American Atheists, a non-profit that claims to protect the rights of atheists and to ensure the "absolute separation of government and religion," always seems to find itself in the middle of controversy.
As if the most recent Ground Zero cross lawsuit the group launched isn't enough to inspire widespread angst, an explosive new blog post on the organization’s web site advocating for the “eradication” of fundamental Christians (and Islamists) is certain to make waves.
In the post, Al Stefanelli, American Atheists’ Georgia State Director, makes a bizarre connection between radical Muslims and Christians. In speaking about "fundamentalist Christian and radical Islamic doctrines," Stefanelli says that both are "dangerous, damaging and disingenuous." Throughout the blog post, he continues to create ties between these two groups, but declines to truly define them.
Aside from making this comparison, he goes on to write that “most of these people” (again referring to both fundamentalist Christians and Islamists) “lack the maturity and intelligence” to act in “a socially acceptable manner.” Many of these adherents, he believes, are “sociopaths,” “psychopaths” or simply “delusional.”
Certainly some would agree that Islamic extremists (and perhaps fringe Christian believers) are sociopaths or psychopaths, but Stefanelli’s comments are so vague it’s impossible to discern who the targets of his rage truly are. Without a clear definition of who, exactly, he’s referring to, one’s mind runs wild with wonderment.
After all, the problem of radical Christianity is – in the views of many – a non-factor here in America (“radical” here essentially means “violent” or “dangerous”). So, who are these villains that Stefanelli is so frustrated by? Radical Islam is certainly a fear in many places across the globe, but the way he speaks about it one would assume it's knocking on his front door. In one of the most bizarre portion of his text, he writes:
The fact is that fundamentalist Christians and radical Muslims are not interested in coexisting or getting along. They have no desire for peace. They do not want to sit down with us in diplomatic efforts to iron out our differences and come to an agreement on developing an integrated society.
They want us to die.
He then claims that radical interpretations of the Bible and the Koran require that believers “kill the infidel,” but he provides no evidence that Christians here in America are seeking to do anything along those lines.
He encourages “mainstream believers” within both faiths to be “intolerant of fundamental Christianity and radical Islam.” Based on his writings it seems Stefanelli also takes issue with atheists and non-believers who are content accepting the beliefs of those he finds so unintellectual and radical.
It doesn’t take long for Stefanelli to take aim at conservative media and political leaders (including Glenn Beck), either. He writes:
The atheist community gets angry when we read about the antics of idiotic, ignorant and imbicillic [spelling his] politicians and celebrities like Palin, Bachmann, Beck, Limbaugh, Pawlenty and Santorum. We post our thoughts on our social networks and our blogs and try to expose these creeps for exactly what they are. Most of the GOP, just about all of the Tea Party movement and even some Democrats and Independents should be ashamed of themselves for going out in public wearing the equivalent of an intellectual diaper. We criticize them for their rejection of science in favor of their fairy tales and write our letters and support our advocate organizations when our legal rights are abrogated.
He quickly turned up the volatility, continuing:
But the underbelly of fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam does not operate in the legal system. They don’t respond to lawsuits, letters, amicus briefs or other grass-roots campaigns and they must, must, must be eradicated.
Considering his group’s involvement in fighting Christians and conservatives on a variety of issues, one wonders what, exactly, he means by “eradicated.” Also, the fact that he laments believers refusal to cower to lawsuits and the like seems to show that his beliefs are rooted in a stance against a more general, non-radical American Christianity.
American Atheists most recently launched a legal complaint against a steel cross that was found at Ground Zero following the September 11 attacks (here’s a post Stefanelli wrote on the matter). According to the group (the same organization that coordinated July 4 plane banners in cities across the nation), the cross' inclusion in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum constitutes an “impermissible mingling of church and state.”
Below, watch Stefanelli’s call for atheists to get more active in making their voices heard: