December 21st, 2013
10:22 AM ET
Why atheists should quit the 'War on Christmas’
Opinion by Chris Stedman, special to CNN
(CNN) - The “War on Christmas:” what — or who—is it good for?
In recent years, one organization, American Atheists, has claimed the mantle of prime atheist promoter of the tired “War on Christmas” narrative.
This year, they ushered in the season with an electronic billboard in New York City’s Times Square carrying the message: “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody.” The word "Christ" is crossed out, just in case their message wasn't clear enough.
The American Atheists maintain that their latest entry in the annual “War on Christmas” saga is a message to other atheists that they are not alone.
In a recent Fox News appearance, American Atheists President Dave Silverman said, “The point that we’re trying to make is that there’s a whole bunch of people out there for whom religion is the worst part of Christmas, but they go to church anyways, and we’re here to tell them they don’t have to.”
While that intention is important and admirable, very few people—atheist or theist—seem to interpret the message as welcoming to anyone. Many of the responses I’ve seen have been vitriolic and disturbingly anti-atheist.
Which raises the question: If the goal truly is to reach isolated atheists, why does the advertisement read as a dig at Christians? A better billboard for American Atheists’s stated aim might read: “Don’t celebrate Christmas? You’re not alone.”
As atheists become more visible in our society, the entire “War on Christmas” back-and-forth feels ugly and unnecessary. Worse still, it seems to do little more than offer ammunition to those claiming atheists are just mean-spirited grinches. Bill O’Reilly—one of the major “War on Christmas” soldiers—made that clear when he and I discussed the “War on Christmas” a couple of weeks ago.
Let’s not kid ourselves: There is no war on Christmas.
We live in a culture that privileges stories of conflict, so it’s understandable that this narrative would gain traction—with or without billboards. Much of this narrative is a manifestation of religious fears about our increasingly secular society, and it reflects widespread anxieties about atheists and religious differences. But it doesn’t reflect reality.
Rather, as religious diversity in the U.S. has become more recognizable, Americans have largely broadened their approach to this time of year. According to new data from the Public Religion Research Institute, the percentage of Americans who prefer the inclusive “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” has now exceeded the percentage that prefers “Merry Christmas.”
It’s not that Christmas is under attack; instead, our society is becoming better at embracing its religious diversity and challenging the notion that a single majority religion should dominate public expressions of belief.
So why does the “War on Christmas” narrative persist?
Based on how much play they give it each December, the “War on Christmas” narrative seems to be good for Fox News ratings. And American Atheists has openly admitted that it is good for their pocketbooks, as their talk show appearances bring in a swell of donations.
Consider this from a recent profile of Silverman:
“Silverman’s notorious anti-Christmas billboards and subsequent TV appearances have breathed new life into American Atheists and are often followed by an uptick in subscribers and donations. ... According to Silverman, the primary objective of the billboards is to get invitations to talk shows.”
In other words: American Atheists and Fox News - alongside conservatives like Sarah Palin - seem to have discovered a mutually beneficial relationship.
But does this relationship benefit atheists more broadly? Does it accurately represent the sentiments of nontheists in this country? Does it improve atheist-theist relations?
Does it lessen the widespread stigma and distrust that exists between atheists and theists, which enables atheist marginalization across the U.S.? Does it invite Christians to think critically about religious privilege?
Many atheists, myself included, suspect that there are more effective approaches to tackling these important issues.
To start, atheists can build positive relationships with believers to humanize our communities and educate one another about our differences. That’s something that billboards, for all of their flash and fundraising capabilities, likely won’t accomplish.
Atheists face real marginalization in the U.S., and it should be robustly challenged.
But we also have good tidings and great joy to offer—important contributions to the public square that are currently being drowned out by attention-grabbing billboards claiming “nobody” needs Christ in Christmas.
In the spirit of generosity, compassion, and kindness so often associated with this time of year, let’s ditch the billboards and build relationships of goodwill.
