The War on (Atheist) Women

August 21, 2013 | 4 comments

Not long ago, Catholic Answers Press exhibited at our industry’s premiere annual event, the Catholic Marketing Network trade show. It was edifying and energizing to represent Catholic Answers among many other fine publishers and apostolates doing good work for God and his Church.

For an observer unused to moving in Catholic circles, I think it would have been an eye-opener to walk the floor and take stock of the attendees: their palpable modesty and goodness, their sense of mission, their openness to life. Families with young children mingled easily among the suits in the booths; girls in jumpers ducked into quiet corners to pray a few decades; the line for (makeshift) confessions was longer than the line for (typically overpriced) concessions. Our first-time observer would have sensed that there was something different about these people—perhaps not so unlike how the last pagans must have viewed the first Christians.

This would have been especially true if the observer had just come from an atheist convention, where sexual harassment of female attendees is becoming skepticdom’s worst-kept secret.

In an Aug. 6 blog post at Scientific American (since deleted, but accessible through that archived link because on the Internet, everything is forever), atheist author and heroine Karen Stollznow decried the harassment—including but not limited to unwanted advances, suggestive language, and “groping”—that she and others report as a too-common experience for women at atheist gatherings.

Around the same time, another woman added fuel to the fire with a Youtube video describing the sexual “assault” she suffered at event in the “atheist scene.” (Warning: language and thematic content.) These claims and others seem to have sent the online atheist community on a journey of self-discovery, with atheist bloggers, forum members, and combox respondents wondering: Are these just overblown incidents involving a few hysterical gals, or do atheists (who are, at these gatherings anyway, overwhelmingly male in number) have a sexual harassment problem?

If nothing else, this controversy should throw into sharp relief the nonsensicalness of secularist claims that Christianity, especially Catholicism, is anti-woman—and conversely that atheism, so closely allied with radical feminism, abortion, and the dissolution of gender differences, is a special friend to women. Think hard now: Which worldview is more likely to view women as objects of lust to be preyed on?

The one that rejects a transcendent basis for morality (and so sexual harassment can’t really be “wrong”)? That views human worth through a purely natural and deterministic lens (and so of course the strong will prey on the weak)? That embraces feminist ideologues who want to prove women can be as sexually callous and carnivorous as men (and so of course she must actually like it)?

Or the one that ties morality, including sexual respect for woman, to divine and eternal laws? That sees woman’s dignity as an intrinsic and inviolable extension of her creation in divine likeness? That offers a model for womanhood in the greatest person ever created, fourth in the order of being: the very Mother of God?

Sin is pervasive, of course, and faith is not an infallible antidote to sexual crimes. But I for one would rather entrust my daughters to the Christians who produced those upstanding folk at our conferences than to the skeptics who spawned the wolves who prowl theirs. Or, for that matter, to the porn industry, which in the name of female empowerment—news flash!—turns women into objects of use. This includes at the porn industry’s own trade shows, where, one ex-“performer” reports, attendees routinely treat the girls as hands-on displays.

And why shouldn’t they? Why shouldn’t atheists aggressively hit on their women? They’re all just living out the logical conclusion of the principles they espouse.

Todd Aglialoro is the director of publishing for Catholic Answers Press. He studied theology at Franciscan University, the University of Fribourg, and the International Theological Institute. A New York native, Todd now lives in the San Diego area with his wife, seven children, and zero dogs.

Comments by Members

#1  Romano Galassi - West Covina, California

Thank you for the article. Shouldn't the blessed mother be second in the order of being since the Holy Trinity is 3 persons in one being. If she is the 4th in the order of being then who are the 2nd and 3rd? Thank you.

August 23, 2013 at 8:20 am PST
#2  Todd Aglialoro - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Hi Romano:

I picked up that somewhat poetic expression from an old theology professor of mine. It considers the persons of the Trinity singly, even though according to the great mystery of God's nature they are also one in being.

Think of a sporting event in which there is a three-way tie for first. The next finisher would not be ranked second, but fourth. Hence, Mary is the fourth person in the order of being, with the three persons of the Trinity all first.

August 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm PST
#3  Romano Galassi - West Covina, California

Thank you Todd. That clears it up for me.

September 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm PST
#4  Romano Galassi - West Covina, California

Hi Todd, maybe you can help me with this... I just checked the official Vatican newspaper website "L'Osservatore Romano." I went through all the articles listed, going back to Sept. 2012, including editorials, interviews, etc. However, I didn't see one article on the subject of abortion, homosexual movement, contraception, and prolife issues in general. I saw a many articles about the poor, war in Syria, modern slavery, etc., but not one regarding prolife. Could you help clarify this for me? Thank you.


September 25, 2013 at 9:32 am PST

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