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Sid Schwab

I used to answer medical questions on a couple of online fora, and would occasionally wander into their religion areas. I'd point to the huge inconsistencies in the arguments that god is omniscient and omni-powerful... and that most christians argue that the reason to do good is to reap eternal reward or avoid eternal punishment -- a damn selfish reason. I'd point out that a god that would create humans imperfect -- as christians say -- means that he deliberately did so knowing most couldn't follow his rules and would therefore boil in oil for eternity. Give them life for the blink of an eye, set up some rules that billions can't follow, burn them for a trillion years times a trillion. Sort of a pervert, seems to me. And that if you believe in the power of prayer, you must also believe that god is fallable or capricious or both. Anyhow, one person with whom I was making these arguments said I'd caused him to question his faith. So I stopped posting there. Made me feel bad. Now, if people truly keep their religion to themselves, it's ok by me. But as it's becoming more and more public, and the effect is to dumn down our entire country and to poison our politics to the point of hopelessness, as the effect of "religion" is to perpetuate hate for entire classes of people, it's time to start talking again. You give it a heck of a start.

Shannon Brown

All this anger is well-directed, as far as I'm concerned. I think emotions are the body's way of telling us that something is not right and needs to be corrected. You're right, if there was no anger, nothing would change. Anger is a very useful force, but gets a bad name from people who can't be angry without being blatantly aggressive and destructive.

As for the previous comment, congratulations to the author for getting someone to question their faith. I have spiritual beliefs, but they are completely different from what they were twenty years ago, and will probably be different twenty years from now. It seems to me that having one concrete set of beliefs and attitudes for a lifetime would feel very confining and boring, whether those beliefs included spiritual aspects or not. (This is not a dig at athiesm. The happy atheists that I know have evolved their beliefs over the course of a lifetime, and their ethics and philosophies continue to evolve.) I just wonder, as a person who welcomes new information and perspectives, what it must be like to be so insecure in one's beliefs that questioning them brings about a crisis.


This is a fantastic and, honestly, sometimes emotionally difficult piece to read. As an agnostic spiritual humanist, as someone who feels spirituality but doesn't buy into religion, I'm also angry about a ton of these things. But some of them, I think I understand why theists fear your anger. (Specifically: "I get angry when believers treat any criticism of their religion -- i.e., pointing out that their religion is a hypothesis about the world and a philosophy of it, and asking it to stand up on its own in the marketplace of ideas -- as insulting and intolerant.")

It's because they're afraid that atheists are going to take away their faith from them. Not change their minds, so much, but rather not allow them to have the faith, the spirituality, that gives so much to their lives.

I'm all about people believing or not believing what they want, as long as they don't force it on other people, and as long as it harms noone. I understand how important it is to point out the flaws and fallacies in religion for people who accept their religion as right not just for themselves but for everyone. But when you try to point out these things to someone who wants to mind their own business with their religion, it feels like you're out to take their religion away from them by proving them wrong. It feels like you want to dissolve that which gives them joy and hope by proving it illogical and irrelevant. As someone who recognizes the fallacies of religion, but still has extremely powerful emotional response via spirituality, which can be triggered by the trappings of religion, it feels like, when people argue with what works for us, you're out to take that away from people who feel it. I believe some people are wired to want religion, to need it, to crave it, and others aren't. Of course, I have no formal data to back this up, but I'd love to see a study done on it. As long as those people don't force their views on other people, what's wrong with having religion or faith? (Now, agreed, quite a few people of faith DO try to force it on other people, and I'm right up there with you, fighting back.)

And I think the outside world needs to ask: what is it that you, the atheists, want? We (at least, now) know WHY you're angry... but, in the words of social movements, what are your demands? What is it that you'd like to see changed? Is it a world without belief, without religion? (I doubt it... few atheists that at least I know are that militant or "hardcore".) Is it mere acknowledgment of your existence? Is it a greater sensitivity and awareness in our relations and laws? What is it that atheists want?

For surely you don't WANT to be angry. (Well, maybe some do. Anger can be quite intoxicating.) You've been forced into anger, at the breaking point, so that you can get your needs met.

What is it that atheists really want?

Pi Guy

You're beautiful when you're angry!

I kid, I kid. But you make an incredible point: we aren't going to convince the godheads that they're wrong - about the things that you've noted and more - by, as you say, gnawing on their ankles.

Awesome post!

J. J. Ramsey

"Are you really looking at all of this shit I'm talking about, a millennia-old history of abuse and injustice, deceit and willful ignorance -- and then on the other hand, looking at a couple of years of atheists being snarky on the Internet -- and seeing the two as somehow equivalent?"