Chris Stedman is the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, Coordinator of Humanist Life for the Yale Humanist Community, and author of "Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious." You can follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDStedman.
The views expressed in this column belong to Stedman.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
"faith": believing something without a single shred of proof.
it amazes me that religious folk see this word as a badge of honor while any logical thinking person sees it as a mark of foolishness or insanity.
quite a disconnect.
Like your faith in no higher intent? Which you also can't prove?
Is your existence so pathetic... that you require a 'higher intent' to make yourself feel better?
and would you consider your lack of belief in fairies, which you aslo can't prove do not exist, as a form of faith?
Are you distinguishing "faith" from "belief" and if so, what do you consider the difference?
Three good statements
Science is knowledge without absolute certainty, religion is absolute certainty without knowledge or evidence.
Science creates airplanes, religion flies them into buildings.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Christians believe the bible is the very word of their god, until there is a line that doesn't agree with their lifestyle and they ignore it. How do they cope with the hypo.crisy? They use denial.
Christians in America love the consti.tution and all the freedoms it affords them like FREE SPEECH, until there is an issue where it doesn't agree with their lifestyle and they protest it. How do they cope with the hypo.crisy? They use denial.
That's also the general conservative m.o.- rules apply only to non-conservatives (i.e. "everyone else").
LET's Religiosity Law #4 – If a bible verse furthers the cause, it is to be taken literally. If a bible verse is detrimental to the cause, it is either: taken out of context; is allegorical; refers to another verse somewhere else; is an ancient cultural anomaly; is a translation or copyist's error; means something other than what it actually says; Is a mystery of god or not discernible by humans; or is just plain magic. (See Law #5)
I like your way if thinking coz clearely the bilbds r for show n gve the impression of attacking christians, thre are many ways to inpact people n society @ large without trashing other peiplez blvz
I don't disagree with your comment, but your use of English and/or the device you are using sucks...
To my knowledge there is not a communications device in existence that would produce, or even encourage the production, of such drivel.
Here's my favorite all-purpose prayer that's sure to raise eyebrows at X-Mas dinner or any other time for that matter...
Cartoons for the HAHA's.
You obviously have difficulty distinguishing cartoons from live action films. Please keep your ignorance to yourself. (I'm guessing that's a difficult task for you.)
"All that matters... is that two stood against many..."
"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."
i love this. i deal with religious symbols and religious billboards, not to forget having to hear about "save the red-neck from A&E" all day long.
we put up one simple billboard and everyone loses their fracking minds.
we have senators protesting our billboard and trying to take away our tax-exempt status...........for what?
"PROTECT FREE SPEECH"..............................WELL UNLESS IT'S THOSE DIRTY ATHIESTS."
if your red-neck hero has free speech to say hateful things about..............well EVERYONE, then we have free speech to say
CHRIST HASN'T GOT A SINGLE THING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS.
old saying folks, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander"
What's sauce for the goose (is sauce for the gander).
The budget is very tight this year. No place for sauce.
Are you stuck in a bottle of sauce lol?? ?
is it true that atheist ate their own words because they are deprive of knowlege and therefore are always brain hungry
But all the elves are stuck in Iceland holding up major road construction !
No, it's not. From the tone of your "statement" it appears that you are the one projecting your own moral and intellectual bankruptcy upon those more intelligent and literate than yourself.
Compliments of the season to you.
Well, the not-a-jews ate their own children in 70 AD at the fall of Jerusalem. I don't wish that nightmarish hunger on anyone except for the leadership of their mob.
"CHRIST HASN'T GOT A SINGLE THING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS."
Sure he does, X-Mas is when X-tians traditionally celebrate his birthday (however far removed Dec. 25 is from his actual DOB). By making patently false statements you're doing little to advance the cause of Atheists (whether "we" want your help or not), and are only playing into the hands of the anti-Atheists. IOW, get your facts straight. (And please don't come back with how the observed date of X-Mas was chose based on pre-existing Pagan holidays- I'm obviously ahead of you there.)
Compliments of the season to you.
