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I hate it when people use religion as a justification for their hatred.

If there really is a hell, I think people like Fred Phelps might get a bit of a surprise.

Posted by Shea | April 20, 2007 1:30 PM

For lack of a better word, amen.

Posted by Levislade | April 20, 2007 1:30 PM

I bag on you a lot, Dan, so I have to give you credit when you make excellent points like this.

Totally, completely agree. We don't need to thump our chests and cry crocodile tears.

Posted by Gomez | April 20, 2007 1:33 PM

Fuck Dinesh d'Souza and the horse he rode in on.


Posted by truthseeker | April 20, 2007 1:37 PM

This atheist has gone to public memorials after certain national tragedies and just kept my mouth shut while the religious people did their thing. It's not like we're going to speak up in the middle of some big public display of grief. There is a time and place for everything, and it's ridiculous that D'Souza uses this tragedy to further the cause of his bullshit, delusional fantasy of some imaginary, all-powerful being.

Posted by Tiffany | April 20, 2007 1:44 PM

Speaking of the Phelps family, there was an amazing documentary by Louis Theroux about a month ago on the BBC, called The Most Hated Family in America. If it gets shown on any channel over there, don't miss it.

Posted by Gabriel | April 20, 2007 1:44 PM

What an A-hole.

Where are the atheists? Uh, they are doing what they do best. Minding their own F-ing business.

Personally, I find it more comforting that things like Cho are random, not part of a "loving god's plan". If that were the case, I'd be pretty pissed at said god.

Posted by Mike in MO | April 20, 2007 1:49 PM

Gabriel, it's available in 7 parts on youtube:

Posted by Tiffany | April 20, 2007 1:51 PM

Yeah, and the Jews are busy picking over the killing field for baby-meat.

Atheists are to today what Jews were for um...every other century ever, blindly hated with no real understanding from the majority, and blamed for everything. Did this punk even mention the Scientologists?

Posted by Kat | April 20, 2007 1:54 PM

I notice that the bikers who have been traveling around with Phelps' whack-jobs, protecting mourners from their hate, are still doing it - that looks like them in the background. Those guys truly rock.

Posted by Tlazolteotl | April 20, 2007 1:56 PM

I think the term "the problem of evil" in its most common context refers to the extreme mental gymnastics people of faith often feel the need to perform in order to explain how an all-loving, all-powerful God allows such unbelievably horrific shit to happen on a routine basis. For atheists, it's not so much a philosophical problem ("How could God allow this happen?") as a problem problem ("Man, that is fucked up. Can anything be done?")

D'Souza is confused. Also, he apparently wants atheists to identify themselves by wearing badges or t-shirts that say "atheist" on them.

Posted by flamingbanjo | April 20, 2007 2:14 PM

We atheists should go door to door in the AM waking up christians and giving them literature.

Posted by SeMe | April 20, 2007 2:14 PM

I have to say, Dan, I've encountered just as many athiest assholes as I have Christian assholes. Since I've lived in Seattle for the past eleven years, maybe more. The entire time they bitch and bitch about wanting a live and let live attitude, and then slam me for having religious beliefs, like I'm personally responsible for Fred Phelps.

Posted by Gitai | April 20, 2007 2:18 PM

I posted an unoffensive comment from my atheist perspective on the UW paper's website ( in response to an opinion piece titled "Where was God at Virginia Tech?".

The comment posted and then it was taken down. Figure that out.

Posted by Miss Stereo | April 20, 2007 2:28 PM

Good point Miss Stereo, and Im not surprised it was taken down. Come to think of it- where was god in Rwanda? I dont know, but his representative French-trained priests were assisting the Hutu genocidieres.

Posted by SeMe | April 20, 2007 2:38 PM

A wonderful rebuttal to D'Souza's d'ouchebaggery can be found at Daily Kos, where an actual atheist professor at Virginia Tech left this moving diary.

This atheist has nothing to add; it's quite beautiful.

Posted by Switzerblog | April 20, 2007 2:39 PM

Wow Gitai, a Christian with a persecution complex, now I've seen everything.

Posted by dirge | April 20, 2007 2:42 PM

Nah, it's a fair comment, dirge. Zealotry's found on both sides, and I say that from a non-christian perspective. I've seen it a lot, too.

