Why Do Religious People Visit Atheist Blogs? April 27, 2009

Why Do Religious People Visit Atheist Blogs?

Mark at Proud Atheists raised this question the other day: “Why do Christians visit atheist blogs?”

Some of them do it to preach via comments, we know that.

But others have reasons we should take pride in — They find something on our blogs that they don’t find elsewhere. One commenter (a practicing Jew) pointed this out:

When Creationists try to shove their views down our throats, when religious beliefs endanger the lives of others, and when people can’t seem to keep their personal beliefs where they belong, I’ll typically find the atheists discussing it first.

I still haven’t found any Christian blogs that criticize other Christians for their actions on a regular basis (as opposed to an occasional press release by a moderate Christian group). If there are some, I’d love to know what they are. If they don’t exist, that’s a gap in the Christian blogosphere that someone would be smart to fill.

(Thanks to Asad for the link!)

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  • Yoo

    I suspect that Christians that have problems with silly Christians wouldn’t be writing about it in a “Christian blog” …

  • littlejohn

    I’ve noticed, as a general rule, the religious blogs are not nearly as generous about letting folks leave comments. Some allow comments, but quickly remove anything critical of their religious views. Atheist blogs are just a lot more fun.

  • They are either questioning their own beliefs, looking for a fight, trying to get extra points for evangelizing to atheists, are just curious, or perhaps want to live in harmony with others.

  • Rachel

    I don’t exactly frequent Christian blogs, but I like Slacktivist.

    Funny, smart, liberal. And an evangelical. I know! I still can’t quite get my head around it.

    His essays on/page by page mockery of the Left Behind books is smart, amazing and incredibly funny.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    I still haven’t found any Christian blogs that criticize other Christians for their actions on a regular basis […] If there are some, I’d love to know what they are.

    The obvious example:
    The “God Hates America” blog

  • SarahH

    We actually have a “Why are you here?” thread for theists on the Friendly Atheist forums that’s gotten some good answers.

  • Sachi Wilson

    An excellent Christian blog is http://wtfwjdbitch.blogspot.com/ .

    Good Catholic woman takes apart all the Catholic hypocricy and stupidity. Good stuff.

  • I was going to link to WTFWJD also. Pretty good blog!

  • In my experience, a fair number of believers who visit atheist blogs like to think of themselves as being brave and open- minded and willing to question their faith by debating and engaging with atheists.

    Whether they actually are brave and open- minded and willing to question their faith… well, that varies. Often, in my experience at least, not so much. Often, they like to think of themselves that way… but when their faith is being questioned hard, they get upset and angry. They want to think of themselves as ntellectually courageous and willing to follow hard questions wherever they go — but they aren’t really. Not when it comes to God, anyway.

    (FYI, I’ve written more about this in a piece called Curiosity and the “Shut Up, That’s Why” Argument. Sorry for the self- linkage, but it really is relevant.)

  • Kourou

    Slacktivist, definitely!

  • Wow… so excited to hear about Slacktivist

    Since I am a Christian and a regular reader of this blog might as well been called by name. — I guess my reasoning is multiple

    1)Thought Provoking – being raised with belief, I haven’t always made every consideration for the “other side.” Though I naturally ask “Why?”

    2)Atheist are usually smart – not to say there aren’t exceptions. I am a nerd so smart = good.

    3)Atheist are individuals – Christians always want to fit in with whatever the “cool” christian thing is. We brag about our separatist beliefs, but usually from the inside a nice comfy organization

    4) Faith Discussion – and no, I don’t mean proselytize. For obvious reasons atheist talk about the “tom-foolery” that is often organized religion a lot. They make the observations that I had, but thought I was alone. I enjoy the openness and that sort of dialogue is scarcer amongst Christians.

    Hemant – Thanks for the question!! and I really do enjoy your blog. Just here to learn, not here to hate.

  • Siamang


    Thanks, Ruby.

    I’m not going to guess at why religious folks are here. I’ll let them answer that question for themselves… any other takers?

  • I would guess that Christians don’t air their dirty laundry in public often because of what happens when the pastor finds out — I can’t recall the guy or the blog now, but he was blogging anonymously about the pastor’s exorbitant spending, so the pastor hired private dicks to expose the guy. Ultimately the blogger was outed in public (in the newspaper) when the preacher tried to shut the guy down.

