Why do Athiests HATE so much?

Dear Atheists,

I consider myself an agnostic, even though I feel that the probability of the existence of a greater power matching anything as laid out by existing religions to be virtually nil.

One of the reasons I consider myself an agnostic, rather than an atheist, is because I just can’t bring myself to be associated with all the hate and vitriol that spews forth from atheists (or, at least, from their spokespersons).

Why not live and let live? Why not let them have their prayer?

The “In God We Trust” and “Under God” complaints and lawsuits particularly rile me. These are not just prayers, they are a part of our national history and tradition, whether you like that fact or not.

I know a number of Christians, as well as a number of Atheists. And it’s always the Christians who help out, and the atheists that complain and hate.

When I die, I know it’s the end. But my christian friends have more often made this life a bearable and even pleasant one than any atheists.

I can’t help but feel that, in fairness, their kindness and generosity of spirit should be recognized at least as often as their misteps into overproselytizing and misguided efforts to save our souls.

I can never accept the title of Atheist so long as it is associated with such hate.

Posted: March 23rd 2011

brian thomson www

The “In God We Trust” and “Under God” complaints and lawsuits particularly rile me. These are not just prayers, they are a part of our national history and tradition, whether you like that fact or not.

Whose national history? The USA is not the world, and your Congress and Supreme Court do not set a world agenda – and thank goodness for that. If you knew more about your own country’s history, you’d know that those mottos are relatively recent inventions, foisted on the public during the height of the Cold War , and run against the intentions of your Founding Fathers. It is not “hate” to try to remind people of this, and prevent the rewriting of history to suit a right-wing political agenda.

Americans would do well to look at other countries and see how they manage just fine without an official religion.

Posted: April 7th 2011

See all questions answered by brian thomson

Philip www

I do not hate but it is a label I have been stuck with ever since I have been disagreeing with religious people.

I have managed to offend a lot of people just by saying that I do not believe in their religion or that I do not like the content of their religious books.

No matter how polite I am, no matter how much I stick to pointing out the faults of the religion rather than the person I am talking to I end up offending them, there is no escape from it.

I’m an atheist and I am happy to call myself one, I’m not going to stop disagreeing with people in a polite manner, if they still see that as hate then there is not much I can do about it is there?

Posted: March 29th 2011

See all questions answered by Philip

Blaise www

The word “atheist” isn’t a title, it’s a descriptor. If it fits, you are one, whether or not you like it. It’s not like we have a church you can join!

As for being hateful, I’m curious as to what you define that word to mean. You are implying that, for example, starting a lawsuit to get the words “under god” removed from the US pledge of allegiance is somehow hateful. That baffles me. I can understand if you find it unnecessary or annoying, but hateful? You may as well say that labor unions are being hateful when they try to negotiate better contracts.

In my mind, identifying something as a societal problem and speaking out or initiating action to change it could be taken as persnickety, perhaps, but not hateful. That’s not to say there are no hateful atheists, mind you, but their hate is driven by other things than atheism, I assure you. I hate broccoli, for example, but it’s because of its smell, not its religious beliefs!

As for the topic of atheist 'vitriol’, if it’s not true, call them on it. If it is true, it isn’t vitriol…

Posted: March 24th 2011

See all questions answered by Blaise


First of all, there aren’t any “Atheist spokespersons”. There are organizations such as American Atheists, but I think you’ll find that their membership is a small fraction of all atheists. There are very outspoken atheists, and whether that is a good or bad thing depends on the atheist.

The reason it matters to me is the impact that religious belief has on the politics of the US. Just off the top of my head:

1) The abortion battle is religiously driven.
2) My tax money pays for abstinence-based sex education that doesn’t work; it leads to more pregnancies and STDs than good sex education.
3) Churches enjoy tremendous tax advantages. Everybody pays more property tax so that the church doesn’t have to.
4) Our foreign policy is driven by religion; we like the Israelis no matter what they do, we hate the Muslims, no matter what they do.
5) Presidents tell me that I’m not a true american because I’m an atheist.

