In this article, we look at several reasons atheists offer for why they are angry with or strongly object to religion and religious people. Several dozen atheists with whom I engaged via Facebook in groups purposed specifically for religious debates, especially discussions between theists and atheists, are considered. I have not changed the responses in any way, so expect spelling errors and so on.
Atheists are sometimes agitated when it comes to discussions on religion. For example, assuming that I am a theist, Jon contends that I (and others) are wrong about our “god blather.” William consigns my supposed theism to “irrational god beliefs.”
In further debate on theism and theism, Bill maintains theists offer a “bunch of nonsense” and that the burden of proof always lies with the theist. Religion is “pitiful” and theists should keep the “sh*t in your mouth.” Mark claims to be “often frustrated by their bullsh*t.”
Luke says he “reached a point in my life where I think religions and religious people alike are jokes, much in the same way flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers are.” He is therefore “hesitant to give them the time of day, let alone engage in debate.” John says he will not “make a habit of socialising with religious people” because they are “draining and I can’t stop myself from contentiously engaging with people who believe in nonsense.”
Jack feels mixed feelings towards theists such as ‘bemusement, laughter and mild frustration.” Sarah does not mince her words when she claims to “hold all Theists and all religions in complete and utter contempt and disdain. My answer is disdain.” Ron tends to “laugh at theists and the things they believe in.” According to Ralph, “I think we’d be much better off without it [religion]. Being an atheist can sometimes feel like being the only sober person in the room.”
Not all atheists are necessarily angry at religion but feel other emotions. Carryn, for example, says “Disagreement with most of it would be a better way to put it.” Mandy sees some value in religion in that she “greatly appreciate[s] the themes and tropes of religion and understand that it’s how it is used that matters. If someone is using their faith to better the world and spread compassion and goodwill, I have no issue with that.”
Justifications for Angry Sentiments
But what might explain these hostile sentiments to religion? Evaluating the discourse, several major reasons for hostility by atheists toward religion quickly emerge.
Religion is Illogical
Belief in God is based on bad logic. According to Bart, frustration emerges as theists don’t “attempt to accept logic.” Theists use logic outside of their religion, but suspend it when it comes to religious ideas like “magic miracle workers and altered books and unevidenced claims.”
Jeff does not become angry but rather frustrated “with [the] dishonesty and bad arguments” of theists. Sean agrees saying that it is “frustrating to realise that some of our species can purposely suspend their critical faculties, just so that they can have faith in ancient myths…” Some atheists mention the problem of indoctrination; Robert explains that,
“It bothers me that kids are born today into religious families. They are told what to think, not how to think. So right from the word go they are told god is X, Y & Z and therefore, to them it’s fact. This bothers me because not once do they question these totally un-proved assertions.”
Drake criticizes the religious for believing in superstitious myths, “We’ve had the Enlightenment, and we’ve discovered the value of science and we’ve advanced in terms of academic rigor in fields relating to history and archaeology – and people are still believing in magic. I’m left flabbergasted.” He cannot see “how grown people can believe in the supernatural, miracles, and other sorts of magic.” Denise feels sorry “that so many people base their whole lives on an ancient myth.” Bryant chastises religion because it sees as “a virtue to believe in something despite lack of good evidence or even evidence to the contrary. That is very dangerous.” Clifford says that,
“I just can’t get pass the utter ridiculousness of people believing in magic simply because they want it to be true. I understand the why of religion, I just don’t understand the how. How can any thinking person possibly believe that complete nonsense? It just saddens me to think that even after thousands of years we are still so ridiculously stupid.”
Some atheists speak of deconverting from religion; according to John,
“But honestly, probably [angry] at myself too, because I was so stupid in being involved in Christianity for 8 years. It did take me a while to study the scriptures sufficiently to where I understand what they were about. At least now being an atheist I know why I don’t believe, after having studied the writings, and can debate with any flavour of Christian if necessary.”
Some atheists, like Rodney, are indifferent to religion, but become agitated and annoyed when “being preached at…” Vern becomes very angry with religion “in the same way I get “angry” when I see someone conned or swindled or fooled by snake oil salesmen. Or when religious governments force their religion on others bothers me.”
