“Dear Atheists, We Ex-Muslims Are Waiting For You” June 26, 2012

“Dear Atheists, We Ex-Muslims Are Waiting For You”

Reddit user zulaikha_idris makes a good point:

Dear Atheists, we ex-muslims are waiting for you guys to get over Christianity and start waging war against Islam for a change. Yeah, sure it’s really fun and all bashing the Bible, fundies, priests, young earthers, the pope, etc, but really don’t you guys think that it’s time to shift at least some attention to Islam?

We ex-muslims are a very small minority, and there’s really nothing we can we really do to change anything. We can’t form orgnaizations or voice our thoughts in most Muslim countries. We practically have no rights whatsoever besides the right to go to jail or be hanged or beheaded for our blasphemy.

But the voice of millions of atheists like all of you would significantly help us. It brings into world attention our plight, and all the horrible things Islam is responsible for, and how it has oppressed and destroyed many of our lives. It would at least help change some laws that would benefit us ex-muslims.

I heard that Ayaan Hirsi Ali (an exmuslim) has replaced Hitchens as the one of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism. Maybe this is a cue that we need to concentrate more against the Religion of Peace?

To be fair, many atheist activists have spent time bashing Islam but it’s not nearly enough. While Christianity still deserves our attention since it’s the dominant faith in America, the role of Islam around the world demands our action.

As it is practiced around the world, Islam is a consummation of all the worst that religion has to offer:

  • Cult-like isolation from other world views means generation after generation is born into ignorance.
  • Circumcision of boys and girls because healthy children aren’t born perfect; they must have a knife taken to their genitals.
  • Leaving the faith means death. Apostasy is considered one of the worst crimes.
  • Treating women as sub-human pieces of property that must be beaten into obedience means at least half the population is silenced before they can speak.
  • Personalized angel duo watches you at every moment, keeping a tally of all the good and bad you do so that you can be judged when you die.
  • Reward of heaven is used as an incentive to kill and maim innocent people.
  • Unyielding dogma leaves no room for thoughtful criticism nor humor.
  • Islam means Submission. They want to be slaves to their god; it’s right there in the name.

This is not a religion of peace and we need to be more vocal about calling Muslims out when they perpetuate this lie. Moderate Muslims are softer on some of these points but still adhere to them enough to represent a very broken belief system.

At a recent street fair, I found myself debating Muslims in the booth next to the Seattle Atheists’ booth. They seemed like nice people but one of the men wouldn’t even shake my hand — out of “respect,” he said.

Is there a way to call out these “minor” episodes of dogmatic thinking to moderate Muslims in a way that fosters dialogue with them?

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  • Gunstargreen

    The thing most of us live in Christian countries and there isn’t really anything we could say or do to influence policy in Islamic countries. We’re having a hard enough time influencing policy in our own countries against Christianity which is the immediate threat to our laws and our way of life.

    Don’t get me wrong, we recognize all of the problems that people face at the hands of Islam and we do speak out about it but we’re not really in a position that can change those theocracies.

    If we can change the way our country views religion though, maybe we’ll be in a better position to change how the world views it.

  • One problem is that significant parts of the political Left has turned this into a topic of Race rather than Reason.  The label of “racist” is thrown around with such abandon that few are willing to risk it.  Also, the political Right’s version of anti-Islam comes from anything but Reason (Religious rivalry), and few are willing to risk guilt by association.  That is to say nothing of actual threats of violence from Islamic fundies, though it is comparatively benign in North America.

  • I’m outspoken in my criticism of all religion. But from a practical standpoint, there’s only so much I can do, only so much time I have. Islam is a minor threat to me compared with Christianity. And more to the point, I have a degree of political influence over these matters in the U.S., but little or none over matters in other countries. So while I’ll vocally support atheists everywhere, and condemn foreign countries which operate in ways that violate my personal code of ethics, I have to be realistic in choosing my battles.

    Ultimately, change in any country as to come from within. It is good to see that happening recently in several Islamic nations, and I certainly support the efforts of my own government in facilitating such change.

  • I_Claudia

    Dear Muslims,

    We atheists who do not hail from Muslim backgrounds or countries understand the special challenges you face against religious cultures that are largely much more conservative and violence prone than our own. We deeply admire those who are able to break free and still have courage left over to speak out, often at considerable risk to their own safety.

    Though it is undoubtedly true that atheists in predominately Christian countries should lend their support to their formerly Muslim brethren, you must understand that there quite understandable reasons why we center our attention on the Christian fundamentalists.

    Though not universal, there is at least a plurality of understanding in the community that Muslim fundamentalists are in practice more dangerous than Christian fundamentalists, but for most western atheists, the latter are more of a problem. Jupiter is far more massive than the moon, but the moon is much closer and thus creates the tides. While Muslim fundamentalists are clearly dangerous, the average American or European atheist will be far more affected by laws and attitudes stemming from the much tamer but much closer Christian fundamentalists. Please understand that people relate more strongly to those things that affect them personally.

    For many of us, there is also a high premium placed on not lending involuntary support to those with bigoted and racist views. Muslim communities in the West are already viewed with suspicion and treated as if they were all sympathetic to terrorists, often by the very same people who view atheists with suspicion and treat us as if we were amoral nihilists. Opposing religion is important, and opposing violence absolutely essential, but understand that many of us want to take a slightly more cautious stance, lest we end up supporting those that view all of you as suspicious brown people.

    None of this is to say that the plight of former Muslims is to be ignored. Certainly attention should be paid. Strong ties should be established between the ex-Muslim community and the wider non-theist community, so we ensure we don’t leave ex-Muslims by the wayside and to learn how to address Islam in a way that does not contribute to unfair prejudice against peaceful Muslim individuals. Just please understand that our home-front is not with Islam as it is for you.

  • I think the issue stems from the fact that those of us who aren’t actually ex-Muslims have less credibility with Muslims.  We as a group should definitely lend our support to those who’ve left Islam, and should be willing to speak out against Islamic religious superstition as much as we do Christianity.  But to the Muslims, our words won’t matter as much.  You really need an Ayaan Hirsi Ali or an Ibn Warraq to get Muslims themselves to prick up their ears and listen.

