How far should we go with militant atheism?

Why not be militant? Why respect religion? I understand we should respect them as human beings, but religion… why should we respect that? How far should we go with militant atheism? It took almost a year but I have converted a believing Christian to atheism from this and he is happier and says he is much more mellow and relaxed with the world. I have made many other question Christianity deeply. I understand some people can’t take the concept of Atheism or it’d stress them out but why not be militant? Is it good? Is it bad? Why? Also what can I do to be more militant? Ways to still respect them as a person while being militant or converting would be appreciated.

Posted: October 25th 2010

flagellant www

First of all, congratulations on having deconverted a person of faith without inducing trauma. I’d like to think that some of my arguments have stimulated doubts among believers, but I don’t think I can claim any known converts myself.

I dislike the term militant when applied to atheists. Militant religion is warlike (suicide bombings, Crusades etc.) but atheists are invariably peaceful, though argumentative. I don’t like the term evangelical either, because of its religious connotations.

I have noticed that there are general differences in the way US and European polemicists write. This applies particularly to writing about religion: the US variety seems to be more 'in-your-face’, and unaccommodating; PZ Myers’ Pharyngula is a good example. There are frequent discussions/arguments on Pharyngula about how much one should engage with the more moderate believers. 'Not at all’ is Myers’ position. If you want ideas about how to be more militant (active), you could do worse than follow Pharyngula; there are several posts daily.

Or you could follow Dawkins’s site which has a lot of news and some pretty trenchant (militant) posts, too. Virtually all writers are unanimous that one shouldn’t engage with creationist drivel because doing so affords respectability to junk non-science. However, this is a rich field for an atheist to do some serious 'missionary’ work, if you think you could stomach the outright blind stupidity you’d come across. The rational response squad has had some interesting exchanges with creationists…

Another approach is to campaign against the privileges religion gets: tax breaks (everywhere), the apparent superiority of canon law over common law (for Catholic priests), nation status for The Vatican, and bishops in the legislature (UK).

Overall, I think it takes all sorts of atheist to get the message across, ranging from the carefully written article to the persistent campaign. You could try searching this site for answers to earlier questions: as well as criticising, we sometimes ridicule, and occasionally play the man and not the ball, especially where creationism is involved.

Posted: November 10th 2010

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Blaise www

If a person is not advocating violence, they are not militant. I don’t believe in militancy as a solution for social problems like religion, but everything else is fair game, in my opinion.

Posted: November 10th 2010

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Mike the Infidel www

Refusing to give undeserved, unearned respect to ludicrous claims is not being militant. I love my friends and family dearly, even when they believe silly things. If you want to try to deconvert people, go ahead. It’s not for everybody, but some do enjoy it.

Posted: November 8th 2010

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I think it would be more appropriate for you to click on the atheist nexus forum link on the right. Your questions are best placed within a feedback environment.

There are many roles that one can play in the fight in keeping religious beliefs out of the tax-paying public realm. I find that my own role changes, from situation to situation, and as the years pass since I gather new information about how activist atheists have already changed the situation. It is an on-going process.

The way I show the person that I respect them and that it is just their religious beliefs which are up for criticism (except for the folks whom I really do not respect at all like Beck, Donahue, The Popeā„¢, or O’Reilly) is that I directly say just that, mimicking my husband’s very adept approach with customer service, that his complaint is not personal, it is not against their person, but against the policy set in place by their boss.

Posted: November 7th 2010

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