Acceptable Hatred? Atheist Death Threats Openly Issued on Facebook

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July 29, 2011 11:05 PM EDT

Atheist death threats and support for atrocious violence against atheists have been steadily filling the comments section on Fox News’ Facebook page following reporting on the recent “9/11 cross” lawsuit filed by the atheist advocacy group American Atheists.

Supporters of American Atheists have been collecting screenshots of the comments as they appear to preserve them for the record before Fox News moderators remove them. The screenshots can be viewed on the American Atheists website.

While Christian backlash against the American Atheists lawsuit is to be expected given the controversial nature of the case, it should be universally acknowledged that calling for the deaths of atheists, or any group of people, crosses all lines of acceptability. The internet has long been plagued with hateful comments made by hateful people, but there is a disturbing trend among these specific comments concerning atheists. Identifiable individuals apparently using their real names are making the posts. These people are seemingly unconcerned with protecting their anonymity; they do not appear to fear any backlash from their friends or the public.

This begs the question, is hate for atheists still mainstream enough that average Americans feel comfortable calling for their violent deaths? There have been many polls conducted that suggest Americans still distrust atheists, but are they so despised that even death wishes are not taboo?

While there are undoubtedly many racists, xenophobes, gay-haters and other bigots trolling the internet, it is likely true that the vast majority of them use an alias to disguise their identity while they spew their hateful messages. This is done to protect their reputations, something the atheist haters do not feel is necessary. Coupled with the sheer quantity and speed with which the anti-atheist posts appear, it seems there is no such taboo against bashing atheists.

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