No. Repeating pseudohistory about beliefs in Mithras or Osiris isn't nearly as dangerous or far-reaching as the pseudohistory of creationism. Quote-mining John Adams to make him look like an atheist isn't quite as pernicious as quote-mining him to making him look like an orthodox Christian. An implausible slandering of a majority as cretins or nuts is far less of a hazard as an slander of a minority, like atheists, that is treated as fact. But it is still pseudohistory. It is still quote-mining. It is still slander. And two wrongs do not make a right.


Me, too.


Er.. Galileo was treated with kid gloves. His long-standing friendship with then-pope Urban VIII certainly helped, although calling him a simpleton in print didn't. But he had very good reason to fear, because Giordano Bruno had been burned at the stake for heresy a few years earlier.

I really wish people would remember remember Bruno a little more.


Me, too.

J. J. Ramsey

c4bl3fl4m3: "What is it that atheists really want?"

Depends. For some atheists, the agenda is to be treated like human beings and accepted as first-class citizens. For others, it is to knock back the influence of religion or get rid of it altogether. For yet others, it is the promotion of evidence-based thinking over trust in handed-down traditions that are less than trustworthy.


And good point about dogma. I've never read more than snippets the damned thing, but even I know that the catholic bible and the protestant bible are different, and the Lutheran and Calvinist branches of protestantism disagree on what the sixth commandment says.

A few months ago I startled someone who had never noticed that the first two books of Genesis flatly contradict each other. Did Yahweh make animals before man (Genesis 1:21–26) or after (Genesis 2:19)?

I'll have a civil discussion with a theologian, but some stupid yahoo quoting a book at me that he understands less that I understand Thorne, Misner, Wheeler & Wheeler's _Gravitation_ can stick it where the sun don't shine.


Beautiful, Greta! This post is a perfect example of why this is fast becoming one of my favorite sites for atheist writing.
This is what a rant should be - bracing, clear, well-informed, and guided by energy and passion. Applause!

In my experience, atheists are no angrier than the average person, and possibly less angry. Why shouldn't we be? We have a whole universe full of beauty and mystery to explore, more than sufficient reason for happiness. The only time we get angry is when we're confronted by hatred and injustice committed in the name of religion (as well as evil and injustice in general, of course, the same as everyone else). We're stirred to anger when seeing these evils, as any person with a functioning conscience would be. If we seem like we're angry often, well, that's just because there are *so many* evils committed in God's name. What would be a far more serious indictment of atheists, in my mind, would be if we *weren't* angry at the perpetrators of such crimes.

The important thing, when feeling angry, is to let it stir you to useful action. As you pointed out, righteous anger at injustice has been the driving force for many of the most important movements for social change. For people to truly get involved in a cause, to truly work at it, it *has* to stir them to strong emotion. The bad thing isn't anger itself, but misdirected anger that's unleashed without reason or justification. But when controlled in the service of reason and aimed at those who truly deserve our opprobrium, it can be a positive and valuable feeling.

To the commenter who asked what atheists want, I'd suggest the answer is that we want the same thing as everyone else: to live in peace and security and to have the freedom to guide our lives as we see fit, free of outside interference and oppression. We don't want to take away anyone's right to worship as they see fit (pace the usual disclaimers about that worship not itself involving harm of the unconsenting). By all means, believe in whatever crazy things you like. But let your belief stay *your* belief, and don't try to intrude on our lives and demand that we conform to your rules or pay taxes to support your convictions.

Jane Know

Right on, sister. Great article. This is something I've felt strongly about since a very young age.

Too many people have lost their rights, their families, their homes, their livelihoods, their lives "in the name of one "god" or another."

Religion too often gives people a mask and an excuse to dish out evil.


Great post, you are right it is just the very tip of the iceberg. what about the church group when i was a child that told me that women were second class citizens and should never teach men or wear shorts around them. And that rock music is from the devil but beethoven beating his wife is cool and groovy.

Telling me as a young person that all the people who had never heard of christianity and died would rot in purgatory for ever.

the whole thing was poisonous but at least it awakened my nascient feminism.

Annie Sprinkle

Yes, you are beautiful when you are angry Greta. Keep it up!

I find that some days I'm athiest (as I was raised by Athiest parents), and some days I'm Unitarian and or a Tantric/GoddessWorshiper/Pegan/Sufi/Methodist, and more. i'm an enjoyer and explorer of many religions. I find both can co-exist quite nicely. Depending on the day and what is happening. I'm "fluid" when it comes to Athiesm and Religion. Like with my sexuality. Some days I'm queer, and some days I'm kinky, other days straight as can be, or even asexual. In any case, I certainly resonate in every way with your blog today. Actually I find snake handling churches super interesting lately.

