If there is one way to start an argument amongst atheists, it is bringing up the hostility some of us have towards religion. Belts come off and guns drawn over the subject throughout the atheist blogosphere, but we never appear to get anywhere be it for the better or the worse. So, I thought I would bring up this map:
It’s a map of the “Bible Belt”. The red areas are where Christians actively and explicitly dominate. I spent nearly all of my childhood within its boundaries and have lived within it for about a decade now. When it comes to Christianity, I am one of the hostiles and that hostility is related to, if not primarily caused by, experiences I have had with Christians in the belt.
It is one thing to live in area that is predominantly Christian and another to live in an area where the Christians think and act as if they have a right to rule over everyone else. The former can get annoying. The latter can drive you up a wall. That leads me to wonder how much of the hostility on the part of atheists towards Christianity and its adherents is regional in nature.
Thus, for all the less hostile atheists and the baffled Christians who don’t get the anger and hate, I have a few questions for you to reflect on.
What’s your background with Christianity? Do Christians in your area talk crap about non-Christians and atheists as part of everyday conversation? Are they passing laws that are little more than their personal religious beliefs? Do they show up on your doorstep, accost you when you’re out in public or use every occasion to force you to give lip service to their beliefs?
Have they picked out specific groups for harassment such as Mormons, Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses? Did you know that all three of these groups are lower than atheists in the Bible Belt? Don’t get wrong, atheists are disliked, but I can’t recall a time where I spent an hour being told about the evil that is atheism. On the other hand, I’ve been to funerals where the pastor in charge used his 15 minutes of fame to attack other religious groups.
What’s my point? My point is that some of us have very specific reasons for being hostile. Perhaps they seem out of proportion, but it’s possible that it seems that way simply because you’ve never been to “God’s Own Country”.
Now I am not saying that every Christian on the planet acts like the ones in the Bible Belt, but that doesn’t mean that the Christians in the belt don’t exist and haven’t had a major effect on the way we non-Christians view Christianity and Christians.