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Atheists Show Too Much Restraint

I’m guilty of this too, but atheists show too much restraint and respect for other people’s beliefs even the ridiculous literal beliefs of fundamentalist believers.

Over the weekend, I was at a party that a fellow atheist was hosting. Knowing that my friend has some very religious family members, I pulled him over and asked him about the religiosity of the other guests. I didn’t want to say anything that might offend someone who was overly religious. I shouldn’t have had to do that.

On many other occasions in our society, atheists show remarkable restraint. The crossing guard down the street offers her blessings to God for me when I see her. She doesn’t know I’m an atheist and I don’t tell her because it would no doubt offend her. Instead, I show restraint and thank her for your blessings to God on my behalf. She shows no restraint in pushing her beliefs with her blessings, but this isn’t out of malice; it is because the Christian belief system has so twisted her sensibilities that she doesn’t realize she is being rude.

Time and time again, atheists are compelled to show restraint out of fear of offending the religious. We shouldn’t have to. We have actual evidence on our side. We don’t just make up a bunch of stories and demand people believe them on insufficient evidence.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t show that restraint, but I am calling attention to the fact that we do show that restraint. We live in a society dominated by people who believe in ridiculous crap and we rarely even point it out. People who value evidence, logic, and reason are made to feel like we are the most disrespectful people on the planet by people who push their ridiculous beliefs on all of society without even the courtesy of even presenting valid reasons for their beliefs.

I’m a pretty vocal atheist, but I don’t shout people down on the street. I don’t knock on anyone’s door on Saturday mornings, I don’t tell everyone I meet on the street that they are delusional. Unless someone else brings up religion, I generally won’t. I bet most of my readers show the same restraint I do but we shouldn’t have to. We do it because we are the respectful ones. We are the people who try not to be rude unless we have to.

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  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    If the topic of religion comes up in conversation I’m happy to say I’m an atheist and discuss whatever comes next. However, I don’t start conversations with, “I’m an atheist, deal with it.” I have found the former strategy to be useful.

  • auldShaman

    My biggest problem is knowing when/where to announce my stand. Debating with a crossing guard seems to be one of the least effective ways. Announcing my atheism to a group is akin to “proselytising” which is something most of us hate when the believers do it.

  • Gjames

    So wear a red “A”!

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