The real reason atheists hate public prayers

By Neal Larson

As a group, atheists are some of the angriest people I know, aside from al-Qaida. It’s easy to understand why. Believing the time for existence is finite — then after that it’s “lights out” — would make waking up and functioning an ultimately purposeless chore for me, too.

So I’ve always wondered why atheists give a flying crap if a prayer is given at a high school graduation or city council meeting. If I were an atheist, I would view prayer as a silly waste of time. But instead, they respond with angry disdain. Many are highly offended, threatening expensive and lengthy court battles if a religious syllable is uttered or displayed at a public function. But why?

It’s an ironic miracle that prayer makes atheists legs and index fingers stop working, suddenly unable to walk out of the room or plug their ears — simple solutions to other verbally offensive displays.

I hear things all the time I don’t agree with or subscribe to. We all do. I hear swear words. I hear stupid ideas. I hear lies. I hear the perpetuation of failed political ideologies. I hear screechy voices. And all of that, just on MSNBC alone. Yet I can’t seem to discover, amidst all the disagreeable words, any right to not be offended. Nor can I find any evidence — as much as I’d like to — that my rights have been limited because of such words as long as I have a right to leave the venue or dismiss the message.

Atheists reek with the stench of hypocrisy. They ridicule religious conservatives’ efforts to curb pornography, obscenity or promote a more wholesome traditional culture. When believers are offended, they are disparaged and scoffed at. Yet when a simple 30 second prayer at a high school graduation offends them, atheists become little delicate flowers who run crying like spoiled 3-year-olds to the ACLU. They’re artful masters at playing both the bully and the victim.

I pride myself in being an amateur psychiatrist. And here’s my theory. Atheists are actually not all that offended when they hear a public prayer. In fact, I would argue that they believe it really is just a silly waste of time. One of the simple lessons we learn very young is to hear things we disagree with, and not overreact to them. Nor do atheists believe that a graduation prayer is a sure sign that government is about to establish a tyrannical state religion. They’re smarter than to be that paranoid. So what is the cause of their angry infantile response? I believe it’s disdain for a belief system that provides happiness for others, but not for them. The sad people often hate and try to pull down the happy people.

Liberals always talk about the evils of economic disparity. While most poor people in America have homes and cars and cell phones and food and Internet access and clean water, what matters is closing the gap between them and the wealthiest class. They hate the economic gap. Atheists live in spiritual and emotional poverty. I believe they also hate the happiness gap between themselves and true believers. Since atheism limits spiritual earning power, the only way to close the gap is to pull the top quintile down. If liberals could, they would tax and redistribute happiness and well-being. The litigious anger and indignation of the godless is an attempt at emotional and spiritual communism. After all, it’s a matter of fairness.

Since our founding documents and principles have deep religious roots, atheists tend to be liberals. If you’re an atheist, the only provident force for mankind could be the government. And liberals always insist on equality. If atheists can’t have the well-being enjoyed by believers in God, their demand for equality compels them to deny others any religious indulgence.

As believers we cannot tolerate such temper tantrums from the godless.

Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 590am and 92.1fm. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 8:00 to 10:00. His email address is