P.S.- You may wish to return anti-Atheist animosity with the compassion and kindness that is sadly lacking within the anti-Atheist camp. "Rakes burning coals upon their foreheads." (Hmmm, I wonder who said that???)
Close enuff for a gubmint church. Now spread YOUR HATE on a HAHA blog.
Whilst you spread your hate here? Typical hypocrisy of the religious fundy whackjobs.
well then you know the reason for "the date of your celebration" yet still choose myth over factual history.
i'm glad you can aleast acknowledge that you know the origin of your "holidays" yet still not care.
enjoy your celebration
"...yet still choose myth over factual history..."
Factual history as in the Saturnalia? Last I heard that holiday was also founded on myth. Also, if you actually read my post for CONTEXT you'll glean the fact that I'm an ATHEIST. That fact escaped you for some reason. You're apparently too mired in your own bitterness and inexperience to be capable of much critical thinking at this point in your life. (I'm guessing that you're < 18 yo from the general tone and content of your post.)
You obviously didn't appreciate my wishing you "compliments of the season" (to borrow a phrase from Thomas Jefferson), but if you're expecting me to now wish you a crappy holiday forget it. I won't lower myself to your level, kid. Fighting ignorance with ignorance won't get you very far, and will do nothing to promote the image of Atheists. I said as much already but you intentionally ignored that.
k thx bye
Yeah, there's a billboard where I live that says I'm going to burn in hell...complete with an image of flames. Apparently that is less offensive than recommendations that its possible to have a secular Christmas.
I am Gay, my God therefore is also gay,we will put into extinction on earth all females.we are scientist expert in cloning,we will propagate only our own specie,thereby cleansing the earth of the animals called cow like smelly animals by the late Rock Hudson
Wow... you're even dumber than the usual flock of christians that post on here... I'm sadly impressed...
I guess you forgot that females can be gay too.
Forgive them Lord..for the hateful atheists know not what they do.
Break the silence!
Drive out fear...end the atheists hate!
Mote in your, troll. Mote in your eye.
Mote in your eye, troll. Mote in your eye.
Not believing in your particular god is not hate
LOL.. fear is the middle name of Dougie, the BB's own resident gay Shaker.
Praise the lard dougie!
The A&A's that insist Hitler was a representative Christian now have their own chaplain, rabbi, father, and leader amongst men. Congrats on yer assimilation and the possibility of developing more coherent doctrine and dogma. Send your offerings to Chris Stedman, Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University. Honorary degrees are on the horizon.
A&A's are now,
Humanist Atheists Harvard Agnostics
Sorry, don't have a video or cartoon for ya.
...nor anything of substance or intelligence to say.
FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!!!
One of the shops near me has "Happy Festivus" painted on its windows, complete with the "Feats of Strength" pole. I laughed my ass off.
Does it really matter? Every one is different. Everyone has their own thoughts. Why would you push your thoughts on to me. If I am or am not an atheist is no one's business. Just like being gay or not. No one has the right to tell someone else how to think or how to act. Nor do you need to fight against anything. Christianity started with George Washington. If you want to be an atheist, do so, but quit trying to tell others how or what to think
The creationists in Texas where trying to tell people how by TRYING to get creationism bunk inserted in text books.
"Christianity started with George Washington."
I think Christianity started before George Washington.
Whatever his religious views, Washington clearly thought of religion as a private matter and strongly supported the seperation of church and state.
Wouldint it be Washingtonianity then?
The author "also was the first awardee of the annual "Happy Heathen!" Award bestowed by the University of Oregon Alliance of Happy Atheists.. "Happy Heathen"? Interesting !! But is he "happy" this time of year ??
Why wouldn't he be?
Maybe we should ask his husband??
Did he win the prestigeous Justin-Timberlake-Looking Secular Of The Year Award?
Let me see if it will let me post a web image.
Hilarious! Therein lies the conundrum.
Okay, it didn't post the image, but I looked it up...hilarious.
Old but funny.
