Are Atheists Terrorists?


Check out these headlines and the lead lines for the stories:

“Atheists Demand City Remove Cross in Tennessee”

The mayor of Whiteville, Tenn. said his community is under attack from a national atheist organization that is threatening to sue unless they remove a cross atop the town’s water tower.
“They are terrorists as far as I’m concerned,” said Mayor James Bellar about the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “They are alleging that some Whiteville resident feels very, very intimidated by this cross.” (From FoxNews.com)

What about this one from the website Goddiscussion.com:

“Mayor of Tennessee town calls atheists “terrorists” for wanting removal of cross on city water tower”

Tennessee hits the news again with religious controversy, this time in Whiteville, TN.   The mayor is convinced the town is under attack by atheists, and calls them “terrorists.”
The mayor doesn’t believe that anyone is offended by the cross, and isn’t afraid to say so. The mayor’s not taking the cross down, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation is threatening to sue if he doesn’t.  It doesn’t look like either side is willing to back down.

And then there is this one:

“Small-town Tennessee mayor seeks legal help to fight atheist “terrorists””

Calling aggressive out-of-state atheists “terrorists,” a small-town Tennessee mayor is asking for help defending a cross atop his town’s water tower.
“A terrorist is more than a guy that flies the planes into the building,” the mayor told Fox. “It’s anyone who can disrupt your way of living, destroy your lifestyle, cause you anxiety. It’s more than killing people. If they can disrupt your routine in life, that’s what they want to do. They are terrorists as far as I’m concerned.” (From Beliefnet.com)

Okay now. Let’s take a moment to see what definition has been developed for the terms terrorist and terrorism:

ter·ror·ism

(noun)

1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce,especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

ter·ror·ist

(noun)

1. a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities.

Now, having read these definitions, I am wondering who (by definition) would be the real terrorists?

What do you think? Do we Christians sometimes behave (by definition), as terrorists – employing terror or fear as a weapon against others who do not believe as we do, gathering in small cells or groups, and using “religion” as a shield or disguise for our activities?

I want to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please, help me understand you and let’s have an intelligent, ethical dialog. Shalom … 

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10 thoughts on “Are Atheists Terrorists?

  1. Pingback: Mayor Calls Atheists ‘Terrorists’ | Philosopher's Haze

  2. “The law of the First Amendment has not been clarified sufficiently (for this time in history) and we all need to be concerned that a movement of oppression or persecution does not begin to take place. (Think David & Goliath 😉 )

    Thank you for your input and this dialog! I am loving it!!”

    About 80% of Americans are Christian of one stripe or another. Suggesting that they should be worried about oppression or persecution due to their religious symbol being removed from a government building is, forgive me, ridiculous.

    If there is a David and Goliath scenario, then it is the ones who wish to keep the government neutral and secular that are the Davids.

    • That may be exactly who the David’s are in this case. Again, back to my original point. We live under a form of government (Democracy) in which all people (hypothetically) have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. The law of the First Amendment has not been clarified sufficiently (for this time in history) and we all need to be concerned that a movement of oppression or persecution does not begin to take place.

      Blessings!

    • Not exactly sure what you mean by this statement. I did some research on this case and here is some of what I found:

      On May 31, 2009, George Tiller, a physician from Wichita, Kansas who was nationally known for being one of the few doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions, was shot and killed by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist. Tiller was killed during a Sunday morning service at his church, where he was serving as an usher. Multiple action groups and media figures have labeled Tiller’s killing an act of domestic terrorism, and an assassination.

      Scott Roeder: In the six months before Roeder’s arrest, he said he had worked for an airport shuttle service, a party-rental shop, a convenience store and a property management enterprise.
      After his arrest, Roeder’s ex-wife, Lindsey Roeder, claimed that Roeder had been suffering from mental illness and that about the age of 20 he was diagnosed with possible schizophrenia. He had been a member of the anti-government Montana Freemen group. [Part of The Christian Patriot movement which is a movement of American political commentators and activists. They promote various interpretations of history and law with the common theme that the federal government has turned against the ideas of liberty and individual rights behind the American Revolution, and America’s Christian heritage.] After being charged with murder, a delusional Roeder frequently called an Associated Press reporter from the county jail. He complained about being treated like a criminal and about his having been characterized in other media as having been anti-government. Roeder told the reporter, “I want people to stop and think: It is not anti-government, it is anti-corrupt-government.”

