Atheist Activist Whack-a-Mole


You know how the Whack-A-Mole game works. You stand there in front of the game waiting on the moles to pop up. You don't know exactly when or where they will appear, but you know they will appear. And when you whack one, others will pop up momentarily. There is something about this that I find a fitting metaphor for much of atheist activism, particularly the sort that focuses on church-state violations.

Relatively few atheists go around looking for trouble. We do not generally go door-to-door seeking to deconvert religious believers. We do not usually insert our atheistic views into conversations where they do not belong. We do not typically introduce ourselves to strangers by announcing that we are atheists and that that somehow makes us morally superior to theists. In fact, if it wasn't for the inevitable church-state violations popping up like moles in the game, many of us would not even think of ourselves as atheists much of the time. It wouldn't be relevant to do so.

Many atheists are like someone standing in front of a Whack-A-Mole game in the sense that we are merely reacting to church-state violations. If they were to cease, we'd behave much like the person playing the game when the time expires and no more moles appear. We'd just walk away. What keeps us there whacking away is that the church-state violations never seem to end.

Of course, there are forms of activism in which many atheists participate that have nothing to do with the separation of church and state. But at least here in the U.S., I do have the sense that if the Christian extremists would stop trying to push their ridiculous beliefs on the rest of us, there would be a dramatic decline in atheist activism. If they were to stop, atheist activism would become far less relevant.

Many atheists do not particularly care what religious believers believe; we care about what they do. Specifically, we care when their behavior begins to affect us and the world we share with them. We care when they treat people poorly or restrict their rights. We care when they break the law. We care when they persist in pestering us by invading our privacy. Were they to stop popping up, we'd have little reason to whack them.