    Christians are usually afraid to talk about the pastor, the church, the dirt, and such, because of the vindictive nature of so many other Christians.

  • Aj

    An excellent Christian blog is http://wtfwjdbitch.blogspot.com/ .

    Argument to moderation and STFU atheists. We shouldn’t give the impression bigotry against homosexuals has anything to do with Christianity. Atheists should respect beliefs because its rude not to and doesn’t achieve anything, even though most of the posts on the blog don’t follow this advice so it must be OK for theists. Apparantly secular liberals are extreme and the religious right is extreme, guess who’s in the middle and therefore must be right blah blah blah logic fail. Check out what it takes for an atheist to be labelled extreme compared to a theist, because apparantly disbelieving in imaginary friends is equivalent to believing all kinds of harmful, hateful bullshit.

  • Richard Wade

    One of the most pleasant aspects of participating here is having met several theists who have positive, open-hearted and open-minded attitudes, like those expressed by RubyLeigh. I don’t mind that there may be limits to how far they will follow that openness, as pointed out by Greta Christina, because I don’t expect perfection from anyone. I’m grateful for their efforts to extend a hand with little or no agenda, and I’m happy for the chance to interact in a constructive way. Agreement is not important. Only understanding is.

    I do sometimes get frustrated when sensible, reasonable Christians do not challenge or denounce the bigotry, corruption or power lust of some of their brethren, since they would have a much better chance of correcting that from within their ranks, but I have to remember that that can be a very scary thing to do.

    Please keep visiting.

  • mark

    You wrote:
    >”I still haven’t found any Christian
    >blogs that criticize other Christians…”

    There are many of these kinds of blogs

    The Christian code phrase for complaining about other Christians is:

    “Online Discernment Ministries” or ODM for short

    Google that phrase and you will get thousands of hits.

    Here is one of the nuttier web sites which constantly complain about other christian pastors.


  • Pseudonym

    Ship of Fools is worth a look. Especially FruitTube.

  • “Christians are usually afraid to talk about the pastor, the church, the dirt, and such, because of the vindictive nature of so many other Christians.”

    Are you judging? Shame, shame, shame!!!

    1. http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/

    2. http://www.alittleleaven.com/

    3. http://herescope.blogspot.com/

  • A pretty good christian blog that I read everyday(after yours of course) is the internet monk http://www.internetmonk.com/

    Her is very much a christain evangelical and a baptist to boot. but he is smart and is not afraid to call a spade a spade when he needs to. in fact he wrote “the coming evangelical collapse” for some major paper in the last month that is getting him in some hot water with his brethern.

  • I know plenty of Christian blogs who call a spade a spade when it comes to Christian extremists. I do the same myself. So, puzzled where you got that impression from.

    I would pose the same question back to you though, can you name any Atheist blogs that criticize other Atheists behaving badly.

  • Katie

    In addition to the others, I’d like to add The Wittenburg Door as a Christian magazine that does nothing but make fun of Christians. They were the ones who had that segment on the Daily Show called Godstuff. Not only are they critical of modern Christianity, they’re funny as… dare I say it? Funny as hell.

  • Ron in Houston

    I’m actually surprised that so many folks can recommend Christian blogs. I have enough problems following Hemant’s blog as “religiously” as I should.

  • I’m a Christian, a regular reader of this blog and occasional commenter. I visit this blog because this is one of the few places where I can hear what reasonable non-believers think, straight from the source. By reasonable, I mean not like the crowd over at Pharyngula. In fact, some of the posts and comments here have prompted posts on my own blog – mostly taking other believers to task for crying “persecution” over every inconvenience, trying to legislate the church into power, and other such nonsense. I make no claim to any influence, but I do what I can.

    I also read about non-believers’ perception of various evangelistic methods and try to eliminate such methods from my approach. Hemant, you may not want to hear this, but reading your blog has made me stronger in my faith and better at sharing it.

    I don’t see how anyone can consider him/herself a functioning adult without knowing about people who think differently, and most importantly, why they think differently.

  • @Sachi, Jenn – Thanks for the recommendation!

    @Aj – I’m not sure you read very closely. “Disbelieving in imaginary friends” is, of course, an incendiary way of putting it, but I don’t see anything inherently wrong with atheism. On my blog, I took issue with a man who ripped up a Bible to make his point, but there’s no reason to assume that he even was an atheist. He could have been anything.

