There are many fundamentalisms, including rigorous atheism, and they all have their zealots. As John Derbyshire said of the acolytes of Reason (before he himself donned her grim mantle) :
Does it not occur to you liberals, not even for a passing instant, that by purging all sacred images, references, and words from our public life, you are leaving us with nothing but a cold temple presided over by the Goddess of Reason — that counterfeit deity who, as history has proved time and time and time again, inspires no affection, retains no loyalties, soothes no grief, justifies no sacrifice, gives no comfort, extends no charity, displays no pity, and offers no hope, except to the tiny cliques of fanatical ideologues who tend her cold blue flame.
I regard the militant fringe of atheism to be equally as alarming as Allahpundit finds the theocratic fringes of Christianity. And, as AP linked in yesterday’s quote of the day, that Cold Blue Flame is burning uncomfortably hot and sulfurous these days–so much so that it’s embarrassing their co-irreligionists.
Now Theodore Dalrymple, probably my second favorite conservative atheist, gets tons of insane hate mail from the militant, identity-politics-atheist crowd, and puts his finger on where that hatred can lead and has led before:
Not long ago, while I was in France, the centenary of the final separation of church and state was celebrated. It was presented as the triumph of reason over reaction, of humanity over inhumanity, and I am not entirely out of sympathy for that viewpoint: I certainly don’t want to live myself in a state in which a single religion has a predominant or even strong say in the running of it. And yet the story was far more nuanced that that triumphantly presented.
For example, a fascinating book was published on the occasion of the centenary reproducing the iconography of the anticlerical propaganda that preceded the separation by thirty years; and on looking in to it I saw at once that it was exactly the same in tone as anti-semitic propaganda. There was the wickedly sybaritic hook-nosed cardinal in diabolical scarlet, the thin hairy spider, representing the economic interests of the church, whose sinister legs straddled the whole globe, and the priest who welcomed innocent little children into the fold of his black cloak. One has to remember that almost the first consequence of secularism in France, as in Russia, was unprecedented slaughter.
Meanwhile a Catholic bishop died unshriven Sunday after eight years in police custody in Communist China, for the heinous crime of leading an underground church.