Sometimes I wonder why I bother blogging about religion and atheism. Does it really matter if I read and talk about religions I don't even believe in anyway? I used to believe in God, after all, so why I don't just let bygones be bygones, leave religion alone, and post about something a little more entertaining, like funny animal videos on YouTube! It'd be a lot cheerier, and I'm sure I'd get a lot more traffic on my blog.

Then I see something like this letter to the editor, and I remember why I blog.

This letter to the editor is why I write my blog. I saw this posted on the site of fellow atheist blogger Jason Mosler. Sure, it'd be easy to laugh this letter off as just the rantings of some religious nut. But reading it a second time, it disturbed me on a number of levels.

This is a real person, Alice, writing to a real small-town newspaper in Alaska just a few years ago (January 2007). Alice honestly thinks that:
  • People who don't believe in God should be "kicked [out] of the country".
  • The United States is based on the principle that you "must believe" in God.
  • You can believe in God "any way you want", but Alice only cites mainstream Christian denominations as examples of acceptable beliefs
  • Atheists practice "evil", although it is not explained what this means
  • Atheists are responsible for the "ruin" of America and for crime being "rampant", even "if they have never committed a crime".
People like Alice are the reason I write this blog. Her religion has closed her mind so much that I'm sure she doesn't even realize how hate-filled and out-of-touch with reality her letter is. For all we know, Alice is like many Christians: a kind-hearted, generous person in her day-to-day life who truly wants to do what's right. But because her religion has taught her that people who don't believe in her god are "evil", all critical thought stops. She says and thinks the most horrible things because she knows she is right. Crime is up, atheists are in America, my faith says atheists are bad, so atheists are to blame and must be kicked out of society.

If Alice is like most people, she did not choose her religion growing up, but was brought up in a community that is largely if not exclusively Christian. She may never have met an open atheist in her life, but her faith has her so convinced that atheists are the cause of society's ills that everything she sees (from currency to crime reports) serves to prove it to her. It would likely be difficult if not impossible to convince her otherwise.

We should feel sorry for Alice, for her head being filled with such hateful nonsense based on a book of fairy tales written thousands of years ago. But at the same time, I think we should also have a healthy dose of fear. We live in a society where it is still perfectly acceptable in many circles to openly hate and wish harm on people who don't believe in God. And that is scary. There are unfortunately still people who think that Jews or Blacks, for example, should be kicked out of the country, but would a letter to the editor blaming Jews for America's problems saying they should all be sent to Israel be published in a newspaper? Thankfully, there is very little chance of that happening. It's no longer acceptable to openly say such things in society about most minority groups. But for some reason, it's still okay to say just about anything you want about atheists, no matter how bigoted or unsupported it is. Many readers I'm sure said or thought "Amen" upon reading Alice's letter.

Anti-atheist sentiment is what is "rampant" in our country these days. As long as there are people who believe that non-believers are evil and don't deserve to be citizens, then my blog has a purpose. People need to know that religion is brainwashing good people into believing nonsense and spreading hate. There are people who strongly believe that atheists don't deserve the same rights as everyone else, some of whom are actively trying to push their bigoted beliefs onto the country as a whole.

If even one believer sees this post and thinks about their belief, or one non-believer realizes how important it is to help change minds about atheists, then writing this blog is definitely worth it.

Originally posted on my blog,

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Comment by IAmTheBlog on January 13, 2010 at 10:35am
Johnny, I agree that it's looking like it's more and more like being an open atheist is important. I'm not out yet, but I'm getting closer to making that decision. You're right that gays still are discriminated against. It seems like a lot of progress has been made in the past 10 or 15 years. Even a few years ago, I wouldn't have believed an openly lesbian politican could be elected mayor of Houston! Maybe it's partly because so many gay people have come out, and there's strength in numbers.

Ryan, I agree it's troubling that so many people are like that. I guess in a way we should be happy that at least Alice didn't call on her fellow Christians to kill atheists, she "just" wants us kicked out of the country. She must leave the burning part up to Satan.

Nate, I bet you're right that she's never even really thought about how many of us there are; apparently enough of us to "ruin" the whole country. My guess is she either never considered that she might have family or friends who are closeted atheists, or who knows: maybe a fear of her children/grandchildren/etc. being corrupted by us "evil" atheists is what prompted the letter.

Thanks again to Jason for finding this article. Unfortunately, it's a legit letter. Here's the link to the letter on the paper's website: Hopefully at the time (2007), someone wrote a response to her letter to try to help her or others get past this kind of thinking.
Comment by ryan cameron on January 12, 2010 at 10:03pm
Yup, fundamentalist christians cant really tolerate anything outside of their faith, its pretty clear that they need to actively, and even violently defend their world view, which they feel is more than just a "world view" , its a mandatory thing.

Remember, they do believe that every non christian should burn. Be set on fire, and burn. Its very troubling and easy to see how the 'faithful" have the potential for terrorism if you really just read the bible.
Comment by Johnny on January 12, 2010 at 5:09pm
I think it's very important to be able to explain why open atheists are open. You brought up some good thoughts that will definately be incorporated into my response!

Yes, it seems that gays and atheists are the only two minorities that open press discrimination can be tolerated by the public. That's the only real reason I need.



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