Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why do atheists hate the Dalai Lama?

If there is one thing that I want believers to take away from the Reason Rally, it's what atheists have to be upset about.  Greta Christina has written a book on the topic, and she gave a great speech about it.  The first news opinion I encountered about the rally was this one by USA Today's religion reporter, Cathy Lynn Grossman, and I was pretty disappointed.  There are a number of problems with the write up, but let me get to the section that bothered me most: her treatment of Greta Christina.

"Greta Christina, author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry?,attacked every major faith, even the teachings of the Dalai Lama. In a long litany of what makes her angry, she got all the way back to Galileo (overlooking the modern Catholic Church's restoration of his reputation)."

Wow, I guess those curmudgeonly atheists just hate religion (Even the Dalai Lama! He's so nice!) and are on about 400 year-old grudges, eh?  Like all great lies, everything Grossman wrote here is true, but her description utterly fails to communicate the spirit of what was actually said.  This was not nit-picking and god-bashing, Greta Christina talked about modern, relevant problems such as custody rights, discrimination, gay rights, actual witch hunts, women being executed, children being raped, and people literally dying because of religious viewpoints on contraception and medicine.  She's angry about 9/11, and the Holocaust, and basically every instance where religion has been used as a justification to hurt, discriminate, or kill. 

I'm angry about these things, too.  I'm also angry about this write up, which cleverly trivializes everything Greta Christina said.  I've created a transcript from a composite of this video and this one, so the speech can speak for itself.  I hope some of the faithful will read it and understand what we're carrying on about.

"Thank you so much for that kind introduction, and thanks to all the organizations and individuals who worked so hard to make it happen, and thanks to all of you for coming out in the rain and showing each other and the world this wonderful face of happy, inspired atheism.

So, why are atheists so angry? I have been asked this question more times than I can remember; I bet most of you have too, but when people ask this question they never seem to consider that atheists might be angry because we have legitimate things to be angry about.  So - so I want to talk about why so many atheists are angry, or rather, because I don't presume to speak for all atheists, I want to talk about why I'm angry. 

I'm angry that according to a recent Gallup poll, only 45% of Americans would vote for an atheist for President.

I'm angry that atheists in the United States are frequently denied custody of their children explicitly because of their atheism.

I'm angry on behalf of the atheist blog in Iran who told me that they have to blog anonymously, because if they don't, theyll be executed.

I'm angry about preachers who tell women to submit to their husbands because it's the will of God, even when those husbands are beating them within an inch of their lives.

I'm angry that people are dying of AIDS in African and South America because the Catholic Church convinced them that using condoms makes baby Jesus cry.

I'm angry that my wife, Ingrid, and I, had to get married three times before we finally had a wedding that was legal in our home state. I'm angry that the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church spent millions of dollars getting Proposition 8 passed, so that no other same sex couples could get married in California. I'm angry that our marriage is not recognized in 42 states or even by the Federal Government, because religious bigotry controls how laws get made in this country.

I'm angry that the current Dalai Lama said that, although he supports tolerance for gay people, he sees homosexual sex as wrong, unwholesome, a bad action, and contrary to Buddhist ethics.

I'm angry that the belief in karma and reincarnation gets used as a justification for the caste system in India.  I'm angry that people who were born into poverty and despair are told that it's their fault, that they did something bad in a past life and they're being punished for it.

I'm angry that sick children suffer and die because their parents belive in faith healing, and I'm angry that in 39 states these parents are protected from prosecution for child neglect.

I'm angry that in Islamic theocracy, women who have sex outside marriage, who date outside their religion, who disobey their male relatives, are executed.

I'm angry that people in Africa are being terrorized, tortured, and killed over accusations of witchcraft.  Okay? Witch trials are happening in Africa now. Not in the Middle Ages, not in the 1600s, today.

I'm angry that Rick Santorum is a serious candidate for President.  I'm angry that this man's religious beliefs - his religious beliefs have led him to conclude that states can outlaw birthcontrol, that homosexuality should be illegal, that children are better off with a father in prison than being raised by lesbian parents, and he's not being laughed off the national stage.  He's won 10 primaries.

