Should Athiests refrain from mockery for tactical reasons?
I know, it made me cringe to type it, but it’s a very real fact and we have to face the truth. The entire reason that the right wing in America is so powerful today is because they use ridicule so frequently. The jokes don’t even have to be funny to be effective. Believe you and me, I know a lot of wingnuts and when they mock liberals, it’s often a fairly grim exercise. The entire phenomenon of “I’m not a feminist, but” exists strictly because anti-feminists refuse to argue with feminists so much as make jokes that are often more exercises in grim, unfunny mockery of hairy legs and burning bras. Same with the conservative/liberal divide—the reason that most people have liberal politics and yet so many of them identify as conservatives has little to do with politics and everything to do with the endless stream of burned-out hippie jokes radiating from talk radio and other sources.
You might not be able to change true believers with mockery, but people that are hovering out there undecided get the message loud and clear when they hear ridicule. And that’s why I think a lot of liberal Christians get pissy about mockery. It’s not just the understandable dislike of feeling mocked; it’s also the knowledge that atheists who speak up and mock, say, Southern Baptists, and not just for their hypocrisy but for their piety, well, there’s a chance that young people will hear us and get the idea that religion itself is kind of silly. And I understand their concern, but they’re just going to have to deal with the fact that if there’s one thing atheists don’t care about, it’s your ability to recruit and keep people in your church. And passing off requests to us not to interfere with your ability to keep your church rolls high as arguments that are for our good and the good of the country is dishonest and, frankly, unChristian.