Should Atheists Refrain From Mocking Easter Out of Respect to Christians?

Easter dogs
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Should atheists refrain from mocking certain aspects of religion? There are good reasons why some atheists might do so. It is not a secret that some religious believers are sensitive when it comes to their religion. Mocking religious beliefs often brings social disapproval. Not everyone wants to risk that.

Mocking the local religion isn't safe for many of us. Some religious believers are willing to defend it with violence. They'd criminalize blasphemy if they could. If they can't do so, some will rely on various forms of vigilantism. It is almost like their gods aren't capable of defending themselves.

Atheists Mocking Easter

Atheists have long faced criticism for poking fun at religious holidays. Easter is one of the most common examples. Given how central it is in Christian dogma, Easter makes an easy target. The core claims around Good Friday and Easter are bizarre enough to draw attention. And the whole Zombie Jesus meme is too much fun for some atheists to resist.

Atheists can mock Easter. They should be able to mock Easter without fear of violent retaliation. But should they do so? That's a different question. While I'd say "yes," others will have different opinions. This is not a case of there being one correct answer.

I can think of many instances where hearing someone express an aspect of what I believed was helpful. It led me to think about it in a different way. It led me to ask questions I hadn't asked before. It sometimes led me to change my mind. And yes, this includes mockery.

I'm going to spell this out explicitly because so many atheists have challenged me on this point. Yes, I have changed my mind as a direct result of mockery. I have done this many times. It is easier to appreciate how absurd my beliefs are when I hear someone else express them. It often provokes thought, and this has led me to make revisions.

I do not mean to suggest that I have a sudden and dramatic conversion at that moment. Following a good mocking, I go away and reflect on the experience. Was the person right? Might I be mistaken or believe something silly? Out of that process, I may decide they have a point and I need to make a change. This happens so often that I'm puzzled that others won't admit to having this experience.

Mockery Can Backfire But Doesn't Always Do So

But doesn't mockery lead people to double down and be even more entrenched in their beliefs? Doesn't it provoke a defensive reaction? It can. There's no doubt about that. But does it always do so? Not for me, and I doubt I'm unique. Mockery sometimes leads me to change my mind.

I'm sure there are more and less effective ways of mocking Easter. I'm also sure that most of the mockery we see on social media is not aimed at changing minds. I find nothing wrong with this. The Zombie Jesus stuff, for example, is fun. I wouldn't expect it is going to change many minds. That isn't the point behind it; fun is the point. What's wrong with that?

For those interested in changing minds, the Easter story itself seems like a good place to start. Many Christians have accepted it without much thought. Hearing how it sounds might stimulate some thought. And remember, mockery can vary from subtle to more blatant. Not all approaches look alike.

For those aiming to change minds, consider a more gentle approach. Mockery does not have to involve pointing and laughing or name-calling. Efforts to persuade others tend to be more effective when they meet people where they're at. Consider tailoring your message to your audience.

Leave Easter Alone (If You Want To)

But why shouldn't we let Christians celebrate Easter? We should. I fail to see how my self-expression prevents anyone from celebrating anything. How fragile would a holiday have to be for what I say about it to prevent someone else from enjoying it?

It sounds like what you're asking is, "Why shouldn't we withhold our criticism because it is Easter?" I see little reason to do so, but I take no issue with those who make a different choice. Easter isn't sacred to me. If you find it sacred, then I can understand why you'd approach it in a different way.

I enjoy Twitter this time of year due to the Zombie Jesus memes. I like to see what the creative atheists I follow have come up with to celebrate. And yes, I'd argue that atheists have every right to enjoy Easter. Their celebrations may look different from Christian celebrations. This doesn't make them less valid.

Should atheists mock Easter? If they want to, sure. Should atheists refrain from mocking Easter out of respect for Christians? If they want to, yes. Should atheists refrain from mocking Easter out of fear of retaliation by Christians? I hope not.

For more on the topic of Easter, see An Atheist Revolution Easter Collection.