Why do atheists often focus on criticizing Christianity instead of other religions?

Islam in its present form, is a much more dangerous religion with its emphasis on killing infidels. Christianity in its present form is a gentle religion doing no harm.

Posted: June 5th 2007

SmartLX www

Familiarity. Most English-speaking atheists are deconverted Christians, or at least grew up in mostly Christian areas.

“Christianity in its present form” is a collection of about 38,000 denominations. Will you assert that they’re all perfectly gentle, even towards each other?

Posted: November 18th 2007

See all questions answered by SmartLX

bitbutter www

I generally talk about monotheism but when I focus on the detail of a particular religion it does tend to be Christianity. This is because it’s the religion I grew up surrounded by and the one I know most about. Christianity is the religion that has the most adherents among the people I personally know—so it also has a greater relevance to me for that reason.

I would agree that at the moment, at least from what I hear through the media, the incidence of violence inspired by the Koran is greater, or at least more dramatic, than Biblically inspired violence.

In order to have a productive dialogue about what to do about the problem of fundamentalist Islam the first step is to frankly admit that this violence is motivated by religious faith.

It’s politically understandable, but a dead end, to complain that militant Islamists follow a perverted form of Islam, or that theirs is not an example of true faith—to attempt this move is to commit the no true Scotsman fallacy. The problem is that no one can legitimately claim to be able to arbitrate between what is false and true faith.

If we agree that religious belief deserves respect then we rob ourselves of the ability to convincingly condemn the violent excesses of religious fundamentalism.

Posted: June 15th 2007

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Russell Blackford www

Some contemporary atheists have been forthright in arguing that Islam should not get a free ride, and should be criticised strongly. Some Islamists obviously hate Western civilisation, and will use violence in an attempt to destabilise it. On the other hand, most Muslims are just as peaceful as most Christians.

Whatever the faults of Islam, it is not acceptable to generalise and say that Christianity is a gentle, harmless religion, or to suggest that it is not a threat.

The largest and most politically influential Christian denominations are more than happy to employ force in their efforts to control how we live. The force they want to employ is that of the state, with its power to enact and enforce laws that could punish us for a wide range of activities. Every time you see Christian leaders campaigning to make something illegal, remember that they are trying to control what people are allowed to do. That control would be enforced by the apparatus of the state, with its burgeoning stock of policemen, pistols, and prison cells.

Currently, we see Christian leaders campaigning against abortion, stem-cell research, and therapeutic cloning. Among the Christian denominations, worldwide, the Vatican is especially keen on co-opting the power of the state to enforce its irrational and cruel form of morality. This, along with more local campaigns by many Protestant churches, is an immediate threat to our welfare and our freedom.

It is absolutely critical that strong voices be raised to insist that these Christian leaders have no moral authority. Their views should be given no more respect than those of some marginal, superstitious cult.

Posted: June 14th 2007

See all questions answered by Russell Blackford


There are more atheists in western countries who were Christian, so Christianity is what they know. Personally, I prefer to generalise to the Abrahamic tradition, which recognises the common ancestry of all three monotheistic desert faiths that arose out of the Middle East, accounting for the majority of religious people in the world and a large majority of the suffering and violence inflicted by religion upon people.

But atheists could – and perhaps should – generalise even further and criticise any religion or superstition, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology and even new age mysticism. Some religions and denominations don’t cause much harm and have been largely ignored as benign. There wouldn’t be much atheist outrage if the only religion in the world was meditative Buddhism in monasteries.

Posted: June 6th 2007

See all questions answered by RTambree


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