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DA

You rule. That is all.

James Sweet

"Attaboy!"

To build on your points about the use of anger in social movements, I have a related challenge that I have issued on numerous blogs, and as yet nobody has met it (and only one person made a serious attempt):

Name one social movement, anywhere in the world and anytime in history, which was sabotaged because it's advocates were too outspoken.

You can't do it. And I think the absurdity of it should be clear when you think about what it would mean. "If only those Stridentarians had been a little quieter, then the world would have heard them." Yeeeaaahh.....

Besides, I think that the "We educated people don't need religion, but the great unwashed hoi polloi do" trope is not only untrue, but classist and insulting.

FWIW, I agree the trope is classist and insulting, but I am not convinced we can asset it as definitely untrue at present. As you mention, places in Europe are still only a little over half-godless... it's entirely conceivable that we may find out in the future that some non-trivial percentage of people are just always going to have theistic or theism-like beliefs. It's also entirely conceivable that we'll find religion dwindling to nothing.

To assert that "Everybody needs religion" is stupid and demonstrably false.

To assert that "Some people need religion" is elitist, insulting, and condescending.

To assert that "Nobody needs religion" is perhaps overly optimistic and egalitarian.

We just don't know between the last two, yet. In any case, I basically agree with you: Even though I allow that it might be the case that some people need their comforting delusions, to assert that is the case without solid evidence is a really condescending and asshole-ish thing to do.

Niru

I'm going to post again.

My heart goes out to you for your pain and anger and all you've been through. But this is life's experience. You've expressed it well in your writing (of course) and don't need little old me to tell you that.

Mostly - I wanted to say: this is kind of new to me, because (I am a believer), I mostly notice angry religious people. . . and I actually don't think I've met any angry atheists before. Mostly angry Wiccans. Oh, those Wiccans are plenty pissed off! Usually, atheists are like; "sigh, whatever, superstitious turd." Which, as you point out, is no better than, "sigh, evil devil child, you're gonna burn in hell, and I guess I'm gonna righteously send ya there!"

We do life in a massively fucked up world full of dysfunctional people. I am 100% certain that without religion, we would still have dysfunctional people. I have no evidence to support that. :)

Anyway, keep doing what you're doing. If you're angry in this country, that means you're paying attention. We may not have the same beliefs, but if you're paying attention, that's a good thing.

Jimmie in San Jose

Years later this is still relevant. Thanks for writing this. Glad to know I am not the only angry person :)

Dyz

I found your writings through www.atheist.net.

I am a white heterosexual male atheist living in the Netherlands. My life is relatively easy compared to that of atheists like yourself.

You go, girl!

Celestine

Greta, loved your post and your reply.

Since I can't let things lie, I also wanted to comment on the whole "independent" as a political party thing. (I admit I didn't read all the comments, so I may be repeating something already said.

Here in Arizona, you are only allowed to register as either Dem, Rep, or Ind. Independent is not considered a political party, it is a catch-all for anyone who doesn't fit into the american two-party system. I know this because I tried to register as a socialist and my husband tried to register as a communist and neither party was accepted.

Bernie Sanders is listed on the congressional website as an independent. He is, in fact, a Socialist Democrat. Same song and dance. If you don't fit our extremely limited mold, too bad.

Sorry for continuing this sidetrack, but this is one of the things that makes ME angry. ;)

Greta, keep up the good work. I admire what you do.

Dr. Stephen Uhl

Greta, your 'anger rant' was THE BEST! I hope it helps thousands to fearlessly come OUT OF GOD'S CLOSET (q.v.) and join Richard Dawkins' great OUT Campaign (q.v.)

Jesse

Perhaps it is semantic, but I think there's an important distinction between 'anger' and 'hate'. The feeling of being incensed, enraged at injustice is a very different feeling to that of hatred.

Certainly anger can turn into hatred, but anger itself isn't a one-dimensional quality, it's multi-faceted.

I think that maybe the best indication of the distinction is that hatred creates more hatred, whilst anger at injustice eventually leads to the exact opposite of hatred and fear. It leads to justice and liberty.

