Thank God For Muslims - An Essay By Matthew Greenberg (atheist)

Americans hate Muslims.  they do terroristy things.  they worship a strange god (aren't they all?).  they think Heaven is some place to fuck virgins, as opposed to Christians belief that Heaven is....well, i'm not sure many Christians have any idea of what they think Heaven is like.  no matter, Muslims are bad scary people who might try to blow you up if they get the word from their splinter cell. 

i don't totally disagree.  i think Muslims are slightly worse than the Christians.  i'd put Christianity and Hinduism on par (but i'm no expert cuz i really think they're all warped), and maybe i'm partial due to my last name, but i think Jews are the best of the lot.  most Jews i know are not true believers in God.  they seem to enjoy the tradition, the culture, and possibly some of the spirituality.  but the fact remains that paying attention to any of it is an exercise in banality.  

however, my fellow Americans tend to disagree.  they like religion.  they like it a lot.  more so than most non predominantly brown skinned countries.  they just really happen to dislike the religion of Islam.  some in the US are so animated by Islamaphobia that their legislators who represent them pass laws banning religious Islamic Law known as "Sharia".  apparently, the 1% or so Muslims in this country scare the bejeezus out of some very insecure religious Americans.  

have you ever received anti-Islam email propoganda?  i have.  i've received quite a lot.  it all comes from groups that are super pro team Christianity.  perhaps you've seen their t-shirts or neckwear.  while part of me enjoys the religious infighting, another part of me worries that there is group of Americans that these same people despise even more - atheists.  

no, atheists aren't likely to blow up their office building.  they may do something much worse. give many of their scores an option.  naturally, for an organization which requires dollars to exist the loss of revenue is deeply disconcerting.  and God is big business.  a lot of people don't trust big government but at least there's a smidgen of accountability there.  in Big Religion the dollar reigns supreme.  i cite the Vatican over the past half century (b/c of the child abuse scandal, and not an Obama scandal but a real unbelievably awful makes it hard for a sane person to keep believing their religion type scandal) as proof. yet crickets when you look for accountability.  i'm fairly certain that the Pope just sainted one of the biggest coverupers of the bunch.  

for now, atheists are still mostly ignored.  Muslims grab the headlines, with their shooting little girls and stealing little girls and the mutilation of genetalia of little girls (i'm sensing a theme), but i worry that Christian leaders attention will soon shift to atheists.  why?  because Islam has little room for growth in America, while atheism, agnosticism, humanism, secularism, and freethought will is only likely to grow.  

that is, unless the fear of the loss of religious patrons gives birth to a new movement.  or more specifically, a revamped version of a worldview that sees America as a Christian Nation and will do whatever is necessary to keep it as such.  such indemnities have occurred in the not so distant past to minorities.  it still happens today but in areas of the world we don't much care about.  

i'm hopeful that the atheist movement grows and develops into a voting block worth fighting for.  it's going to take one of the two major political parties to adopt atheists as "theirs" for atheists to have true protection under the Constitution.  Muslims may be in the process, if the GOP has anything to do with it, of losing some of theirs.  atheists are more than 1% of the population.  how much more so may be the key to determining the influence of atheists in our country for decades to come.   


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It's good to know that Muslims serve a purpose other than keeping the media filled with woe and mayhem. Their presence is certainly problematic where ever they gather in large numbers. Some of their backwardness and intolerance is cultural and some is mandated by Islam.

I believe atheism will continue to grow and expand. Spurred by education and the Internet, I cannot imagine  it doing otherwise. Although the theists already feel persecuted, the battle has not yet begun. The least the theists can expect in the future is to lose most of their influence and, hopefully, a lot of their arrogance. They are, after all, on the wrong side of history.

Allen, i'm not sure any religions serve much purpose, but Islam's existence is seeming to buy us time before we become the focus of theocrats' ire.  

aw thanks Mel!  sometimes my frustrations boil over and i just need to vent.  i'm so glad i have A/N as an outlet for my pent up anger over the craziness that is religion and god belief.  

Matthew, your point is well made in a very nice essay. I suppose we will just have to wait and see what comes out of it.

In the mix here I couldn't help but think again of America as "a christian nation." I remember that bullshit being kicked around since my childhood, and it just isn't so. In my early school days settlers coming to this country was said to be "for religious freedom because they could not worship god over there." What a crock of hooey! If it was even remotely so then England would have all the atheists! England would then be the most godless country in the world! In fact, a lot of people sent to this country then were undesireables and jailbirds. None of it had anything to do with "religious freedom."

thanks for saying so Michael.  and yeah, the whole Christian Nation thing really pisses me off.  worse yet there's a whole cottage industry dedicated towards advancing that myth.  bible thumpers suck ass.

Mindy, if she thinks it odd that you don't celibrate Christmas I'm wondering if she thinks that day was "really" Jebus' birthday? Most ignorant christians even know that it isn't, but they keep talking about a "spirit" of things. What does that mean? Even so, most of them pretending offfence are non-Catholics so what does "Christ mass" mean to them? Why should it mean anything? I firmly believe that December 25th should be re-named and called "Merchant's Day."

They persist in holidays and myths simply because they were brought up believing in them.

.... most Jews I know are not true believers in God.

There's certainly a wide spectrum of worldviews among Jews! Many allow their secular humanist values (whether recognized by that name or not) to override the worst of the "God said so"s. (That goes for some other traditions as well -- look at attitudes of most American Catholics vs. official teaching!) Mordecai Kaplan, one of the founders of Reconstructionist Judaism, which encourages communities to see value in tradition yet doesn't mandate belief in a personal god, famously said that "The past should have a vote but not a veto."

And there are quite a few of us nontheist humanistic Jews, who explicitly reject any imaginary overlord. Judith Seid gets it right IMO (in God-Optional Judaism) in describing Judaism as not "a" religion, but rather a large extended family, that people can adopt by choice as well as be born into.

That said, I too think and hope that we atheists will become politically salient, and not just in the US.

(We have a ways to go in the States, where courts, that are supposed to protect minority rights from tradition and majority tyranny, have this month decided that a town council can begin its meetings with religious invocations, and that "In God We Trust" on our currency is 'not so much as the entanglement of government in religion, but as a more general statement of optimism and a "reference to the country’s religious heritage.'" A majority of Americans would still be unlikely to vote for an openly atheist candidate, but that group has shrunk, from 63% in 2007 to 53% now, and those who said a candidate's lack of belief doesn't matter rose from 32% to 41%.)

Matthew, you wrote ...i worry that Christian leaders attention will soon shift to atheists.

I'm sure it already has.

In 1954 Congress added "under God" to the Pledge to set America apart from godless communism.

Communism, Soviet style, died about twenty five years ago.

It's dying in China as Chinese capitalism grows.

The Pledge is now aimed at we godless folk.

What? I'm paranoid? Never!




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