According to the common usage of this phrase, I am a “Militant Atheist”. Here’s why:

  • I speak out publicly about my critical view of religion and spiritual belief.
  • I maintain an atheist blog. le gasp.
  • I will engage theists in discussion and debate about theology.
  • I vehemently support the separation of church and state.
  • I love science so much, I’d have its babies.
  • I use sarcasm and ridicule to illustrate why I think certain things are, indeed, ridiculous.
  • The most violent thing I’ve done in the name of godlessness is to gleefully throw a bible into the recycling bin.

Why is this a bad thing? Why should I be quiet simply because I lack faith in mythological creatures? Why do we give religious people a free pass to express their loud, evangelistic points of view and then shy away from expressing our own thoughts?

The word “militant” should not be assigned to someone like me who at worst is loudly expressing opinions and ridiculing the irrational.In the words of twitter user @HHeliBebcnof:

A militant Christian blows up abortion clinics; a militant Muslim hijacks airplanes; a militant atheist argues with people.

[email protected]HHeliBebcnof (Science Man), 13-1-2010 21:36:52

I don’t stone you for being a Christian/Jewish/Hindu/Wiccan. I won’t burn you at the stake for being a witch. I will never kill in order to please a lack of deity. My lack of spiritual belief doesn’t make me want to hurt you. My lack of belief doesn’t tell me to bomb a building or damn someone to eternal torture. If I ever do something violent, it’s because I’m an ass–not because some imaginary friend would like it.

The term “militant atheism” needs to be utterly rejected by skeptics and atheists everywhere. If anything, call us Proud Atheists or Pain-In-Your-Ass Atheists. But don’t call a peaceful, intelligent movement a name that equates it with acts  of violence, hatred, and bigotry. It’s easy to slander your opponents–to poison the well in order to make yourself the good guy. But cheap shots don’t make for a winning argument.

Check out a discussion on this topic at Watch two great videos about “militant atheism” after the cut!

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25 thoughts on “Militant Atheism”

Jin-oh Choi · June 28, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Can I be a “Militant Atheist” as well. 🙂

    godlessgirl · June 29, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Well, I'd rather you be a proud atheist, which would be a much more appropriate term, don't you think 🙂

Pseudonym · June 29, 2009 at 7:08 am

I definitely think the term "militant atheist" is stupid, but the term "fundamentalist atheist" describes a lot of people quite accurately. There's plenty of black-and-white, us-and-them sloppy thinking out there on the net. It's not the majority of atheists by any means, but it's definitely there.

    Stagendogs · February 5, 2011 at 1:41 am

    There is no Fundamentalism where is no Dogma.
    Fundamentalism depends on Dogma
    There is not Dogma in Atheism
    Maybe you are searching for other word?

    Stagendogs · February 5, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Yep, I found it: Fanaticism, Fanatic, Fanatics. (about the black-and-white, us-and-them thing)

godlessgirl · June 29, 2009 at 2:38 pm

If "fundamentalist" just means black-and-white thinking, then yes, I agree with you that is exists in atheism–though on an individual basis.

Since we're talking word meaning here (and someone on twitter reminded me that militant does not always mean violent), it's important not to ignore the definition of "fundamentalist". Here's the only one I could find that could apply to atheists:
"A movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles"*

What are the principals to which atheists strictly and iterally adhere? I think this term is also lacking.

[*fundamentalism Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.]

    Pseudonym · June 30, 2009 at 7:31 am

    You're right. "Fundamentalist Atheist" in this sense is an intentional non-sequitur to describe Atheists who act like Fundamentalists.

    Pseudonym · June 30, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Incidentally, might also ask what are the principles to which Fundamentalist Muslims, or Fundamentalist Christians, strictly and literally adhere to. They're not "fundamentals" that most members of those religions would recognise (in the sense that they have a habit of adding things which aren't "fundamental" and removing things that are).

      godlessgirl · June 30, 2009 at 1:53 pm

      Half the fun (oh boy, what a party!) of dealing with these groups is trying to figure out what they would like you to believe and act on. With Christian fundamentalists it's sometimes a merry-go-round of which interpretations of biblical text they've been taught.

Lost Boy · July 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm

In a way, I think we should kind-of embrace the term.

Militant Fundamentalist (read: NOT ALL of) Islam is up in arms because of what it sees as a meddlesome West trying to impose itself on what is, quite honestly, an outdated and sexist belief system that they've needlessly clung to in order to maintain the patriarchal power they crave.

Militant Fundamentalist Christianity, on the other hand, is scarily more widespread, and has a different view on things: They see attempts to secularize things (for the purpose of inclusion and good faith, BTW) as attacks on their belief structure, and they're suddenly finding themselves repressed by what they see as a hostile force bent on their destruction.

