Atheists Ignore Islamophobia at Their Peril
Unfortunately, there are worrying indicators that public figures in the atheist movement are perpetuating and enabling a hostile stance toward Muslims—in many cases, above and beyond the criticisms they direct at other religious communities. One of the most widely-known atheists in the world, Bill Maher, for example, is alarmed by the number of babies being named Mohammed in the U.K., and said the following of Muslims and Islam: “What it comes down to is that there is one religion in the world that kills you when you disagree with them. They say, ‘Look, we’re a religion of peace and if you disagree we’ll cut your fucking head off.”
In December of last year, the president of American Atheists posted a status update to his public Facebook profile that read: “Never give up a right without a fight. I will defame Islam if I want to. It doesn’t mean I hate Muslims. It means Islam is a shitty religion that worships a pedophile as morally perfect.” When I expressed my concern about those comments, atheist blogger JT Eberhard wrote the following:
Islam is a shitty religion (more shitty than most, and try me if you don’t think we can defend that statement) and Muhammad was a pedophile, which has resulted in several Muslims continuing the practice. If Chris doesn’t like the word “shitty”, I wonder what adjective he would suggest. Horrible? Morally repugnant? Should we greet the anti-science, morally fucked up religion of Islam with an, “Oh shucks, that is pretty anti-humanity and doesn’t make much sense now does it?” How softly would be enough to get Stedman to relinquish his iron-clad grip on his pearls? Frankly, to call Islam shitty is like calling the surface of the sun warm.
Later in the post he claimed to just be “factually criticizing” Islam and Muslims, but even if that were his aim, several of the claims he put forth about Islam and Muslims were not only false, but were framed in a way that is likely to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment.