Militant atheism and Soviet style repression of ideals

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Yesterday I got called out by a fellow Christian for how I use the term “militant atheist”.

In a nutshell he said, “militant atheists are actively anti-Christian because of negative experiences with Christian fundamentalists (a derogatory term I hate but that is for another post), anti-scientific, close minded indoctrination they encountered as children, or simply hypocrisy from self-professed Christians…”

While I understand how this may have some emotional appeal in a society that claims to value tolerance and political correctness, it is dangerous and wrongheaded for Christians to be duped into thinking we should give bad behavior a pass because the people behaving badly claim to be helpless victims. Rational Wiki similarly makes militant atheism appear to be less than what it actually is.

“Most generally, the term “militant” means anyone who promotes their cause in an organized and vigorous way, and the activities they use to support it. In this case it is just an adjective describing a particular attitude and is technically accurate. “Militant evangelical” isn’t a widely used term, though it would be equally technically accurate, because it would be pretty redundant.”

However, the word derives from the Latin “militare”, which is connected with soldiers and the military.

So really, this is all a misunderstanding of modern atheists by Christians and conservative pundits, and “militant” is a misapplied and derogatory label used on people who just need love, understanding, acceptance, and tolerance, right? Odd then that Rational Wiki has no problem with “militant evangelical.”

Anyway, am I wrong? Should I fall for the lie that the beliefs of militant atheists come from some sort of oppression or mistreatment by Christians? Should I guard my tongue to avoid offending poor down trodden victims of tyrannical science hating fathers who made them get up at 9:00 on Sunday to go to church?

Come on. The “I am the way I am because of Christians like you” line is just as much a nonsensical and baseless means of silencing someone with an opposing opinion as cries of racisism or homophobia. Militant atheists hate God because they want to and because they were told to; it is their fault, and their problem.

That is why I will not cave to political correctness and be the good and quiet Christian society expects me to be.

After all, political correctness is not as good a thing as the thought police and self-appointed arbiters of proper Christian behavior would like us to believe it is.

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.

When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity.

To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

— Theodore Dalrymple, author of Our Culture, What’s Left of It

Since it’s not a very big leap from communism to Soviet style repression of ideals, you’re probably thinking I am way out of line here.

Am I?

An atheist blogger I follow said the following about his true intent so I don’t think that I am.

“I believe education [indoctrination] is the answer to most of life’s problems and I am sincerely convinced that religious practices and teachings are harmful to education, the development of human rights, honest inquiry and free thinking.

I am dedicated to raising awareness of the false teachings of religion and desire an organized effort to draw attention to global injustices and absurdities brought by religious groups and organizations.”

Does this sound like the words of someone who values the sincere beliefs of others and just isn’t down with religion because because of negative experiences with Christian fundamentalists when he was younger?

Or, does it sound more like the predictable rhetoric you should expect from a product of a modern secular progressive indoctrination camp posing as a university?

Where have we heard this type of rational and tolerant free thought before? Am I really misunderstanding militant atheists?

“One fundamental element of that system was its propagation of a doctrine called Marxism-Leninism, and one fundamental element of that doctrine was militant atheism. Until only a little over three years ago, militant atheism was the official religion, one might say, of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party was the established church in what might be called an atheocratic state.”

Harold Joseph Berman (1993). Faith and Order: The Reconciliation of Law and Religion. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing

“For seventy years, from the Bolshevik Revolution to the closing years of the Gorbachev regime, militant atheism was the official religion, one might say, of the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party was, in effect, the established church. It was an avowed task of the Soviet state, led by the Communist Party, to root out from the minds and hearts of the Soviet state, all belief systems other than Marxism-Leninism.”

J. D. Van der Vyver, John Witte (1996). Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective: Legal Perspectives. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers

“From the Bolshevik Revolution to the closing years of the Gorbachev regime, militant atheism was the official religion, one might say, of the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party was, in effect, the established church.”

Harold J. Berman (1998). Freedom of Religion in Russia: An Amicus Brief for the Defendant

“Moreover, [Soviet] schools were not merely to avoid the teaching of religion; they were actively to promote the teaching of atheism.”

J. D. Van der Vyver, John Witte (1996). Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective: Legal Perspectives. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers

“Militant atheists also believed that science disproved religion because God remained unseen, his miracles were never subject to empirical verification, and certain religious stories were inconceivable. As such, the Soviet school system consistently promoted “atheistic science” to combat the effects of religion. The curriculum of scientific atheism resembled the curriculum of scientific atheism resembled the curriculum for much of the Soviet educational system, as it was based more on memorization than critical analysis. For homework, schoolchildren were sometimes asked to convert a member of their family to atheism by reciting arguments that were intended to disprove religious beliefs. And schoolchildren often memorized antireligious rhymes, songs, and catechisms. Antireligious ideas infiltrated the most basic in unrelated topics: “Physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, geography and literature all serve as jumping-off points to instruct pupils on the evils or falsity of religion.” Although many school subjects appear unrelated to religion, Soviets believed that any intellectual activity was intrinsically opposed to religion.’

Paul Froese (2008). The Plot to Kill God: findings from the Soviet experiment in Secularization. University of California Press

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Categories: Atheism, Christianity

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