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The War on (Atheist) Women

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.

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