Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Positive Atheists take on the Question of Hate Groups

The blog Positive Atheist Forum Deals with the Question "Are Atheist Groups Rightly Seen as Hate Groups?" This was the original question ask by this blog (Atheist watch), and its' original mission, to make know to the public the dangers of Hate group atheism. Apparently the question was bothersome enough that some atheist have felt compelled to answer it or deal with it in some way.

Positive Atheist Forum deals with it first by distancing themselves from right wing racist group World Church of the Creator:


From their blog:


* Reference: Our Identity As Atheist Organizations by Cliff Walker
* Perspective: Letter Submitted To US News
* Perspective: Letter Submitted To The New York Times

In researching the piece "Our Identity As Atheist Organizations," I wrote to Matthew Hale, leader of the World Church of the Creator, and asked him if they call themselves an "atheist group." The response from his office was a resounding no.

From: Positive Atheism
To: Matthew Hale
Subject: Atheists?
Date: Wednesday, July 14, 1999 4:00 PM

Much discussion has ensued since The Washington Post called The World Church of the Creator "an atheist group." The other major journals we've consulted (New York Times; US News) fall short of using that word. Our question is, would you use the word "atheist" to describe the World Church of the Creator?



the other way they deal with it is to have atheist write in and say "we are not a hate group." But this proves nothing. I don't think there is an actual hate group that can be labeled as "the atheist hate group" and I have said from day one of this blog that I a not claiming that all atheists are like this. There is a fundamentalist end of the atheist spectrum that fits the profile of a hate group (see the post on this blog). That is segment is growing and is probably fueled by the internet.


here's an example of the sort of denial:


From: "Many Paths"
To: "Positive Atheism"
Subject: Are_Atheist_Groups_Rightly_Seen_As_Hate_Groups
Date: May 15, 2002 2:28 AM

Are atheist groups rightly seen as "hate groups?"

The term "hate group" as I see it refers to particularly vicious organizations such as; the KKK, neo-Nazis, skinheads, Fred Phelps and the like. Some of the factors that these groups have in common are; authoritarianism, dogmatism, and generally a narrow view point. Atheist organizations on the other hand encourage independence of thought, to search for truth rather than insist that we know everything and are always right. To lump atheists in with these other groups is absurd.

I have never heard of a religious person being violently attacked by a group of atheists (it may have happened once or twice, but I've never heard of it.) The cases of vandalism of churches seem to be done by other religious groups, racist groups, or stupid drunk teenagers -- not atheists. Atheists do not picket funerals of dead religious leaders, they do not have Bible bon-fires, or consider any particular type of person to be unworthy of joining.


But the reason there is no violent attack as yet is because we are only at stage four on the FBI model. violence hasn't occurred yet, although there was one case where an atheist or a group of them were caught planning to burn a church but were unable to. Violence my be coming, it hasn't happened yet because we are not far enough along on the evolutionary process of hate group development. It may even be that even though message boards galvanize the haters and work them up they may also function as a safety valve.


here is stage four through six of the model:





Stage 4: The Hate Group Taunts the Target

Hate, by its nature, changes incrementally. Time cools the fire of hate, thus forcing the hater to look inward. To avoid introspection, haters use ever-increasing degrees of rhetoric and violence to maintain high levels of agitation. Taunts and offensive gestures serve this purpose. In this stage, skinheads typically shout racial slurs from moving cars or from afar. Nazi salutes and other hand signals often accompany racial epithets. Racist graffiti also begins to appear in areas where skinheads loiter. Most skinhead groups claim turf proximate to the neighborhoods in which they live. One study indicated that a majority of hate crimes occur when the hate target migrates through the hate group's turf.15


Stage 5: The Hate Group Attacks the Target Without Weapons

This stage is critical because it differentiates vocally abusive haters from physically abusive ones. In this stage, hate groups become more aggressive, prowling their turf seeking vulnerable targets. Violence coalesces hate groups and further isolates them from mainstream society. Skinheads, almost without exception, attack in groups and target single victims. Research has shown that bias crimes are twice as likely to cause injury and four times as likely to result in hospitalization as compared to nonbias crimes.16

In addition to physical violence, the element of thrill seeking is introduced in Stage 5. Two experts found that 60 percent of hate offenders were "thrill seekers."17 The adrenaline "high" intoxicates the attackers. The initial adrenaline surge lasts for several minutes; however, the effects of adrenaline keep the body in a state of heightened alert for up to several days.18 Each successive anger- provoking thought or action builds on residual adrenaline and triggers a more violent response than the one that originally initiated the sequence.19 Anger builds on anger. The adrenaline high combined with hate becomes a deadly combination. Hard-core skinheads keep themselves at a level where the slightest provocation triggers aggression.