Annie Sprinkle (


One point I'd like to make is that it's mathematically provable that a contradiction implies anything. So, for example, starting with the premise that 1=2 I can prove, by an impeccable chain of logic, that there are space aliens named Xenu hanging on my butt.

Starting from the premise that the bible is consistent (given that it isn't) can lead to exactly the same conclusion. Or to the conclusion that skull-fucking Benjamin Sinclair will bring about the Second Coming.

And supposedly *I* have no firm foundation for my morality?


I am angry that, after my grandfather had open heart surgery and went through it without complications, every single member of the family thanked Jesus for it. I'm angry that exactly the same thing happened when my cousin's child was born 6 weeks ahead of time and survived without problems. I'm angry that on both occasions I didn't have the guts to say that the doctors and nurses who took care of them also deserved some credit.

The Flying Trilobite

Bravo. I would like to start a 'slow clap'.


Brilliant piece. Thank you for giving me back my right to anger. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

(Please move here to Canada if the fight there makes you too weary. We'll getcha married to Ingrid in a day. Could be longer if there's a line.)


Greta. Wow. Extremely great piece. Can I say that again? You nailed it!!!

My personal favorite line of 'defense:'

"You're not really talking about the real religion, that's just a caricature of the real religion. I wouldn't believe in a God like that either. In order to argue against religion, you have to look at the subtle, nuanced, sophisticated views of theologians throughout history. You have to look at what those scriptures meant to all those believers in all those societies. After all, it's tradition! You have no respect for people or their traditions. You hate religion! You're on some kind of a witch hunt! An Inquisition even! How can you attack something you don't understand, and how can you understand it if you haven't even bothered to study it for 15-20 years? How can you even discuss or argue reasonably against something when you haven't read every scripture and theology book written in the last 2,000 years? Dawkins is a moron! I mean, why would you ask an evolutionary biologist about God?? He doesn't know anything about the subject. That's like asking a medical doctor to talk about ancient Mayan history."

Or words to that effect. Which I've actually had said to me by a family member recently across a dinner table.


Dave Child

I'm angry too. Well said for all the above.

I'd like to add a couple of things I'm angry about though.

I'm angry at other atheists who can't see why they should be angry. Who take religious crap regularly and don't seem to be bothered by it. Who put up with religion in others like it's a harmless eccentricity, and don't question or challenge the ridiculous unfounded beliefs of others.

I'm also increasingly angry when people compare a complete lack of respect for absurd religious beliefs to racism, sexism or xenophobia. Religion is a choice - race, sex and nationality are not - and as such derision is absolutely defensible.


This is a fantastic post. It's the first time I've read your blog, but definitely not the last!

(BTW, I was reading a previous comment with some skepticism and atheistic intolerance (Atheist/Tantric/Sufi/Methodist etc. etc., who's this nut? quoth I) but you know what? Annie Sprinkle is FUCKING AWESOME and can believe (&love) anything she damn well pleases! So can anyone else, really. End of intolerance. For now...)


Why should we oppose religion? Why does Richard Dawkins' radical ideas resonate with us? Because religious indoctrination can be very dangerous for us. It teaches us to accept authority for itself, not because we have proof of its validation. It encourages us to surrender responsibility for our own lives in favor of religious guidelines under the guise of "submitting to God's Will."

We must all accept responsibility for ourselves and our actions. We need to deliberately consider the paths we choose rather than allow them to be made for us by some guy in a nice suit who claims to speak for God. Religion encourages us to be lazy and submissive when we need to be responsible. It's one thing to use religious teachings as a means to inspire ourselves to become greater than we are; it's something else to use it as a crutch instead of actively taking control of our lives. Religion can be a powerful tool in our lives, but I find it's rarely used that way. So ultimately I don't seek to abolish religion by force, but I'd like to diminish its hold on our lives by encouraging more critical thinking in place of passive acceptance.


There's right, and then there's very right. This is just about the best thing I've read in quite a long time.


two words are all thats needed.

thank you.

Allienne Goddard

That was a tremendous post. I hope you will write a book describing the roots of our anger, because you really present a very stong explanation. Maybe I still incline more towards contempt than anger, but you convincingly argue the case that religion is often a malignant force. Anyway, thanks, this was a great read.


Good job.


Wow, very impressive. I stumbled on your site and read that entire thing. It's like you took the words out of my mouth and put them much more eloquently on paper than I ever could have. Well said on all counts.