Matt

The original post and this post were terrific, and I'm definitely going to go back and read posts you've made earlier. You make a lot of good points, and I strongly agree with them. However, there is one part of this piece I object to: St Anger was a horrible album, and bringing a picture of it into an otherwise wonderful blog post is also horrible. :)

Also, attagirl!

jde

Hey Greta,

It's clear you take reason and truth seriously. You may want to check out "Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterton, I think you'll really enjoy it. Besides, you said you've read a good part of the Bible and if you were open-minded enough to do that, then I'm confident you'll give Chesterton a try :).

P.S. For me, "you just have to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior" never really seemed like an argument to begin with--let alone a good one

BaronessHeather

I can see that I'm coming very late to this party, but I only just found this post and the one that preceded it. Combined, they did a lot to restore my sense of balance. I've been feeling like a girl without a country lately. I usually identify as agnostic, but by the definitions you gave above, atheist is just as apt a descriptor.

I was going to leave a longer reply, but as it grew in length, I realized I really should just write my own blog post. I'll link back to yours in my post.

I wish you well and thank you again for showing me that there are people - not only you, but so many who left comments on your post - left in America, outside my circle of friends, who would not vilify me for daring to be non-religious.

Sarah

Wow! annoDomini you really nailed it, thanks! I was sitting here considering commenting but wondering how I could phrase it but now I can stop.

Thanks for going to the time to write such a long and well thought out post.

thelittlepecan

I was told Friday night that someone felt pity for me for not believing...because I'm a fan of facts and blatantly corrected the post above me's misuse of history concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.

But, I guess that beats the time someone told me DFCS should take my son away.

Yah. I had to rant that day meself, too.

Thelittlepecan.blogspot.com

Bah. Wrong info. Blog info now correct. If anyone's interested.

Scotty

Have just read your original post, and this reply, just before going to bed. And now I'm so riled up I won't be able to sleep! I've spent the last fifteen minutes shouting "yes, yes, YESSS!!!" at my computer monitor. Beautifully written pieces full of passion and insight. Damn, you're a good writer!
Maintain the rage.

X

Melissa Abercrombie

Attagirl! If it weren't for blogs like yours it would be even harder to accept myself for the opinions I share with you. Thank you!

missus webster

Hello,

A friend of mine posted your Atheists and Anger blog post on Facebook, so I read it. You're right, it was hard to read. I don't think many of us go looking to deal with angry people, so I could see how people commenting on that one post alone would also react in anger.

That's why I'm glad you did this follow up piece. I'm also glad that I didn't comment on the original.

In this post, I admire how you graciously responded to people's comments. (even the troll-y ones) :)

I learned far more from this article, so I wanted to give you a "thumbs up". Thank you for expressing yourself so clearly and in such a helpful way.

I'm not an atheist. I'm a Christian, like the friend of mine who posted this on Facebook. Just thought I'd put that out there too. Thanks for your article.

Veera

Well, since other people have commented years after the fact, I shall do so too!

I come from a "blissful" country where people don't care about someone else's religion. Actually, I don't know if even my family believes in god, cause I don't really care. I know my twin sister believes in god, and that's her right. I don't. She doesn't try to convert me and I don't try to convert her. In Finland religion is a private matter. It can be discussed but rarely would someone ask "what's your religion". Maybe it's because we're still a relatively homogenous society, or maybe it's because generally we're pretty private people. Even our president is an atheist which didn't really come up until sometime after the election, and no one cares.

Most Finns still (I think about 75% now though the number is going down all the time) belong to the evangelic-lutheran church which is also considered the church of the state, but about 5% of those people go to church. About 5% of them actually have a religion. The rest just want to have a church wedding (as is traditional) and baptism (as is traditional). The desire for baptisms is fading among highly educated people though, because they want their children to be free to decide what religion, if any, they want to belong to. I think that's very good progress.

David

No matter how angry you are (justified or misplaced or not), if you are just as intolerant and extreme in the end than you are just as bad as any of the theists claiming to be the only right way.

eric stone

Why we are correct in ridiculing religion

Religious apologists like Alvin Plantinga who debated Daniel Dennett in “Science and Religion” Oxford Press, 2011, are incensed that we atheists have “sneering condescension” and “ridicule” to their preposterous ideas. He accuses Hitchens and Dawkins of having “hatred and contempt” toward religion and warns us that we threaten the welfare of both religion and science. By the way he does all this while attempting to badmouth us in the most sneeringly sarcastic and underhanded manner.