I'm angry about lying for the Lord.  I'm angry that the Mormon church advocates a policy of deception, censorship, and outright dishonesty about their religion.  I'm angry that Mormons who have told the truth about their church's history have been excommunicated, and I want to ask Mitt Romney: "Do you believe in lying for the Lord?"

And I'm angry - I'm angry that when people run for political office - when people run for office in the United States, it's considered invasive and intolerant to ask about their religious beliefs.  You know, if somebody's gonna be making decisions about science policy, I want to know if they belief the Earth was created 6000 years ago.  If somebody's going to be making decisions about foreign policy, I want to know do the people making decisions about foreign policy - I want to know - do you believe that there has to be violent work there in Israel to bring about the second coming?  And - and I resent the fact that if I ask these questions, I'll be seen as bigoted.

I'm angry about what happened to Gaileo.  Still.  Now, I realize it happened in 1633, I'm still mad. 

I'm angry that when atheists put up billboards saying simply "You can be good without God." people get outraged at how disrespectful we are.

I'm angry that when atheists tried to put up a bus sign in Pennsylvania saying, simply and entirely, the word "atheists", the bus company rejected it.

I'm angry that we get seen as intolerant and confrontational simply for existing and simply for being open about who we are.

I'm angry that I have to know more about their damn religion than they do.

I'm angry that in public, tax-payer paid high schools around the country, atheists students who are trying to organize clubs, something that they are legally allowed to do, are routinely stonewalled by school administrators.

I'm angry that in Salt Lake City, Utah, 40% of all homeless teenagers are gay, most of them kids who have been kicked out by their Mormon families.

I'm angry - okay, angry is not the word.  I am enraged at priests who rape children and tell them that it's God's will.  And I'm angry that the Catholic deliberately, repeatedly, for decades, protected these priests.  Deliberately kept it a secret.  Deliberately placed the church's reputation as a higher priority than children not getting raped.

I'm angry about the Holocaust; I'm angry about Israel and Palestine; I'm angry about 911.  I'm angry about all of this, and I think I'm right to be angry.  I think we are all right to be angry.

I want to finish up by saying something really important about all of this atheist anger.  Most of it is not about how religious believers treat atheists, it's about how believers treat other believers.  It's anger on other people's behalf.  Atheists aren't angry because we're selfish, or bitter, or joyless.  Atheists are angry because we have compassion.  Atheists are angry because we have a sense of justice.  Atheists are angry because we see millions of people being terribly harmed by religion, and our hearts go out to them, and we feel motivated to do something about it.

Atheist aren't angry because there's something wrong with us.  Atheists are angry because there's something right with us."

I apologize for any errors in the transcription, and will happily correct them if made aware.  Oh, and I love the Dalai Lama.  He's a hero of mine, but he's just wrong about this anti-gay thing.


  1. Great first post! I look forward to seeing more.

  2. TL;DR. Just kidding. I was at the rally and thought she gave a great speech. Great post!

  3. "I'm angry that I have to know more about their damn religion than they do."

    God DAMN. Ain't that the truth.

  4. I like that you gave a broader view of what was said. Often times we only hear snippets of a comment in order to twist it into something it is not. Sounds like she actually had a lot of great things to share.

  5. I'm angry that atheists won't come to Love He who created them and that atheist don't understand that GOd is not about religion, that is a man made concept, there is only One True Religion and that is God's, but that atheists continual choose to deny Him makes me angry not at atheists, but at the world for bowing down to their rhetoric, and that they are ignorant that they support the vetical beam of the cross, but understand, being angry means I love them all the more...what loving person can't be rightfully angry at someone they care about.? But I am angry at self righteous comments like "We know more about their religion than they do"?..Do atheists not understand that you can't even begin to understand the bible without the SPirit of Truth? No, because they don't believe in that etier. They are their own gods, which verifies right back to the book of psalms..are they angry about that? They should be, they should be angry at themselves for allowing themselves to believe their own false ideas.