You guys have probably heard about the story of Rev. Norman Hayes who was badly beaten by James Maxie, a self-proclaimed militant atheist (thanks LT for sending the original link). And you’ve probably already heard of the Internet’s most friendly atheist, Hemant Mehta. But you may not know that Hemant offered to raise money to cover the medical bills for the pastor.
You might be thinking that the pastor may have said something to provoke Maxie, yet no words could ever justify violence. Mr. Hayes’ nose was broken in two places, and he had lacerations and bruising on his face. This is a painful and no doubt costly injury.
You might be thinking that Maxie has a criminal past, and he shouldn’t be a representative for atheism. This is certainly true. Maxie’s criminal history has nothing to do with his beliefs about god–at one point he was even a believer.
Unfortunately, until the day the godless are no longer looked upon with suspicion or fear, until we’re no longer a nation of “us” against “them,” we have to make right what others do in the name of atheism (or humanism or agnosticism).
If a “militant Christian” had beaten and bloodied an atheist in the name of god, we would have expected some sort of censure from the Christian community, regardless of whether the perpetrator was a criminal or not. I would hope that Christians would do the same for an atheist victim.
So from one human to another my sincere apologies to Rev. Hayes for what he has suffered, and my thanks to Hemant for being a good spokesperson and for suggesting that we help offset the cost of the reverend’s medical bills.
Hayes’ son set up this page to donate if you want to help.