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PostPosted: 04 Apr 2010, 11:57 
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Atheists respond to church leader attacks
April 4, 2010

ATHEISTS have hit back at Easter attacks by church leaders, saying claims they ''hate God'' are nonsense, because God does not exist.

Prominent church leaders used Good Friday sermons to condemn the increase in atheism. Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen said non-belief was an ''assault on God'' and a form of self-idolatry, while the Catholic Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher, made broader claims.

''Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating: Nazism, Stalinism, Pol Pot-ery, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships - all promoted by state-imposed atheism.''

The Atheist Foundation of Australia said such claims were ''preposterous''.

''To state we hate God or are attacking his God is nonsense,'' it said in a statement. ''How does one hate or attack that which does not exist?''

Foundation president David Nicholls questioned the timing of the criticism by church leaders, saying the rise in atheism had prompted some ill-considered comments.

''It's an age-old last-stand defence, when people have no evidence to back their claims, they're put into a corner and it's understandable that they come out with ridiculous notions,'' Mr Nicholls said. ''Hitler, who was a Catholic, forced Nazism onto the German population.''

He said Christianity had immense problems, including child sex abuse claims and an entrenched mistreatment of women. He also rejected claims atheist groups were more fundamentalist than religions.

''We not insisting everyone be atheists at all - that's a complete misrepresentation,'' Mr Nicholls said. ''We have no text that we follow, there is no dogma, there is no leadership … Atheism is not trying to depose religion, atheism is just saying, you've got to stop indoctrinating children, especially with the fear of hell and the promise of heaven, which is a claim that you cannot support, because that leads to adults who make these political decisions, using dogmatic reasoning instead of empirical evidence.''

The Catholic League of Australia responded to Mr Nicholls' comments on its website: ''To say it is OK if I attack your religion, because I don't think it matters, is a clear sign of bigoted subjectivity that even some Nazis would be jealous of. This is a clear attack not on God, rather the people that believe in God.'' With AAP

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