Billy Graham has a newspaper column … still. I find that amazing, given his advanced age and, the last I knew, poor health. A few days ago a letter-writer complained about atheists making their presence known in the US in recent years. Billy’s response was idiotic, to say the least, but it included this little snippet:

They aren’t large in number but they do tend to be aggressive in promoting their ideas.

Hmm. So atheists are “aggressive,” Billy? Hmm. I wonder how you’d compare their “aggressiveness” to that of theists, such as:

  1. The Christian mob in Alexandria that murdered the philosopher Hypatia, by scraping her flesh from her bones using sharpened shells, then burned what remained?

  2. The Massacre of Verden ordered by the Christian king Charlemagne in the 8th century, in which thousands of Saxons were slaughtered because they were pagans?

  3. The Crusades, first called by the Christian Church in the late 11th century, a string of bloody military expeditions which featured among other things a massacre of tens of thousands of people at Jerusalem, because some might have been Jews or Muslims?

  4. The Albigensian Crusade in the 13th century ordered by the Christian Church, which featured the Siege of Beziers, wherein thousands of people were slaughtered because some of them might have been heretics?

  5. On a less violent note, what about the missionary activities of Christian sects such as the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others, whose members deliver their religion door-to-door?

If the Reverend Billy is trying to suggest that atheists publishing books and getting themselves in the news is somehow “aggressive,” what would he call those theists?

Let’s be honest here … no matter what else you think of outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, there is no way one can call them “aggressive” by comparison to any of these others. You just can’t.

It’s long past time the Reverend Billy and this frightened letter-writer grew up and accept that atheists exist, and moved on with their lives.

  • tomsheepandgoats

    No argument on points 1-4.

    Regarding point 5, if you disagree with Jehovah's Witnesses, they go away. They don't afterwards try to force their views upon you through the legislative process, as they are strictly uninvolved in politics. Athiests, I believe, do use the political process to write their views into law….to the extent they are able. Thus, one could easily say atheists are more "agressive" than Jehovah's Witnesses.

    So Billy would have a point were he speaking of us. But, of course, he's not.

  • PsiCop

    Thanks for the comments.

    The idea that atheists possess any political power is laughable. It is impossible for an atheist to be elected to any office in the United States. Atheists therefore cannot "use the political process" because there are none who have any political power at all.

    You are right, of course, that most missionaries will leave if told to. But … they return. A few months later, maybe even a year later. It may be a different pair of missionaries even. But they return. They are persistent, relentless, and unrepentant about it.

    That is a form of "aggression," even if you choose not to admit that it is.

  • tomsheepandgoats

    I suppose it is a form of aggression, but I like to think of it as the exercise of free speech. When the politians come calling to your door before election day, is that "agression?" Or if they or the neighbors stop by with some petition they'd like you to consider?

    Atheists and political power, I confess, I'm not sure about. But it can't be long in coming. Atheism is "hot" now, and the people embracing in are among the most respected and credentialed of society. Perhaps one cannot run for office right now as an atheist. Why not keep that to oneself for now, same as Eisenhower kept his JW background to himself?

  • PsiCop

    Actually, when anyone shows up at my door unannounced, I consider it "presumptive" at least, and — yes — possibly "aggressive." Using "free speech" rights as an excuse also doesn't work. "Free speech" is a legal right, not a moral imperative. There are all kinds of special-interest groups, for example, who, while they may have a legal right to "free speech" and hold demonstrations, are not morally entitled to, say, block traffic or destroy property in the process.

    As for "not being sure about atheists and political power," I'm not sure how credible your uncertainty is. There are no atheists in Congress. Not one. As for atheism being "hot," I'm not sure it is either. I think that theists such as yourself feel personally threatened by the presence, on bookstore shelves, of books on atheism, and are creating a moral panic that has no objective basis.

    If it makes you feel better to believe that atheism is sweeping the nation and going to destroy our civilization as well as yourself, go right ahead. But it's fallacious to assume your feelings have any verifiable foundation. They don't, and what's more, you know it.