Thankyou for sharing your feelings, Monica. I'm sorry you were so upset. Among the most imporatnt things about the actions and media you describe is the very fact that you and other regular everyday religious people take them so personally. Sadly, although you would not make fun of atheism there are many Christians who would gladly denounce it, ridicule it and tear it to pieces. Some of us feel the need to respond in kind. It's unfortunate.
In brief, the Challenge is an invitation to publicly deny the Holy Spirit, precisely because the Bible says that doing so prevents one from ever being forgiven (Mark 3:29). It's a commitment to disbelief in response to those who say that everyone's a believer underneath, or that we should worship God just in case he exists. It's also an ongoing opportunity for atheists to declare themselves and show their numbers in the face of the majority religion of the Western world.
David Mills went past declarations and desecrated a Bible to show that it holds no special value to him. All the things he said and did were calculated to put him beyond "saving". That's how confident he is that the Christian God does not exist. It's not intended as an insult to Christians, but to Christianity itself. To individual Christians it is simply an emphatic statement of disagreement.
This brings us back to you, Monica.
- Were you upset because Mills somehow did God or Jesus an injury by soiling their supposed words? What possible harm could a mortal do to those two?
- Were you upset because Mills damned himself? If so, that's considerate of you, but Mills is quite confident that he cannot be damned in this way. He's an adult and he can make his own decisions.
- Were you upset because you have learned to revere physical Bibles as they contain the word of God? Whatever is written in a book, Monica, it's still just a book. The words transcend the paper. That's why burning books never accomplishes anything.
- Were you upset because Mills attacked your beliefs directly? Then keep in mind that he did not attack you. His ultimate message to Christians themselves was simply, "I think you are wrong." Not stupid, not bad, not dangerous, just wrong. Anyone can be wrong; this is not an insult at all. (I will admit, as he would, that he was very rude about saying it.)
It's the same idea with the Imagine No Religion poster. Religion is the target, not religious people. Nobody expects the general populace to suddenly turn extremist en masse and join Al Qaeda or the Westboro Baptist Church.
The poster makes two points:
- Some atrocities are committed explicitly in the name of religion. Whether by Muslim terrorists now or Japanese generals in WWII (under the banner of their god-emperor Hirohito) or Catholic and Protestant soldiers in the Thirty Years War or by island tribes millenia ago, religion has many deaths to answer for. While of course atrocities are also committed for other causes unrelated to religion, lack of religion by itself is not motivation to do any such thing.
- Those who fly planes into buildings and ruin soldiers' funerals are working from exactly the same basic texts as other religious people. Only the interpretations are different. While not everyone chooses the interpretations which lead to violence and bigotry, they are always available. Those who defend their religions as valid, justified and in need of protection sadly make it easier for the extremists within those religions to do the same with their own versions.
You have every right to be offended by whatever strikes you that way, but there's no reason to be personally insulted. It's not our intention to upset you, either; that achieves nothing. We're just trying to make points forcefully and encourage people to think.