theists: no gods, no reason, just whining

Charlotte Allen's "Atheists: no god, no reason, just whining" story at the LA Times is as nonsensical an opinion piece as any that I've ever seen in a major newspaper--which puts her in league with the likes of Ann Coulter, Cal Thomas, George Will, and the rest of the wingnut media syndication brigade. Her lede is the first sign that we're in for a bumpy read:

I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores. [...] My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity.

Well...I guess we're even, then. My problem with theists is their tiresome--and way old--persecution complex and their fixation on the fine points of everyone else's lives. Allen complains about "the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain," but that sounds suspiciously like the projection of a writer whose co-religionists get violently obsessive over women's reproductive choices and LGBT civil rights.

The Christianist fundies want to force religion into every aspect of our lives, but here Allen tries to set up a dilemma for atheists: she accuses us of "whining" when we point out their moves toward theocracy, and accuses us of a "frenzied fascination with Christianity and the Bible" if we rebut them with their own texts. I guess what she really wants is for all of us to withdraw silently into a stained-glass closet.

Well, guess what? That's not going to happen. We're not going back, we're not shutting up, and if she doesn't like it, she can move to a Christian nation--like Vatican City.

When Allen claims that "What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn't rationalism but anger," she is somewhat closer to making a point; some of us are indeed angered by several faith-based problems. Let's list a few: Believers demanding that women be subjugated and sexual minorities be persecuted as abominations; mandating prayer and religious observance in schools; teaching abstinence-only ignorance instead of comprehensive sex ed, and the mythology of a 6,000-year-old Creation instead of biology, geology and cosmology; putting Ten Commandments plaques, crosses, and creches in every public space; and placing pro-god slogans on our money--and on our country!

If your religious observance were more about faith and less about force, you would encounter no opposition from us, because we don't care about your faith--we care about our freedom. Praying in private attracts little attention, though, and--despite the fact that Jesus instructed his followers to do exactly that--the Allens of the world want their prayers to be less about their god and more about coercing others to listen and join in. When we say "No thanks" to the same tired old rituals, she complains that we're the boring ones? Please.

Her final paragraph

What atheists don't seem to realize is that even for believers, faith is never easy in this world of injustice, pain and delusion. Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses. So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?

could easily be reworked to be much more accurate:

What theists don't seem to realize is that skepticism is never easy in this world of injustice, dogma, and delusion. Your belief in god(s) may be an important part of your lives, but that doesn't mean that it's important to us. So, theists, how about losing the tired claims of moral superiority and the boring persecution complex and engaging non-believers seriously?


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