  • ganner918

    I responded in that thread saying that while we certainly can’t ignore Islam, we have the most knowledge of our own culture and the religions of our culture, and we can have the most impact within our own culture. As an outsider, it’s hard for us to drive change within a foreign culture. The change, largely, has to come from within. We can sit over here and criticize and debate, but what good does it do? Europeans can have a greater effect, with larger Muslim populations there, but even then I feel that ex-muslims can be 10 times as effective at causing change within their communities than others can.

  • Forrest Cahoon

    Here in America, the stunning bigotry of some Christians against American Muslims often makes it seem important to defend Muslims’ essential humanity, and leave addressing their religious delusions for another day.

    Christina Rad addresses this conundrum (I hope my link to a place in the middle of this video works):


  • Things Western atheists can do:

    1) We can listen to ex-Muslims, and amplify their voices.

    2) We can provide a safe place for ex-Muslims, up to and including sanctuary for ex-Muslims facing fatwahs.

    Things we cannot do:

    1)  We can’t speak directly to the lived experience of ex-Muslims and apostates living in or fleeing from majority Muslim countries.

    2) We can’t form a reasoned critique of contemporary Islam based on reading translations of the Koran and reading wire-service news items.

    One thing I wish more atheists spoke to is the history (recent history!) of the changes in the complexion of Islam that have occurred in just the last 40 years or so, most of which is blowback from U.S Cold War policy of propping up corrupt royal families and military dictators, and suppressing democratic trends in the Muslim world.

    Remember when the biggest threat the Western world faced from Islamic nations was “creeping Socialism”? I do, and I’m only 48. The past is another country.

    Islam pretends to be some ancient text-based religion, and for folks under 40, contemporary Islamism is all they’ve ever known. But the forms of Islam we see today (fatwahs, terrorism, FGM, etc.) are actually recent practices — just as contemporary Fundamentalism in the US only really began during the Reagan era.

    The religious threats that global atheists face in the 21st century are new. Our problem isn’t Bronze-Age texts and medieval theology. Our problem with religion is the politicization of religion in a post-Cold War world.

  • Rick Wigton

      I thought the comments here were all very well thought out and reasonable & I agree with all of them. But if Imay add my 2 cents worth. My concern is that if we start attacking the tenents of Islam too vigorously that it will give encouragement to the nutcases on the Religious Right to amp up their hatred of everything Muslim. Vandalism against mosques could increase as could attacks on individual Muslims. I would prefer that former Muslims take on the task of taking on their former faith as opposed to former Christians turned atheists attacking Islam. (It would have a lot more impact.)
      I also agree that fundamentalist Islam is the more violent cousin of fundamentalist Christianity. Both are dangerous in my view but since this nation is overwhelmingly Christian we should be more focused on the wackos we have here than the ones overseas.
       As an aside I would like to point out that even the beliefs of “nice” Muslims can cause problems. Let me explain. I volunteer  on a crisis line and I recently met a fellow volunteer who happened to be a devout Muslim. (She wore the traditional scarf on her head.)  When we were introduced I went to shake her hand but she politely  demurred saying that it was against her religion to touch a man who was not a family member. I remember thinking how silly that was and I wondered what she would do if I had a heart attack in front of her and required CPR.  Would she not touch me for fear of “offending” Allah? These are the kinds of beliefs that cause problems.    

  • T-Rex

    outside of apostasy, that list reads very much like an evangelical christian list of idiocy.

  • ortcutt

    I’m not so much opposed to religion per se as I am to religious privilege and violations of state secularism.  And given that I live in the United States, religious privilege is predominantly Christian (and Jewish somewhat) privilege.  You don’t see Muslims expecting to have Ramadan displays on government property.  You don’t see Muslims insisting on Muslim prayers at public school board meetings. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Islam is false and harmful, but Muslims makes up less than one percent of the US population.  Some people may call than parochial, but the threats to secularism in the US are the ones that concern me most.

  • Earli

    Circumcision of children was ruled illegal today in Germany.

  • Stev84

    There are also Christian sects that officially condemn apostates. Jehova’s Witnesses are one the better known examples. People who leave the cult are shunned by everyone.

    Or take Calvinist cults like Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill. They also practice shunning and are far from the only ones.

  • MsLeading

    As several other commenters have mentioned, it’s very difficult as a white American to criticize Islam in general or radical Muslims in particular, because of the very heavy confound with racism it has here.  Although there are certainly plenty of non-white fundamentalist Christians, Christian evangelism in the States just isn’t embroiled with race in our cultural context the same way that Islam is.  Criticism of Islam more often gets bogged down in issues of cultural sensitivity and ethnocentrism and American imperialism than actually making any coherent progress against the religion itself.

    It’s seriously unfortunate, but the fact is that we’re living in a culture that’s just permeated by crap like post-9/11 fear of brown people and “wars on terror,” which creates this two-headed problem of conservative racism disguised as anti-extremism or American patriotism, and the liberal response of hyper-sensitivity to Muslim culture which ends up excusing an awful lot of unacceptable things.

    As white secular folks trying to fight against religious extremism in general, it’s a nearly impossible line to walk.  Which is why for now, most of the criticism of Islam has to come from people who have firmer ground to stand on, primarily ex-Muslims themselves.  Like I said, it sucks and we should continue to work against it, but that’s the reality we’re in right now.

  • The Other Weirdo

     On the other hand, does it really matter if some Leftist idiots call us racist?

  • The Other Weirdo

     So you propose to do nothing because to do otherwise might incite some random people to violence? Congratulations. You’ve already been defeated.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Sorry, should’ve also added, why didn’t you ask her if she would save you from a heart attack? Not asking just encourages them to continue believing the same old thing without self-reflection.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Amazing. You’ve managed to blame one country for the entire world’s problems.

  • MsLeading

    Yeah, it does, because it lowers our credibility with people who are otherwise mostly our allies.  But more than that, my point is really that criticisms of Islam so often just turn into endless defenses that it’s not about race, etc.  It’s so easily and powerfully derailed by the race issue that it makes it a huge waste of time.  In this case, we really need voices with more authority to take up this issue – because as white American, I personally have very little authority on Islam – and, like Ernest Valdemar just said, our job is to do our best to support and encourage those voices.