Well, I've got news for Mr. Plantinga and his religionist cohorts. First, it is entirely appropriate to ridicule absurd ideas rather than to treat them as serious and give them respect. Only serious ideas based on reason and evidence are worthy of intellectual respect. Second, the ideas that we critique and ridicule have historically led to or facilitated war, genocide, ethnic cleansing as well as have enslaved millions, impeded medical and scientific research and are now draining vast sums of taxpayer dollars to propagate more of these ridiculous ideas. These ideas have resulted in untold amounts of violence, death, torture, and suffering as well as the profound intimidation and physical molestation of our young. Ridicule and even sneering condescension are about the mildest critical reactions that we can have for the enormity of the mind-boggling injustices perpetrated in their name. I can readily empathize with those of us who consider the behaviors prompted by these dogma to be illegal and criminal.

Bruce Gorton

Posted by: David | April 04, 2011 at 07:02 AM

I could have gone into a whole long rant about why you are a complete asshole, but sufficeth to say, if you think commenting on a blog is as bad as say, shooting a politician because you don't like their pro-secularism politics (As happened in Pakistan) then frankly, its not worth the time you "white-man's-burden-loving" pissant.

Sarah Bee Bee

Great follow-up! I notice you're using Buddha in the same breath as the Judeo/Christian/Muslim god and I'm going to be one of those nit-pickers for a second:
Buddha is not considered divine in the Western sense of the word.
I'm not negating your point, I just think it's important to be accurate so that nay-sayers can't try to undermine the rest of your argument because of an error tertiary to your actual point.

Dragonfly

I'm glad you wrote this for all us atheists out there who have no voice. To add my two cents, it makes me angry when the more science confirms reason the more people seem to convert to a faith-based reality. Thanks for being a voice for us all.

JT

Thanks for writing this. I'm in college now, and have considered myself an atheist for several years. I still haven't been able to work up the nerve to tell my family, all of whom are devout Catholics. I think this will help with trying to explain to them why I feel the way I do. Again, thanks. Keep being awesome :-)

Patrick

Love. You.

Christin

Thank you for writing your original post, it is beautiful. Thank you for putting up with the tons of thoughtless, ignorant comments that are addressed in this post, in a reasonable, logical, and humorous fashion, even though they are infuriating, because it's obvious they didn't even read your post effectively. Thank you for being brave. Most of all, thank you for being an advocate for positive change. Keep it up!

Kathryn Gislason

I loved this post, and the previous one. Every part, I am also wicked angry about the items you stated. So angry that sometimes I can't breathe.
What is interesting in that is that I do have a general spirtual feeling, and I am sooo much angrier than my friends who do not have the same inclinations that I have about religon.
I have read your blog many, many times. You are obviusly much smarter and longer lived than me. But your post(s) on sexuality have really helped me find myself.

Please, never silence your beautiful voice, and when the anger that we all feel for this bull shit comes to a head, I will be there, screaming and chanting and hoping for change. I might even throw in a prayer when your not looking ;)

Christina

You ought to read Talal Asad's Genealogies of Religion and Formations of the Secular. I think it would be super enlightening/rewarding for you. I respect your anger. Now go write about sex and be happy that you've caused so many people to create thought bubbles in their heads. :)

Matthew

Hey, I appreciate your honesty. Something to consider that I don't believe you covered in the reply... You mentioned the usefulness of anger in social movements and while I agree with you, I would argue that those movements are relatively small compared to something like say, the Christian movement. And if I recall correctly, the Christian movement did not expand to its extremely large status by always being angry.

Arguably, there were the umm... dark ages. And there were large periods of time where Christianity was used (and as you pointed out is currently being used) in anger, but I believe Christianity in its origins expanded exponentially because of its ability to evoke the equally powerful, if not more powerful, emotion of hope.

As a Christian talking to an Atheist, I think you could do your cause more justice and open more people's eyes if you can inspire hope in them rather than anger. I personally believe you have every right to be angry btw. But if Jesus taught the world anything, it's that while anger may get millions of people to follow... Hope will bring you billions of followers for thousands of years. Obama became President because of that one word and no real substance to back it up. What you consider to be fairytales has billions of believers BECAUSE of that emotion. Maybe prominent atheists should begin to consider writing atheistic literature that inspires this positive emotion rather than a frustrating one. Just my 2 cents and it's probably worth less than that. :) Cheers!