    I think you may have read what you wanted to read, which is sad. It’s a real tragedy when atheism, which presents itself as a way of “free-thinking” is degraded to yet another form of closed-mindedness towards other belief systems. One would assume that a theological minority based on the promotion of logic would not be so judgmental. Can’t we all just get along?

  • «bønez_brigade»

    @Matt Stone,

    I would pose the same question back to you though, can you name any Atheist blogs that criticize other Atheists behaving badly.

    That’s easy: Pharyngula
    PZ isn’t afraid to call out other atheists.

  • Aj


    I think you may have read what you wanted to read, which is sad. It’s a real tragedy when atheism, which presents itself as a way of “free-thinking” is degraded to yet another form of closed-mindedness towards other belief systems. One would assume that a theological minority based on the promotion of logic would not be so judgmental. Can’t we all just get along?

    Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. It is not a belief system, I don’t accept I have a “belief system”, at least I don’t have anything resembling a set of faith beliefs. I don’t know what you call open-mindedness but I think it’s being open to new ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean accepting every new idea. Accepting every new idea regardless of its worth is what some people call “open-headedness”, being so open-minded your brain falls out. You can keep your theology I don’t want any part in it. You do realise that your blog was recommended on the basis that it is judgemental? Perhaps I’m mistaken and that was a compliment.

  • Aj- I’m sorry you are so angry with me. I called atheism a “belief system” erroneously, and I’m sorry for that. I did not mean to offend you.

    Look, there is a difference between accepting all ideas, and accepting an individual’s right to believe what they want about God (or not believe what they want about God). I think it is of the utmost importance to not argue with individual concepts of the divine (or lack thereof).

    That said, I think it is inappropriate for those who call themselves Christians to tout their moral superiority while simultaneously ignoring the moral code laid out by Jesus Christ. My blog merely argues behavior with Scripture, and asks the irreverent question “WTF would Jesus do?” I do not believe that this is judgmental.

    I feel inclined to ask the question, is there any kind of religious blog that you would like? (Should you feel inclined to reflect the same question back at me, I’d like to point out that my blog links to “Point of Inquiry”, which is a secular humanist -i.e. atheist – podcast put out by the Center for Inquiry.) I don’t want to make assumptions about you, but to me it seems like you are prejudice against people of faith. If you want to be that way, that’s fine, but I sincerely hope that you do not hope to accomplish anything with that attitude, because you will most certainly fail. Good luck with that.

  • Aj

    There’s a difference between a right to hold beliefs and a demand for those beliefs to be respected by others. I know that you think beliefs should be respected, and that’s what I criticized you for, although my points were completely ignored. You also make this error when you assume that I am prejudiced against people with imaginary friends. You equivocate people with their beliefs.

    I already knew that you would not see your own criticism as judgemental because you don’t see just criticism as judgemental. It’s the insular view that also motivates you to call others without your views extreme.

    It’s true that your blog does argue against other Christians for not acting in accordance of your interpretation of religious text and your opinion of what Jesus would do. That’s pretty judgemental in my book, very religious. Hypocrisy is no stranger to religion.

    I wouldn’t want to rule out any blog, or pre-judge all religious blogs. Some beliefs are hilarious, some religious people post interesting blog posts. I’m not particularly interested in religious people claiming to know things they do not, you don’t have to be religious to do that, anybody could.

  • But, why? Why shouldn’t beliefs be respected? I am not talking about political or anti-scientific world views, which are, I believe, open to debate by their very nature. I am talking about ideas about God, which can be and often are very personal. I do not believe they should be respected because of some magic nature of God or anything like that. I believe that personal beliefs should be respected because it is the kind thing to do. Being respectful of other people is called human decency, Aj. Clearly that is something you do not possess – not because you are an atheist, but because you are an asshole.

    (Come on, “imaginary friends”? Really? That’s amazingly rude.)

    I believe my blog is just, yes, but I also believe in the subjective nature of justice. I know that I am only presenting my idea of the truth, not what the truth actually is. But that is not the reason I deny being judgmental. As I said, I argue with people who hold the Scripture to be sacred Truth using the Scripture, which is the only way one CAN argue with these people because of the very nature of their beliefs. That said, I know that I am preaching to the choir, not to these people’s faces. Were I speaking directly to them, I probably wouldn’t call them “hypocritical f*cknuts”, as I do on my blog.

