The uses of anger

Jerry Coyne said some things about atheism and anger today, giving a few of the excellent reasons to be angry about religion.

What is the proper response to all this religiously-inspired nonsense?  Anger, of course.  No, you don’t have to be a red-faced, sputtering jerk when confronting the faithful, but controlled anger is without doubt the right response to a form of superstition that wreaks uncountable harms on humanity.  And not “transitory” anger, either—permanent anger.

Again, the proper response to religious stupidity, as it was to segregation in the South, is anger—persistent anger.  Anger that remains until the kind of religion that forces its tenets and superstitions down humanity’s throat vanishes for good.

It’s odd that we even have to argue this. With the bishop of Phoenix and the murderer of Salman Taseer to point to, how can there be any dispute that anger is necessary? It’s as if we’ve all been sleepwalking for several decades, lulled into a stupid complacency about religion only because we never looked hard enough at its gruesome ways of carrying on.

Yes I see you there in the second row, Mr Blair. Yes I know that many people do good things in the name of religion; I do understand that many people think the way to be good is via religious institutions. But they’re laboring under a misapprehension: they could be good via secular institutions. The special ways religion is bad, on the other hand, are harder to replace with secular equivalents. What secular official would try to compel hospitals not to save the lives of women by ending their pregnancies? What secular person is not shocked to the core to learn that US bishops earnestly defend exactly that policy?

Until there are no bishops and no mullahs coming up with creative ways to oppress people, anger is not something we can afford to give up.

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