Why do you have to be so offensive?

One of the most common things we hear from people who visit our Facebook page or website is something along the lines of, "Why do you have to be so offensive?" or "Why can't you just keep your views to yourself and let other people believe whatever they want?" The thought is that if we all just have our own views and don't talk about them, everything will be fine and we won't have to fight about anything or offend anyone. "You have to respect people's beliefs."

The easy response to this is "no, actually, beliefs do not have to be respected."
I respect your right to have them.
I respect your right to peacefully express them.
I do not respect your belief that I am an evil person.
I do not respect your belief that I am going to hell.
I do not respect brainwashing.
I do not respect cults.
I do not respect hatred, sexism or tyranny.
I do not respect your religion. And I don't have to.
And you don't have to respect my atheism.

Religious opinions are no more entitled to respect or protection than any other opinion. Human beings have rights and should be respected. Books and beliefs don't have to be respected. Ideas are not sacred. They can, and should be held up for analysis and criticism. It is in fact absurd for a person to be so profoundly offended by a harsh word said about their religion and yet insist on the right to impose their injustice and oppression on the world.

"Stop being so offensive."

Saying someone is offensive is not even technically correct. Offense is subjective and personal. Just because someone expresses their views with conviction, does not mean they're being fundamentally offensive. I might get offended at something, but that's on me. Just because a religious person gets offended by something we say doesn't mean we're offensive. Anything an atheist says about religion can make the religious feel uncomfortable or offend them but that doesn't mean they have the right to expect us to stop sharing our views.

"You can have your views without arguing with others about theirs."

Going back and forth in discussion/conversation about particular issues is one of the beautiful things about being human. It's how we solve problems, come up with new ideas and decide on what is acceptable and not acceptable within any given social context. Innovation would cease to exist if we didn't have "arguments". Human progression depends on our ability to express our views, support them, argue against other views and being willing to change our minds if an argument is strong enough.

Any view that desires to be immune from criticism isn't one worth having.

Around the world, atheism carries a social stigma. In some places, abandoning the popular religion can even be dangerous. Many believe that people can't be moral without believing in god, others feel that their own beliefs are being threatened when atheists begin to speak out.

This makes expressing our atheism even more important. We want the Citizens of the Republic to feel empowered and to be proud of being atheists. We believe in expressing atheism without shame.

This is why - when it's safe - it is valuable for atheists to be open about their atheism. When people already know you as a moral citizen, it becomes that much harder to paint you as a villain. If it's safe for you to "come out" where you live, consider doing so - you'll be helping yourself and atheists in general.

You might even discover that there are more atheists or sympathetic people among your friends and family than you ever imagined. You could also get the support and interest of complete strangers who appreciate your views.

Proudly expressing yourself is a great way to prove that atheism is nothing to be embarrassed about.

One effective method of expression among activists is on T-shirts. In the LGBTQ fight for civil rights, for example, T-shirts have proven to be a powerful method of influence. Through imagination, wit, and a passion for equality, the activists who wrote, designed – and more importantly – wore the shirts, helped define a movement.

Here are two of the most popular ones in the Atheist Republic community:

Godless Heathen T-Shirt Religion is Fiction
View Shirt View Shirt

All proceeds from the sales of these T-shirts go to keeping the Atheist Republic website up and running; providing resources, advocacy, tools and encouragement to atheists all over the world.

If you were to wear an atheism-related shirt, what message would it have? Let us know by replying to this email and we might have it designed.

If you would like to be updated on our latest or most interesting atheist T-shirt designs, click here to sign up and we'll email you about them from time to time.

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