  • advancedatheist

    This looks like a job for applied cognitive science. We just need to find ways to interfere with children’s indoctrination into Islam, and the problem will go away in a generation.

    And we have already seen natural experiments along these lines. Just look at American youngsters’ obsessive interests in Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games. They have even shown willingness to defy their parents’ prohibitions, often based on religious objections, against immersing themselves into these fantasy worlds, while they certainly don’t display that sort of enthusiasm towards learning about Jesus. 

  • T-Rex

    I was referring to the killing part. I realize there are quite a few cults that insist on making the lives of former members miserable. That’s why I hate all religions equally.

  • dangeroustalk

    First off, I don’t “bash” anyone. I criticize ridiculous and dangerous ideas. Second, I have very good reasons for focusing on Christianity: http://exm.nr/IGSp42

  • Newlykate

    As an American, I am much more concerned about Christianity’s impact on our country than Islam. Christianity has a stranglehold on American politics, media, and popular thought. It is a very tough foe to face. Why waste time fighting a smaller, more insignificant foe?

  • Rick Wigton

    Good point. But the introduction was brief and I had neither the time nor the energy to engage her in a theological debate. Perhaps I will bring it up if/when I see her again.

  • Rick Wigton

     Well I didn’t say do nothing. I was just worried about giving the haters more ammo against a group that is a tiny minority in this country.  I think we DO need to speak up against any and all religious nonsense but I am just worried about other people’s safety since they are, as I said, a minority in this country which makes them easy to persecute.

  • If I wanted to have more to say about Islam, I’d have to do some research.  I simply don’t know all that much about it, and I bet I’m not the only one held back by that simple barrier.  But yeah, maybe it’s time to do some more reading and thinking about this.

  • jdm8

    Some of that is deserved.  That’s the consequence of decades of meddling in the affairs of others.    Al Queda’s predecessor was aided by the CIA.  Bin Laden was on “our side” at that time, but that was only an alliance of convenience.  The US propped up Egypt’s Mubarak despite it being clear that he was an evil man.  The US aided Saddam Hussein in the 80’s.  The CIA helped overthrow a functioning democracy in Iran in the 50’s, propped up an unpopular and ruthless Shah, and that might be why we have an anti-American Ayatollah.

  • Shows that even the more advanced nations can slide backwards when it comes to medical rights and science-based decision making.

  • Quazz

    Yeah, genital mutilation should clearly be legal… Are you trolling?

    And please do not post that horrible study on STDs in relation to circumcision, that study had horrible methodology that makes the results absolutely useless. 

  • Tom

    Do you also worry about attacking the tenets of Christianity in your own country, for fear of further egging on other countries to persecute the minority Christian groups over there?

    Violent, hateful people always find reasons to do harm, whether they’re playground bullies or theocratic despots.  If you don’t give them a reason, they’ll manufacture one.  If they can’t even do that for some reason, they’ll pick a target at random.  By refusing to act for fear of giving such people an excuse to hurt others, you actually imply that they’d somehow be justified in their action if you did provide one; you take responsibility for the decisions made by others.  It’s just a variant of the thought process that leads to victim blaming, and you shouldn’t think like that.

    We seem to see this well-meaning but highly naive and unhealthy mindset in an ever increasing number of places in modern society, from the relatively mundane (for example, schools that refuse to inspect for and treat lice infestations, for fear that the infected kids will be bullied, sending the implicit message that having nits is a valid reason to be bullied and also allowing the infestations to spread unchecked) to things that are seriously toxic to a safe, free, healthy society (“helpful” advice to women on how to avoid being raped, etc).

    The only person responsible for rape is the rapist, the only person responsible for bullying is the bully, the only person responsible for hatred is the hater.  Limiting your own actions in the hope of not provoking such people to act only hands more power to them in the long run.

  • Not at all. I think it’s a bona fide medical procedure, not mutilation, that has multiple health benefits (including public health benefits), and it should be a decision made by parents and doctors, not by the government.

  • The Other Weirdo

     If people who are mostly our allies believe every single label that gets bandied about by various vested interests, I’m not really sure i want them as my allies. Our job shouldn’t be to surrender to bullying and dialog-blocking, but instead be upfront about our opinions. If they upset some people, and those people react by calling us racists, maybe just maybe that will light a fire under someone’s ass and make them consider the situation. Otherwise, we’re having dialog within parameters enforced by both Left and Right, and aren’t allowed to move beyond those parameters. But that’s not dialog, that’s ideological surrender.

  • Atheists are doing a “threat assesment” based on the greatest religious threat in their specific location.  For most atheist, that means the main target will be Christianity.  However, type of threat also matters.  Whereas Christians want to teach creationism in my school, a local muslim in my area tried to blow up a christmas tree lighting with the hope of murdering hundreds of innocent participants.  While muslims are a tiny minority in my area, they still managed to produce a dangerous radical. 

  • honestabe

    Right, because the child actually getting his or her genitals cut shouldn’t have any part in that decision. 

  • The Other Weirdo

    In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the most attacked group in the US turned out to be Hindus, because the people stupid enough to engage in that sort of thing turned out to be too stupid to know the difference between Hindus and Muslims. Congratulations, Rick. You’ve just managed to effect complete surrender of your autonomy to complete morons. On Star Trek, they get defeated by an stupid-looking light show. In modern times, they are rewarded.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Incredible. You’ve just managed to state the completely obvious without any sign of understanding why these things were going on.

  • Not if there are valid medical reasons for it, which there arguably are. It’s no different than the prophylactic removal of tonsils.

    I simply don’t see this as being something the government rightfully has a role in prohibiting. It isn’t a medical procedure without value, or without purpose. If it were cultural only (like female circumcision) I’d see it differently. But that isn’t the case here.

  • Sinchsw

    To be clear, it was illegal if done for religious reasons.

