern day (and historical) theological scholars who unearth data to support or refute traditional 'dogma',eg. the Jesus tradition ; and here I have been somehow sated by learning that these 'experts' agree with what we 'lay' non believers kinda thought all along - that the factual support for the whole story (eg. Jesus) has become more and more tenuous.One example is despite a supposed "prophecy" to the effect a saviour would be a Nazorean , and the apparrent fulfillment thereof by Jesus,the actual town of Nazoreth did not exist until much later than the time of Jesus....So the dogmatic/eternal/truths a believer "knows" are gradually being revealed as faulty........that's unsettling at the least....embarrassing and exposing belief in delusions......threatening one's most basic understanding of life,universe,afterlife..........makes you mad......maybe there are stages in belief----unbelief like Kuebler Ross' stages in dying.......anger comes early on......sorry for rambling-an interesting and appropriate topic/thanks!

  3. Good post as usual.

    I've figured out an answer of sorts to your question a few years back through a discussion w/ my sister (who is still a catholic, though not very religious) on religion. This was actually around the time that I recently became an atheist and all I wanted to talk about was religion, because I was so excited to have found myself. Now in this conversation, I wasn't raising my voice, I was speaking calmly, rationally, discussing the tenants of religion and why I believe it to be wrong. I don't remember what the particulars of the discussion was or what point I was trying to make, but I do remember how vehemently angrily and offended my sister was after I finished my statement. She started yelling at me, "why do you shit on people's life?!" and ended the conversation. I was stunned. After much deliberating on how the conversation went and why my sister who is usually very soft spoken and cheery would get so angry at me and reflecting on my own difficulty during that time of "doubt" in my religion where I was trying to overturn years of indoctrine on origins of life, bigoted morality, faith, threats of damnation, promises of salvation. My parents modeled their own lives and their children's lives (me and my sis) off of their religion or rather, what the weirdo priest tells them. Previously, my religion was this false identity, and at the time it was gut wrenchingly difficult and terrifying to let go of it. I saw that fear in my sister and I see that in many theists who so angrily and sometimes violently lash out to atheists. In the case that its a different religion, its okay, because they have a common foundation, a belief in some deity. A tradition. When its an atheist, its different because the atheist's very being is an affront to the foundation of their identity.

    So that's the long answer on why they are so threatened.

    The short answer is that many religious folks based their individual identity off their religion. Atheists rejecting their god, rejects their identity (no matter how disillusioned the identity).

    Its hard for some people. They fear freethinking and independence. Sometimes religion is all they have, but of course, that's not to say that its right for them to be douches about it.

  4. I think the answer varies from person to person really. Church leaders fear they will lose their sheeple, and thus their income. Politicians fear the freethinkers; plus they use religious pretence for causes, with less religious people they will lose that tactic. The group fears atheists because they are told to by their leaders, and so they follow blindly. The individuals are brainwashed with the heaven and hell spouted by religion, and fear their friends and family will not be in heaven with them.

    On the note about schools… A senator in Florida is trying to push intelligent design into the schools there.

  5. I think they do feel threatened, like some of the other posters have posted.

    If you and the community you belong to believes something (or claims to), and someone (even if it is just one person) comes out and says they don't, that sort of throws a wrench into the collective zeitgeist and, I would imagine, the cognitive dissonance the community shares.

    I think one of the reasons for needing to "save" others is to justify their own beliefs- safety in numbers and all that. It's a sign that their faith might not be that strong after all.

    If the number truly is 90% of Americans who believe in one flavor or another of the Christian god, how can there really be any kind of persecution at all?

    It boggles the mind.

  6. I agree, Richard. Thanks very much. :)

  7. Good point, Rev Tim. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks very much and feel free to ramble. I'm glad I inspired you to express yourself! :)

  8. Thanks so much, Ann! That makes sense, about having your identity in your religious belief. And I agree, it shouldn't give them the right to be such douches about it. :P

  9. I think you are right, Johnny, it does vary from person to person and group to group. Thanks very much. :)

  10. Yeah, that's how I see it, Steve. But I'm an outsider now so it feels like a guess.. that the religious want to "save" others to justify their own beliefs, or something like that.
    And yes, it does boggle the mind that they feel persecuted. Maybe they don't though. Maybe they are just calculated and hypocritical and really good at acting persecuted... maybe they just play the game way better than the more honest and forthright atheists?

