I spent a day watching Atheist TV, and it was horrifying

And yet after watching four hours of its programming and even despite my own lack of religious belief, I find it hard to imagine that even a casual nonbeliever would tune in, let alone someone on the fence about the existence of a higher power. AtheistTV adheres to nasty stereotypes about atheism — smugness, gleeful disregard for others’ beliefs — to a degree that’s close to unwatchable…

AtheistTV frames atheism as a perpetual reaction against a conquering force. And that reaction isn’t reasoned debate. It’s unattractive nihilism. After the second broadcast of a single “Atheist Experience” episode, the channel showed a 2012 rally in Washington, D.C.; speakers consistently described a future in which all Americans would join the movement, a future that they’d get to by mocking and hassling the beliefs of others. One hardly needs to be religious to see the rhetorical flaws in Andy Shernoff, the frontman of punk band The Dictators, describing himself as “a little like Martin Luther King” before asking the audience “Ready for some sarcasm? Ridiculous ideas need to be mocked.” That Shernoff’s performance indulges straight-up homophobia and misogyny in a frankly mean-spirited song about giving Jesus oral sex is just a fringe benefit of being a radical truth-teller who doesn’t care whom one offends. Beyond the catharsis of mockery, what can AtheistTV offer? What alternative does it provide? Leaving aside even the question of winning over believers, how can it even keep atheists watching if it’s just a perpetual drumbeat of calling Jesus “the zombie Jew”?