If they're both so in need of an enemy to fight, why not give it to them? I most certainly don't mean doing so by abandoning reason and taking up arms – quite the opposite actually. We continue to do what we do. Speak, Question, and Reach Out. We show them that Militant isn't always about picking up an RPG and blowing up a family just because their God doesn't like the other's God.

If anything, instead of a lonely guy at a bar with a pint, I say we take that pint outside, find ourselves a soapbox, stand on it, and start exercising the First Amendment Rights that we also have; the same rights that the Christians like to hide behind when they practice their varied brands of hate speech. And we should talk until we are either heard, or hoarse. Then we should take a week off, because a bunch of talking does get tiresome, and does require a few pints to fix.

We know better than to hate. We know better than to take up arms unless it's absolutely necessary. We know what is right and what is wrong.

And we know all this without the help of a higher power, other than our own rational thought.

If that's a Militant Atheist, sign me up for life. They like to sing Onward Christian Soldiers, taking up weapons behind the cross. I say, Onward Atheist Soldiers, taking up voices and not hiding behind a damned thing.

    Stu(art) · January 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Well said Lost Boy.
    As I get older, I see religious groups more clearly as the frighteningly deluded exclusionary people that they are. They need to be called out when they try to impose their views and life stance on me, my family or anybody for that matter.
    I could go on, but like I said… Well said Lost Boy.

mram · July 26, 2009 at 4:46 am

It may very well come down to you having to die to keep your beliefs. Are you willing to die before having to be subjected to praising god in front of a bunch of christinsanities? I am. If a bunch of militant christinsanies came down your street toting guns looking for atheist to kill how would you react? Join them or fight them? I'll fight the bastards to my last breath if need be.,
I want them bankrupted and out of the tax exempt business because A. It gives them enormous power. Money=power B. Well, if just isn't fucking fair. Need I explain that? and C. I damned sure don't trust the bastards with anything much less my kids. To many of their leaders will willingly rape babies and young girls for their gawd.
Sit back and accept their horse shit if you want, but I will never sit idly by and wait until they control all of congress and the whitehouse because if they do they WILL install a theocracy in the US.

    mram · July 26, 2009 at 5:31 am

    To bankrupt them I mean to suggest that whenever you see any church performing or engaging in any fund raising activity no matter how mundane just get their address and church name, paster/priest name if possible then turn them into the IRS web site as possible tax frauds. 99% will probably go unnoticed, but if the IRS uncovers something really big there is every possibility that church could be out of business soon. I never trust anything they do. They are innately corrupt in my opinion.

Owen · July 30, 2009 at 8:58 am

I think it's fine to express being atheist, you're just telling the world of your own views. I'm christian but I treat anyone with the same respect I'd treat myself with. Whats the point in arguing, we won't know till we die. I say, just accept different beliefs and don't let them get in the way of life or relationships.
(though I do admit, the church has had some embarrassing and stupid moments on our own part)

guest · October 14, 2009 at 6:07 am

so what you're saying is you're not militant at all

Markus · May 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Hi Godless Girl. I share your non-theistic sentiments. As for the terms “militant atheist”, “proud atheist”, or whatever else, I’m not crazy about labels. Do we need a label to identify our belief (or lack of one)? I mean, do people who don’t believe in astrology need a label? Do people that don’t believe in Santa Clause need a label? Do you have to remind yourself every time you wake up that you don’t believe in the Easter Bunny? Rational people don’t require labels. Labels are reserved for the crazy, delusional lunatics.

Michael · May 26, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Hmm…. Militant Atheist…. Stalin is quoted as saying “You know, they are fooling us, there is no God…all this talk about God is sheer nonsense” Deaths during this Militants time in power…. Over 57,000,000…..
Deaths in China due to following the atheistic practice of communism? 65 million in China alone….
How about these… 2 million in North Korea; 2 million in Cambodia; 1.7 million in Africa; 1.5 million in Afghanistan; 1 million in Vietnam; 1 million in the communist states of Eastern Europe

You point to chemically imbalanced individuals who are literally CRAZY in your argument and label them militant but fail to see the truth.

While one or two isolated instances of someone who is mentally disturbed commits murder and yet claims to be a “christian” has occurred and likely will occur again as long as crazy people exist you FAIL to acknowledge this fact…. Militant Atheist don’t necessarily walk into the village and blow themselves up, they LEAD OTHERS to do it. They give orders to have these acts carried out. Militant Atheism in the form of its dogma Communism has caused more deaths over the past century than the combined totals of EVERY other religion on the face of this planet.