Manda

Thank you for summing up (almost) all that I'm angry about in one handy-dandy, bookmarkable post. You're a fantastic writer, this is my first visit and I will be back!

Anger has its place and its purpose and as you've shown it is a creative force for change. I've also learned the value of fucking with door to door Christian salespeople's minds by not being angry when they ring my doorbell uninvited on Saturday morning, bibles open and ask if I'd like to discuss the bible with them. I just smile ever so sweetly, tell them that I am certainly not the best person to chat with them, cheerily wish them a wonderful day while I softly close and padlock the door. While watching their crushed expressions through the blinds. It feels even better than yelling at them to show them how polite and nice and happy the scary, scary atheist is.

Oh, and you rock, attaboy, you go girl and I hope the US comes to its senses like Canada did on same-sex marriage. Now there's a topic that really makes me angry :)

Cheers!

Terri Rose

It's socially unacceptable to be anger these days. It's also dishonest to pretend you're not angry when you are. Pick your poison.

Tyro

You speak to my heart.

Raymond Griffith

I am a Christian who is angry about much the same things you are. It has forced me to disassociate myself from fundamentalism altogether (what I was raised in). I now view myself as a liberal Christian. And I point out that I would not be convinced by the Fundamentalist or Conservative arguments for believing today, particularly in how they act.

I cannot adequately apologize for religion itself, or for Christians in particular. But for myself, I intend to channel my anger into working for change.

Those who cannot get angry about injustice or stay angry about it will not work to change what needs changed.

Thank you for your blog. I appreciated it.

Amanda Kat Moore

Let me start off with this: Anger is very useful in a social movement or change - I cannot disagree there. And the fact that our leaders are stating that non-religious people are not "people" is completely against everything our ancestors fled other countries to escaped - forced belief systems by their governments or kings - i.e. the right to believe what they wanted, and the freedom to practice that belief. Should that not extend to the right to NOT believe, for if we don't have the right to choose NO religion, how is that truly freedom?

Let me continue with this: Anger over things long since passed that had no bearing on your life, your LIFETIME, and you, does nothing, helps nothing, and can only result in making the impact your anger has less (or nothing at all) in the end. What is happening in other countries to other people due to religious beliefs is an atrocity, but do you plan on going over there and changing anything yourself? Do you think some social movement you create, help create, or help make happen here will affect them in any way? Your anger over what is happening outside of your own world only takes away from what is really happening in your own world - anger that is honest and justified, anger which you can mold and use to make a change that can honestly affect your life and the lives of those around you.

And then: While you speak about how you don’t think it’s fair for either side to have their cake and eat it too so speak – specifically to only point out the good or the bad that is done in the name of religion and brush off what doesn’t support their point as irrelevant – you rant about how Americans would not elect an Atheist President without addressing the social, political, educational, and other relevant views held by out-spoken atheists that the 55% of Americans know who wouldn’t vote in an Atheist President. Perhaps Atheists think just as clearly and rationally as the next guy – but how would anyone know it when all that the non-atheists hear are the rantings of the guy that is way off the deep end? Which is EXACTLY what most religious people say when an Atheist brings up the idiotic, brain-dead, retarded thing done in the “name” of religion – that is not what Religion stands for, that is not what your average Religious person is like … just like your average Atheist is not like the loud-mouthed, overly opinionated, might-as-well-be-preaching Atheist that every Religious person knowsandhates. But you completely failed to address that, as though it was completely irrelevant.

Atheists and Religious-folk are more like than either care to admit – they both have reason to be angry; and legitimate reason I think; but ONLY if they are honest, good folk, who are living their lives by the golden rule: Do unto others what you would have done unto you. If they aren’t, it doesn't matter what crap falls from their mouths when it is opened, it is not legitimate, and it is not a valid reason for anything, let alone to be angry. What I think it all comes down to is this: Everyone has a right to believe or not believe whatever they want. Those around me – they don’t know what I believe, and that’s the way it should be. Everyone knows where the nearest church of any particular religion is and how to get there and how to find out what time services are. They know they are welcome if they want to attend, whether that is “their” religion or not. Everyone knows how to “find God” if they want to suddenly start going to Church or switch religions. Everyone knows where to go to get preached at if they feel the needs to absorb some religion. What you choose to believe or not believe is your own choice, your own right, and your own business, and no one else’s – not your friend’s (unless you want to talk about it), not your neighbor’s, not your family’s, not your dog, and certainly not your internet buddies. If people choose to post Religion on their social page on the internet, that is their choice, and it is your choice if you read it or not; they are allowed to live their life the way they want, just as you are. America needs to open its eyes, clear its mind, and realize that if each and every person wants the FREEDOM to choose if they are CHRISTIAN – be it Baptist, or Catholic, or Presbyterian, or anything else – or NOT … or if they would like to CHOOSE another RELIGION, or NO RELIGION AT ALL … they need to CHOOSE to all EACH AND EVERY PERSON TO BE FREE TO CHOOSE, which means allowing your mother, your brother, your child, your neighbor, your ENEMY to be free to choose or not choose whatever ever religion he or she wants.

