This is a photo of me taken in 2002:

This is a photo of me taken earlier this year:

One of these depicts me being militant. The other does not. It's fairly obvious yet there are those who seem confused by the meaning of the word.

1. vigorously active and aggressive, esp. in support of a cause: militant reformers.
2. engaged in warfare; fighting.
3. a militant person.
4. a person engaged in warfare or combat.

I can see where #1 may be appropriate to describe some atheists but aggressive seems a bit out of place. We hear militant in the news a lot when describing radical religious and political fringe groups. You might also hear the word passionate used in the same context.

1. having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling; fervid: a passionate advocate of socialism.
2. easily aroused to or influenced by sexual desire; ardently sensual.
3. expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling; emotional: passionate language.
4. intense or vehement, as emotions or feelings: passionate grief.
5. easily moved to anger; quick-tempered; irascible.

#1, 3 and 4 seem to fit a bit better, at least from personal experience. I guess it is easy to see where the two terms can be confused and become easily juxtaposed. So why do we have people and the media calling atheists 'militant' instead of 'passionate'? As I see it, the vocality of ferverent atheists is rather new, at least in America. We're seen as a social minority, stepping out of line against the grain of accepted cultural mores. Perhaps we're seen as something of a threat to the comfy bubble of bullshit that has enveloped a majority of the populous because they don't understand. Threatening things aren't passionate, they're militant.

Militant? Hardly. Passionate? I'd say so.

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Comment by Hessenroots on August 18, 2008 at 4:40pm
It's just squinted shut. It's very possible I had a bead of sweat mixed with sunblock in my eye right then :P
Comment by Madeline (Brigit) on August 18, 2008 at 4:27pm
Was one of your eyes swollen shut in the 1st pic, or is it just the resolution?
Comment by Hessenroots on August 18, 2008 at 10:48am
hah! Had the photographer stuck around long enough that picture would have been of me with my face in the sand and a size 12 boot firmly pressed into my spine. No rocking out there, just an equipment malfunction :P

Your right though, always rocking some fashion or another ;)
Comment by IsThatLatin on August 18, 2008 at 10:09am
You've neglected to cover the term 'rocking-out,' which is clearly what you were doing with that gun/air guitar. We atheists are always rocking-out.

Seriously, though, good post. I'm am thinking more on it.
Comment by Neece on August 17, 2008 at 11:02pm
Yes, now that you added the definitions, I see that we really are just passionate. I also agree that they call us militant because they're afraid of us.
How many atheists vs how many fundamentalists have bombed abortion clinics? Oh right, atheists are just getting uppity. That's what they hate.
Comment by Neece on August 17, 2008 at 10:50pm
Yeah, that second one, you look ominously like a militant atheist! Skeeeeery!

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