Can someone talk about atheism, without making it all about Christianity? KthxBye!
Sure, what would you like talked about?
What do you have faith in?
No faith required, or even possible in the theological definition of the word. Faith is a religious paradigm. There are other meanings of the word, but they are not required for living.
The whole faith thing seems to confuse religious people, but in it's theological definition, you it only applies to a deity.
Boy, I'd love to discuss more with you, like why atheists choose to act decently and what the world is to an atheist, but I've got to go out to dinner with some friends. I do sincerely appreciate that you wouldlike to know what we value and believe, and why, which is way better than the usual treatment we receive.
Depends on the usage of the term "faith". Words have mutiple meanings. For instance there is evidence based faith such as that the sun will rise tomorrow based on experience and knowledge of the universe.... and there is faith in things despite a lack of evidence and knowledge. I have many of the former and none (to my knowledge) of the latter.
@Larry, I"m not religious. Most atheists do act decently. Like most religious people I know do, too. I'm not sure why you are talking like you are the spokesperson for atheists? What do you have faith in. Not what you think atheists in general have faith in. Some atheists murder, rap% and rob people.
I have faith in things like that, too, @!Blessed.
That all you have a question about?
I'm not sure what you mean by spokesman when I answered in the line of what you asked. You asked for someone to talk about atheism and I did.
I am quite short on time, but if you want personal faith things, I again have to say that they are not theological faith. And Cheesemaker is correct in that areas of faith I would have are evidence-based, and of course they always hold the possibility that there are occasions when they don't happen.
Specific examples? Like I have faith the sun is there at noon, even when it's overcast? Faith that the car is going to start? I'm having trouble with your question. There are so many in a secular definition of the word, but all really are based on evidence or experience, and contain the possibility they won't occur. Like Cheesemaker, I can't think of one that doesn't fit that category?
My friends are pulling in and I really have to go, but I will check back later and add things if I can. Feel free to ask whatever. You seem an interesting person.
What things do you have faith in regards to unknown things?... like I have faith in science. Although I've never conducted any scientific experiments or ever met an elite scientist. I still trust what they say. And I have faith in history, although I know that is based on faith. I didn't actually see the events unfold and have to trust the source that educates me about a time in the past.
That's true Larry. I should have specified, what do you personally believe. I don't want to hear what others say all Christians believe. I don't want to hear someone tell me what all atheists believe.
Each group is comprised of unique individuals that are all trying to do the best they can (in most cases).
Thanks for answering. I actually have a friend that refuses to admit he uses faith. He thinks all his beliefs are logical and factual. I think all humans use faith. It isn't bad.
Well science and history do not speak to us as an ultimate authority. Science is based on the knowledge we can demonstrate but will change with better information. History is similar but is not as conclusive. History is contiually re-written. These things are not unknown so i am not sure what you are referring to in regards to that.
I might help with the history thing. Most history does have varying degrees of evidence material, but a lot is hypothesis and educated guesses. I might suggest that you view things with scepticism a bit, as various historians can look at the same information and give different results. For example, Churchill may or may not have been a drunk. He certainly drank, but there is a lot of conjecture as to the extent and his actual condition at certain moments. I would suggest that pure faith in what anyone says in history is not a good idea. Reason and scepticism are going to work better.
And indeed, sometimes new information or analysis significantly change the understanding.
Does that help? Oh, by the way, I have a Master's in it.
Pam, I think that Larry and some of the others are expressing that it depends on the sort of faith. Faith that my car will start tomorrow is much different than faith in Allah and Mohammed to the degree that one is willing to kill or die for. Don't you agree? Your friend may say that he does not use faith because he is referring to the great gulf that exists between two such positions of "faith." Yes, Pam, I do have faith that my car will start, tomorrow. Not a big deal. Faith in much grander things with much less evidence is not the same thing. Dont' you see?
I wish I had faith that my car would start tomorrow. I think I need a new battery.
I think the disconnect between your friend and yourself is in the way you are using the word "faith" as I spoke about in my earlier post. Personally I don't like the word faith because the 2 ways it can be used and often the meanings are conflated.
