It was great discovery for me, the discovery that there were thousands of nonbelievers across the country being mobilized, though perhaps not easily, into a force – political, social, time will tell – the likes of which not seen before in this country. I heard the clarion calls to action these past couple of years by the leaders of the modern atheist movement, and I continue to be stirred by the speeches from this year’s Reason Rally. The continued flow of speeches, debates, books and conferences advances the battle lines in the cultural and academic war between reason and superstition, even as groups like the Secular Coalition are marshaling political forces for a more powerful nonfaith lobby. Sometimes, it seems, the lines could not be drawn more sharply. I must confess that I enjoy this trend quite a bit. I was deluded by religion for many years, deluded others into religion. I am rooting for the nonfaith movement, even as I am a part of it.
At the same time, I don’t want my neighbors to think I am the “angry atheist,” right? With Dawkins’ “mock them, ridicule them... in public…with contempt!” ringing in my ears, when I talk to religious people, I often nonetheless search for the least offensive answers so as to appear kind. After several knock-down drag out debates on my Facebook page, debates during which I thought I had been rather polite, I was still called arrogant and a jerk (among other less printable names). So, I would like to be your friendly neighborhood atheist, but I find it very hard to be so when confronted with people who become apoplectic at my denial of god. When a personal stance against faulty logic is interpreted as a mean-spirited personal attack, horrible things are often accused. Sometimes, there’s just no getting around the “angry atheist” label, even if you’re the nicest atheist on the block.
Anger can often be mistaken for passion, and passionate people can become justifiably angry. If you haven’t heard it yet, drop what you’re doing and listen to Sean Faircloth’s talk, “Can Religion Justify Bullying Children?” He doesn’t sound angry giving the speech, but he is certainly passionate about the safety of children. And, check your own pulse after the talk; mine was way up! There is a time and a place for anger, and if it pushes us to make it to that next action meeting, or send that email, attend that conference call, then maybe being angry is not so bad, after all.
So, hi there, everyone. I’m your friendly neighborhood, sometimes angry, atheist. Hope you don’t mind.