It can be pretty hard these days to distinguish satire from reality. Between fake news, alternative facts, and real, actual headlines, almost anything can seem satirical in nature. My friend James and I recently started a new satire site ourselves at Alternative-Science.com, a URL that we thought clearly implies satire and funny stories. But headlines such as “Chicago native gets into fight with beluga whale at aquarium over hat” and “David Avocado Wolfe In Critical Condition After Apparent Accidental Crystal Chakra Voodoo Overdose” apparently still aren’t obviously jokes to some people, based on the comments and messages we get about them.
So it’s no surprise that when I first saw the headline “Today’s atheists are bullies — and they are doing their best to intimidate the rest of us into silence,” written by Anthony DeStefano, I thought that surely, this was satire. I expected it to be another slam dunk from The Onion but no, it was written on FoxNews.com because of fucking course it was.
But, okay. I’ll read it, if for no other reason than to pretend I’m existing in a parallel universe where Fox News is a satire site, and The Onion is the site that spouts extremist right-wing “news” and embraces alternative facts.
Anthony DeStefano’s article starts out with this:
There’s no polite way to say it. Atheists today are the most arrogant, ignorant and dangerous people on earth.
We’ve all seen how these pompous prigs get offended by the slightest bit of religious imagery in public and mortified if even a whisper of “Merry Christmas” escapes the lips of some well-meaning but naïve department store clerk during the “holiday season.”
How charming. He seems like a nice, friendly person who is about to impart some deep philosophical knowledge on us. I can really see the Christian Values™ permeate his writing. Good for you, Anthony.
Then he cites some recent examples of Atheist tyranny:
To cite a few recent examples: Last December, the group “American Atheists” launched its annual billboard campaign with the slogan: “Stay Away from Church—it’s All Fake News.” In February, the “American Humanist Association” became furious when President Trump had the gall to mention Christianity and Jesus Christ without also mentioning atheists—at the National Prayer Breakfast! (How dare he!) And just this month, the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” raised holy hell because the Reverend Billy Graham was laid out in state in the Capitol Rotunda before his burial.
The billboard campaign is literally a sign that was put up in a public area. In case you’re not aware, there are thousands of Christian billboards peppering roads all around the country. Take for example this I-65 staple I drive by every time I visit the wonderful city of Chicago:
However, what’s great about the billboards American Atheists put up is the amount of free publicity the religious right gives them. I think the reason many people get angry and hostile about being told “there are no gods” is because they don’t have a rational or logical defense to the statement. These are otherwise intelligent, smart people, after all. The cognitive dissonance creates frustration for them, and the only outlet they have is to feel personally attacked, when there’s no such attack occurring. It’s an attack on an ideology they have internalized, allowing it to become part of their self-identity, and one that they can’t rationally defend.
So they get angry, give the billboards more attention, and ultimately help American Atheists. American Atheists isn’t trying to convince Fox News readers that Christianity is simply just another myth, they’re baiting groups like Fox News into giving them attention. And when Fox News flips out about it, it accomplishes the goal of moving more and more people to the non-religious category.
And regarding Billy Graham, I’m completely on the side of Seidel and the FFRF with this.
Hear that American Jews? And Buddhists, and Muslims, and non-believers? You’re all going to Hell. But don’t worry, at least Billy Graham and his anti-Semitism will lie in state in th US Capitol. https://t.co/8aYD1h9Y93
— Andrew Seidel (@AndrewLSeidel) February 27, 2018
Also in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a big fan of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. After all, I’ve had one of their attorneys, Andrew Seidel, on my podcast in episode 016, episode 022, episode 044, episode 055, and in episode 072. I also refer to him as “Atheist Captain America.”
Atheist Captain America strikes again! pic.twitter.com/shNxBHxnqk
— Dan Broadbent (@aSciEnthusiast) March 17, 2018
But even I got in on criticizing the decision to have an anti-semite who promoted anti-LGBTQ bigotry lie in state at the US Capitol, so I guess I’m no better than the likes of American Atheists or FFRF myself.
Stephen Hawking is the type of person who should lie in state at the US Capitol – someone who dedicated their life to the advancement of human knowledge and understanding of the universe. Not someone like Billy Graham, who dedicated his life to the advancement of ignorance.
— Dan Broadbent (@aSciEnthusiast) March 14, 2018
As DeStefano continues his article, it becomes apparent that the article itself is actually an advertisement for his new book, Inside the Atheist Mind: Unmasking the Religion of Those Who Say There Is No God.
Got it. So buckle up and prepare for the standard, run-of-the-mill Christian persecution complex.
Yes, these atheists are loud, nasty, unapologetic and in-your-face.
I guess that could be true. Atheists are a loud, nasty, and in-your-face group of people who regularly stand on street corners advertising atheism, guilt tripping people to come to meetings on Sunday mornings, and we regularly pass around a plate for people to put 10% of their income into. It would be a shame if there was actual research that directly disputed this.
