Why the “Atheist Positivity Challenge” is Wildly Misguided

In an article on Salon, Steve Neumann suggests that atheists spend too much time “gloating about the lunacy and misdeeds of specific Christians.” In an effort to halt this “unnecessary” and “counterproductive” behavior, and to “rehabilitate the reputation of atheism in America,” he has issued what he calls the Atheist Positivity Challenge (APC):

By Rachel FordFriendly Atheist

refrain from posting disparaging commentary about Christian newsmakers on Facebook and other social media sites — including blogs — for one month.

Image: Friendly Atheist

Such commentary, Neumann seems to think, is in line with Bill Maher‘s oft-quoted “religion is a neurological disorder” statement or Richard Dawkins‘ 2012 Reason Rally exhortation to “mock” and “ridicule” believers. Now there surely is some degree of irony in faulting atheists for suggesting that more extreme religious leaders are representative of believers in general, while citing two of the most outspoken atheists of our time as evidence of what is wrong with atheism in general. Still, Neumann provides an example of this “gloating” to illustrate what he has in mind. And it seems to fall significantly short of what he thinks he’s found.

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