An atheist professor said Tuesday that it’s acceptable to criticize Christians but not Muslims, because he does not “fear” retaliation from Christians. “I know what keeps me from critiquing Islam on my blog is just fear,” Phil Zuckerman said at a discussion on religious liberty at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “I’ve got three kids. “So I know I can say anything about Christianity or Mormonism, and I’m not living in fear, which is a testament to Christianity and Mormonism, and that’s wonderful. Thank you,” said Zuckerman, who is a self-described atheist and professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif." Atheist: 'Okay For Those on The Left to Critique, Mock, Deride Christianity, But Islam Gets a Free Pass'
Professor Zuckerman’s quote showed up on my newsfeed about a week ago, but I doubt anyone would really see it as “news.” After all, it has become quite clear over the last few years that Christianity (and sometimes Judaism) has become the target of most attacks on religion. Muslims are largely being left alone by Atheists and others.
What is interesting is that this particular professor states that the reason that he does not criticize Muslims is because of fear of the harm that they may cause to him. Whether CAIR or any other Islamic organization wants to acknowledge it or not, the fear is certainly justified. While it is true that most Muslims live quiet, law-abiding lives, a significant number of Muslims have demonstrated that they are willing to commit violence against people who insult their religion or its founder or its god. Even according to a very pro-Islam site, Encountering the World of Islam, “ninety-three percent (93%) of Muslims do not support extremist views of terrorism.” If 93% of Muslims do not support extremist views of terrorism, then 7% do support those views. In a world of more than two billion Muslims (8 million in the U.S. alone), that means there are 140 million Muslims around the world who support extremist views of terrorism (560,000 in the United States). So, I think that Professor Zuckerman has some justification behind his concerns that saying or writing too much negative about Muslims could result in provoking an Islamic radical or someone else who believes “infidels” should be killed for insulting Islam, its founder or its god.
Make no mistake about it, people who identify as atheists are every bit as likely to be subjected to brutal treatment at the hands of Islamic radicals as Christians – at least, that’s what the study commissioned by Humanists claim. According to a Reuters news release,
Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven nations can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued on Monday. The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), showed that "unbelievers" in Islamic countries face the most severe - sometimes brutal - treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.Now, Atheists, as I understand them, don’t believe in God, a god or gods, and certainly believe the world would be better off without people adhering to a belief in God. The New Atheists (fun-loving characters that they are) go even farther sharing “a belief that religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.” So, it would seem reasonable that while Atheists would not trust Christians of any stripe because they hold to what they views as an antiquated belief in God, they would feel less warmly towards Muslims because countries where Muslims are in control are, by the Atheists’ own study, the place where Atheists “face the most severe – sometimes brutal – treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of official religion.” One might suspect that they would feel less warm towards Muslims because, like Doctor Zuckerman, they are fearful of saying things critical of Islam, its founder or its god in the same way they do against Christians, Jesus or God.
Nevertheless, Atheists (who tend to think that they are smarter than poor deluded Christians like myself) apparently don’t follow that reasoning. In a Pew Study from July 2014, various people were identified by religious or a-religious affiliation and asked the following question:
“We’d like to get your feelings toward a number of groups on a ‘feeling thermometer.’ A rating of 0 degrees means you feel as cold and negative as possible. A rating of 100 degrees means you feel as warm and positive as possible. You would rate the group at 50 degrees if you don’t feel particularly positive or negative toward a group.”
Among the people asked were Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Jews, Atheists and Agnostics. And the results?
Atheists give largely positive ratings to several non-Christian religious groups, including Buddhists (who receive an average rating of 69 from atheists), Jews (61) and Hindus (58). Atheists tend to give much cooler ratings to Muslims and the Christian groups asked about in the survey.
How much cooler are the ratings? Well, Christian groups can be divided into Roman Catholics and Evangelicals. Atheists give Roman Catholics a medium rating of 47, but that’s nothing compared to the rock-bottom number given to Evangelicals of 28. That's a pretty darn low number. But certainly it must be the case that Atheists would give an even lower rating to Muslims given the mistreatment that they receive when Islam is the ruling religion, wouldn’t they? Not a chance. Muslims receive the relatively moderate mean thermometer rating of 44 from Atheists.
44? Muslims get a 44 “warmth” from Atheists versus a 28 for Evangelicals? Seriously?
Okay, I get it that some “Christian” countries can be oppressive, too. But even the Atheists acknowledge that the places that they are most likely to be treated “brutally” or even executed for their beliefs are in Muslim countries. Yet, Evangelicals are the least liked by Atheists. That is very puzzling.
I really can’t explain it rationally, and I doubt that any atheist can. One might conjecture that the reason that Atheists like Jews, Hindus and Buddhists is because these groups largely don’t try to proselytize. Proselytizing, of course, means trying to get others to become adherents to your religion, and certainly Christianity is the most forward at trying to proselytize since general Christian doctrine holds that one must acknowledge the gift of salvation that comes from God through Jesus’ death on the cross to be saved. Other religions don’t necessarily hold to as strong of a “narrow road” view for salvation and so proselytizing will not be high on their list of priorities. (Muslims, of course, believe that they have the only way, but their way of proselytizing internationally seems to be to seize a country and force conversions -- an entirely different animal.)
But if proselytizing is the reason that Atheists hate Evangelicals, I guess I just wonder – do Atheists really hate having people try to talk to them about God more than being treated brutally or executed? Seems like priorities are a little lopsided here.