Yes. We are. In most cases, for exactly the same reasons. But too many believers are taught that atheists are worse than immoral. They’re taught that atheists are evil. The following quotation was reported as being recently sent by an orthodox priest to his followers (meme found on a WordPress blog).
One priest’s view
“Lots of sicknesses have come out [of] the closet, and unbelief has come out of the closet too. And unbelief is the worst of them all. Better to be an adulterer…. Better to be a killer…. Better to be any of those things, brothers and sisters, than an unbeliever. There is nothing more foul, there is nothing more grotesque, for a human person to do than to embrace atheism”
At least he seems to see us as human, or almost. When I challenged the person who posted this, she tried to explain that he did not mean to say what he obviously said. Unless the man is grooming for a political campaign, I’ll take him at his word.
A governor’s view
Then there is the reported statement by the Governor of Ohio, and former republican presidential candidate, John Kasich. His reaction to actor Daniel Radcliffe’s (Harry Potter) disclosure as atheist is revealing.
“You know that Daniel Radcliffe has declared himself an atheist? I’m serious. What a weird thing. Why would a guy who has had all that success just, I mean, what the hell is wrong with him?” ~ John Kasich
Read about it by clicking here.
The public’s view
I recently read about research conducted by two prominent universities, one in Canada and the other in Oregon. Their general finding was that people trust atheists slightly less than rapists.
It’s easy to find more, but you get the point. And people wonder why atheists might object? Seriously?
While I am neither surprised nor angry, when some moron priest with a following says that I am worse than a serial killer, a jihadist bomber; that I am nothing but a grotesque, foul human being, please forgive me for being offended.
I’ll face palm, have a beer, and forgive this Christian for his stupid, insulting remark. Which, no doubt, at least hundreds of followers now believe. The clown who posted this seemed to think that atheists might be offended by it. Do ya think? Are you gunna tell me that people like this make the world a better place? These trolls think they are legitimate, and their followers agree.
Another priest on morality
Well, I have a priest to quote too—a Roman Catholic Parish priest. He told us that we should do the right thing. Not to keep out of hell, not to please god, not to impress anyone, not because the Bible or some bishop or pope told us to, but simply “because it is the right thing.”
This atheist agrees. I think most atheists believe in following, or changing, the laws. Even the ones that should not be laws, but are religious rules forced on everyone (civil disobedience protests notwithstanding).
We may protest, object, file law suits, or ping some governor, but we will usually follow the rules. It is the moral thing to do. This is partly why athesists are underrepresented in prison populations. Statistically, the proportional numbers of believers compared to the number of atheists in prison may be worth considering. I’ll let you look it up.
Nihilism (<—click for wiki)
Many believers confuse atheism with nihilism. They’re not the same. It’s unlikely that a moral nihilist would be a theist. Conversely, few atheists may be nihilists, but they could be. Understanding the difference helps, even if it is confusing. Another consideration for believers, be they doubters or true believers, is to ask themselves these four questions.
If I stopped believing in God tomorrow, would my morals change?
Would I become a criminal?
Would I be more willing to rape or murder?
Would I change so much that I would become a different person?
The other day I read a comment by someone who, while quite confused about Christian moral standards and values (and he is one), was even more out of line with his view of atheism. He implied that if I was Russian or Chinese, I might view human life as a “warm bucket of spit.” I’m sure that his opinion is held by too many Americans.
That would be nihilism, which is a philosophy—atheism is not. When someone asks an atheist how life can have meaning without god, they’re often thinking philosophically, and probably of some kind of nihilism.
Those loving Christians
I’m trying to figure out why so many Christians work so hard to make atheists look so bad. What do you suppose that is all about? Some lie knowingly (as in bear false witness), some may misunderstand, some may be warning their own group not to look upon nonbelievers or free thinkers as being just like them. Otherwise, the believers might become apostate and walk away from that religious fantasy (and take their money with them).
Atheists want a better world
Whether someone dislikes the fact that nonbelievers exist, that we work with believers to keep church and state separate, or that their family members may embrace atheism; we will continue to come out. We will continue to speak up. We will continue to deny the existence of any god. And, we will continue to share the moral high ground with most believers and to counter all claims to the contrary.
Believe as you will, be sure to look both ways.