So, today I ran across a response to a blog post on Patheos that a Christian wrote about shit he wishes atheists would stop saying. I’d read that post before a while ago and, on the whole, I think the guy had some good points. When I think about the sort of obnoxious statements that he is likely responding to, I’m inclined to nod and say “Yea, totally, people should stop saying shit like that.” But I do think his list of things atheists should stop saying also includes some things that don’t fall under the “obnoxious crap” category (which other people have already done a good job covering, like the guy I linked above). However, he also misses a few things that should be on the list but aren’t. So I thought I’d write my own post about shit that I, as an atheist, wish other atheists would stop saying.
Please stop using the word ‘religion’ interchangeably with ‘faith’ or ‘theism’.
This one is a relatively minor complaint, but… Not all religions are theistic. Not all theists are religious. And while faith might be vital to religions like Christianity, it isn’t the central feature of all religions. Myself, I am a member of a religion which is explicitly atheistic. It’s annoying when people talk about religion like it’s the opposite of atheism. It’s not. Religion is a whole big, complicated sociocultural phenomenon that scholars have difficulty even defining. And even in religions where belief in God is a major component, there’s a whole lot more to it than just that.
Please, for the love of FSM, stop saying that religion is a mental illness.
For one thing, it’s just plain inaccurate. Having accurate, true beliefs seems to be something a lot of atheists think is important, especially the ones who try to talk other people out their religious beliefs. It’s awfully hypocritical for someone who puts so much effort into talking other people out of their inaccurate, untrue beliefs to, in turn, refuse to question their own inaccurate, untrue beliefs.
For another thing, statements like this serve to further the stigma of mental illness and to alienate atheists with mental illnesses. I say this as an atheist with who suffers from mental illness. The experience of your average church-going Joe with their religion has abso-fucking-lutely nothing whatsoever on my experience of suffering from mental illness. To equate religion and mental illness invalidates and minimizes the suffering experienced by those with actual mental illnesses. Stop doing that. Please.
Please don’t say sexist (or racist or transphobic, etc.) shit.
…I’m not really sure how to elaborate on this. It seems like the people who most need to listen to this are the same ones who are the loudest to claim that the atheist community doesn’t have a problem with sexism or racism (and then sit around wondering why their group is mostly composed of white guys).