Posted by wench | April 20, 2007 3:00 PM

@ Mike in #7:
I pretty much constantly wonder how religion can possibly afford any comfort to anyone. It seems like it must raise more questions and create more problems than non-belief, doesn't it? That whole "problem of evil" that theists think is all wrapped up so...isn't...

This atheist was emailing family who went to VT to make sure they were ok, and then got on with my life and my career, where I actually DO make the world a better place by investigating and cleaning up environmental contamination. What has Dinesh D'Souza done lately to legitimately make the world better?

~crickets chirping~

Posted by Ethyl | April 20, 2007 3:01 PM

Once again Mike in MO does my speaking. Thanks Mike.

What he said.

Posted by monkey | April 20, 2007 3:01 PM

I hate it when people use religion as a justification for their hatred.

a Christian with a persecution complex, now I've seen everything.

i really would be nice if people did stop making assumptions or declarations about entire groups based on some (or even most) of its members. to assume any 1 member of a group embodies all the characteristics of that group is wrong. you don't have to be nice, but why not?

Posted by infrequent | April 20, 2007 3:02 PM

I have no doubt that there were atheists and agnostics (like myself) who mourned along side everyone else at memorials across the country. Our society hasn't gone the way of Nazi Germany, yet, where we have to where our religious or political affiliation on our sleeves.

Posted by elswinger | April 20, 2007 3:06 PM

Why so paranoid about that comment, infrequent? You seem awfully defensive, almost stricken with guilt, about a random comment that wasn't even directed at you, or was even the sort of blanket statement you're assuming it was.

Posted by Gomez | April 20, 2007 3:08 PM

I'm an atheist but I think D'Souza is on to something here. For many atheists, myself included, atheist also means unspiritual. What's the meaning of life and the universe? There is no meaning--full stop.

Maybe it's not so surprising that this position fails to win most people over from believing in irrational myths. Sam Harris in "The End of Faith" makes a persuasive argument for the need for spiritual practice and development (exploring the relationship between our consciousness and the universe).

Maybe someday there'll be a body of spiritual and moral knowledge and practice, not reliant on belief-without-evidence (i.e. faith) that produces people capable of speaking from that tradition to a tragedy like this horror at Virginia Tech.

Posted by tom | April 20, 2007 3:16 PM

How are atheists supposed to respond? Offering our sympathies by NOT praying to God?

Posted by Gloria | April 20, 2007 3:17 PM

While I disagree with the use of tasteless personal insults of D'Souza in these comments, I do believe that religion is organized ignorance.

Posted by Adam Smith | April 20, 2007 3:18 PM

#12 - ha ha ha, classic.

Only the literature would be blank. When asked to explain, just say, "exactly".

Posted by Dougsf | April 20, 2007 3:44 PM

Another argument for worshipping Mr. Potato Head.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | April 20, 2007 3:45 PM

I saw a couple funny bumper stickers.

"Religion exsit so the poor don't murder the rich"

"God was my co-pilot but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him"

Posted by irl500girl | April 20, 2007 3:49 PM

@gomez -- huh?

i think people who have no religion use often use religion as a justification for their hatred. me? i don't go to church. if i did, i'd probably get kicked out. i was just sticking up for Gitai. I do not like to see judgment of anyone based on stereotyping.

so, although the religious are, as a group, far more guilty of it, being non-religious shouldn't be a free pass, and being religious don't mean you are an asshat. basically, i think people should be allowed to believe what they want as long as their belief does not infringe on the rights of others.

what exactly do i seem paranoid/guilty/defensive about?

Posted by infrequent | April 20, 2007 3:54 PM

@29, my all-time favorite bumper sticker, religious or otherwise:

"MILITANT AGNOSTIC: I don't know and neither do you."

Posted by matthew e | April 20, 2007 3:57 PM

There are lots of athiests who are assholes. Lots and lots of them. Most of the really obnoxious ones seem to live in Seattle. And if you're stupid enough to think athiests don't try to bully other people into sharing their worldview, it's probably because you are one. Those of us who aren't athiests in Seattle take a boatload of shit from smug superior "rational" athiests.

Posted by Judah | April 20, 2007 4:32 PM

some bully. some just condescend, holding the view that certainly no one who is intelligent would appreciate religious tradition or value anything remotely spiritual...

as an agnostic, i like to talk about the concept of god. but i have to be very careful, because the automatic response i'm often faced with is not pleasant. then again, i should know better than to ever discuss politics or religion, shouldn't i?

