Why Do Theists Get Offended By Atheism?

Have you, as an atheist, ever felt any prejudice or hatred directed towards you, because of your disbelief in imaginary friends?

Personally, as the owner of an atheist-themed t-shirt, etc. company, I tend to not tell people about the company. Not because I don’t want to offend people, but more because I don’t need some insane bible-nut coming after me or my family… You never know who your friends’ friends might be, especially in this day of Facebook, Google Plus, etc.

But on a more personal level, I have never felt harassed or the victim of prejudice because of my atheism. I grew up in a town that wasn’t particularly religious and the people who were, kept it to themselves. My parents were not very religious, though both theists of different faiths.

But atheists certainly do get harassed and feel the effects of prejudice (more in the US and Islamic countries than anywhere else). Weird similarity there… Every news outlet has been talking about the family in NJ that is suing the school district and trying to get the “under god” removed from the daily Pledge of Allegiance. There is also the case, also coincidentally in NJ, over the DMV not allowing a plate reading “8theist” while at the same time allowing “baptist.” And I have previously written about Atheist Berlin having to remove their branded tape from their packages when they ship shoes to the US. I myself label my shipments with D(A) instead of the full company name, so that packages don’t mysteriously disappear. But atheist postal workers don’t routinely “lose” packages from churches.

So the questions is, why are theists offended by atheists?

  • Are they offended because they think we are laughing at their absolutely ridiculous beliefs? We are, but if they really believe that crap then our lack of belief shouldn’t bother them that much.
  • Or is it because they themselves know that their beliefs are ridiculous? Do they maintain these beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence because it makes them “feel better,” like a theist friend of mine has admitted? I personally think willful self-delusion is the only explanation for intelligent theists…
  • They feel bad for us because we are all going to hell? Then they should feel pity, not anger.
  • Any other theories?
Most atheists, if not all, would say they don’t care if someone else is a theist. As long as–
  • The theist doesn’t try to convert me,
  • The theist doesn’t use their religion to excuse their racist or other -ists attitudes,
  • The theist doesn’t use their religion to empower themselves to take advantage of or take the rights from another (including legislation),
  • Or to absolve them of guilt for something they deserve to pay a penalty for, without having paid that penalty (pedophile priests come to mind….).

That seems to support the idea that atheists are not only more moral (see the surveys out there) but also more tolerant. Surprise.

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