According to the Pew Research Center:
In the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, self-identified atheists were asked how often they share their views on God and religion with religious people. Only about one-in-ten atheists (9%) say they do at least weekly, while roughly two-thirds (65%) say they seldom or never discuss their views on religion with religious people. By comparison, 26% of those who have a religious affiliation share their views at least once a week with those who have other beliefs; 43% say they seldom or never do.
Maybe DeStefano misspoke, and instead meant to say that the research shows religious people are the ones who won’t stop talking about their beliefs?
Continuing, DeStefano says:
Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Isaac Newton all believed in God. Nobel-prize winner Wilhelm Rontgen, the discoverer of X-rays; Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry; William Keen, the pioneer of brain surgery; rocket scientist Wernher von Braun; and Ernest Walton, the first person to artificially split the atom—all believed in God.
Just because you’re really smart doesn’t mean that everything you think or believe is smart or correct. After all, while Isaac Newton revolutionized the world with his discoveries of gravity and calculus, he also thought that we could make iron into gold. This is a great example of the appeal to authority fallacy.
Even the Big Bang Theory itself – which atheists mistakenly think bolsters their arguments against God – was proposed by Fr. George Lemaitre, a Belgian astronomer and Roman Catholic priest! And the father of genetics—which provides the basis for the whole theory of evolution—was Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk!
Sticking to the Christian persecution complex script, DeStefano dives deeper into the atheist mind:
Yes, the new atheists have an ignorance of history bordering on madness.
But are they really dangerous, too?
You bet they are. The truth is, the atheist position is incapable of supporting any coherent system of morality other than ruthless social Darwinism. That’s why it has caused more deaths, murders and bloodshed than any other belief system in the history of the world.
New atheists? I’ve heard people say “new atheists” and “new atheism” before, but I’ve never understood it. What’s new about atheism? What a silly term.
We all remember the Atheist Crusades in Europe and the Atheist Missions we setup in Central and South America, right?
We can only assume that DeStefano is referring to dictators like Stalin when referring to “atheist bloodshed.” We can turn to texts that do call for the murder of people as evidence for ideologically-motivated bloodshed:
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.
Wait a second – that’s Deuteronomy 22:20-21, in the bible. My mistake. Let’s try another.
And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun(the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)
Crap, that’s Quran 2:191-193. I guess there isn’t anything promoting violence or murder in the Atheist Bible?
While it might be true that Stalin was an atheist and killed a lot of people, it wasn’t ideologically motivated.
But wait, Hitler was a Christian. Sure, he didn’t commit his atrocities in the name of Christianity, but he was a self-identified Christian. Well, DeStefano has you covered with some delicious mental gymnastics:
And while many atheists make the preposterous claim that Adolf Hitler was a Christian, his private diaries, first published in 1953 by Farrar, Straus and Young, reveal clearly that the Fuhrer was a rabid atheist: “The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity,” Hitler stated, “was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew… Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.”
Well, it’s a checkmate as long as you ignore the fact that Hitler didn’t actually say that.
And it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Atheists don’t believe in God, so they don’t believe in any transcendent, objective moral law. Nor do they believe that human beings are made in the image of God, and so they don’t believe humans possess infinite value and dignity. When you put these two beliefs together, you have a deadly recipe that makes killing “problematic” human beings quite easy and defensible.
One has only to look at the growing numbers of abortions, suicides, homicides, and cases of state-sponsored euthanasia, and infanticide, to see the atheist-death connection. As a thoroughly secular and functionally atheistic culture, we are fast becoming accustomed to “killing” our problems rather than dealing with them in a compassionate, loving, and sacrificial way.
If you were in a coma for the last 20 years and just woke up, and you read this article, you’d think that the United States was a lawless, bloodthirsty society where doctors pass out abortions like candy and there’s a 50% chance you’ll get stabbed on any given day.
But when you look at actual facts and data, you see that DeStefano is a lying liar who can’t stop lying, because if he can’t scare you into buying his crappy book, what’s the point of him writing it in the first place?
The abortion rate has fallen to its lowest level since the Roe v. Wade era (thanks to comprehensive sex education). The suicide rate is relatively the same as it has been for decades, and while lower than many other developed countries, suicides in more rural areas (where both religion and gun ownership are more widespread) has increased. The homicide rate has gone down dramatically since the mid-90s.
But again, unless he makes you scared, he can’t convince you to buy his book.
DeStefano ends the article with this conclusion:
And that’s exactly what modern-day atheists are—bullies; bullies who are doing their best to intimidate the rest of us into silence.
Mr. DeStefano, we’re not trying to intimidate you or other religious people into silence. You can believe all the crazy shit you want, and you’re free to talk about it all you want. Proof of this is your stupid article and the continued existence of Fox News.
The problem we have is when you try to mix religion with politics and create laws based on your religious beliefs. The problem we have is when you create legislation that restricts women’s access to healthcare options and restricts what women are able to do with their bodies. The problem we have is when you try to enact laws that prevent LGBTQ couples from getting married. The problem is people like you, Mr. DeStefano, who perpetuate this nonsensical idea that Christians and other religious groups are persecuted, in any way whatsoever, in the United States.
Public policy should be guided by research and facts, not by your imaginary friend.