The Freethinker, a British publication extolling the virtues of being unchained by superstitious adherence to outmoded and often goofy belief systems, seems to border on Onion-esque overreaching in its eulogy of Claire Rayner:
An atheist until the end: leading British humanist Claire Rayner dies at 79
At the heart of Claire Rayner’s many admirable accomplishments – as a nurse, writer, commentator, “agony aunt” and vice-President of the British Humanist Association – was her healthy skepticism and her utter rejection of religion.
But you would hardly guess this from this BBC report of her death from cancer, which – apart from saying that she is to have a humanist funeral – shamefully makes not a single mention of the fact that she was a leading figure in the British humanist movement and an outspoken atheist until the very end.
I understand and appreciate the mission of The Freethinker, something that would have resulted in being burned or otherwise tortured to death in most arts of the world a few centuries ago and would invite the same fate in the Muslim world today. But I think that in this case the writer may have left a little nugget of poo on his keyboard; not the type apt to go smearing the bowl upon flushing or stinking up a whole wing, but readily identifiable as a craplet nonetheless. As a god-free person myself I don’t see the need to point out–twice–that Rayner was an atheist “until the end.” That’s the kind of thing that seems more likely to fuel theocrats’ delusions than give them pause: Is it supposed to be a surprise when a vocal atheist doesn’t recant on her deathbed? And even if she had, would this have somehow lent credence to the idea that, say, there was once a handcrafted wooden boat that survived a forty-day rainstorm that flooded the entire globe and held two (or seven) or every kind of animal in existence?
I’m also not sure that it was incumbent on the BBC to explicitly identify Rayner as an atheist. It’s probably more useful to note her deeds–she was an award-winning journalist, a novelist, and a relentless medical crusader–than her beliefs. But I do like the article’s inclusion of what Rayner wrote about about Joe Ratzinger when he was fixing to come to the U.K. on some goat-fucked misinformation campaign or another:
I have no language with which to adequately describe Joseph Alois Ratzinger, AKA the Pope. In all my years as a campaigner I have never felt such animus against any individual as I do against this creature. His views are so disgusting, so repellent and so hugely damaging to the rest of us, that the only thing to do is to get rid of him.
I suppose it remains appropriate at times to point out that people can do great things without the hand of some skygod prodding them along (and can grandly fuck up without the devil egging them on). But this has been proven so many times throughout history that if the diehard delusionals who insist that atheism is somehow irrational haven’t gotten the message yet, they probably never will. Educating them is impossible, but maligning or simply ignoring them is not.