I’m an atheist, but I had to walk away from the toxic side of online atheism

When I was invited to discuss atheism on “The O’Reilly Factor” four years ago, I initially wanted to turn it down. However, I ultimately realized it was a chance to show Fox News viewers a different side of atheism on a network where atheists are usually talked about rather than with.

It was December, so former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly attempted to paint atheists as bitter anti-religion Grinches on a mission to take Christmas away. I pushed back, emphasizing the value of the separation of church and state as well as atheists’ contributions to the public conversation on religion and ethics.

In an environment that rewards anger and sound bites, I attempted to humanize my community — one of the most negatively viewed in the country. Afterward, strangers from around the country messaged me to say the conversation helped them rethink their views on atheists.

But the chatter online took a different, but sadly familiar, tone.

  • Militant atheists do not disbelieve in God. They have replaced Him with themselves. They then take their new deification and use it to browbeat anyone they loathe: Christians, children singing at Christmas pageants, global warming skeptics, more Christians. They hide behind the veils of multiculturalism and science so that they can attack the things they loathe (ie – Christmas and belief in Jesus) and only end up exposing their ignorance and venom. No position can be balanced, nuanced or argued in a civil manner. It’s shout, shout and shout again.

    I don’t know why it took Mr. Stedman a long time to see this.

  • Drunk by Noon ✓

    I think we can all argue as to why atheists are the way that they are, and how they arrived at their conclusions for various reasons, and although I think they are wrong, their free will to believe or to disbelieve is their own.
    For whatever reason that assumption is dead wrong and wholly inaccurate, I have found.

    We are instead in a competition for existence in the public space and that takes them from a neutral to an enemy, assuming that you are a Christian. I cannot remember an atheist going after a public display of a menorah as venomously I can them against a manger scene or a simple cross. They are definitely anti-Christian and rather blase about any other religion. Occasionally some will bother to include Islam, but that is a rarity as Islam and Atheism seem to share a common enmity for Christianity.
    Live and let live is a myth.

  • Raymond Hietapakka

    Religions are only proof that people will believe anything,especially if the carrot is big enough…like offering eternal life and the 70 whores….

  • deplorabledave

    When there are no constraints there are no constraints. Whodda thunk it.

  • Jabberwokk

    I like talking to real atheists not anti and or former theists who use regurgitated arguments as a fig leaf for their own intellectual insecurities.