Angry Atheists

My heart sank a bit today when looking at former minister and friend Dane Eidson's blog, Ranting Lunacy. He seems angry. There just might be stages that formerly brainwashed believers go through who leave the fold, and the first stage is anger. I myself didn't experience that stage, and I still have no anger after learning I was brainwashed into believing. After all, I was brainwashed by the brainwashed and I in turn brainwashed others.

Dane writes:

We love to mock Christian evangelicals. If you complain about this blog's contents being offensive after just reading the above text you're only proving two things about yourself. And these are that you're a hypocrite and that you are an idiot!
Some of the purposes of his blog are:
To point out the hypocrisy of far right fundamentalists.
To mock Christian fundamentalism.
To offer evidence that Christian evangelical fundamentalism is actually a mental illness and delusional thinking.
To report on the latest moral failures of Christian fundamentalist preachers through providing the links to and commenting about the news articles and videos catching these hypocrites in action.
And in one of his posts he wrote:
I openly mock you Christian fundamentalists! I piss on the name of your God.
Don't get me wrong, as I've written previously, I understand Dane's anger, much like there was an understandable African-American rage once blacks began gaining their needed rights in American society, it's just that I wish angry atheists would first calm down before they write much. It plays into the stereotypical view believers have of atheists, and it's not healthy if sustained for a long period of time.

At the same time some anger seems justified. Psychologist Dr. Valerie Tarico has written an excellent piece describing the phenomenon of Atheist Arrogance which equally applies I think to “Angry Atheists.” I wish everyone would read what she wrote. It explains so much of what is underneath the stereotype.

24 comments: said...
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strangebrew said...

Some folks just feel cheated and abused by liars and conmen...

They trusted a was false...
That is a problem inherent and exacerbated by peer pressure...and the ever present threat of public castigation shunning and isolation not only for the questioner but for his or her family...sometimes worse!

It is no wonder anger can be the result of the realization that it is a complete nonsense.

It is just not civilized it is barbaric...and it is a disgrace on so called Christianity...simple like so!

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I too was not and am not currently an angry atheist. Sure, I get frustrated when talking to theists, but I've never felt that acting out in anger is a good thing, and in fact find it counter productive.

Don't get me wrong, anger has it's place and is justified at times, but it's how you express it that matters.

One of the things that keeps me coming back to the atheist blogs that I read is that they generally aren't angry and don't lash out at religion. I've never understood why I should angrily lash out something I used to be a part of. Most of my friends and many of my family members are wonderful, loving Christians. Do I agree with all their beliefs? Certainly not, but as vehemently as I disagree with some of them, I also know where these beliefs come from and how ingrained they are. That alone gives me pause when I feel like acting out in anger.

Thanks for this post.

The Barefoot Bum said...

I understand Dane's anger, much like there was an understandable African-American rage once blacks began gaining their needed rights in American society

That would have been a great place to put a period and end your essay.'

It's condescending and patronizing for you to tell anyone how they ought to feel, or offer unasked-for psychological advice.

You're not angry. All right. You don't have to be angry. Anyone that chides or rebukes you for not being angry would earn the same criticism I offer you.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Actually, the next part is the important part "I wish angry atheists would first calm down before they write much"

Granted we aren't a unified group, but to non-atheists, what one of us does reflects on us all. It's how you express the anger that can make the perception of atheists a good or a bad one.

ismellarat said...

I'm not sure if every deconversion is necessarily a good thing for your side... ;-)

strangebrew said...

'I'm not sure if every deconversion is necessarily a good thing for your side... ;-)'

One thing is for sure it is definitely not a good thing for the theist fraternity ;-)

Gandolf said...

Well i guess it all depends a lot on just how everything has (personally) actually effected Dane Eidson`s life.

For instance if his de conversion has now caused excommunication from family or friends.

I could understand his anger!,even though it might still not be really for the best .Im talking about understanding reasons here!,not trying to excuse anything at all.

Personally i wont be judging Dane,because i know at times i cant help feeling rather angry about certain matters myself.

We have only this one life! and it often seems so wrong that such faith beliefs can be (allowed) by society to cause the misery and separation of family etc ,that comes along with being involved in some of these religious faiths.Often being something we personally dont have a lot of choice of.

There was also some anger that came along with slavery and apartheid etc.

Can we be so sure that without a certain amount of anger manifesting itself .That things would have ever changed quick enough to stop certain people from continuing being abused from slavery or apartheid ? ,can we even be so certain that things would have even changed in respect of that matter at (all) by now!?.

When the quality of peoples one and only lives are at stake, only being held to ransom and wasted by peoples stupid beliefs.

How happy calm and pleasant etc should we really expect them to always continue to be ?.

Seabhag said...

I'm going to have to agree with "The Barefoot Bum." While I'm (sometimes) too apathetic (or burnt-out) to get that angry with Christianity; I do occasionally experience anger at it and the people who lied to me.

