You can argue all you want about how irreligiousness is destroying the fabric of America’s “God-given” society, but it isn’t the atheists who are gunning people down in the name of some deity. That would be, in our country, predominantly Christians. I’m not saying a Christian is more likely than some other deist to shoot somebody in the name of their God, but let’s face it: we have more Christians in America than, say, Jews or Muslims. It’s simple arithmetic.
So when a 25-year-old Ohio man guns down his father outside a church in Ashtabula, Ohio, and then steps inside the church to wave his gun and shouts, “the will of Allah. This is the will of God,” we can blame religion but we can’t blame atheism. Conservative Christians will no doubt seize on mention of “Allah” to show how Islam is the enemy here, and indeed, one commenter , “GOP Paul” wrote on the Ashtabula Star Beacon, “Now ashtabula [sic] has violent hateful Muslims.”
Newsflash, GOP Paul: you have violent hateful Christians too. Who do you think kills most of the people in your community? And just to muddy the waters, on his Facebook page, reports the Star Beacon, “Reshad Riddle mentions God, Allah and the Bible.”
It isn’t Islam that is the enemy unless the larger enemy is monotheism, revealed religion, or even religion itself. Let’s face it, we don’t see a lot of headlines about Wiccans gunning people down in the name of the Goddess and we certainly don’t see atheists doing it in the name of science. And these same conservative Christians who are about to blame Islam never blame Christianity when it’s a Christian doing the killing: they blame liberalism.
Yet one thing Riddle did NOT mention before gunning down his father: Richard Dawkins and the Foundation for Science and Reason.
The Star Beacon describes the incident as follows:
Richard Riddle, 52, was leaving the church on Hiawatha Street with his wife at about 1 p.m. when his son, 25-year-old Reshad Riddle, approached him and fired a single round from a handgun, instantly killing Richard, church associate pastor Sean Adams said.
For all practical purposes, and with due apologies to Plato, perception is reality. But deliberately framing an argument to ignore reality is simple dishonesty. All the evidence points to guns being the common denominator in gun-related deaths. For liberals, who generally favor more restrictive gun laws, to be responsible for gun violence is flipping reality on its head. It’s like blaming air for drowning. In the same way, claiming atheism is destroying our society when it is religious people who are doing the actual destroying, is absurd.
It is difficult to think of anything more dangerous than people who think they are doing the will of some deity, especially a deity as hateful and judgmental as the God of Abraham. Again, this is simple fact. Read the Bible if you have not. Even Jesus called Gentiles “pigs” and “dogs.” Toleration is pretty far from being a virtue in these religions. The stress is not on rights but on things that absolutely are NOT rights, and everybody different from “believers” are “infidels” or “Gentiles” or “Pagans” who must be converted or killed. Different beliefs and lack of beliefs are not to be tolerated and even having to life with nonbelievers is seen as a form of persecution. These beliefs and attitudes are with us today. Remember kids, when Jesus comes back, he isn’t planning on hugging EVERYBODY. There is a reason religious bigots can write popular stories about being “left behind.”
I am not an atheist. I am a very religious person. But I have never heard of a Heathen saying, “Odin wants you dead.” The whole “God wills it” thing brought us the Crusades, and it brought us witch burnings and inquisitions and anti-Jewish pogroms just as today it is sponsoring “kill the gays” legislation in Africa and “kill the mommies” legislation in the US. It has brought us millions of dead people and it is going to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Lack of religion might not save the human race, but religion certainly will not. It the past 2000 years have demonstrated anything, they have demonstrated that simple truth.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.