Are You a “Militant” Atheist?


militantPeople will ask me, when they discover that I’m an atheist – because I’ve said I am – if I’m a militant atheist. It seems to be the go-to adjective used by those that complain about how atheists are destroying our way of life.

As far as I know, I don’t know any atheists I would consider militant. Do they advocate? Yes, I do as well when I can, but I think using that word does nothing but drive a wedge between people who otherwise would be willing to discuss issues as each see them.

I’ve never advocated for the end to religion, although it’s obvious to me just by looking at the news, how religious belief affects some people to the degree that they will do whatever it takes, whatever they believe their holy text is telling them, to impose their belief on everyone else around them.

Believers think they know what’s best for society, because whatever god they worship, has told them so through their text and through their various congregations. Not all believers, I want to make that clear, but just as some may think that atheists, or at least some of us, are militant, some of them might be described similarly.

I have noticed some atheists use the term extremist for those, and yes, there are those whose views I wonder consider extreme, but I think painting an entire religion, Christian, Muslim, etc,, that way does a disservice to both atheists and those believers.

Why we tend to view each other these ways is that this is what we’re exposed to on a daily basis. We won’t see John or Jane Doe atheist being interviewed on TV unless they are out carrying signs, protesting some particular government action. The same with believers . It’s not good for ratings to have reasonable people on TV, those of us that are willing to talk without malice,  don’t garner the eyeballs and of course do not further fuel the controversy that is being proffered.

I’m not saying that people should not be vocal in whatever they believe is right, just not to the degree where our only goal appears to be creating division in society. There are many reasonable people of faith and atheism that are capable of debating issues that affect both without becoming combative or aggressive toward one another.

I don’t consider myself militant about anything that has to do with atheism, or religion for that matter. We can do a lot more by talking than throwing stones at one another.

4 thoughts on “Are You a “Militant” Atheist?

  1. It can be argued that there is no such thing as a ‘militant’ atheist, that the term is itself a misnomer, because there is simply no ideology or philosophy in atheism to be militant about. If an atheist is someone who lacks belief in gods, then a ‘militant’ atheist is apparently someone who passionately lacks a belief in gods. All other possible beliefs and ideologies – including any desire to oppress theism – come from outside atheism. This is in contrast to religious belief, which often includes a set of laws and commandments purportedly derived from a supernatural source about which one can be ‘militant’.
    Militant’ atheism is most often confused with state atheism, which was based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. It was this ideology which was responsible for the oppression and murder of theists under several 20th century communist regimes. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods with no inherit moral, political or philosophical baggage. In reality I oppose those horrible regimes that led to those horrors. In no way would I want to force anyone to stop believing in their god. As an atheist I oppose religion with conversation, not violence.


    • Here’s what I was using as a definition od militant:

      combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods.

      This is how many religious, especially Christians, describe us. I am more disposed to, as you say, conversation that confrontation.


  2. Communication is the key to nearly every disagreement.

    But…darn, I have been in the online presence of many atheists that I would agree were militant, yet I have often referred to them as rabid atheists, because they tend to go off the deep end, foaming at the mouth with their hatred and disgust for believers and particularly Christians.

    They are just as noxious as rabid theists, but they claim to have the cool head of reason on their side. As far as I am concerned, they give atheists a bad name.


    • Exactly. As I wrote though, the media tend to elevate those voices over those that aremore reasonable and therefore, we receive the moniker of “militant” when ost of us are decidedly not.


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