    It’s not that they don’t act in accordance to my idea of Christ that bothers me. Most Christians, I feel confident in saying, do not believe in my idea of Christ. That’s fine. What bothers me is that these people claim to take the Bible as literal Truth, but ignore the parts about actually being a decent human being. It’s fine to ignore all or part of the Bible, but not when you’re pretending to follow it to the letter. That’s the point I’m trying to get across.

    And, for the record, hypocrisy is no stranger to humanity in general.

    On your final point, we are agreed. You don’t have to be religious to pretend to know things you don’t. Almost everyone does it. Just like almost everyone is judgmental, almost everyone is a hypocrite, and almost everyone evangelizes their beliefs. These things are not unique to religion, Aj. They are part of human nature.

    Again, I believe you read what you wanted to read. And for the record, I think all ideas about God should be respected, not just mine.

  • Aj

    For one, respect has to be earned. In this case religious beliefs don’t even begin to earn the special status some would demand of them. That’s why people like you demand these beliefs respected, they’re vulnerable, not worthy of respect.

    Secondly, political and anti-science views do no have to be but often are personal, and under the same logic it would be kinder to not challeng them. Yet we must challenge them, as we must challenge religious belief, because a free thinking, open, honest debate of ideas creates a better enviroment than one of silence and dogma, or ignorance and superstition.

    You once again equate people with beliefs, but only when it suits you. I can see why you would get irrationally upset, I didn’t respect your imaginary friend.

    You do realise you’re being judgemental in your explanation of why you’re not judgemental? I don’t think I can follow the writings of someone with such a limited grasp of reality.

  • I visit here for the craic isn’t it?

    I used to criticise the church all the time on my blog (check the archivees) but I said all I felt I needed to say and found anti-theists make me laugh mostly or get me violently rolling my eyes.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    In this classic uni-strip, the great prophet SMBC shows us the absurdity of respecting religious beliefs.

  • Aj- Why on earth would anyone want to earn your respect? What is it that you do, anyway? I’m all for earning people’s respect, but only when they have already earned mine. Whose respect have you earned?

    Look, its clear you and I have a different idea about respect (among other things). Certainly, there is respect that must be earned. But through everything I have witnessed in my life, I have learned that things are better when you treat people well. Things are better when you take some things for granted. Life is complicated, and we don’t all hash it out the same way. Some of my friends have beliefs I don’t fully understand, but I do not belittle them for it. I mean, what does it matter anyway? What difference would changing it really make?

    Look, its not that big a deal. You want to be right more than I do, I think, so in all likelihood you’re going to win this argument. I realize that this is a matter that won’t be settled. But hey, feel free to argue back if you want.

    Oh, and bonez – the link wouldn’t work on my computer. Are you sure it’s the correct address?

  • «bønez_brigade»

    The link tag doesn’t work so well here, in that it tries to append the closing double-quote [“] to the link itself; so, I inserted a space after the link & before the 2nd double-quote as a work-around (which worked for my browser [FF3.x]).

    So, anyway, try this one. Or, copy-paste (or click) the following:

  • Aj

    Why on earth would anyone want to earn your respect?

    …but I do not belittle them for it.

    Do you even try to read what other people write or do you just randomly pick words and construct your own sentences? Not only that, but I’ve already corrected the same mistake. When did I write about earning my respect? I didn’t. When did I belittle anybody?

    You personalize things selectively. You’ve arbitrarily decided by dictat that some of your beliefs are not to be questioned, criticized, or ridiculed. When that happens you see that as a personal attack on you, obviously because not obeying your decrees is highly offensive.

    I mean, what does it matter anyway? What difference would changing it really make?

    What’s the harm?

    I’m all for earning people’s respect, but only when they have already earned mine.

    That really says it all.

  • jb

    Here’s another one worth a look- The First Morning.
    Written by Barry Weber; an Obama supporter, accepts evolution (I hate using the words ‘believes in’ when it comes to evolution) not afraid to criticize mainstream religion…

  • Avatar1

    I’m a Christian and I came here out of curiosity. I wanted to know what atheists talk about. I’ve discovered it’s a waste of time. It’s just the same old bickering and belittling of others I find on any site on any subject. I’ve never been on a Christian blog so I’ll see if it’s the same there. From what I’ve heard here most of them don’t criticize other Christians. So hopefully I yet may be able to find a site where one can have a decent discussion without someone trying to boost their own ego by denigrating someone else.

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