You know…. I’ve read debates from all sorts of people who consider themselves atheist. One thought I find perplexing is the very definition of the word atheist…. At least as some choose to define it… Some raise the argument that because a person somehow doesn’t believe in something it means that any actions they commit no matter how evil they may be are somehow NOT motivated out of their “lack of belief in the divine..” What a ridiculous supposition. I find it ironic that you take a stance so similar and yet equate ONE NUT who goes into an abortion clinic and kills a guy or ONE nut who does this or that as being the WHOLE FACE of Christianity!!!

You know… I’ve met some Christians who I’d call radical. They get up early to go to work and come home to a family that they love. They gather their children around for prayer and Bible study to learn how to “love their neighbor as theirself…” They feed the homeless in soup kitchens on Tuesday and Thursday night. They raise money for orphans displaced due to war in countries that have rejected God in any manner. They pray tirelessly for people who are hurting and they give of themselves in the way Christ commanded us to. They don’t spill innocent blood nor do they celebrate when blood is spilt. They don’t hate a person because of their choice in whom they have sex with but they don’t accept it as being part of a divine creators plan either. Instead of yelling and screaming and acting like kids they hit their knees and pray. Sometimes they see these lives changed and sometimes they don’t. God loved us so much that he didn’t bind us to be puppets on strings but made a way for us when we disobeyed.

No back to my earlier remark… Take a Militant Atheist like Stalin for example… I find it difficult to believe that anyone realistically would argue that he was NOT an atheist… A simple examination of his own quotes would be more than sufficient to convict him if he were put on trial shall we say for being thus. The man was responsible for the deaths of millions of people. He was a tyrant of the worst sorts and perhaps the worst human being of the 20th century. Estimates of the deaths under his rule range from 20,000,000 upwards to 60,000,000 and the most credible sources I found place it in the higher levels but regardless of the number we all could agree it was A LOT of people. Now, the argument so many atheist place forward states that while he may have been an atheist and may have committed mass murder you still cannot blame his actions upon him being an atheist… After all, an atheist is defined by what they fail to believe not by what they believe in and since people can only be motivated by what they believe in then reason stands that his atheism had absolutely nothing to do with his barbarism…

On the surface, I could almost buy into this argument I mean, it seams rational doesn’t it? It seems logical right? WRONG…. Truth is, we are all motivated by the desires of our heart, mind, (soul…). We all have a void that we seek to fill. If anyone doubts that, just examine western culture. Doesn’t matter if we are looking at people who say they are atheist or those who are Muslim or Christian or any other religion or lack thereof. Liquor stores are full of people with voids, drug pushers see people all the time with VOIDS, politicians pronounce the need to fill their voids every election cycle (power, gratification, prestige, etc). We are all motivated by the desires of our heart. We long to feel Loved, appreciated, validated, respected. When a void occurs we seek to fill it. If you claim to have no voids then you truthfully do not have a grasp on the reality presented before you. It is precisely this about which I put forward the following. Saying that an atheist somehow could never be associated with the acts of tyranny carried out by so many pronounced atheist this past century simply because they have no beliefs propelling them to act flies in the face of logic, reason and a simple examination of humanity. When I am hungry I have no food I am propelled to act. When I am thirsty I am propelled to act. When I am cold and lack heat I am propelled to act. When I am tired and lack rest, I am propelled to act. The converse holds true as well. When I am too hot I am propelled to act, when I have too much food, water, sleep, etc. I am propelled to act. The truth is we are motivated by both our voids and the excess created when we overfill those voids, wants, needs, desires in our lives.

When I say… “I don’t believe in God…” or “God cannot exist.” changes neither the reality nor the facts that he does in fact exist and denying his existence would be like trying to deny I needed food to live. Eventually, I would prove just how wrong I was just hopefully before my life expired. Likewise, when I say I don’t believe in God I am still prompted to act upon that belief to some degree… Just as you put forward you feel the need to engage narrow minded, idealistic, Christ-loving, Bible believing people as myself in debate you are still prompted to act upon your belief (or lack thereof).

If on the other hand a “militant atheist” as you put it were to adhere to the viewpoint I summarized earlier and you wanted to invalidate my position you would in turn feel NO NEED to defend your position nor to debate it in the least. After all, if its a vacuum created by a lack of belief in the divine then what would be the point in engaging in any debate whatsoever? A pure atheist should then arguably be the most passive person when it comes to their views on God. Yet examination of the lives of those who call themselves atheist reflects just the opposite.

You yourself said….
“Why is this a bad thing? Why should I be quiet simply because I lack faith in mythological creatures? Why do we give religious people a free pass to express their loud, evangelistic points of view and then shy away from expressing our own thoughts?”