I experienced the 'born-again' feeling that believers talk about when I realized I didn't believe in god(s). I still feel that way about deities. However, towards Christianity itself? When I can work up enough feeling to care about it I do feel anger.

Anger that I was lied to by those I trusted to tell me the truth. Anger that I am essentially shunned by most of the people I grew up knowing. Anger that my family doesn't/won't respect me unless I convert back to their religion (which includes a 6,000 year old earth and complete distrust of science. Sort of hard to do while finishing up a masters in chemistry and starting a PhD). Anger in that I want to be able to have a good relationship with my parents, but I can't while I continue to be me, instead of the good little clone that they wanted me to be.

John, while I can respect that you don't seem to have had the same experiences leaving Christianity that I've had. Sometimes you feel a little too caviler about dismissing those of us who are 'angry atheists' (though each is different for a reason). Just a thought; it's your blog and you can do with it what you want.

justjohn said...

I am not one who is worried by "angry" atheism, recognizing it as merely an overdue push-back against mean theism.

Until 9/11 atheists had spent the better part of a century with their heads down, in a non-confrontational mode. Indeed, the only outright atheist of any note between Robert Ingersoll and 2001 was Madalyn O'Hair.

Today atheists of all stripes and temperaments are joining to stare down theistic privilege and oppression.

Good for us!

thebeattitude said...

I went through an angry phase, but it wasn't anger at Christians. It was anger at myself for allowing Christianity to dupe me for over 30 years.

I do point out Christian hypocrisy on my blog, but only to pose questions to Christians. Not to unveil something that they don't already know. There are plenty of crazy non-Christians in the world as well.

To go to either extreme is bad. Fundamental Christians and Militant Atheists are one in the same in my opinion.

Jeff said...

I've certainly seen de-conversion compared to the 7 stages of grief - anger being one of those stages. And in some ways, I see the connection. To some (myself included), losing my faith was at the same time losing a dear friend. God had been my comfort and my confidant, and the realization that he was not there (or dead, if you will) initiated some form of grief. Certainly not everyone goes through all the stages when losing a loved one, and not everyone goes through them all when losing their faith, either. But I can certainly empathize with those who feel anger at, well, themselves or those who led them into what they now believe is a lie. As long as these people don't remain in anger forever, I can see it as a relatively healthy way of dealing with the loss of faith.

feeno said...

He says himself he was angry as a Christian. So now he is an angry Atheists. If he decides to become a Hara Chrishna he'll be an angry one of them too.

Peace out, feeno

Russ said...

On Ranting Lunacy's main page there are more than twenty good-sized posts, but among all of them there are only two comments, both on one post . While blogging on Ranting Lunacy may well be a form of catharsis for Dane, it's clear that what readers he may have are not motivated to engage him.

My hope for Dane is that, if he at some time chooses to, he succeeds in finding a way to express his thoughts that will create a conversation between himself and those who most need the force of his insights. If Dane chooses to keep his blog just as it is, I hope he succeeds at growing an appreciative and engaged audience. There are many out there for whom their sense of personal and institutional betrayal by religion remains an open festering wound. They are the choir to which our former minister, Dane, should be preaching. For the right congregation, I think he's got the goods.

Frankly, I commend Dane for his incendiary tone. One of the points on the spectrum of tones and voices that people will respond to, is the one occupied by Dane. Whereas many blogs have a soft, diffuse light about them that demand some level of subtle intellectual sophistication, Dane's blog broils ants under an magnifying glass demanding an intense visceral response. In the language-mediated campaign seeking to nudge the religious into rethinking their own religion as well as the religions of others, I think Dane deserves some time on the stump. The lexicons of many highly religious people are precisely reflected in Dane's approach and word choice. Where Dane says, "fucking lier," "asshole," "motherfuckers," "stupid shit-for-brains," or "fucking retards" in his sincere effort to reach his target audience, other bloggers, sensitive to their "more civilized" or "more refined" readers, express the same thoughts through euphemisms like "master deceiver," "uncivil," "ignorant bigot," "brainwashed stooge," or "dogmatic stupidity," not necessarily respectively. Civil discourse is but one kind of discourse. Dane has simply chosen a less-flowery alternative.

I feel, share, respond to and empathize with Dane's anger, and each and every day my outrage at religions, their clergy, and their minions is renewed and intensified by reports of how they conduct themselves, personally and organizationally, toward their children, the world and each other. Denizens of Debunking Christianity know the old atrocities and today's still on-going horror stories. I really enjoy its pleasant atmosphere of mostly-civil exchange. Sometimes though, I need the deep primitive sating that Dane's verbal rending of flesh delivers.

Maybe I empathize too strongly with the innocent and helpless, but when a child dies while her devout Christian Science parents look on unwilling to intervene on her behalf due entirely to their religion, another piece of my civilized self dies with her, and I want more than gently-worded discussion.

