It is a sad day when atheists accuse one another of not being sufficiently outraged by all things religious. It is almost as if some are now concerned with some sort of atheist street cred! The poor media, always weeks behind any meaningful development in the blogosphere, are now highlighting and amplifying conflict to make it look like we are a bunch of bickering idiots.
Over at Friendly Atheist, Hemant was accused of being too nice to religion. I read Friendly Atheist regularly, and I applaud Hemant's content and the tone of his message. Just because I choose to be a bit harsher in my tone here does not mean that I value his contribution any less. If anything, I admire his patience and suspect that he will reach more of those who we might describe as on the fence than I ever will.
When Hemant says, "I can’t believe I have to defend myself for not acting like a douchebag," I know exactly how he feels. You may remember that I was recently criticized along similar grounds.
There are many different with which an atheist can deal with religion, from ignoring it completely to opposing it with great hostility. Admittedly, I tend toward the opposing end of the spectrum, but that doesn't mean I need to be an ass to maintain my atheist street cred. The approach that Hemant uses so effectively and which I attempt at times may well be more effective than in-your-face attacks. To write it off because you don't think it is harsh enough misses the point - we seek change and not empty complaining.
There are believers out there who genuinely oppose theocracy and other social-political ills. Should we refuse to interact with them simply because of their delusion? I can't speak for others, but I am a hell of a lot more interested in making our world a better place than I am in adhering to someone else's idea of what our "atheist movement" is supposed to be about.
I do not agree with Hemant when he says, "Being angry and antagonistic isn’t helping our cause." I believe that there are situations where this approach is beneficial. However, that does not mean that it has to be inflexible. There are plenty of other times when I suspect a friendly approach will be far more effective. We need the "friendly atheist" at least as much as we need the "angry atheist."
Tags: atheist, atheism, religion, blogosphere