Infidel Michael

Great post!
However, I would add some more things which make atheists angry:

1. When believers say that Hitler's/Stalin's and Mao's regimes were evil, because they were "atheistic".

2. When believers say, that Einstein believed in God, because he used that word from time to time

3. When believers are confronted with inconsistencies and errors in sacred texts and they say "it is only a metaphor!". Every stupidity can be metaphor for something real, it is only matter of fantasy to find out what it could be.

4. When believers are confronted with violent sacred texts and they dismiss them as "out-of-context", without explaining what the fucking context is, in which, for example, genocide is not evil.


thank you, you've dnne some valuable work with this.
wonderfully put together reasoning and facts, and well backed-up and resourced.

i'll probably be refering to this in my own arguments, i hope you don't mind.

thanks again, and keep up the work. :)
hopefully in our lifetime we'll see you get a legal marriage.


Great stuff! My new mission in life is to memorize this post so I can throw it back in the face of the dopey religious apologists who call me a "fundamentalist" or "evangelical" atheist or try to use the fallacious arguments that you've so brilliantly eviscerated in support of their "faith".

Rudi Tapper

This is brilliant. For some time I have been trying to compile an itemised list of all the things that anger me about religion, and you have saved me the bother. Well done.

Jason Failes

This needed to be said,
now it needs to be forwarded.

Mike Haubrich, FCD

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This is completely invaluable.

Matthew Graybosch

As an atheist, I find myself wanting to kill every religious I see every time I think of the sheer misery caused by religion. I know I don't have the right to do it, and I know that it won't do any good. However, that anger, that desire to grab a non-existent God by the throat and kill him -- just to show his followers how worthless and weak their god really is -- doesn't go away.


Jack Rawlinson


I've been an angry, furious, *livid* atheist for years, for exactly the reasons you list (and many, many more). I'm delighted that the anger is growing. It needs to. It is *necessary* to get angry about evil things.

Willo the Wisp

Don't you also get angry at the amount of money spent on churches and other religious moneypits, money that could be spent on things that actually help people?

Teitur Atlason

Your blog is awesome... :) Thank You.
Teitur Atlason


I'm a Christian and think you have quite a slanted viewpoint on Christianity. See, Christianity is about believing by faith that God created us, sent his son to die for our sins, etc (I'm sure you know the rest).

What, however, is one of the greatest commandments taught in the new testament? Love thy neighbor as thyself.

If Christians acted like Christians, you wouldn't be angry. At some point, after exposing you to God and the message of Life, we have to let you go. It's up to you to find God after that... We can pray for you, that their be some intervention by the Holy Spirit, but badgering you is NOT the answer NOR is segregating you or making you do things you don't wish to do.

I could go on and on about how I feel about some of the issues you posted above and I think you could agree that while we may not see eye to eye on all of them, that I can certainly understand your view point.

Some that you mentioned, I felt like had been bastardized. Like wives submitting to their husbands... what women do you know who would submit to their husband if they had a man of utter integrity who provided for her, served her, served others, and made her feel more loved than humanly possible? Probably all of them... And I don't mean submitted in the context you are familiar with, but submit as in allow him to lead, be apart of him. In order to understand some things in the bible, you have to understand that the other side of it (as I just mentioned). Women in abusive situations (verbal or physical) shouldn't submit, they should seek help.

Furthermore, using a Catholic church or any catholic official when talking about Christianity is not very fair. They are a small sub-set of Christianity and believe in many things that most of the Protestant denominations don't. The whole point of the Pope is so that he can be our representative to God. However, we don't need him. We can have our own personal relationship with God.

My challenge to every atheist I meet, is to ask them to read the bible and pray to the God (even if they don't think he exists). Do this for a few minutes for 3-7 days. If they don't feel a change in themselves, the longing for more, the need to understand what they are feeling than they can go along with their lives.

I'll accept them however they are but I want them to know that the few bad Christians could be tainting them and making them miss something wonderful.

I apologize if this is rough and ill-conceived, I thru it together rather fast... Thanks for taking the time to read.


Dave Child closed his comment with this line: Religion is a choice - race, sex and nationality are not - and as such derision is absolutely defensible.

