Anti-Atheist Bigotry as One Example of Punishing Nonconformity

old man contemplating the world

This will sound strange coming from someone who has been writing about atheism for the past 17 years. I realize that. I plan to say it anyway and not because I have an answer for it. What if atheism is one trivial example of a far bigger problem? What sort of problem? The problem I have in mind is how many humans react to anything outside the norm.

Many humans behave in ways that suggest they love conformity. Few will admit to this, of course. They like to think they are unique, and they pretend not to care what others think of them. Bullshit! Their behavior tells a very different story. They want to fit in. They crave the acceptance and approval of others. But this isn't good enough. They demand that others strive to fit in too. This is what brings stability to the system and gives them a sense of control. Some even punish anyone who deviates from the accepted norms (e.g., bullying).

What if this is all anti-atheist bigotry is? That would mean that it wouldn't even have much to do with religion, aside from religion being the norm. The religious majority pushes religion because religion is the norm. It is about power, control, and maintaining the status quo. Religion isn't the only thing they push either. We can all identify cultural messages pushed on us despite being harmful.

Those who deviate from the norm face adverse consequences for doing so. We are different, and that is enough to make us targets. All the nonsense about us worshiping Satan or threatening their "souls" is how they excuse it. But how they excuse it doesn't have to be why they do it. They do it to maintain conformity. And this appears to be more of a feature than a bug.

Some Christians perceive atheism as threatening. But isn't that because atheism is an extreme example of nonconformity? In the United States, an atheist is someone who doesn't go along with 97% of the population. Talk about an outlier!

But why is our existence so threatening? Yes, we will corrupt the youth. But how? We are examples of nonconformity. If we can do that without severe punishment, what's to stop others from joining us? But why would that be so terrible? Because it would throw everything into chaos. Better to cling to our flawed status quo than face uncertainty. Somebody better beat some sense into those atheists!

I am beginning to suspect that this isn't about atheism or even religion. It is about the fear of change and the uncertainty it brings. It is about the desire to cling to something one finds comfortable and familiar. It is about desperate attempts to preserve tradition in the face of progress. This fear often leads to hate, but it may not start out that way.

Image by RD Law from Pixabay