  11. This is actually something I've wondered about, but Laurie Lebo (reporter who covered the Dover trial) summed it up best when she said that if you really, really believe that hell is real, and you feel it is your duty to save people from that fate, anything else is irrelevant- dishonesty, hiding your intentions... The fate of the world is in the balance and the ends justify the means.


    I could just be blowing smoke, but I'd rather believe that than that people would be so calculating and hypocritical for no reason at all.

  12. Sigh.. I guess so. I have no idea. This is something that really bugs me though.

  13. Me too.
    And even then, it doesn't excuse it, but it makes it... understandable.

    It still pisses me off.

  14. In one breath they so dearly want to save our godless, empty souls, ok, I'll fall for that. But I don't believe their 'prayers' for us to 'come to jesus' are ever uttered. That's polite condescension to us on their part (patting our heads while imagining how miserable we must be. It gives them warm fuzzies (they've done their part).

    In the next breath, they're bragging that we'll burn in hell & seem pleased to say so. So they start with their threats: 'you'll believe in hell when JC returns' and 'hell lasts forever & then it's too late for you' (self-righteousness at its best). But I think this is when they know (but deny) they've lost the argument & all they can do is retreat to the comfort of their dogma. We are tired of hearing it & are now saying so. This scares the hell out of them. Their faith & beliefs have always been so babied & never challenged, & they've been allowed to proselytize, condemn,& lie with impunity. They aren't capable of holding an intelligent conversation & their usual mantras aren't working so they lash out or claim persecution. And we're quickly growing tired of that too. Never underestimate the power that an eternal firey hell has over them. After I became a non-believer, that fear of torment in an everlasting hell was the longest lingering issue I had to deal with. That is their biggest fear & they want us to fear it too. (The book of Revelations is the ranting hallucinations of a schizophrenic on a bad LSD trip.)

    I hope I made some bit of sense, cognitive dissonance in the Christian mind infuriates me and is not easily put into words or a couple of sentences. But, it was the first tiny ray of light into into corner of my mind that led me to shed that craziness, embrace reason & and see religion for the ugliness that it is. (Actually, I never did fall for the church bible stories about Jonah in the whale, noah's ark, etc even at age 5 or so. But I quietly believed what I was told. Sad.)

  15. I agree, Aerie. I don't think 99% of christians who snidely tell you they are going to pray for you ever actually utter a word to their lord about you. Yes, it's extremely condescending, in a completely useless way.
    Do you think their smugness about us burning in hell is Schadenfreude? They revel in our eternal damnation, don't they?

    I agree with you in all that you said. You made perfect sense and were quite articulate. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! :D

  16. I would say it's mostly the hell thing. My second son has just been converted and I know it's only a matter of time before he's brainwashed into visualizing me burning in hell forever unless he does his part in bringing me back into the fold. Why lay that on him? It's going to twist and deform most of our interactions from here on. That Christians have this 'burden for the unsaved' forced upon them is truly evil. As God says in Conversations with God: 'What would be the point of that?' Where is this free will they keep talking about? Love Me or burn forever. Nice.

    It's really sad. I feel it's set my son back years and years but he's happy now and hasn't been for a v long time so... hey, if it works... Maybe he'll get to something wider or broader eventually. I hope so for his sake and for mine.

    But to quote: 'And empty pews mean less free money to the church.' This is where the hell thing really started. The early church needed money. And how else to get people to pay, but to scare their money right out of their pockets and into the church coffers... with a place that nobody can prove doesn't exist. 'You have to believe. Because we say so. And we can read Latin which is what this Bible is written in, (and you can't, so there) and we know and you don't. So pay up and light these candles and maybe we can get _____(insert name of dearly beloved) out of Purgatory eventually. What a beautiful son you have. Shouldn't he be in the choir?'

