Tract #52: Why Do Atheists Pick on Christians?
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Why Do Atheists Pick on Christians?
There are a great many religions in the world, so why is that — at least in the United States — atheists seem to attack Christians more than any other religious group? Do atheists have a particular bias against Christianity?
In general, atheists do not think that Christianity deserves more or less scrutiny than any other religion. But in the U.S., there are a number of reasons that Christianity often gets more atheist attention.
A great many atheists were not born atheists, but rather came to atheism as their philosophy developed. Because a large number of atheists are former Christians, they have significant familiarity with Christianity, and it is natural for them to use Christian beliefs as examples in discussion. Because these people had the experience of putting aside Christian beliefs, they may also be much more familiar with arguments against Christianity than they are with arguments against other religions.
In some cases, atheists who are former Christians lost their religion for personal reasons that left them angry at their former church. Such atheists may speak against Christians in particular in the same way that a man who went through a bitter divorce might speak against all woman, even though he’s really just mad at one woman in particular.
The U.S. also has an abundance of Christians who actively attempt to convert others to Christianity. An atheist is almost never approached by Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, pagans, etc., on a mission of conversion. Because the atheist is more frequently confronted by Christians, the atheist naturally develops more responses to Christian arguments.
Christians and Christian groups also tend to be very high profile. They frequently appear in the news arguing that laws should be passed for religious reasons, claiming that they are under attack by atheists or scientists, and thanking Jesus for various blessings. If Christianity is the religion that atheists are confronted by the most, it is natural for them to think first of Christianity when the topic of religion arises.
There are also a number of Christian groups that are either small but very vocal or that have religious practices that atheists may find particularly incomprehensible, ridiculous, or cultish. These include young-earth creationists, Biblical literalists, snake handlers, Christians who reject modern medicine, and some closed-community Christian groups. Even many Christians agree that some of these people are poor examples of Christianity, and some atheists single them out for ridicule because, frankly, they’re easy targets.
So, in a nutshell, atheists in general don’t have a particular goal of attacking Christianity. If another religion were more prominent in the United States, or if Christians did not so often try to make their religion the focus of current issues and discussions, odds are that atheists wouldn’t have much reason to speak about it.