  • Although I’m no fan of any surgical procedure on children performed solely for religious reasons, that doesn’t make the law much better in my view. It’s probably unenforceable if anybody can simply make a medical claim, and in general, trying to distinguish between “valid” and “invalid” reasons for allowing medical procedures just puts the wrong kind of decision making in the wrong hands. I don’t see it as different from lawmakers deciding the conditions under which somebody can use birth control, or get an abortion.

  • All of those things you said are false. There is evidence that an uncircumsized penis is at a deficit in numerous ways. Whatever you’ve been reading is wrong. Science wins.

  • It’s actually a major decision about personal genitals that an adult must live with that only an adult should make.

    As I said above, all of science refutes what you are saying. the foreskin provides lubrication, and the stuff underneath contains an anti-bacterial. There is no evidence that uncircumsized penii suffer from more infections on average. 

    It’s basically unnecessary. Unless you are saying evolution didn’t take millions of years fashioning what we are born with. 

    Don’t trust me, trust science — foreskins are meant to be there. The end. No backsies. You’re wrong.

  • Forrest Cahoon


    Amazing. You’ve managed to blame one country for the entire world’s problems.

    He just mentioned one factor affecting one of the world’s many problems. Your outrageous exaggeration is a form of trolling, right?

  • Kodie

     My impression of the common anti-Muslim sentiment in the US is that they hate us and want to kill us. I don’t generally hear criticisms of their other policies. That pretty much sums up why it’s difficult in this situation. I’m against them all for their policies, but I also believe in religious freedom. So Muslims can build a mosque – that’s religious freedom. Christians think it is disrespectful or scary? So I side with a Muslim to build their mosque and side against a Christian with the double-standard. I side against Christians who make threats of violence to Muslims or Hindus or brown people who seem too “Muslim” (like the president) or abortion doctors, etc., and I side against Muslims who make threats of violence to Christians or Americans or cartoonists, etc. What they each do inside their own homes or communities to fulfill their religious beliefs is part difference of opinion to me and part disgusting and should end. I do not choose to hate religions on the basis they are nearer to me or more common – Muslims DO have consequences on US policies. Laws are made based on fear of Muslims, young people go to war and don’t come back because of Muslims. Christians want to impose their beliefs on us from the inside; Muslims also want to terrorize us into enacting laws that inhibit the freedoms we were founded upon. 

    I do not believe in stopping religion. I do oppose many things religious people believe, especially if it has consequences of harm on someone else. Like stoning someone. Or prohibiting medical procedures. Or filling a young child’s head with garbage and paranoia. That’s not healthy. Atheism is for everyone who wants it, and atheism should be more diverse, more concerned about the power of religion in all the world. “They” don’t live only “over there” anymore, out of sight, out of mind. I don’t divide my a-theism or what, to me, are ridiculous beliefs. They are all ridiculous, some are more dangerous than others, and apostates from all religions are welcome to their voice in atheism.

    I sort of disagree with being “challenged” by some ex-Muslims. If you have something to say, join in the conversation, broaden the scope of what you now perceive atheism to be. Don’t stand on some side of a fence and call us out for having too narrow a focus.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    The key difference is that adults have a say whether they’re going to use birth control or have an abortion.

    Circumcisions on infants and children are done without consideration of what the man or woman would choose as adults. Many parents see it as their decision what should be done to the genitals of their children because of their own religious beliefs.

  • Fatpie42

     Are you saying that it’s EASY to demonstrate to medical professionals that a male child or person in your care has a medical issue related to their penis so that they will then arrange a procedure to remove the foreskin?

    I find this difficult to believe. If a child is perfectly healthy, medical professionals are generally not going to elect to perform surgery on them.

    Of course, the problem here is not the use of the procedure per se, but rather the decision to perform the procedure on children who are too young to consent and for whom the procedure is entirely unnecessary.

  • jdm8

    Those aren’t obvious facts, they’re often ignored or forgotten.

    I understand the whys, some of those reasons may be considered justifiable, but others weren’t.

  • Fatpie42

     There aren’t medical reasons for using the procedure on a completely healthy person. There are (rare) cases where male circumcision treats a specific health issue. However, if you are talking about the idea that circumcision is somehow a ‘preventative’ measure then those studies have all been shown bogus and, even if taken at face value, only ever suggested negligible benefits in the first place.

    And how is male genital mutilation any less ‘cultural’ than female genital mutilation? Is it because FGM tends to geographically located, whereas male circumcision is specifically demanded by major religious groups worldwide? (If your point is that male circumcision is not limited to followers of religions, then that’s not really a difference at all. Whether FGM is seen as a religious practice or not depends on the region because it is mostly a cultural practice, as in a practice that has become popular within particular cultures or groups of people. It’s the same with circumcision.)

  • Fatpie42

     Whereas you’ve shown SO much understanding in that one sentence, so I can see why you are justified in your condescending remarks.

    But seriously… if you have so much more understanding, how about demonstrating a little bit of it, eh?

  • Forrest Cahoon


    If [our opinions] upset some people, and those people react by calling us racists,
    maybe just maybe that will light a fire under someone’s ass and make
    them consider the situation.

    In my experience, a confrontational approach is more likely to make people defensive and double down on their irrational beliefs.

    I think the misperception that all criticism of Islam is racist must be addressed, but can really only be addressed effectively by “people of color”, because only they can deflect the racism charge.

    So the rest of us who are too white and possibly too male just have to support them, and it will be a long slow process, but the tide of opinion will eventually turn.

  • Fatpie42

     I think the real issue here is “who are the leaders?”

    We can pick out the Pope pretty easily as a figure with widespread influence and clear lines of authority.

    Islam though?

    There are foreign regimes which our governments should put more pressure on because of their human rights abuses, so no change there.

    However, in terms of religious leaders in Islam, there’s not much that can be picked out.

    In spite of the problems with legitimising sharia courts, that does at least involve some attempts to ensure that rulings don’t undermine statuatory rights. Whether going through arbitration or just using independent sharia courts, the influence is mostly through peer pressure. What we have there is problems with a somewhat right-wing and conservative cultural movement, not with an organisation with a clear hierarchy.

    To look at one of the points in the OP, it’s notable that the more extreme Muslims are often the younger ones who understand better than previous generations the culture in which they live. The idea that it is just a matter of cultural isolation (in Western countries at least) simply doesn’t gel with the facts.

