This Easter the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) posted another offensive, and historically inaccurate, sign touting Jesus as "a myth." However, did you know an organization exists to counter the FFRF and other intolerant atheists? If you or someone you know has been the victim of militant, confrontational atheism then the place to turn is the Freedom From Atheism Foundation (FFAF).
Created in 2012 as a response to intolerant atheists seeking the removal of a Veterans Memorial that displayed religious symbols, the FFAF has grown leaps and bounds and boasts over 120,000 followers on their Facebook page as of this writing. The Freedom From Atheism Foundation was created as a grassroots civil rights Facebook group to help protect the rights of religious believers, address the rising tide of intolerant atheism across the world, and be a beacon of hope and support for victims of atheist hate.
The group currently has eight administrators, two of which I recently corresponded with for an interview. As they receive daily hate filled messages from atheists who dislike the group, they chose to use pseudonyms for this interview. Full disclosure, I am a member of the group and this interview was completely my idea.
1. Some readers may dismiss your idea that we need "Freedom From Atheism." How would you respond and convince them otherwise?
Jonathan Gill: In the nominally or officially Christian states of the Western World, atheistic organizations have begun a quest to remove religion from the public sphere, despite the fact that it is an integral part of the foundation of these nations. Since the Cult of Reason in the French Revolution, organized movements of atheism have persecuted those who do not share their vision of a godless world. We at FFAF are a response to the intolerance exhibited by militant atheists, historically and in the present.
Dr. Jim Ryan: History has demonstrated that atheists, especially once they get into positions of power, have been brutally repressive toward those who do not share their faith. While many atheists in the West, especially the New Atheists, claim to be promoting science and reason, it should be noted that they have repeatedly stated that their goal is to eradicate those religions and religious beliefs that differ from their own. They are working to restrict freedom of religious expression and freedom of speech. There is every reason to suspect that if the intolerant atheists of today get into power they will be just as oppressive, if not more so, that the previous generations of atheists.
2. What examples do you have of atheist intolerance towards you or believers in God?
Jonathan Gill: We're now taking screenshots of intolerant and hate filled atheists who contact us and posting them on our website to raise public awareness of the issue. All of the quotes I'm going to share with you can be found on our Facebook page, Freedom From Atheism Foundation. Here are a few examples: One atheist contacted us saying "Wow you guys are literally so (expletive) stupid you should really consider killing yourselves." The atheist merchandise corporation Evolve Fish responded to a pastor of a Church being murdered during Church service by stating "It sure would be nice if more church services ended like this one." One atheist created a Facebook group called Virgin Mary Should've Aborted. Another atheist who contacted us said "American Christians should be labeled a hate group." The atheist Facebook group Exposing the Insanity of the Religious Right said "I wish we could torch the churches." Another atheist contacted us stating "Holy (expletive expletive), you are all retarded and need to be executed." This is but a small sample of the rising atheist hate towards religious believers in America.
3. If I've been harassed by a militant atheist, will you or your page help me in any way?
Jonathan Gill: FFAF allows you to share your experiences with others on our official Facebook page, the Freedom From Atheism Foundation. In addition, our official website includes a list of prominent organizations that provide free legal support for members of all faiths who have experienced harassment by militant atheists. Some of these organizations include The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, European Centre for Law and Justice, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
4. What are the long-term goals for FFAF?
Dr. Jim Ryan: The formation of a community that had the courage to stand up to atheist bullying and raise awareness to atheist intolerance was our original goal. We were surprised to see that our page had the impact it did and we are now seeing many other people and groups now speaking out against atheist intolerance. Our long-term goal is to make ourselves irrelevant. We hope to one day see an end to atheist intolerance so we can shut down and spend the rest of our lives enjoying the peace and harmony we helped create. Unfortunately, militant atheism seems to be growing more rather than less intolerant. It will be interesting to see where things go.
5. What kind of feedback have you received from followers of the group? Any feedback from atheists?
Dr. Jim Ryan: We have received a lot of positive feedback from people all over the world and from pretty much every religious background. People keep telling us over and over how grateful they are to know that they are not alone and that someone is raising awareness about atheist intolerance. Some atheists are supportive of what we are doing, especially in condemning vocal militant atheists, who do not necessarily represent all atheists. However, the majority of the feedback from atheists who have posted on our page has been pure hate. We receive death threats, harassing comments, ridicule and some of the most vulgar and profane statements that you could possibly imagine on a daily or even hourly basis. Most of it is too filthy to be repeated. Clearly we have struck a painful nerve with the militant atheist community.
Jonathan Gill: Many of our followers have found comfort that our group exists, especially because the cities in which they live have faced harassment from atheistic groups. Furthermore, they also appreciate the apologetics posts from websites like Reasonable Faith and Bethinking.org and information from GC Science, Test of FAITH, and Veritas Forum pages.
Many atheists who message us are surprised to find that atrocities are committed around the world in the name of the propagation of atheism and also follow us. In addition, some atheists are shocked to see that scientific endeavor, such as the teaching of the Big Bang theory, has been suppressed by atheist states and Western atheistic cosmologists, in the name of protecting an atheistic worldview, as mentioned on the official website for the upcoming documentary film Martyred in the USSR: Militant Atheism in the former Soviet Union.
6. Did you purposefully make the name to mirror that of the Freedom From Religion Foundation? Is there something you find disconcerting about that particular organization?
Dr. Jim Ryan: Yes, the name Freedom From Atheism Foundation is a mirror of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is an organization focused on restricting religious freedom in our society by using lawsuits to intimidate and bully those who express their religious views in public. Just a few of their lawsuits include trying to restrict the freedom to pray, the freedom of speech of teachers, the freedom of speech of students, and the freedom to honor our war veterans. They are using the legal system to silence and remove any expression of religion in public. They are fine with any form of free speech, unless it is religious. Clearly, they are only in favor of free speech when it agrees with their views and try to restrict those views when it doesn't. If we were to live in a truly free society, religious speech would be treated no differently than other forms of speech.
7. Do you tolerate atheists? It seems like there's a danger of becoming what you dislike, like so many atheists who don't tolerate the religious but then expect people to tolerate them.
Jonathan Gill: One of our administrators is a former atheist himself. In addition, our organization includes several atheists who are thankful for the work we do in combating militant atheism in the Second World and in Christendom. These atheists see the harm in making militant atheism the state doctrine and imposing it on others. FFAF also strongly condemns persecution that occurs in the name of advancing religion. To put it simply, we oppose extremism on both ends of the spectrum. FFAF encourages an atmosphere of respect for others and upholds the sanctity of all human life.
8. Does the group have any religious agenda? Are people of all faiths welcome?
Dr. Jim Ryan: I am the former atheist administrator who converted to Christianity. This group is open to members of any faith including atheists that are able to be respectful of other views. Our organization has administrators of several Christian denominations (Methodist Christians, Anglican Christians, Baptist Christians and nondenominational Christians), as well as administrators and members from other religions, including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, Sikhs, and Buddhists. We do not have a religious agenda. We only seek to raise awareness about militant atheism and show people, who have been the victims of atheist bullying, that they are not alone.
For more information or to contact the FFAF, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/FFAF.International or their Twitter @FFAFIntl