The Evils of Religion
Many atheists maintain that religious persons engage in immoral, evil activities. According to Nassam, “relig[i]ous fanatics are firing rockets at my family as I write this… What do you think I feel?” Luke expresses concern “that in free countries they [religious persons] do have a vote and their beliefs do inform their actions. That horrifies me. But no, I feel no anger towards them…”
Damian is not inherently angry at theists or gods, but at “the heinous and systematic crimes against humanity committed by theists anger me…” Courtney notes several tenets to religion that are especially egregious to her such as misogyny, scamming people, that people waste time praying instead of seeking practical solutions to problems, that religious persons feel they are only accountable to their imaginary good, and that some religious persons stay horrible marriages because leaving is a “sin.” Some express anger at religious persons forcing their beliefs on others; according to Matthew,
“I am happy for others to have their beliefs. What Makes me angry is when religions press their beliefs on to others by force or vailed under ‘democracy’ or laws to suit themselves. I am angry at religious hypocrisy such as the Catholic Church scandal(s) and the ‘pro life anti child Christians hypocrisy. But what one does In their own home or place of worship is entirely up to them.”
Sean goes on to note how religious superstitions “serve no purpose and that [they] have caused pain, war, death, violence, division and hatred.” Frank is also direct: “Why wouldn’t systemic child sexual abuse anger a decent human being? Why wouldn’t suicide bombers anger decent human beings? Why wouldn’t misogyny, racism, bigotry and intolerance of some believers anger decent human beings?” Elisa says she gets “upset when I see the awful things belief in G/god(s) is/are directly responsible for.”
Forcing Religion on Others
But some atheists are careful to distinguish between religions. Adam feels no anger toward religions like Jainism because “it’s essentially a good religion” as it practices pacifism. But he is angry at evangelical Christians “for their need to force people to adhere to their religion with the attempt at enforcing religious morality upon everyone via laws.” Especially egregious to Adam is that notions of hell are forced on people and that this produces fear. Edward does not “have anything against the players [religious persons], it’s the game [religion] that irritates with its imposition.”
According to Pam, “religion interfere(s) with other people’s life, with violence and laws, its totally stupid that fairytales shall limit other people’s life.” Clair bemoans the religious “Pushing their morals-thoughts/actions into our government.” Edgar resents “the rise of Christian nationalism these last years.” Sandy condemns how “narrow, bigoted tribalism, anti-scientific nescience, intense fear of imaginary dangers, and intense need to impose their frameworks of action and belief” is foisted by the religious “on the rest of society.” Sandy is particularly “distressed and alarmed at how easily religious persuasion is manipulated by bad actors to serve perverse and evil ends.” Juliano is “angry when human rights are violated” because of religion. Pete sees religion as proposing inhumane laws that belong “500 years back in time.” Christopher also dislikes when religious persons impose their beliefs on others,
“Religion can create anger, when believers attempt to codify their beliefs into law, to the goal of forcing everyone to accept what they believe, and to oppress and punish those who refuse. I would consider such anger understandable and justified.”
Lawrence shares a similar view explaining that “What makes me angry: when a person of faith is intolerant of others’ views or attempts to control the choice of others. For example when they oppose abortion or gay marriage. If you oppose gay marriage don’t marry someone of your gender, don’t tell someone else they can’t or shouldn’t.”
Some atheists object to parents foisting religion onto their children. Sharlene objects to religion because of “The fact that theistic adults instil delusions into the minds of vulnerable trusting children..I think it should be illegal for Children below the age of 18 to attend any religious gatherings. Sharlene is not the only person to object along these lines. The new atheist proponent Richard Dawkins claims that children need to be “protected” from religion,
“Children do need to be protected so that they can have a proper education and not be indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents happen to have been brought up in” (1).
1. Humphreys, Joe. 2015. Richard Dawkins: Children need to be ‘protected’ from religion. Available.
2. Lundborg, Zinta. 2013. Dawkins: Teaching religion is child abuse. Available.