As far as viewing history with skepticism.... I thought that is what I expressed.
Is a Masters in "it", information technology? If so why is that relevent to the discussion?
Faith is a strange thing. I'm not sure I have faith in anything. But I have a great deal of trust. I trust that my family loves me unconditionally. I trust myself to be as honest a person as I can be. I trust those people who look for real, honest answers to all the hard questions. I trust someday that we'll get those answers. I trust that which is supported by evidence. I tend to trust most people to be true to their word until they prove that they are unreliable. I don't know if that answers your question, but that's my take.
Jeez Perry I thought your post was written by Pam, sorry bout that to both of you.
Faith vs trust? One is hope that something is true or will be true. Trust is similar, I think, but it's hope in something that is reliable.
"I think all humans use faith. It isn't bad."
I think religious faith where "faith" is used in lieu of evidence and knowledge is bad.
For Blessed Are The Cheesemakers (is that to be taken literally, or does it refer to any manufacturers of dairy products?):
Oh I wasn't clear, was I? Masters in History. I am about the last person you would want doing Information Technology for you.
Their faith is in no higher intent existing. But they can't prove that, so its difficult to say that they are any more rational than Christian or believers.
it's very simple Pam. The label "atheist" simply denotes people who do not believe in any particular idea of a god. That's it...Nothing more. It has nothing to do with any particular religion, and it only really has meaning in the context of a world where the popular belief is that there is a god. It has no bearing on my world view...How I live my life and cetainly has nothing to do with Christianity.
Sure Pam, actually it's all about no belief in god.... nothing more, that simple.
Why not call it the "War on the holidays Christians plagiarized from the pagans"?
That sounds stupid.
I'm Christian, but the atheists have as much right as anyone else to advertise their beliefs. Maybe if the mainstream Christians would stop their war on EVERYONE, the other groups might follow suit. When JWs and Mormons come round, advertising their beliefs, trying to force pamphlets, I just politely decline to hear their message and surely am not giving them a dollar for their pamphlets. No reason not to do the same with the atheists.
I absolutely agree marc as an atheist. We can always turn the channel on whatever message is presented...or we can respond to it and either option is perfectly acceptable. What is not acceptable is to claim anyone should not be allowed to express opinions.
Marc–you rock! You have exactly the right att itude. Think about how much advertising goes on–about all sorts of things! Many advertisement are things that might offend people, but then people go apesh!t over a few atheist billboards. I don't necessarily agree with approach taken by the advertiser here, but come on people–perspective!
Merry Christmas to you from an atheist.
Awesome to see this, marc! Fellow Christian here that is completely sick of being expected to treat everyone else like garbage. Only when we choose to have a discussion and not a fight can we make any progress. The more of every group that decides to work together for good, the faster we will see positive change in our world.
It's not atheists that are winning the war on Christmas, it's Madison Avenue. Christmas has become the end of year shopping season.
I can totally testify to the truth of this statement. 😀
Ho ho ho!! 😀 😀 😀
From a Christian perspective the creator of all things died in agony just trying to make post death wonderful for everybody and then after the fact gets his name written out of his own birthday.
From a Non-Christian perspective, there is no such thing and so it's a non-issue.
Ultimately there are lots of gods that lots of people don't believe in so therefore they don't spend a lot of time thinking about them. It's always good to consider how others view things.
I think that the first thing is what bothers me most. Christians are just so thrilled that an innocent man was tortured to death so that they don't have to be accountable for their own actions. Too many of them take this idea as a license to lie and hate and harm others. Judging from their behavior, far too many christians think they deserve the prize of heaven without obeying the rules Christ set down for them.
Well, don't be bothered. Stop in at Joe's B&G.
I've been surrounded by Christianity my whole life. That's a misunderstanding. From their perspective there is nothing that can be done by an individual that would outweigh the sacrifice of a god. They would consider it arrogant to thing one's own self could ever be good enough.