In one sense he's right, people don't control their gender, race, etc. In another sense, he's not quite accurate about how religion is transmitted from generation to generation. The children of religious believers are immersed in an atmosphere of religiosity from infancy until adulthood. They cannot view the world from any lenses other than the ones with which their parents equip them for a long time. Even if they learn fairly early on that other lenses exist, they may not have opportunities to try on those lenses for a long time. By then, they may have comfortably settled into viewing the world through the lenses they've inherited. Having come from a conservative evangelical Christian perspective, my experience is that it takes a lot of hard work to shed that point of view. It requires something akin to Kuhn's paradigm shift and can be an extremely uncomfortable experience until one comes out the other side. Once there, one finds it has been liberating. Freedom of any kind never comes without a struggle.

Is religion chosen? No and yes. Children often are reared in such a way that it's very difficult to say no. Nevertheless, they can say no or yes in a way that will never be possible regarding gender, race, etc.

John Randall

Thank you.

Thank you for articulating. I have been too angry for too long to articulate clearly.


Great post Greta!

Feel free to speak for this atheist any time you want. :)


As a lifetime member of the United Methodist Church, I just want you to know that I appreciate your post. You have plenty of good reasons to be angry; everything you said is valid.

If I could somehow speak for other Christians, I would apologize to you. I would abase myself and grovel. Nobody deserves that.

Despite the force and legitimacy of your anger, you still chose your words carefully, so that your anger is directed like a laser beam, rather than a shotgun blast. Your anger is much more effective that way, which is something Matthew Graybosch apparently does not understand.

I don't use the term "fundamentalist atheist," but I have often used the term "evangelical atheist." I am often annoyed by evangelicals on both sides of the fence.

One very minor quibble: unless you deliberately intend irony, you might want to find alternatives to "goddamn" and "damn." They don't really fit into the atheistic belief system. I recognize that they are rarely used for their literal meaning, and that is not how you intended to use them. But you chose all your other words so carefully.

Very good job, though. It all needs saying, and you said it quite lucidly. People need to keep saying this stuff until it sinks in.


I have bookmarked this article, when someone asks me why i get angry over religion, i will link them here. :)

great article.


Brad posted while I was drafting mine. He doesn't get it. You spell it out for him, and he still doesn't get it. I can't improve his reading comprehension or apologize on his behalf, but I just want people to know we are not all like that.

"Catholics are a small sub-set of Christianity." I snickered out loud when I read that one.


Brad posted while I was drafting mine. He doesn't get it. You spell it out for him, and he still doesn't get it. I can't improve his reading comprehension or apologize on his behalf, but I just want people to know we are not all like that.

"Catholics are a small sub-set of Christianity." I snickered out loud when I read that one.


Yoyo quote: And that rock music is from the devil but beethoven beating his wife is cool and groovy.

Just to clear Beethoven's name, he didn't beat his wife because he never had one. He apparently was somewhat miserable (he was a composer and musician who was going deaf, after all!), but I don't recall that he was in the habit of beating women.
Anyway, great rant! It makes me grateful that I'm living in one of the more religion-free areas of Canada.


Hey, you can too get married in this country... before there was gay marriage in Europe, there was gay marriage in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 'Course, you'll have to stay here to enjoy all the associated rights. But that's just a bonus.

Seems like, however, there's no stance a Christian can take that won't make you angry... I mean, if they're anti-gay woman-subjugating hellfire preaching child abusers, you're angry, but if they're not, you're still angry. It seems like at some point, you should just let them off with being 'wrong', and reserve your anger for worse offenses. If you are angry at people just for being wrong, I guess you better enjoy being angry -- a lot.


Sorry for the double post. Not sure how or why I did that.

Here's a link, showing Catholics are the largest denomination of Christians (if you'll trust wikipedia on this):

Of course, nothing in the original post claims that Catholics represent all Christians, or that all Christians should be tarred with the Catholic brush. There was no need for Brad to be defensive in the first place.


Well, that was just part of the link. Not sure how to get the whole link to appear. Here's the rest of the link:



One more thing... you said:

'But unless you can point to the text to which these "fundamentalist" atheists literally and strictly adhere without question, then please shut the hell up about us being fundamentalist.'

But that's not the only thing fundamentalist means. That's one definition. Here's another one:

"strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles" (from

By that definition, no text is required, and I'm sure there are some atheists who could aptly be described as 'fundamentalist', in this sense. That's not necessarily the best word to use, but it certainly isn't wrong. So on that particular point, there's no reason to get angry: if people mean it that way, then they aren't wrong to use it that way.


Great work, Greta. I want to let you know that we are exactly alike except that I'm a married heterosexual male. Good luck on getting married soon. Your time will come if all of us keep fighting with you. I have a wife and two kids who are firmly rational, and my kids are much smarter than I am. They will be a great force for change.

Hang in there and don't stop being angry.

- betalife

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