      Are you comparing the two cases as anti-government or anti-religion or possibly simple over-zealous nut-jobs? 😉

  3. What fear is there?

    If the cross is legal and constitutional, then there should be zero fear, because any lawsuit brought against the town will be won.

    If they fear they will lose a lawsuit, then it is because they think or suspect the cross is illegal or unconstitutional. In which case, why should I be overly concerned that people doing something illegal are afraid of being caught at it?

    • Speaking from a pastor’s perspective here, I suspect some fear is the cost of litigation. Oftentimes small churches are barely keeping their financial house above water.

      My greater concern, and one I believe we should all be concerned with, is that if in fact there is one person intimidated by the cross on the water tower and that one person is able to to mold that community to their belief with outside legal or financial support, aren’t we all looking at a loss of basic democracy and religious freedom?

      • “is that if in fact there is one person intimidated by the cross on the water tower and that one person is able to to mold that community to their belief with outside legal or financial support”

        If that one person is speaking Constitutionally, then why should it matter that it’s only one person? Does something that is illegal or unconstituional suddenly become fine if the majority in a town support it?

        Religious freedom is not touched. It appears that this is merely removing religious expression from government supported and owned institutions. Provided it doesn’t conflict with the air space, a private person or organization can build the biggest cross they want on their own property.

      • “If that one person is speaking Constitutionally, then why should it matter that it’s only one person? Does something that is illegal or unconstituional suddenly become fine if the majority in a town support it? Religious freedom is not touched. It appears that this is merely removing religious expression from government supported and owned institutions.”

        I am thinking that what you are referring to is the First Amendment which states:

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        Furthermore, we have The Establishment Clause who’s meaning has been a point of contention among different groups and its meaning which has been interpreted differently at different times in American history. There is one view which is that the Establishment Clause erects a wall of separation between church and state, although this is a term that did not appear in the First Amendment but in a personal letter sent by Thomas Jefferson as a description of the First Amendment and its restriction on the legislative branch of the federal government, in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists (a religious minority church concerned about the dominant position of the Congregationalist church in Connecticut). [His letter actually read, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State”. ]

        Another view is that the Establishment Clause solely prevents the government from establishing a state church, not from the state publicly acknowledging God. Arguments have been made that although the separation of church and state is grounded firmly in the constitution of the United States, this does not mean that there is no religious dimension in the political society of the United States. [ Another argument is that the United States is a model for the world in terms of how a separation of church and state—no state-run or state-established church—is good for both the church and the state, and allows a variety of religions to flourish.

        This could go on for quite a bit, but suffice it to say THAT was not my original point. My point is this: we live under a form of government (Democracy) in which all people (hypothetically) have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. The law of the First Amendment has not been clarified sufficiently (for this time in history) and we all need to be concerned that a movement of oppression or persecution does not begin to take place. (Think David & Goliath ;))

        Thank you for your input and this dialog! I am loving it!!

  4. While I would not go so far as to call Christians “terrorists,” I can certainly see what you mean in this article. In fact, while reading the facts of the article, I kept getting confused and had to keep reminding myself it was the Christians calling the atheists terrorists; not the other way around.

    This reminds me of a mild version of the Crusades. A group of people doing what they think God would like, or rather, something that makes them feel good about themselves and makes them happy to see it, while shouting that the other side is the bad guy here. Don’t get me wrong; I do think the atheists have done plenty wrong in an effort to never have to be confronted by religion, but it really looks to me like the Christians in this particular case are being bullies, no different than southern whites during Jim Crowe. They’re doing it because they can, and because it makes them feel good, either holy or superior or even worshipful. I mean, seriously, it’s a cross; it is 100% a religious symbol. You can’t even hide behind the fact that the laws of this country were based on a secular understanding of the cross like you can with the 10 Commandments in their cousin lawsuits across the Bible belt. It’s an abuse of the majority status. And people wonder why Christians are hated. It’s not that we’re being biblically persecuted, it’s because people like this want to wield the cross in a hate-filled “greater than thou” manner instead of taking the deeper message of unconditional love to the people.

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