10 Things That Christians Are Better At Than Atheists February 13, 2007

10 Things That Christians Are Better At Than Atheists

After posting the list of things that Christians do in church that annoy me, here is something slightly different.

I should say that not all Christians do all these things. And not all the items are positive. But atheists could learn a lesson from Christians regarding some of these…

  1. Doing charity work.

    (I’m not saying atheists don’t do it. Of course we do. But Christians do it more frequently and they are much more visible in this realm, even if we exclude the proselytizing missionaries. Most atheist groups rarely do this work on a consistent basis. Some do. That’s great. Let’s do more of it.)

  2. Giving money.

    (Sometimes, it’s the “required” tithe. But often, it’s more. Christians give back to the community they love. It’s a part of their budget. Many atheists might pay their organizations’ membership dues, but they do very little else to support them. Even college students can afford to give a donation of $5/month to a secular group. And adults can do more. But it’s frustrating to have to pull teeth to get them to do it.)

  3. Getting their base fired up about elections, social issues, etc.

    (Atheists have differing opinions on many issues, so it’s not easy to get them to vote in a bloc, but even when we have a need to be politically motivated about something, I just don’t see the drive and sense of urgency to take action that I see from Christian groups. We spend too much time arguing about the details. As a result, we forget the big picture.)

  4. Welcoming those who are new to the fold.

    (They have the swag, the pastor’s welcome, possibly a dinner with church leaders, books, etc. Oh. They have Heaven, too. When I joined American Atheists and the ACLU, I got a wallet-sized membership card from both. And nothing from my local chapters.)

  5. Marketing.

    (I got a nifty-looking postcard from a local church telling me about its upcoming sermons: I was ready to go until I saw that I disagreed with everything they were talking about– that’s how enticing this postcard was. Christian conferences get several thousand attendees. Yes, these churches and Christian organizations have both the money and the numbers, but if they want you to know about something, they’ll find a way to get the information out. Quick: How many atheists have heard of Christianity Today? Now, how many non-atheists have heard of Free Inquiry?)

  6. Getting the media to cover them.

    (It doesn’t matter if it’s a local church cleaning a sidewalk or a pastor making a statement on a particular issue. The newspapers and news programs will be covering it. We had thousands of atheists marching in Washington a few years ago. If you’re religious, did you hear about it? Hell, I’m guessing many atheists hadn’t heard about it, either. The lack of coverage was embarrassing. If we were a group of evangelicals, though, you can bet the media would have been there.)

  7. Public speaking.

    (Those pastors can get you excited about anything. But listening to lectures by prominent atheists just doesn’t get you fired up. Here: Watch Sam Harris speak. And then watch Random-Pastor-I-Found-On-YouTube. Forget the words for a second. Who gets you more pumped up? I’m not talking about content– atheists are great at content. But if we had atheists saying the words of Sam Harris with the energy level of Random-Pastor, we might get somewhere.)

  8. Spreading disinformation.

    (Intelligent Design is not science. Abstinence-only sex education has not stopped teens from having sex and has left them with more problems than before, Terri Schiavo was not responsive, and atheists were never declaring a “War on Christmas”– not until it became satirical to do so.)

  9. Setting the language we use.

    (George Lakoff can attest to this. Which do you hear more often: Anti-choice or pro-life? “Teach Intelligent Design” or “Teach the controversy”? When did “family values” come to mean “Christian values”?)

  10. Eating their words.

    (Pat Robertson. Jerry Falwell. Need I say more?)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, Christianity, church, charity, tithe, Heaven, American Atheists, ACLU, Christianity Today, Free Inquiry, Godless Americans March on Washington, evangelical, Sam Harris, Intelligent Design, Evolution, Abstinence-only sex education, Terri Schiavo, War on Christmas, George Lakoff, Anti-choice, pro-life, abortion, Teach the controversy, family values, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell[/tags]

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  • Andrew Evans

    Great piece friendly atheist.

    I have to say I’m not convinved about no 9 though.

    On the “pro-life”/”pro-choice” thing I think both sides could make this claim. So which you you hear more often: “pro-choice” or “anti-life”?

  • Polly

    4. Welcoming those who are new to the fold.

    So true! I remember the day I finally said I was an atheist out loud.

    I waited all day and no one stopped by! I kept thinking someone from the EAC should be here any minute now with a black briefcase containing “supplies.”
    You know – evolution chart of man showing progress from hunchback on the left to modern man on the far right, a copy of Richard Dawkins’s latest book or S.J. Gould’s, some kind of ring or membership card…but NOTHING, not even a nice tote!

  • justanotherjones

    I also disagree with numbers 1 & 2. I think whatever figures they use might be skewed in some way to reflect, for instance, all monies collected by a religious organization. And which groups are getting the money? I’m an atheist but I shop at and donate to charity thrift stores, for example.

    I also give money to secular groups like The Red Cross.