Posted by infrequent | April 20, 2007 4:40 PM

A lot of people are assholes, period. Why does everyone make a big deal about linking it to religion?

Posted by gfish | April 20, 2007 4:47 PM


I just want to say that I personally have never met a bullying or condescending atheist, but then I live in Ohio and almost everyone I know is a Christian. When the atheists I know do speak ill of religion, we certainly never do it in front of believers, unless they have consented to an open exchange of views.

However, I've observed and personally experienced tons and tons of condescension from the religious. Most of the time, I'm pretty sure they have no idea what's condescending about what they've said.

None of this is to say that one group is more or less guilty than the other, just to provide a counter-experience to some of the comments here.

Posted by Anita | April 20, 2007 5:25 PM

I've met more self-described believers to be more obnoxious than self-described atheists. And since there are more believers than atheists... ;->

That ridiculous article made me run run and join the Richard Dawkins site.

Posted by Laurie D. T. Mann | April 20, 2007 5:25 PM

@anita. oh, my experience matches yours entirely. it's too bad people can't feel free to do so in front of others, and i guess i'm just saying it'd be nice if "we" could try to be more civil then "them"... yeah, i guess it's impossible to even address without referring to groups.

Posted by infrequent | April 20, 2007 5:40 PM

I stopped believing in God about the same age that I stopped believing that Santa and the Easter Bunny were real. Maybe around age 8-ish.

It took a few years longer before I stopped arguing with religious people. About the same age that I got my driver's license.

There is no evidence that any god exists. So all religion is based on faith and belief in something we have no proof of. Atheists, by definition, do not have that faith or belief. An atheist cannot argue logically and rationally against something that must be taken on faith. A religious person cannot argue to have faith with someone who insists on empirical evidence. It is an argument which neither side can possibly win.

Since atheists comprise less than 3% of the population, arguing with religious people could provide me with a lifetime of futility.

So when people start wailing about "how could God allow this?" or "it is part of God's plan" or whatever, I just shut up. d'Souza may think it was Satan. I don't believe Satan exists, and that it was simple mental illness. Like any other religious argument, neither side has any hope of convincing the other. What is the point of arguing? If a grieving parent gets some solace from the belief that their kid is now in heaven, it would be both pointless and cruel to me to argue, even if I don't share their belief.

Posted by SDA in SEA | April 20, 2007 5:57 PM

SDA in SEA, will you be my friend?

Posted by L | April 20, 2007 6:34 PM

Dan, et al., the Christian left is on your side and loves you dearly, please stop antagonizing us. Just like the atheists, we're nowhere to be found because we don't insert ourselves into other people's tragedies - and we aren't Fred Phelps, that's a cruel linkage through generalization.

Are we just not contacting you often enough to share our approval? It seems awkward to have to announce publicly that we're not douches - but hey, that's another thing we have in common.

Posted by Lys | April 20, 2007 6:41 PM

Yes, the Christian Left behaves more decently than their siblings on the right, like a tulip growing in a field of noxious weeds. Thanks for that. I'd like to be friends. We should hang out.

Unfortunately, you can't effectively help pull out the noxious weeds because you're both rooted in the same soil, as long as you propagate the notion that belief without evidence ("faith") is a virtue.

I'm sorry if you consider it antagonizing to openly disagree with you.

Posted by pox | April 21, 2007 9:27 AM

pox, there is not really evidence for much of anything. it's all taken on belief and faith. there is quite literally nothing in this world or any other that can be conclusively proven. that is the case whether you are religious or atheist or agnostic.

it is quite frustrating to see atheists parade around unfounded beliefs and faith in various matters as something 'better' or more 'rational' than religiously-based faith and beliefs. both sets of beliefs are unprovable.

atheists fundamentally have faith that their sensory inputs and beliefs surrounding those sensory inputs are somehow less fallible than the sensory inputs and beliefs thereof of religious folk.

atheists, in short, believe quite strongly in gods-- themselves. and without a lick of proof or evidence, go figure.

Posted by funyun | April 23, 2007 4:01 PM

pox, i think the point is not that you disagree, nor that you express your disagrement. it is in how you express that you openly disagree...

Posted by infrequent | April 23, 2007 6:13 PM

and up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong while watching how his penis patches got wet at

Posted by penis patches | April 30, 2007 11:54 AM

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