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Atheists frequently complain about religious intolerance. They love repeating the charge ad nauseum that people of one religion—usually Christianity—harbor nothing but animosity toward people of other religions. And yet a quick survey of comments from well-known atheists shows something quite astonishing. 

“Our writings and actions are sincere attempts to rid the world of one of its greatest evils: religion.” - Jerry Coyne 

“If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.” –Sam Harris 

“First of all, there are no great religions. They’re all stupid and dangerous—and we should insult them” —Bill Maher 

Not much tolerance here, is there? Not much respect for other points of view. What could possibly account for this stunning lapse in secular humanist principles? 

Al Stefanelli, the Georgia state director of American Atheists, explains:

“Sometimes [intolerance] becomes quite necessary. Intolerance toward beliefs and doctrines that serve only to promote hatred, bigotry and discrimination should be lauded, as should extremist points of view toward the eradication of these beliefs and doctrines…” 

Ah, now it makes sense, intolerance must be eliminated at all costs—unless, of course, it is the atheist’s intolerance toward people of faith. Then intolerance is not only acceptable but also necessary and praiseworthy.

Put another way: Atheists are tolerant—as long as you agree with them. If not, watch out! 

We see this kind of “praiseworthy intolerance” on display in its most chilling form when atheists question the rights of parents to raise their own children in faith.  For instance, atheist Richard Dawkins asks: 

“It's one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?” 

And Giovanni Santostasi, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, chimes in: “Religion should remain a private endeavor for adults. . . . An appropriate analogy of religion is that it’s kind of like porn—which means it’s not something one would expose a child to.”

So religion is like porn. It’s a manifest falsehood. It harms children, who must be protected from their parents by the state. 

This climate of hostility and intolerance that atheists have created through their attacks on religion is nothing new. It has its roots in the existentialist atheist philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries—men like Augusta Comte, Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx and, of course. Friedrich Nietzsche. These rabid unbelievers all shared the same white-hot hatred of religion, and argued forcefully that it was humanity's solemn duty to destroy religious conviction altogether.  

Essentially, the atheists of the past laid the ideological foundation for the atheist political leaders of the 20th century and set the stage for the bloodiest wars and mass murders ever to take place in human history. Indeed, the atheist régimes of the 20th century—the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin; China under Mao Zedong; Albania under Enver Hoxha; and Cambodia under the Pol Pot—ruthlessly murdered over 150 million people whose only offense was practicing their religion. 

150 million!

That’s why any effort to promote a more “tolerant” atheism today is naïve. Tolerance is part of the atheist Big Lie. It doesn’t exist. As atheists gain more political power and exercise more control over the media, academia, and the entertainment industry, their attacks on religious freedom always grow more blatant and egregious. It’s just who they are. 

Evidence abounds that a modern-day persecution of religion has already begun. For the last 50 years in the U.S. there has been a systematic purging of religious symbols, imagery and sentiment from the public square. Any kind of prayer is forbidden in public schools. Scripture has been banished from courts and federal buildings. During the holiday season, religious images like crèches and menorahs have been banned from public places. 

Intolerance has been at the root of atheists’ willful misreading of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. This clause was written by our Founders in order to prevent the establishment of a state religion—not the eradication of religion from the public square. The harsh reality is that the new atheists don’t believe that the rights our Founders spoke about—including the right to free speech—come from God and are therefore unalienable. They believe our rights come from Government. So naturally the government can repress those rights when it wants. This is a veritable a prescription for tyranny. 

At the very same time, atheists have mounted a relentless public relations campaign to mock Christianity, especially at Christmas and Easter. Billboards paid for by groups like American Atheists have appeared all over the United States with confrontational slogans like: “You Know it’s a Myth!” and “Christianity: Sadistic God, Useless Savior,” and just this past Christmas, “Stay Away from Church—It’s All Fake News.”

We must face facts. Atheists today have a totalitarian intolerance for believers. They are determined to root out and remove any remaining vestiges of Christianity from Europe and America, and even to deny parents the right to raise their own children with religious faith. They use the very same language and harbor the very same ambitions as the atheist political regimes of the 20th century. Though they’ve stopped short of employing physical violence to establish their vision of a godless utopia (give them time), they’ve instead driven their opponents from the public square with a lethal mixture of scorn, smears, deception and legal intimidation. 

With all due respect, it’s time for believers to stop turning the other cheek.