If I thought I'd live on after death I'd take a free meal ticket too. Personally I can't fathom how one event could relate to another event but each to his own.
Thank you! Yes.
Some christians actually think about the price, but from what I've seen far too many just want the prize.
An alleged omnipotent spirit comes to earth, rents some flesh then goes back to where it came.
First, summarizing the billboard as saying 'Don't celebrate christmas? You're not alone,' is a misreading of the message. It specifically said you can celebrate the holidays without the religious cult trappings. Second, atheists have raised money for a lot of charities only to have those donations rejected because they were from atheist groups. Third, how do you expect atheists to find common ground with religious cults that believe we deserve eternal torment in some imaginary afterlife. Seriously, these cult members believe that by being atheists we should be made to suffer. How do you find common ground with that?
Honestly I don't think most believers think we do deserve punishment for unbelief, some do of course, but most ignore the issue and chalk it up to being out of their hands. I don't think that if the decision was up to them they would go through with it. That says a lot about the morality of the god they believe in.
Wow, tasty bait.
They worship an imaginary deity that they believe will punish those that don't believe as they do. We can't question the morality of a fairy tale character. We can question the morality of those that worship the fairy tale. They can't simply wash their hands of it and claim they have no responsibility for the lack of morality of their cult.
Nah, not all believe that. I've actually never heard anything like that in my church – an non-denominational and very open minded church. I don't agree with your statement at all.
"We can't question the morality of a fairy tale character."
I think we can according to the characteristics presented in the story. In fact questioning the morality of said god is a part of what lead me to reject that god as being real.
A generally agree with you on the rest of your post but I was more pointing to humans ability to compartmentalize our positions than I was making an excuse for it.
Blessed, it is true no one would wish it on their worst enemy, but how can you have perfect justice without consequence ?
I don't consider infinite punishment for finite "crimes" just...(if some of them can even be considered a crime). Calling something "perfectly just" does not make it so.
"it is true no one would wish it on their worst enemy"
And this isn't true...I have been told many times by some christians that they relish the idea of looking down at the masses being tormented. I do think this is a small sick minority though.
I think it comes down to an eternal decision. God will make his offer, you will know it is him and he will be patient. Surely no one could possibly reject him under these circu.mstances.
"God will make his offer, you will know it is him and he will be patient."
I am still waiting, if your god does exist he knows exctly what it would take to change my mind.
But I still reject the idea that a god should care and reward or punish based on belief. I find that concept itself immoral.
But, how do you decide which version of God to follow? There are dozens of flavors of God just in Christianity, let alone all the other monotheistic religions that claim to have the one path to God. The Bible can't be used to verify claims any more than the Quran or the Book of Mormon, as all religious texts first require a basic belief on the part of the reader that they (the texts) are right in order to be viewed as such.
All God has to do (or any believer), is offer good hard, verifiable, repeatable evidence. The kind of evidence we would expect from those making any other extraordinary claim. Think of what believers offer up as "proof" of their god. Arguments from ignorance. An ancient book by unknown authors, which makes wild extraordinary claims such as snakes talking, a man living in a giant fish for days, the dead rising, and so on. Special pleading. "Evidence" that no rational person would accept for any other claim–even more modest ones.
Now–being all-knowing, God already knows what would convince every single skeptic–right? Yet he does not. So what kind of all-loving God would refrain from providing evidence, and then turn around and burn doubters for all eternity?
In what sense are you using the term cult?? Size?? Some take offense at that. I don't
You know the definition of a Cult? it's every other religion but your own!
Dude, that's like my def of fascist. It's always the "other guy"!!
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Atheist or Fascist?,
Are you unable to speak in your own words? It takes no talent to spam or copy and paste.
A cult is "a system of religious beliefs and ritual" I'm sure some will take offense, but that doesn't concern me.
Yea, some people use the term "cult" to describe a dangerous religious group. But, yes, technically the word cult can be used to describe any religious group. But that doesn't mean they are deemed dangerous or on the fringe of society, like the other definition implies.
