A new “religion” on the rise

Eh what? Is it 2009? Rita Panahi seems to be stuck in a time warp.

THOSE on the lunatic fringe who live in fear of a Muslim invasion have a new threat to keep them up at night — and this one is real. There’s a new “religion” on the rise whose band of non-believers is becomingly increasingly bold, some would say militant, in not only pushing its own belief system but actively trying to shut down dissenting views.

New? A new religion on the rise? Calling outspoken atheism “militant” is about as new as the hula hoop.

Atheism is no longer just a quiet and personal celebration of reason, it has grown into a movement that is employing some of the tactics used by traditional religion to increase its following and influence.
Is atheism supposed to be a quiet and personal celebration of reason? Is that some kind of rule? Is it forbidden for atheists to argue for atheism? I don’t think so. Religion isn’t purely quiet and personal, theism isn’t purely quiet and personal, so why should atheism be purely quiet and personal?
The increasing secularisation of England has resulted in bans on prayers at council meetings and even court cases over people’s right to wear a cross at work.
Not exactly. That’s a misleading way of putting it. There haven’t been any court cases over a general ban on wearing a cross at work; the court cases have been about people who want exemption from rules that ban all jewelry for safety reasons. Nobody, not the most rabid atheist Cristina Odone could imagine, wants to prevent everyone from wearing a cross at work.

Atheists are particularly keen at showing their disdain for Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church. It’s easy to be critical of the sexual abuse scandals and the sheer absurdity of a Pope who has embraced social media but condemns the use of condoms in African countries riddled with AIDS.

What is not so easy is to be consistent with that criticism when considering other religions.

With a few notable exceptions, such as Harris and the courageous Ayaan Hirsi Ali, most atheists shy away from any real criticism of Islam.

Well, you know, that’s really not true. There are more than “a few” exceptions.
A rather lazy bit of Xmas boilerplate, this looks like, but it’s a lazy bit of Xmas boilerplate that re-enforces an existing stigma against a marginalized set of people. Happy solstice.
H/t Barry Duke


  1. &drew says

    And a new hobby is becoming ever more popular with the ascendancy of email. It’s called “not collecting stamps”….

  2. machintelligence says

    employing some of the tactics used by traditional religion to increase its following and influence.

    Using our own tactics against us…THAT’S NOT FAIR !

  3. says

    The increasing secularisation of England has resulted in bans on prayers at council meetings…

    Unfortunately bullshit as they weaselled out of it and there are prayers in plenty of council meetings including my local council. I think its a disgrace given how exclusionary it is for anyone not believing or belonging to a different religion… So I sincerely wish that was a truthful statement!

    And “Most atheists shy away from criticism of Islam….” so draw mohammed day passed by unnoticed?

  4. Silentbob says

    @ 5 oolon

    I get the impression Rita Panahi would be delighted to learn what happened to the founder of Draw Mohammed Day.

    Behind these digs at atheists for not “daring” to criticise Islam there seems to lie an unspoken desire for them to get their comeuppance.

  5. says

    I gave two good reasons for not criticizing Islam:

    1. I live in the Southeast United States. Islam just doesn’t affect (or is it “effect? Fuck I hate these words.) me.

    2. Criticizing Islam can get you killed.

    As proud as I am of my atheism, I have no intention of ever being a martyr for it, thank you very much.

    What’s that?

    I’m a coward?

    I’m damn proud of it, and don’t you forget it!

  6. Martha says

    I’m so sorry this writer isn’t reading your blog. She would have to reconsider her view of atheists attacking Islam.

    But I see no problem with criticizing the dominant religion in one’s own culture instead of the dominant religion of another’s. Such a weak premise!

  7. dianne says

    Oh, come on, Ophelia. Everyone knows that you never criticize Islam. There’s never been a debate on your blog about whether the burqa should be banned, for example. Oh, wait…

    Well, anyway, you’re completely an exception. There aren’t any FTBloggers who concentrate on Islam more than Christianity…except for Nasrin and Namazie.

    It’s a rather astonishing claim, really. I can’t imagine how anyone who had actually read your blog or perused the FTB site even casually could possibly come to the conclusion that Islam was never criticized by atheists, particularly atheists associated with FTB. The accusation sounds more like what the person making it wants to believe than anything even vaguely correlated with objective reality.

  8. says

    dianne – ah this article is about new atheism in general, and the writer and the paper are Australian, so she probably doesn’t have FTB in mind at all. But still, a quick survey of new atheism in general should have disabused her of the idea that criticism of Islam is hard to find.

  9. dianne says

    I may have been conflating FTB and atheism in general a bit, but the general point still stands, I think. It’s not hard to find criticism of Islam within the atheist movement. Unless you really don’t want to find it.

  10. christophernicholas says

    I recently had a friend take me to task for being an atheist, and elicit a debate about belief. Then he got angry and accused me of “attacking” his faith, when I didn’t find his arguments persuasive. The last thing I heard from him was that I was militant and “just like the religious people you talk shit about.”

    When I talk about religions, the subject tends to be whatever religion the speaker upholds. So I frequently find myself trying to dismantle the religious prejudice one believer has for people of different faiths. So, for instance, when a protestant acquaintance tries to argue that catholics aren’t “real” christians, or that islam is different from christianity because islam preaches death whereas christianity is a religion of peace, or some such twaddle, the person interprets my response as a defense of islam or catholicism.

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