Atheists using the comments sections of religious or secular websites to counter religious claims may be following an evangelical call to convert others. The article interviews a couple of these missionaries for atheism:
Matt Davis, a 33-year-old British atheist who engages in religious debate on multiple American religion and atheist sites, says he often feels frustrated by the distance between himself and those he spars with.
“Most people won’t change their minds,” Davis said. “But maybe some of the people reading and not commenting might be on the fence and I might influence them.”
These “super-commenters” follow certain standards to prevent gentle persuasion turning nasty:
A lifelong atheist, Rocky has his own rules of engagement. He tries to be respectful, to place himself in the other person’s shoes, and refrain from name-calling. (One swear word from another commenter and he is out.)
Sometimes, he says it actually works.
Jonathan Bishop of the Crocels Trolling Academy concludes:
“Where the trolling is done to inform, as opposed to harass or stalk, then religious trolling of this kind can be helpful in encouraging those religious or anti-religious groups to look at themselves before pointing at others.”
The article is “part of a series on religious tolerance and combating hate speech online, brought to you with support from Google.”
Posted by Rosalind Hughes