    Killing apostates is still murder. I don’t think there’s any fear of us anyone not caring about murder, so I don’t really what we are supposed to do about that issue.

    The final four points in the list in the OP are all issues with Christianity too. Christians believe God is watching and recording your actions. Christians have killed in the name of their religion before and it’s not strange to see some even in modern times linking current wars with religious duty. (Suicide bombing is actually primarily a political act, albeit with a gloss from cultural religious ideas. Just as Martin Luther King’s promotion of peaceful protest had a Christian gloss, while peaceful protest has occurred in non-Christian contexts before and since.)  Dogma and submission are both problems with Christianity too and the term “submission” means little different in Islam from the idea of being filled with the holy spirit in Christianity. The basic gist is doing what you believe your religion demands rather than following selfish impulses, which is fine so long as none of your religious ideas and practices are destructive to yourself or others.

    I think zulaikha_idris could do with following up with some more practical action-points.

  • Dubliner

    About time some civilised country outlawed this barbaric practice. People who try to justify the tradition make me sick. It’s no different from chopping of a babies little toe. If a religious sect or some other kooky group decided they wanted to start a toe chopping tradition no doubt you’d still have people  (even atheists) who think they are perfectly within their rights. Such people see children as little more than the property of their parents rather than individuals with their own rights to bodily integrity.

  • BC

    >  “Circumcision of boys and girls because healthy children aren’t born perfect; they must have a knife taken to their genitals.”

    Be careful how you phrase that because it’s trivial for the anti-vax crowd to use that to their own advantage – e.g. “because healthy children aren’t born perfect; they need vaccine injections”.  The whole “healthy children are born perfect” idea is non-skeptical claptrap and shouldn’t be used on skeptical or atheist sites.

  • BC

    There’s no good evidence that an uncircumcised penis is deficient in any way – if you read up on it, the evidence is completely mixed: 

    Personally, I think the “uncircumcised penis” movement is lead by a whole bunch of whiney men looking for a reason to feel victimized.

  • LeetroyJnkns

    Proposed Anthem of /r/Atheism:

    A lot of you seem to be taking offence because you think of this as semi serious or nationalistic. This is [what](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwERapuM17k) inspired me. This is not something to be taken too seriously. 

    >United forever in friendship and laughter, 

    >Our mighty subreddits will ever endure. 

    >The great Atheist Union will live through the ages. 

    >The dream of a people their forum secure. 




    >Long live our Atheist Cyberland, typed by the people’s mighty hands. 

    >Long live our People, united and free. 

    >Strong in our friendship tried by fire. Long may our scarlet tag inspire, 

    >Shining in glory for all people to see. 



    >Through days dark and stormy where Great Hitchens led us 

    >Our eyes saw the bright sun of freedom above 

    >and Dawkins our Leader with faith in the People, 

    >Inspired us to build up the site that we love. 




    >Long live our Atheist Cyberland, typed by the people’s mighty hands. 

    >Long live our People, united and free. 

    >Strong in our friendship tried by fire. Long may our scarlet tag inspire, 

    >Shining in glory for all people to see. 



    >We fought for the future, destroyed the troll flamers, 

    >and brought to our cyberland the Laurels of Fame. 

    >Our glory will live in the memory of Reddit 

    >and all generations will honour our name.




    >Long live our Atheist Cyberland, typed by the people’s mighty hands. 

    >Long live our People, united and free. 

    >Strong in our friendship tried by fire. Long may our scarlet tag inspire, 

    >Shining in glory for all people to see. 

  • Dear zulaikha_idris,

    Thank you for your correspondence. Our movement would like to schedule the ex-Muslims for summer 2013. We are currently dealing with the pressing issue of people propositioning people in public but are happy to try slot Islam in for the next season.



  • anon101

    I think there is a
    significant divide between the US and Europe. I think objectively in
    the US Christianity is the bigger problem whereas in Europe Islam is
    at least equally important as Christianity.

  • I disagree about the science. I’m a professional scientist, and I’m competent to read and understand studies. My own view is that the evidence is compelling that circumcision has many health benefits, both personal and public. I certainly don’t consider an argument from evolution to be compelling: evolution most definitely does not produce optimally “designed” organisms. We are born with all sorts of things that are compromises or outright sources of problems. Much of the medical treatment we receive over our lives will deal with “design” flaws that evolution left us with.

    Everybody is, of course, free to reach their own conclusions. But it is important to recognize that this is an example where there is no consensus- many physicians consider circumcision to be beneficial, and many do not. I firmly believe that in any case where there is significant medical debate, the government should stay out of it. If doctors can’t decide, I know darn well that politicians can’t.

  • Many medical procedures are performed on children that might be contrary to their philosophical views when they grow up.

    As long as there is a valid medical justification for a procedure (which there is in the case of circumcision) I think it needs to remains a decision between the parents and a physician, not politicians.

  • Many medical professionals are convinced that circumcision is a proper and wise prophylactic procedure. There’s no need to convince them of anything.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    What valid medical justification are you referring to? I know there are cases when it’s necessary but the way you’re saying it, all circumcisions are medically justified.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    Having a portion of your genitals cut off against your will seems like a pretty legitimate reason to feel victimized.

  • I believe the evidence that circumcision significantly reduces HIV and HPV transmission is compelling, and that it facilitates male hygiene. I also think that there’s significant evidence linking male circumcision to reduced incidence of cervical cancer in their sexual partners.

    That, combined with nothing that leads me to believe the procedure has significant negative consequences, means that I would choose to have my child circumcised. If I lived in Germany and was unable to do so, I’d drive across the border. I think the benefits significantly outweigh any risks or negative factors.

    I would not seek to impose that view on others. But given the large number of doctors who share my view, as well as the recommendations of the WHO and other health organizations, I think it is folly for the procedure to be restricted by politicians- as much so as restricting abortions or contraception.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    There is not a shred of evidence that suggests female circumcision prevents HPV or HIV in women and girls, nor does it help with hygiene.The studies that suggest male circumcision reduces the risks of HIV are very flawed and I find them unconvincing. Even if they had been reliable studies, proper condom use still remains the best way to prevent transmission of HIV. And if you want your children to be safe from HPV, get them vaccinated with Gardasil.