M.Nieuweboer

"100% convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is no God."

Now you have met one. I am 100% convinced there is no god. Sure, I can't prove it beyond any doubt, but quantummechanics (especially Heisenberg's relation) and the theodicy are in my eyes evidence beyond reasonable doubt.
What's more, the idea that there is no god and that there will be no afterlife actually comforts me. No fear, nobody watching me the whole day, but enough people around me to help me avoiding or repairing my stupidities. When I die I think I'll have had enough anyway and I won't have to suffer from eternal boredom in heaven.
In the mean time I just have to try as hard as I can to make the best of it.
In some respects you are not angry enough. It contributes to the quality of your life if used properly.

Nicole

A bit late but only just randomly found the atheists and anger post... still relevant! Especially for where I am right now, trying to come to terms with my atheism in a very very religious setting... Anyway... Attaboy! ;)

Evan

Attaboy!
(hehe)

I loved your original article, and I enjoyed this response as well. I've been an atheist since.. well I don't think I ever believed in God. But who knows. I know that I never liked church, and never wanted to attend it. Thank god (another hehe) my parents weren't extremely faithful and didn't care much that I didn't want to attend.

I came to your blog from reddit (your article has a link in the r/atheism subreddit FAQs), and I'm very glad I did. Atheists need anger. People need anger. I'm Canadian, so I don't face quite the same level of religious dogma that the US seems to demonstrate. But it's there all the same.

This SHIT has GOT TO STOP. The world is at a crossroads now, with the atheist movement growing stronger, and it CANNOT lose momentum now. They hate our anger because they've gotten their way for.. who even knows how long. When did religious leaders first oppress their brothers? What time in human history do we NOT see religion being a threat to free thinking and human dignity?

cell phone directory

Great article and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you guys have any ideea where to employ some professional writers Thanks

Cee

Thank you for both blog entries. Nice that the conversation is lasting over years...

Anger as a motivator is one thing. As a communication tool it sucks. Nothing is more counterproductive than two factions spewing angry venom at each other. We have enough of that in this world already. I'm glad you expressed your anger and are still the mostly mild person you say you are.

That said, I was already unhappy about so much of what you wrote about --- and am even more unhappy now that I've learned a few more things!

Seriously - thank you for opening my eyes to how discrimination is alive and kicking even more than I realized in this country. Imagine the backlash if a President said that Russians, or Hispanics, or pretty much any religion shouldn't be considered citizens of the US.

This may come across as classist or elitist but it strikes me that religion comes into being because it's a shortcut to becoming an ethical person. If we accept a pre-digested set of rules for behavior, we don't have to work out for ourselves that kindness works and makes us and other people feel good, and that selfishness doesn't. (Not to suggest that religious people are unselfish and kind, just that they're being coerced by fear of damnation to try to be that way.) Without a deity to fear, we have to become ethical, caring, socially responsible, generous, honest and honorable all on our own. That can be a tall order for some people - even in a society riddled with religion like ours or as religiously repressive as some others. In a subtle way, religion takes away our power to *choose* goodness and make it our own MO.

Of course religion is also a way to control a lot of people at once for the "good of society." But again - Indonesia is not crime-free and, as you point out so clearly in your first post, neither is the Catholic Church. If religion made people ethical, there'd be no Sharia law either. Guess that settles the "without religion no ethics" matter.

Glad a friend turned me on to your blog. Will be reading here again and again. Thank you!

joel

Wow! This website rocks. You have good articles here
and i really love reading them since my visit two days
ago. 5 thumbs up for this website!

http://happinessdirect.com

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