I cannot discern any substantive difference between a cult and a religion. The main difference seems to be the size and often how new it is. If you're big and old–you're safe behind the label of a respected "religion". If you're a small, new upstart–then you're a dangerous "cult".
As used in modern English a cult is a religious group that either revolves around the personality of a powerful leader or discourages contact with outside members, or, more commonly, both.
wrong...Mao didn't commit atrocities in the name of atheism...he did it in the name of politics...and Hitler was raised christian and also did not do what he did because he was doing it in the name of atheism. More wars and death have been created by religious leaders than any that can be said are done in the name of atheism. Don't spin things that aren't true.
In what sense are you using the term cult?? Size?? Some take offense at that. I don't
Post was meant for Lister.
"...who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? Who can dispute that they did their bloody deeds by claiming to be establishing a “new man” and a religion-free utopia? These were mass murders performed with atheism as a central part of their ideological inspiration, they were not mass murders done by people who simply happened to be atheist."
Atheism is a lack of belief in supernatural deities. There is no doctrine or dogma of atheism, nothing inherit to it that says murder all believers. Can you say the same for the religious cults? No, the majority of them have doctrine or dogma that calls for the punishment, usually by death, or all the non-believers. The actions of communist dictators were driven by totalitarianism...a lust for power that they felt would be threatened by religious cults. This has nothing to do with a lack of belief in supernatural deities.
Nope. Atheist leaders have been at the lead of horrible wars. Just like Christian leaders have been at the lead of horrible wars.
You can rationalize it wasn't really in the name of atheism, like Christians can say it wasn't really in the name of Christianity (Christ preached peace, not war).
Please point out a war that was fought under the flag of Atheism (which by definition is NOT communism, or fascism, totalitarians.)
Now, think about wars that are fought under the flag of Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism. The desired outcome might be totalitarians, or simply grabbing more real estate, but the flag is a religion.
There is a huge difference.
Even the Cultural Revolution wasn't flying under an atheist flag. It was war on historical "culture" which is an entire historical package, not a war of Atheists against Buddhists. And as for Pol Pot, he was fighting Communists (Viets) which is why Reagan helped out that Mass Murderer. What Atheist flag was Pol Pot flying under, exactly?
They also presumably did not believe in fairies also. Should we presume their lack of a belief in fairies should also be blamed for their crimes.
Please explain how not believing in something supernatural can lead to atrocities. Please the logical causal connection between not believing in gods means that people must die for this non-belief. There is no logical connection.
This is like blaming Catholicism for the Holocaust. Hitler was a Catholic. He was baptized Catholic, and was never excommunicated by the church, even after his crimes were revealed. In fact, the only Nazi in the leadership who was excommunicated was Josef Goebbels–you know what for? He married a Protestant.
The Catholic Church celebrated Hitler's birthday every year up to his death. Many bishops and even Cardinals were enthusiastically pro-Nazi, and Hitler's first treaty was with the Vatican. Hitler specifically attributed his stance on Jews to his religion. He learned his Antisemitism from the Church, and the church WAS officially antisemitic until the early 60s I believe.
“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”
“I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.”
“I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so”
These are just a few. Hitler also bragged about crushing atheism in Germany. The belt buckles of the Nazi Stormtroopers read: "Gott Min Uns" or "God With Us".
Now–can you find comparable lines of evidence showing that Stalin or Mao traced their deeds to their lack of belief? The truth is–one of the problems with Communism is that it was a dogmatic ideology, which was all too similar to religion. They did this because Communism as a religion enabled them the same absolute power that kings used to claim as a result of religion. They learned that lesson well.
so because they didnt believe in a god you somehow think that is why they did what they did? ...How many people were killed in the NAME of religion? How many people were killed in the NAME of atheism? You cannot even compare. Mao did his ugly deeds in the name of atheism no more than hitler did his war deeds in the name of christianity. Hitler believed in god......atheism is NOT a religion....only a religion can get good people to do evil things.