  • Dfujvd

    Go with what you know. That’s why I target christianity.

  • I didn’t remotely suggest that female circumcision carries any medical value. I do find the studies supporting the merit of male circumcision to be convincing, as do many physicians. Which is why I don’t see this as something the government should be legislating.

  • It’s like the appendix. Or the gallbladder. Nice to have, yes, but you don’t need one to live.

  • amycas

     What are the health benefits? Both personal and public? And how do you know this?

  • Dear Muslims,

    Thank you for your letter. It does mean a lot to us that you’re out there fighting against religious oppression.

    Unfortunately, while you’re fighting over there and afraid to be tortured or beheaded, we’re fighting Christians over here, afraid to be called names by very stupid people. The reason is that we think that the color of your skin actually does matter, or we’re afraid that some people who think that it does matter will make us feel a little dirty for saying that it doesn’t.

    While we would perfectly love to help you out, we think it’s just a sad fact of life that we’re not allowed to help “brown people” because we’re “too white” to do so and might be taken for the wrong kind of person. After all, isn’t the motive more important than the actual help we could give?

    You see, it’s really perception which matters to us. And while we’re trying to communicate rational ideas every single day, and trying to redefine terms which were hijacked by others, we feel unequipped to communicate rational ideas about other things outside of the anti-Christian domain. We feel that when it comes to educating people about rational ideas outside of the Christian world, we don’t really have anything to say about it and, frankly, you’re just on your own. It’s bad enough that we get called names by Christians, but we feel that we can handle that, just as we feel that you can handle the threats of torture and death on your end.

    I’d also like to point out that a lot of people on our side feel…uncomfortable criticizing what is a minority in our country, even though it’s a majority in the rest of the world with imperialistic goals. While we think of ourselves as “humanists” for the most part, we feel as if it isn’t our place to venture beyond our borders for any reason whatsoever – including the promotion of better ideals. Once again, that could be construed as being “Imperial”, and we would rather see religion win than be accused of being “judgmental”.

    You see, while we were gazing at our own navels for a few decades, and saying how stupid and evil we are, the right-wing racists took over the conversation on one side. And now, we’re rather squeamish about trying to get it back. After all, we don’t really believe in conflict with any group or people, including people who are wrong just about all of the time – such as racists. It has very little to do with you and more about how we “feel” about things. Because, as we all know, “feelings” are the most important thing in the world.

    That’s why we “feel” for your plight, but can’t see any way of helping you. I’m so terribly sorry. If you were a woman who was being raped in the street, we might actually call the police if it was happening on our block. But if we were, say, on the west side and it was happening, for example, in central park, we might have some problems figuring out whose line of demarcation this falls under without stepping on too many toes. You see our problem, don’t you?

    I’d like to point out that some of us *have* been going on about Islam for a while, but they usually get shouted down or simply ignored. Then we politely tell them that it’s really none of our business and we’d rather just worry about our own little block instead of the larger world community.

    We’re just…the wrong skin color to really worry about your problems. I’m so sorry. Maybe we can try again in a few generations. You might not be around, of course, but feel comforted that we do think of you from time to time and, when we figure out our own little hangups, we’ll try to take on the broader and more important issues and actually practice what we preach about humanity.

    Until then, don’t lose your heads! Let’s do lunch sometime.


    Sensitive and caring atheists.

  • i think you have no idea what you are talking about…

    within the historically christian countries in europe my guess (and it’s probably an overestimate) is that muslims account for about 5% of the population.

    how can “Islam [be] at least equally important as Christianity” in europe then?

    typical blind yank.

  • *slow clap*

  • Sylvain Lersch

    My understanding is that the German law prohibits the procedure if done for religious reasons, but not when it is medically necessary.

  • Ramon Casha

    Many  of us are not just atheists but ex-Christians. This means that we know the scriptures, we know their flaws, we know their arguments,and so on. This allows me to even use their own Bible to prove them wrong. I have a very superficial knowledge of Islam by comparison. Ex-Muslims are best suited to debate Muslims, but I do debate them from time to time.

  • Gunstargreen

    The only “personal” benefits come from the fact that we live in a society where so many people are circumcised and that would be the case if we stopped doing it.

  • Gunstargreen

    I don’t have a colon or need it to live but that doesn’t mean I wanted to lose it.

  • ErickaMJohnson

     I see your point. Maybe a better phrasing would have been, “because healthy, disease-free children need to have elective surgery to modify their genitals.” It’s more awkward in the wording but more specific to my intent.

  • Jimbo

    Some of the excuses listed amoung these comments made me feel a little ill.

    This has a lot to do with a very strange direction taken recently by liberals.  Liberalism used to be all about equal rights and freedom.  Now it’s aobut cultural relitavism at any cost.  We’re supposed to respect the religious views of migrants even if that means turning a blind eye to sharia courts and honour killing.

    If you disagree with this direction, you’re associated fascists anti-Islam groups and branded a racist.

    You are quite right to question the lack of support from western atheists and I emplore you to also take this argument to the greater liberal movement and also western feminists.

  • John

    Only religious people view atheists as being at war with them. A true atheist with solid ethics does not seek war with anyone, but rather a greater understanding. That understanding leads me to believe the greatest obstacle may be in keeping people ignorant. Atheism thrives amongst the intelligent (not same as educated), and often the older who live in a free society where they are able to think and express freely, and so enter dialogues conducive to logic and truth. People indoctrinated through fear, coercion or force are likely to cling to their faith or deny their own atheism. Those who impose religion on others do so out of fear for their own mortality – that if enough people agree with them, then what they believe is more likely to be true.

    Conversion to atheism cannot be effected by force or ridicule or ‘missionary work’. True atheists come to their own realizations through self evident logical and clear thinking. Addressing these issues will likely engender far more positive results, I would think.

  • I will translate this for the hispanic community, sharing the link of your blog of course.