Of the people I know, I don’t see a lot of difference in kindness and generosity between the religious and non-religious. I do see the that the non-religious are better world citizens, where some of the religious are mostly US citizens.

I’m not sure what you mean by “hate”. If you view a lawsuit about forcing children to say “under god” as hateful, then I don’t understand; how can asking a government organization to act in accordance with the constitution be hateful. Slavery was, after all, part of our national history and tradition.

Posted: March 24th 2011

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

George Locke

Why not live and let live? Well, if theists would leave their prayer books outside the halls of power**, you might have a point. If my country, the U.S., weren’t in grave and terrifying danger of being overrun by religious fanatics, you might have a point. If religion weren’t used to subject women to repulsive degradation all over the world, throughout history, you might have a point.

Religion has a lot to answer for, and I don’t know why you shouldn’t want anyone to be angry about it.

By the way, the history of “under god”, i.e. McCarthyism, hardly seems worth memorializing.

  • To be perfectly clear, this is a metaphor. I’m not talking about literal prayers at legislative meetings. Some legislatures open their meetings with a prayer, which is a problem, but when the obeisance is over, faith can become law, and that really frightens me.

Posted: March 24th 2011

See all questions answered by George Locke

donsevers www

First, I’ll admit that atheists have an image problem. But so did blacks, women and gays. Whenever a previously silent minority begins to speak up, it will come across as angry. There are some angry atheists, but their anger is often appropriate. And anger is no reason to ignore an issue.


So, we can ask “Why do believers think atheists hate so much?” I’m sure some atheists are hateful, but we should be wary of stereotypes.

We can also ask this question: “Do hateful atheists have a legitimate point?” I think religion has a lot to answer for. Silence is complicity; religion is involved in many unjust practices. The idea that Gandhi will spend eternity in hell comes to mind. Should we hate such a policy? I think we should.

I am a former Christian, most of my friends are Christian and I always say that there is much good in religion. We don’t want to junk it entirely. I attend a Unitarian church and am a member of Interfaith Alliance. Ritual, community and service are valuable. Atheists and believers often have more in common than we have differences, so it is important to work together.

So, religion as a whole can be a force for good. It is faith that is the problem. When we accept faith as a way to knowledge, we splinter into competing worldviews with no way to settle our differences. This is painfully obvious from reading the news. Scientific Naturalism allows us to align with each other while harmonizing with nature. Faith divides us at a time when we most need to work together.

>Why not live and let live?

Live and Let Live applies to people, not ideas. It doesn’t require us to countenance bizarre or harmful claims about the world. Everyone agrees with this when it comes to obviously untrue claims like “I am Elvis” or “The government planted a radio in my head”. Religion, however, is full of equally baseless claims. They are camouflaged by sheer numbers of believers (which gives them political power), but they have no more legitimate grounds than UFOs, ESP or crystal healing.

We would love to avoid conflict by saying everyone’s ideas are equally valid, but the price is too high. It means giving up intellectual honesty. Sam Harris has pointed out that atheists are in the awkward position of defending the obvious.

Imagine living in North Korea, where to betray a view that is out of step with the official doctrine means death for your whole family. Christopher Hitchens has pointed out that Christianity uses the same model. Hell is God’s concentration camp.

We must respect each other, but it isn’t loving to pretend that all ideas are legitimate. They aren’t. We really need something like the FDA, but for ideas. Oh, we already have it: science and skeptical/critical thinking.


Posted: March 24th 2011

See all questions answered by donsevers

Reed Braden www

I’m sorry you feel that way. If you would dig deeper into the writings of these atheist “spokespeople” and listen to a broader range of voices from the atheist community, maybe you would see that not all of us are hateful… or maybe that what you’re told to interpret as hate is really a justified reaction to great moral injustices like genocide, violence, and child rape.

Whether or not you accept the title is irrelevant to what you are, and based on what you’ve told us, you’re definitely an atheist.

Posted: March 24th 2011

See all questions answered by Reed Braden


Is your atheism a problem in your religious family or school?
Talk about it at the atheist nexus forum