The Fragile Atheist

ground-zero-crossOne of this week’s strangest news items is a billboard ad placed by an atheist group somewhere in the south that depicts a little girl writing a letter. “Dear Santa,” she writes, “all I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.”

A spokesperson said the ad is aimed at atheists who are pressured to observed religious traditions during the holidays. Apparently, that’s a form of persecution, and they’re tired of it. Mean Christians are forcing people to go to a religious service against their will. And this group of atheists has decided to speak up against such severe oppression.

It reminds me of a lawsuit a couple of years ago (since dismissed) in which some litigious atheists claimed to be suffering dyspepsia, headaches, anxiety, and anguish because of a standing remnant at ground zero in the shape of a cross that was allowed to remain as a memorial. No other groups—Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc.—were experiencing nausea and dizziness. Just atheists.

I know plenty of atheists and agnostics who are much more emotionally mature than this, but I wonder what those few who are responsible for such lawsuits and billboards are really claiming for themselves. Do they not have the backbone to say they aren’t going to church? Are they really so fragile that they become sick in the presence of religious pluralism?

I’ve never seen this in any other religious group. I’ve seen Jews singing Handel’s Messiah at Christmas programs at symphony hall without any fainting whatsoever. I’ve known countless Christians (myself included) who have had to write papers from a non-Christian perspective in order to get a decent grade. I’ve lived in a land that was officially Buddhist and never once became nauseated at a temple. I see Muslims shopping at Walmart without any fear of getting sick when passing a Christmas tree.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard very non-religious people say to an offended Christian, “If you don’t like it, don’t go there.” “If that program offends you, change the channel.” “If cultural pluralism bothers you, hang out with your own type.” In other words, “It’s up to you to avoid whatever offends you, not up to me to protect you from it.”

Unless it’s a cross at Ground Zero or a church service during the holidays. Then, according to a handful of vocal atheists, lawsuits and billboards are apparently necessary. And just a tad hypocritical.

It’s very curious—and more than a little amusing—that some people claim to be so severely affected by religious displays in an openly pluralistic culture while also claiming to be more rational and better off than those of us with faith.

I’m glad I’m not that fragile. Or angry. Or easily sickened. I’m sure it’s because of faith. Because apparently without it, you can get weak in the knees simply by going outside during the holidays.

Community Builder Avatar
Rahma Vetlesdatter 08.03.2020 03:47  
Yes No   I Am reading «white fragility» by Robin Diangelo, and thought about The fragile atheist» that we often meet as people of faith. (Me as a Muslim) So Cool to find your writings! Is it your concept, or do you have it from somewhere else?  
Community Builder Avatar
Jerry Drummonds 01.01.2015 09:34  
Yes No   Chris,

I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. I recently read for the first some of your devotional book and enjoyed it immensely. May God continue to bless your efforts.

J Drummonds
Community Builder Avatar
Linda Weller 15.12.2014 13:52  
Yes No   Well said, Chris. You took the words right out of my mouth. People need the kind of comfort and strength only God can provide more than ever, and supposedly rational people are doing their best to block it. Sad.  
Community Builder Avatar
Chris Tiegreen 15.12.2014 17:17  
Yes No   I agree, Linda. It is sad, although I have to admit it's kind of fascinating too.  
  • Smileys
  • :confused:
  • :cool:
  • :cry:
  • :laugh:
  • :lol:
  • :normal:
  • :blush:
  • :rolleyes:
  • :sad:
  • :shocked:
  • :sick:
  • :sleeping:
  • :smile:
  • :surprised:
  • :tongue:
  • :unsure:
  • :whistle:
  • :wink:

©2013-present by chris tiegreen