  • “Please understand that people relate more strongly to those things that affect them personally.” 
    While true, this is not a good thing. This just suggests we lack empathy to set aside our own problems and focus on the vastly bigger problem of Islam, even if it doesn’t personally affect our lives. I don’t want to be that person; do you?

  • Libbie

     It should be a decision made by the person who owns the penis.  That is, the male it’s being performed on.  Can’t be made by a baby, can it?  So it needs to wait until the baby grows up and reaches the age of consent.  Germany made he right move.  And please cite your sources if you’re actually going to claim that circumcision has “multiple health benefits.”

  • Libbie

     This is like saying a woman’s clitoris is “nice to have, but you don’t need one to live.”  The foreskin contains about a third of the nerves in the penis — nerves necessary for ejaculatory control and responsible for a greater feeling of pleasure during sex.  There is no reason to remove that.  At all.  Unless it’s stenosing, which is rare, or unless the individual who owns the penis wants it removed for personal reasons.  If it’s a human rights violation for parents and doctors to remove the labia, clitoral hood, or clitoris of a girl, except when medically necessary, it’s a human rights violation for the foreskin to be removed from a boy without clear medical cause.

  • Libbie

     I meant to hit reply, not like, because I do not like your b.s. comment here one bit.

    Have you, by any chance, correlated the number of medical professionals who believe circumcision is “proper and wise” with the number of medical professionals who are religious and/or politically supportive of religious encroachments on medical practice?  If you do, you might be enlightened by the results.

  • Libbie


  • lol

  • Azmodon

    distinguish between “valid” and “invalid” reasons for allowing medical procedures just puts the wrong kind of decision making in the wrong hands”

    Apparently doctors don’t know anything about medicine…

    As an adult, if the male needs it (like my brother did) it can be done then. Outside of that there is no reason for it. Get over it

  • Azmodon

    you believe a lot of things with no evidence apparently. What are you a scientist of again?

  • No

    Because Christians are closer to sanity and not outside our reach….

  • djupp

    True atheists don’t believe there is such a thing as a true atheist.

  •  Your analogy is faulty, and your argument is based entirely on emotion rather than established medical fact.

  • DeadInHell

    His silence is illuminating.

  • Stev84

     There is no law as such.

    What the court did was weigh religious freedom against the right of bodily integrity. Both are protected by the constitution, but the latter rightfully won out.

  • Stev84

    All those studies were debunked as nonsense.

    Those effects are either non-existent or negligible.

  • Actually , in terms of world influence , Christianity is a far greater threat . While Islam is a huge problem in the middle east and has some annoying pockets in the western world , it does not reach out into every part of the world and make a huge impact like the Christians , especially the Catholic Church , Look at much of Africa ,South America ,and even the US .. on top of that 33% of the world pop is Christian while 20% is Muslim … 

  • Uhila24

    I love this post. And am glad ure out creating dialogue abs honest conversation with Muslims.

    Keep up the good work

  • Dear ex-Muslims,
    There are many of us here in the US who do rail against  Islam as well. Culturally we are dealing more intimately with christians simply because they are our largest presence and our biggest opponent. Join us, learn and yes some of will rally with you. There are many resources that will explain the fallacies of the Q’ ran and the religion ,the science we use is there for you, the debate points can be altered with little effort to set your course. Watch Dawkins, Harris Hitch on youtube. Most of it may be geared to Christianity much is neutral (so useful) some is specific. Most of all do something you may have not really done, sit down read your Q’ran like a book, front to back. Read it again, take notes, use a critical eye, delve expose contradictions, absurtities than go research the real science and history to support your view.
    I realize in many places to speak out openly may be a much higher risk for you than us. But how committed are you?  For us , most atheists use reason not hate and violence (but yes rage does come ito play) In our case the pen truly is mightier than the sword. Yes on rare occasions we take a beating, but defensive action isn’t violence. Sadly that may be very escalated for you, death and violence may be a higher risk. While we atheists avoid it, I am sure if pushed we’d assemble and fight back literally.
    Reason, Logic, Science History, and Facts..these are your greatest tools, your most effective weapons.
    We might not always be able to be there, but we are here, talk to us, we are everywhere, Facebook, Youtube, social sites and message boards.

  • Joe Bruemmer77

    Hemant, you are so right. I try to reach out to those living under Islamic oppression as much as possible. We have it bad with the Christian right, but they have it worse.

  • ErickaMJohnson

     No one is saying Christianity doesn’t cause problems. Listing how much bad Christians do doesn’t reduce how much bad Muslims do.

  • A girl from Chile

    Desde mi país es casi irrelevamte, imaginen que el 70% es católico, el otro 15% protestante. Pero en realidad tienen toda la razón. Aquí haremos lo posible.

  • Deckard Cain

    after 9/11, I’ll deal with christianity first before I risk the lives of any other us citizens. sorry.

  • Christopher Thomas

    Great Article!

  • Tom

    Solving the problem on a personal level, for me, comes through hating all religion. The only religious practice I have any amount of respect for is Buddhism. That’s it. Religion is responsible for, oh I would say, 99% of world strife. Fuck them. Fuck them!

  • RedOnTheHead

    Ok, how bout this…Challenge to Ex-Islamic Muslims from oppressed countries: you pick both a physical and a virtual (meaning via the WWW or skype chat or something) place for Atheists in western societies to gather in protest on your behalf, and we can start the ball rolling for the visibility you crave. BTW, if you pick some city in Iran or Afghanista, that ain’t happening. I don’t want to be beheaded. Pick a high-profile western city like London or New York. In the meantime, most of us will battle Islamic stupidity the same way we do Xtian stupidity: when it presents itself. Just remember that in our countries, Islam isn’t the dominant religion, so naturally, we’re going to battle the Xtian stuff more often.

    On a side note, I really sympathize with you. As an American who has always had the benefits of a (generally) free society, the thought of being in a closed and oppressed one fills me with fear on many levels. Although I cannot truly understand what it is to be trapped in such desperate cirucumstances, I do respect your struggles and wish to help you.

