Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Apparently, Atheists Are Grumpy Goats

I found the following image posted at Sarah Brown's blog, and felt compelled to repost it here:





atheists.. why are they always so sad?

and they’re also goats

Happy 2 b a goat

That goat looks very content with his bathrobe and coffee.

That goat looks cozy as hell.

On the one hand, the image--not to mention the reference to "very advanced witnessing techniques"--makes me want to chuckle and roll my eyes. I know nothing about the flyer's origins, and a part of me wants to dismiss it as a bit of satire.

On the other hand, there's the possibility that a real church actually distributed this flyer to its children. And there are things going on in it that make it a bit more serious than something just to be laughed off: the stereotyping (atheists are always sad, often grumpy and bitter); the implicit dehumanization (goat-man, anyone?); the fear-mongering (they "will lash out at children") and the warnings against engaging with them.

These tropes are reminiscent of what I have seen in anti-Semitic and racist tracts.

I doubt that most churches create flyers like this. But how many communicate similar messages to their children without the benefit of a grumpy goat in a bathrobe? In The God Delusion, Dawkins spends some time discussing the ways in which atheists are the targets of prejudice and discrimination.

He's right about this. And as with all prejudice and discrimination, it's learned in childhood. And as with all prejudice and discrimination, it's contrary to an ethic of love.

In the end, if this is an authentic flyer, the motive behind it seems to be fear: fear that a conversation about religion with an atheist might inspire the child to ask questions about what they've been taught in church. Fear is the wellspring from which human divisions and long-term prejudices are born.

On the one hand, there is the Christian faith that drives out fear and inspires love across the gap of human differences. And then there is the Christianity that nurtures fear and builds walls. Both Christianities are alive and well in the world today--and the latter is probably a greater threat to authentic Christian values than any grumpy goat, atheist or otherwise.


  1. It's saitire, thankfully, but it's hard to tell these days. I think this might be the source:

    1. * satire. Or should I say satyr : p
      * objectiveministries is the source. Mr Gruff has apparently become an icon among atheists. The scary thing about this is that it's good satire: what they are exaggerating is still recognizable, even believable.

  2. Seems to be an example of Poe's Law.

    Thanks for speaking out against this type of depiction. It's definitely an exaggeration, but not outside what Westboro Baptist would do if they had a sense of humor.