Sounds just like something another militant atheist would applaud you for… Karl Marx… I guess you are in good company with him right? Along with Stalin and so many other atheists of the past century….

Atheism has never given a sold answer to man’s existence, where we came from and where we are going how we got here and why.
Atheism has never healed a person with a disease, nor comforted a person dying with one.
Atheism has never looked into the eyes of a dying person and told them with love and compassion that in a few minutes they’ll be standing on streets of Gold.
Atheism has never given peace to a troubled mind or so much as dried a single tear!

It is God who gives us the hope for a better life ahead. It it God who breathed into a handful of dirt and it became a living soul. It was God who sent his only Son to die on a cross at Calvary so that even though you would spit on him, mock him and reject him he would still open his arms to accept you in. It IS GOD who Loves you more than you could ever love yourself and GOD who will one day prove himself real to you.

Now, if you want to define me as crazy, stupid, narrow minded go ahead. If you want to delete this post, go ahead. If you want to mock me for my faith in God. GO AHEAD. But
one day I’ll lay down to sleep for the last time. One day I’ll close these earthly eyes for the last time and when I open them again I’ll be staring at the creator of the universe, the Alpha and the Omega. I have peace tonight knowing that the price has been paid the debt is satisfied and all of my sins and shortcomings (which are MANY) are forgiven. I have peace tonight that if I don’t wake up here I’ll wake up over there. And I didn’t have to bomb anyone to do it either. I have no need to fill any holes in my heart any longer since I found the one who can give me a new heart. Oh yes. You can call me an “Evangelical” a “Radical” or any other word you wish to describe me with but one day my Jesus is going to call me and you can call me GONE!

“Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.”

    Lukas · September 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    I unfortunately don’t have time at the moment to respond to all your points here (though if you’re interested in debating, I would be happy to do it when I have more time). But I would like to point out one thing: although you take the author of this blog to task for “equat[ing] ONE NUT who goes into an abortion clinic and kills a guy or ONE nut who does this or that as being the WHOLE FACE of Christianity,” yet you do much the same thing in arguing against atheism by pointing out the tragedy caused by a single atheist (Stalin). I don’t deny that Stalin was both an atheist and a perpetrator of atrocities, but as you point out yourself, the actions of one individual can’t be taken to speak for an entire group.

Hitch · February 26, 2011 at 1:07 am

Duh gee, witlessgirl, you left out Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pot, Castro and a whole slew of other “militant atheists” responsible for killing over 100 million people in the 20th century alone.

And wow how many genuine Christians (love your enemies, do unto others…) have killed the murderers in abortion clinics? Um, good luck on that.
You lose.

Your arrogance is only surpassed by your ignorance.

Jason · February 27, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Ad hominem. “No true scotsman.” Citation needed.

Sane · November 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm

How about you mention comunist russia and stalin
Or if your so smart mention that its the humans not the teachings that kill or have some dignity and shut up about your pointless beliefs.

    Stu(art) · January 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    That’s as dumb as the “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” line. people use guns to make killing easy. People also use religion to make killing easy.
    People kill people for countless reasons. Godless Girl and “militant atheists” single out (if I may say) the humans that kill _in the name of their god_. It stands out among other reasons, like hypocrisy. The hypocritical actions of the militant religious are made even more frightening by the fact that they don’t take responsibility of their actions, but instead, say they act by the will of god.
    I can never get over the arrogance of people who claim to carry out god’s will. IF there were a god and a hereafter, etc, etc, the people who bother them would be taken care of for eternity. They could better use the energy that they expend in righteous anger on introspection and self improvement.

Hendusaile · March 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

By saying that you are militant or fundamentalist atheists, you are professing a beief system that revels in nonbelief. Therefore atheism does not truly exist in the for that you are seeking. Agnostism, and non-religious beliefs are far better suited, logically, to your puropses. No religion should be overpowering, nor should it control others- you may profess your beleifs all you like, but to force it down people’s throats is wrong and stupid. There is a reason why the US constitution includes the first amendment clause of FREEDOM OF RELIGION. Furthur more, Forced atheism is on a par with christianity, judiasm, islam, and some others that I cannot name from the top of my head, for being used for political purposes- however, one CANNOT begin to rationalize a stereotype based on a political usage of a spiritual collectivity. Thank you.

jabran · May 8, 2012 at 5:12 am

i am in !

Pope Benedict XVI: Atheism is Like Nazism | Godless Girl · September 16, 2010 at 11:35 am

[…] crafted to make atheists with opinions seem like fringe groups with violent, anti-societal agendas. I have my own views on “militant” and “extremist” atheists. We’re really not worth the propagandized […]

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