    I believe that the issues facing your variety of religious choke-hold is a many faceted problem. First, your society and the type of intellectual stagnation it supports breeds that fundamentalist level of hatred, xenophobia and intolerance that is so prevalent in Islamic countries. Second, the West, which is filled with people who are terrified of appearing publicly “intolerant”, equate fighting the anti-humanist ideals of the Islamic religion to prejudice and bigotry. To equate these shows that not only is our society unable to understand the difference between intolerance and revolution, but that we are not collectively mentally aware of the Basic Rights of Man. That is an extreme failing of our culture and one that must be remedied before the West will be willing and able to help Islamic Fundamentalist countries join the 21st century.

    I cannot speak for all Western countries, but I can say that, in America, we are fighting a religious revolution of our own. Barely half of our country believes in scientifically proven concepts like Evolution. Christian Fundamentalists are, via propaganda, eroding the benefits brought to society by scientific knowledge. They prohibit sexual rights and education that would prevent societally and personally damaging things like STDs and teen pregnancy. Their elitest views also threaten our already precarious economic situation. They may seem like lofty problems compared to yours, but to us, these are dangrous times…and we are frightened, too.

    No matter what our struggles, believe that we are united in a common goal: to see reason and compassion triumph over irrationalism and intolerance. I cannot speak for every Atheist, but I can tell you that this one stands ready to help you in whatever way I am able, and there are many more out there just like me. The World Wide Web brings us together to fight the good fight. Keep telling us how we can help you and you will find people willing to do so. Good luck to you, my brave friends.

  • Plasma Engineer
  • ErickaMJohnson

    ¿Cuál es el otro 15%? ¿Existe una comunidad de ateos signifigant en Chile?

  •  And Mohammed thanks you for that kind break, it will give him time to train up more Jihadists to kill more Americans.

  • Ericka M. Johnson

    I  Think to be fair one has to say that the Islam practiced by one Muslim is not the same as the Islam practiced by another.   To be fair we really need to distinguish between the extremists and those Muslims who are reasonable  and rational.  Many people including Pat Condel, over generalize when it comes to Muslims as a group.  This does a lot of harm, because clearly not all of them have an interpration of their sacred text that is as incompatible with modern liberalism as Anjem Choudry.  Also he uses a lot of really bad sources for his speeches on Islam. 

    British “Dhim”bulb



    If you guys are going to criticise Islam, don’t cite misleading examples to prove your Piont. For example circumsion. This is cumpolsory for boys and not girls. Where it has been used for girls it’s due to people’s ignorance and based on cultural practices for example in Africa.
    In terms of circumsion on boys , this has been confirmed by the medical profession that it is better for males to be circumcised as it is healthier.

    You also state


    You also state that women are treated as sub humans. That is incorrect. Women and men’s roles are clearly defined in Islam. Women are given the right to property , to work , to their own money etc 1400 yrs. women in the west were only given this right in the last 100 yrs if that.
    Throughout history women have been exploited , used and abused in all societies and cultures. Even now if you watch the commercials on tv in the west , women are used as sex objects to

  • Vada

    Even if I don’t activly attack islam, I do include it with all the other non-sense and superstitious mumbo jumbo.  I feel for you and your special challenges.  It is very hard to break away from any sort of brain-washing.  Good luck and all of us here at the FB athiest communities are here to listen to your venting and learn more about islam and the damage it has inflicted on you and your fellow counrtymen and women.  Pointing out contradictory verses in the Quran for all of us to see and ad to our arsenal for our personal journey to educate theist to their folly.  Love, peace, and humanity. xoxo

  • ErickaMJohnson

    You are mistaken about circumcision being healthier for boys. It is only medically necessary in the most extreme of cases.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    In much of the Muslim world, particularly in the Islamic theocracies, women are treated as sub-human. They have to fight for a divorce while men can just demand it. If they are raped, their word does not carry the same weight in court as the rapist. And they can be raped by their husbands without any recourse because a wife’s body is considered like a field belonging to her husband for him to plow. Girls are married off against their will, often to men much older than them. They are seen as their father’s property and ownership of them is handed to these men.

    It is not like this everywhere. Fortunately, Muslim women in places like the US are treated as full people and are treated with basic human dignity. But don’t pretend what I described above isn’t true for many Muslim women around the world.

  • Liz

    didn’t shake your hand out of dhimmitude, more likely

  • Mariajohnsones

    wow really let people do what they want believe what they want its their life take your non believing behind and go straight to hell,

  • izak

    No sister more than 40 per cent of the world are muslim now check your resersh again Islam is the relegion of love of mercy of respect of building of women rights islam is the solution of our this centry problems and all the time, please iam not good in English but you can do your reserch i bet if you open your mind and read about Islam you will change your opinion about this great relegion.

  • Skitaiskadu

    I live in europe and let me put it this way. The number of  fundamentalist christians are also about 5% of the population. The rest of christianity here is not a problem, they still believe in religious freedom and that religion is a personal matter. There’s also heavy immigration from muslim countries so it won’t take many years until islam will be an even more important topic. Yet criticism is silenced by the media because it’s not “politically correct”.

  • Jacob

    you think beheading someone can be compared to some few verbal abuses form a 6 year old kid? lol

    in the UK. muslims are fucking up the country badly. especially in London. and imposing their believe to everyone and making demands to act on the shariah law. even in the UK ex muslims fear death. not by the law. but by muslims. so if islam is left to roam freely. it will be our downfall. if you think that if a woman get raped is bad.  you should call the police. that is our duty as humans. and it is also our duty to prevent murder. but it seems that you won’t care anyways. so obviously, you only care for yourself. I bet if someone you love is being raped or assaulted you will get up and stop the offender yourself before calling the police. 

    which lead us to a conclusion. it is sad that there are too many evil doers in the world. but what is catastrophic is seeing the good people do nothing against them. these poor ex muslims really need help.

  • Heeb

    Buddhists don;t have a concept of Soul at all. You are thinking of Hindus. Try again.

  • ginalex

    I know this was written awhile ago, but I am going to step up and try to voice my thoughts against ALL religions. We do tend to focus on Christianity and only recently have I heard some Atheists like Bill Maher speak out against Islam. I will do what I can, which albeit is not much but I will try.

  • realj

    Islam is more harmful than Christianity.

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