As if I didn’t have enough problems, I just found out that I’m the equivalent of a religious fundamentalist.
I am an atheist. According to Melinda Barton, this means that I’m a dangerous extremist. I must be stopped.
Why face off with the atheist whackjobs? Because extremism is extremism is extremism. No rational movement dedicated to intellectual courage and honesty should maintain a relationship with those for whom intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and cowardice are a way of life. Doing what must be done to insure the integrity of the left will require identifying our extremists, countering their mythologies, and acknowledging the dangers they pose to a truly liberal society.
I’ve tried to take a live-and-let-live approach to religion. You have the right to believe in whom- or whatever you wish. This also includes the right to not believe in any deity. I will not try to interfere with your beliefs. If your religious practice harms others, then I will fight it. Remember, beliefs and behaviors are two separate things. Bottom line: I respect your right to determine what you believe, period. In return, I expect you to extend the same consideration to me.
There are three things that make me angry about religion. When these happen, I gear up to fight.
1. Evangelists show up at my door to convert me to their religion. When I politely state that I’m an atheist, the preaching stops, but then they ask if I know what hell will be like. (Yes, this conversation is hell.)
2. When people insist that only religious people are moral. Morality exists outside of religion.
3. When people try insert religion into the U.S. government. This should make every single one of us shake with fear. Just briefly thinking about this issue reveals that, oops, your religion might not be the religion selected by the state. Then you’re in a world of hurt.
I’m used to right-wing fundamentalists trashing atheists. Saying atheists are evil pales in comparison to some of the things they’ve said. But when “liberals” start attacking atheists, I am really at a loss. There aren’t many atheists, so Melinda Barton says we’re not much of a threat-yet. I guess she feels comfortable further marginalizing such a small group of people.
Barton’s piece now has an editor’s note up pointing out that Barton distinguished between “all atheists” and “extremist atheists”. It appears the editors are being as hateful as Barton is. Take any marginalized group, and think of conversations where people tut-tut about the “good” members of that group. They’re exceptions to the rule, and they show how vile the rest of the group is. That bit of cognitive acrobatics applies to this article.
At any rate, I fit the definition of the extremist atheist Barton attacked. So to the editors at The Raw Story: cut the crap. You supported bigotry by publishing the piece. Then you endorsed that bigotry by dismissing criticims of the piece as being the result of lazy reading. Why not consider that the objections have merit? Hey, Barton said atheists were intellectually lazy. Sounds like Barton and The Raw Story are a perfect match.