    As for 5, fewer and fewer of us are hiding our atheist lights under proverbial bushels. That’s sort of like stealth marketing.

    And 8, I try to battle the the dissemination of ignorance and lies by speaking out where I find them.

  • shawn burch

    umm so you go out and do something, not because you want to help. not because you feel compassion. but because your afraid that if you dont some god is going to send you to hell? that makes you worse! aethiest who go out and do charity work are doing it because they actually want to help. and because they dont use a crutch like religion to hold themselves above other people. that whole im better than you because i have faith is bull. religion does not make you better. most people it makes worse. look at history, religion is the leading cause of death. (if there is a hell) you deserve to go there because you have no compasion for those who need it. you just do something because if you do you can brag about it like its some medal of honer. your a horrible person. go find a single mom with three jobs and still finds the time to pick up her kid at school and take them to soccer practice and tell her your better than she is because you have FAITH. i dare you. your sick

  • Sandra

    It really simple….abortion is Murder! If you are a Christian or an atheist, if someone killed your mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, etc….it is illegal, it is murder and the killer would go to prison. Killing unborn babies is NO different, it is MURDER! I agree with Stephen, none of it is cut and dry…but I would rather carry and birth a baby and give it up for adoption than to have to live the rest of my life knowing that I took life.(murder a unborn baby!) I have 3 beautiful children of which one is born from a rape. Life or Death you have a choice. Murder is illegal no matter how you look at it.

    I am also a single mother and I have never encounter a Christian who thought or said they were better than me. Faith is an awesome thing! It’s what gives hope and says things will get better, if you have ever been in a tragic situtation and knew that you were going to be o.k in the end you exceried faith.

    And for you all who believe you evolved from an ape. LOL. I haven’t seen any apes jumping out of any trees lately in suits and carring brief cases. LOL. I was fearfully and wonderfully made.

  • Mriana

    Sandra, a blastocyst is a set of cells that attach to the uterine wall, not a baby. A zygote looks more like a frog than a human. Sure the DNA outcome is human, but if the mother’s physical or mental health is in danger, then IMO, it is ok to terminate the pregnancy. There are other reasons to terminate a pregnancy too- like the father rapes his young teenage daughter who is not fully grown physically. I have heard other legitimate reasons too.

    Now here is a question for you, a miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion. Humm…. Think about it. By your definition, your God is a murderer.

    BTW, you are also an ape. We descended from a common ancestor of other apes. You also share similar DNA of a pig too.

    And why are we commenting on something that was posted 2 years ago, anyway?

  • Piledriver

    I second what Almundo said: “I take issue with one thing, the lumping of all atheists together like we are some kind of “new” church.”

    I think many of you folks (atheist writers and activists) do think you represent a church of some sort and everyone in the fold agrees with your doctrine.

    If that’s how you see it, go ahead and file for your religious tax exemption. The rest of us can then maybe come up with a better descriptor of our non-participation in all forms of groupthink.

  • bwah1234

    I quite disagree with #1 and #2. Here is a wonderful analysis of the myth of christian charity, and another discussing why if you donate money you shouldn’t donate it to a church as less than 20% of it is used for the actual charity purpose.

  • Bwah1234: obviously if you define all the things churches do as not charitable you will conclude that not much of a church’ spending is charitable!

    But, of course the pastors (like me) whose, usually very modest, salaries you criticise spend much of our time, apart from preaching, visiting the sick, counselling relationships, burying the dead and comforting the bereaved. Of course the evangelists you see on TV don’t do that. Bu they aren’t typical Christians any more than Richard Dawkins is a typical secularist! Using the worst examples of something does not, as you ought to know, constitute a good argument against the whole.

    Since millions (in fact billions) of people globally find such services helpful what authority have you to determine that they are not charitable?

  • anonymous

    As one poster already mentioned, the problem with this article is that it compares apples with oranges.

    Christians are part of a club because they share many common beliefs derived from a thick book which is the bible. They have a lot of stuff to talk about and they share the common mission to save unbaptized souls. That’s a big mission that requires people to work together.

    Atheists only share the idea that they do not believe in god(s). They do not have a common mission, nor do they usually want one. The Atheist club you describe is actually a political club with political missions. It’s not a bunch of people hanging out repeating how they don’t believe in god(s) and giving each other high fives every time someone restates the claim.

    As an atheist-ignostic, I would never want to be part of an Atheist club. The core of an Atheist’s thinking is usually that he is a logical and rational thinker who requires evidence before believing a certain claim. He is an individual thinker who likes to read and come to his own conclusions, he is not a ‘clubster’ looking for friends to partake in his beliefs. Create an Atheist club and it won’t be long before you apply for a tax exemption under the pretext that you have formed a religion, and the truth is it won’t even be a pretext, you really will have a religion on your hands.

    Perhaps it would have been better to title your piece “10 Things Christians are better at than Congregating Atheists” or “10 Things Christians are better at than people who favor umbrellas over rain coats.”

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