    I admire Jesus Christ as a historical figure, (Roman administrative reports confirm he did exist)and as a spiritual master. But as he himself said: 'You can do the same and even more.'

    Quantum physics has revealed that there are many things we consider impossible that are indeed very possible, like quantum jumping which I heard about only the other day. Most of our minds are not evolved or open enough to take it all in yet but we'll get there. There are mystics all over the world who produce miracles every day. My beef with science as most people use it, is that it's so limiting. There are things we cannot explain rationally. In 'Dance of the Wu Li Masters', Gary Zukav opens all kinds of mental doors that cause me to be in a state of wonder. Perhaps there is a place for wonder and awe in science, which used to be reserved strictly for God and Sundays?

    But the whole Jesus-is-God thing has evolved to serve the few. And they've done very well out of it, from the Vatican to all those glamorous TV preachers.

    Someone once said there was a collusion between the church and the aristocracy in medieval times (correctly called the Dark Ages)- the church kept people ignorant and the aristocracy kept them poor. The aristocracy of course was also not immune to the fear of hell.

    Broadly, I see intelligent design everwhere. That's logical and recognizable to me even just as an artist, but perhaps it's not logical to hard and fast atheists. I believe what we call science is still in its infancy and what is really out there is much larger than what we can currently comprehend.

    But no harm in working on it, hey? And that's why free thinking is so valuable. Because we can.

  17. Well, Quyn, I was with you until you talked about Jesus as a historic figure, in Roman records. If you have resources for this, I'd love to see them and share them here because I have never seen any Yeshua or Jesus in any Roman records of the time ever recorded.

    I'm not sure what quantum physics has to do with anything in this article, or anything in general. There is zero scientific evidence that quantum physics translates past the quantum scale.
    Gary Zukav is not a quantum physicist and has no idea what the hell he's babbling on about. This is pure pseudoscience. Instead of relying on quacks who want to sell books, look at what the science actually says.
    I do agree that science inspires great awe and wonder, certainly for me personally. But I don't need to go into pseudoscience to find that wonder. The real world is amazing enough. And it's all completely natural. That's all we need.

    Oh, and mystics don't produce miracles. They produce magic tricks to woo the gullible.
    And science isn't limited by anything but our imaginations and rigorous protocol for making sure the scientific method is accurately followed for good results.

    There is no intelligent design. That is your mind looking for simple answers to complex questions. The only intelligent design is what we humans do to engineer our world. That's it. A bug is not intelligently designed. It has evolved through natural selection. No unseen god is needed. It's entirely natural.

    I do agree that we can go much further on the shoulders of giants with science, as long as we follow the protocol for good research. But that doesn't mean there's any evidence in pseudoscientific woo.

    I recommend The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe for a good dose of reality when it comes to woo thinking.

  18. Well - am always open to new ideas. Obviously I still dwell in the world of Woo, then. Am looking at quantum jumping and there I see that much of what works cannot be scientifically proven at this stage. But the math agrees.

    Anyway, a scientist I have never been but it fascinates me, so it's not easy for me to separate the pseudo from the real thing. I still find intelligent design a very seductive concept... not sure that it's my mind looking for simple answers to complex questions. I like complexity. Follow the protocol for good research? My dear, I'm an artist. I don't have enough life for that as well. But will definitely read the book you recommend (too lazy to type all that out, so thanks for doing that) because I like to have my ideas shaken up.

    As for Jesus actually existing in history - I'm not sure where I read it. I didn't think I'd need that reference 15 years on... it did seem credible; some minor official in Judea wrote to Rome about this guy (described his appearance) who was causing a lot of trouble.) Would it be terrible if he existed?

  19. It's not a book, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe is a podcast that I highly recommend. Here is their homepage: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/
    You can get them through iTunes. I highly recommend them as a primer on being skeptical with your thinking. Start with their old episodes. They're all good.
    By the way, I'm also mostly an artist by nature. That doesn't mean you can't practice critical thinking. I used to think the same thing but my world opened up when I embraced science more fully and let go of woo thinking. Critical thinking won't make you less of an artist, it will open your world and your mind even more. At least it has for me.