In many states, by statute, Christian Scientists are permitted to simply watch as their sick, helpless child dies, and each year hundreds do just that. Their religion has made them incapable of caring for their own child. Religion and state have allied in subverting the best interests of a child precisely when that child is at its most vulnerable, and, before the next innocent dies a needless senseless death, since we are effectively powerless to stop it, we resort to words. And I want fire, flames, towering bonfires of words to publicly immolate the entire morally wretched outfit with Mary Baker Eddy in effigy. At times like that, I crave the likes of Dane.

Of course, Christian Science is but one example among thousands.

When my carnivorous disdain for the observable insanity and inhumanity of reIigion shakes free of its shackles, only burnt, maimed, bloody flesh can fill its needs, and blogs like Ranting Lunacy serve up just the right fare.

Nancy said...

Anytime someone with a strong belief is faced with someone who just as strongly does not believe in the subject in question, their first response is to call that person arrogant, especially if he tries to debate or even discuss the issue. I don't find much helpful information in the article by the psychologist. Not all atheists come from a believer background. Many of us never had a faith of any kind. To call us arrogant is ridiculous. I do get angry at religion because I see the number of lives it takes every day in it's name. I have a right to that anger and a right to speak about it. As we have all learned from psychology, anger should never be held in as it is bad for the person in so many ways. That is why after 9-11 many atheists started talking, some loudly and persistently and I see nothing wrong with that. I do not have much patience for those who are religious and refuse to see what is going on around them. It is like allowing a psychopath to kill people as often as they want. We wouldn't allow that. Why do we allow religion to be in the driver's seat?

goprairie said...

I was an angry atheist when my child had to sit through a 'moment of silent reflection' in school for the better part of an acedemic year because it was viewed as fair to 'every religion'. How about fair to those with NO religion? How about the CONSTITUTION? How about the school board having some SPINE? I wrote a letter to the editor outlining the constitutional freedom FROM religion and that triggered 4 weeks of several angry or conscending or patronizing letters supporting the 'moment' for various lame reasons having mainly to do with people being unable to think rationally about this due to it being PERVASIVE in our culture. The only reason it stopped is because a parent got a restaining order in one school and an attorney got that extended to all schools. The final decision remains to be made. It makes me ANGRY that we have to fight this over and over and redefend separation over and over. School is 7 hours of a day. leave the praying for those that want it to the other 17. Apparently, whew, I am STILL angry about it.

goprairie said...

Oops, just found out that the Moment of Silent Reflection law in Illinois was ruled unconstitutional just this last January 22 - so I can be a little less angry now!

Andrew said...
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Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"A Minister at a church in Overland Park Kansas is going to be outed this Sunday."

Why not confront him in private instead? Certainly that would be kinder, both to him and to the congregation.

Matthew 18:15-17

15 "If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

ismellarat said...

The minister might retaliate with a certain collection of posted comments that John has been archiving. :)

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Good point, ismellarat. ;-)

Sinbad said...

Are you sure that Ranting Lunacy isn't a send-up by The Onion?

Dane Eidson said...

This is Dane. I believe you are misreading me. Did you overlook the title of my blog? Ranting Lunancy! I am not on an out of control anger binge. I am not just spouting off anger to get my pound of flesh. You have a right to your opinion. And your opinion concerning my blog does not trouble me.
I enjoy mocking fundies. It is a great delight for me. You of all people should know the history and the carnage religious fundies through the centuries have victimized so many with. They will defend a book that describes the horrors of child rape and child killing all in the name of god.
She may not like my rants. My rants are brutal in their words. But I know that I am not a person full of hate and anger. She may have misjudged me.
Again, I mock and inflame Christian fundamentlists because I like doing so. For me it puts their mythical appeals of threats of eternal judgment right where they should be. On a pile of doo doo to be treated with total disgusts and zero repsect.
My heart is not sinking. If amything I am more free and happier than I ever been.
I will continue to mock and piss on the dogma of an organization that has burnt people at the stake, tortured them and persecuted so many because they would not conform to their dogma.
Thank you for your concern. I really do appreciate it. But she has no need to worry.

Dane Eidson said...

I want to add some more thoughts. My blog Ranting Lunacy does have a target audience. For the lack of eloquence I want to reach out to the Sam Kinisons, George Carlins, Larry Flynts types that have been burnt by religion and who don't feel the desire the be civil or nice towards Christians. I want to give a platform to those who want to vent their anger for all the pains religion has beat them over their heads with and for bruising the hearts with deep wounds.
I am not interested in having a sophisicated discourse with Christians. I believe we should. And there are many blogs and platforms to do this. However I choose my blog by its very title, "Ranting Lunacy" to be a soap box that an atheist can spew out all the venom he or she has been injected with by domineering intimidating Christian fundamentalists. And exposing the lunatic oppression of the evangelical far right. I am providing this rude crue pulpit of insults help other victims of religion understand they don't have to be afraid any longer. To know they can boldly defeat these idiots by standing up to them. And I want to do my small part in defending free speech by pushing its limits and running across the lines the religious fundies dare us to stay behind.