Love Thy Neighbor… Unless Thy Neighbor is Atheist

The Fox News Facebook page became a forum for hate after the news source interviewed Blair Scott of American Atheists on July 28th. The organization is filing a lawsuit protesting the inclusion of a crossbeam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in the September 11th Memorial and Museum, angering many religious Americans. Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy wrote that in an issue such as this, context is everything: It is wrong to secularize the cross by turning it into a universal memorial symbol, but as this particular cross was found in the rubble of the 9/11 attacks and was itself a piece of the buildings, it holds historical significance and thus has a rightful place in the museum.

Social networking sites such as Facebook can sometimes facilitate positive discussion and debate, but in this case, the anti-Atheist comments came in the form of merciless death threats. Such comments included “Shoot em. At least we know where they’re going, waste of oxygen” and “I love Jesus, and the cross and if you don’t, I hope someone rapes you!” Fox News deleted the hateful comments, but not before many were captured and posted elsewhere.

The hypocrisy that self-professed Christians are writing such hateful comments is mind-blowing. The Ten Commandments mandate “You shall not kill,” and Jesus preached to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” These are such basic tenants of Christianity, and they seem to be lost when addressing nontheists.

It’s especially ironic that this hatred stemmed out of a discussion relating to the attacks of September 11th. The terrorists set out to kill as many Americans as possible—whether they were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist Americans didn’t matter because Islamic fundamentalists label all these groups as “nonbelievers.” The Christian fundamentalists that posted the hateful comments similarly expressed death wishes toward non-theists. Even though they work with a different definition of “nonbeliever,” the sentiment of all fundamentalists is the same: Kill those that don’t believe what we think they should. Regardless of whether or not American Atheists is right in its complaints, the hypocritically hateful response from people claiming to be religious does nothing to honor that which the museum is seeking to commemorate.