Stage 6: The Hate Group Attacks the Target with Weapons

Several studies confirm that a large number of bias attacks involve weapons.20 Some attackers use firearms to commit hate crimes, but skinheads prefer weapons, such as broken bottles, baseball bats, blunt objects, screwdrivers, and belt buckles. These types of weapons require the attacker to be close to the victim, which further demonstrates the depth of personal anger. Attackers can discharge firearms at a distance, thus precluding personal contact. Close-in onslaughts require the assailants to see their victims eye-to-eye and to become bloodied during the assault. Hands- on violence allows skinheads to express their hate in a way a gun cannot. Personal contact empowers and fulfills a deep-seated need to have dominance over others.


It may be that we are not far enough along in the process to have open attacks yet. Maybe that will never come. But one thing that can be seen by anyone at any time is the depth of hatred that exists out there for Christianity on the net and message boards. No atheist has of yet taken up my challenge to go on a message and pretending to be a Chrsitain. Of course the right kind of message board such as Atheist.net, Infidel guy, the Secular Web.

4 comments:

238383833 said...

I posit these extremists represent the atheist community to the same extent the KKK represents the Christian community. Incarceration rates among atheists do not reflect the national average, even by scale. Meaning in turn atheists are actually less likely to commit a crime, violent or otherwise than most.

I imagine this comment will never be approved as it seems to undermine your point. But hopefully you can at least take some personal solace in this knowledge.

Metacrock said...

That's not true. The atheists who make that claim about prison are actually quoting the percentage of those who listed their RELIGION as "atheist" not the segment that put "no preference" or "no faith."

I've disproved that stat:

bogus atheist social science

Besides that that statistic if it is valid is probably due to the old style pre internet atheist who tended to be form a university.

We will see that decline as time goes by, the old atheist get old and die and the new atheist come more and more from the uneducated masses.

238383833 said...

"I've disproved that stay"

-Have you? I admire your due diligence—clearly, you've done your homework—but fault your conclusion. It smacks of fallible logic by way of false analogy. You specify that atheists are a subgroup of free society's 8-16% of irreligious (atheist, agnostic, irreligious theists, other), constituting only 3%. I am with you there. But then you compare that number to the ~20% of prisoners who self identify as "None/atheist/unknown." By your own rationale, you are "distorting these figures too because it's not [20]% certianly [sic]...[You're] including people who believe in God but don't like organized religion as well as agnostics as atheists."

I don't naively assume this will sway your thinking re: atheists 180 degrees but perhaps it will serve as the catalyst for some introspection in this specific comparative analysis? You clearly have a cognitive bias against atheists and while I am not here to tell you you shouldn't hate and distrust atheists (your life, your prerogative obv), your by-the-numbers examination of prison populations is exemplary of this bias.

In any case, I have said all that I wished to say on this matter in no uncertain terms or short duration. I don't imagine I will sway the perception of you or any other militant anti-atheist one way or the other by continuing this discussion, so...have a nice life. Enjoy your faith.

Metacrock said...

Have you? I admire your due diligence—clearly, you've done your homework—but fault your conclusion. It smacks of fallible logic by way of false analogy. You specify that atheists are a subgroup of free society's 8-16% of irreligious (atheist, agnostic, irreligious theists, other), constituting only 3%. I am with you there. But then you compare that number to the ~20% of prisoners who self identify as "None/atheist/unknown." By your own rationale, you are "distorting these figures too because it's not [20]% certianly [sic]...[You're] including people who believe in God but don't like organized religion as well as agnostics as atheists."


It's hardly likely that out of that 20% only 1% or fewer are real atheists and the rest are all theists who don't like church.

It's also the case that the 3% in the original argument were never screened for the same bias, they just took the one's who put atheist in the "what is your religious preference" section. It's just logic that should be more in the "no religion" section.

finally, there are other arguments on the page I linked to. I think the parole argument beats it cold. They don't ask them their preference when they are arrested. Latter on they say they are Christians, are they? They want parole so they say they are. What were they the day they were arrested.

finally, the methodology is a laugh track for anyone whose been trained in social sciences. you just can't draw sweeping conclusions from raw data like that. It's much more complex; look at the connection between poverty, crime, and lack of education?