American Atheists Statement About Chapel Hill Murders

Cranford, NJ—The staff of American Atheists is saddened by the deaths of Yusor Mohammad, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Deah Barakat, who were killed on Tuesday, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We mourn with their families, their friends, and with everyone touched by this tragedy.

“American Atheists condemns violence in any form, including violence against people of faith,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “No person should be a victim of violence because of their religion. Anyone who would attack a person because of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, attacks the very foundation of freedom. We must work to understand one another as people and recognize that our differences are an important part of our shared humanity.”


AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

  • joseliafcfs

    Wow, is that all?

    • Phaedrus

      Pray tell… what more should there be?

      • joseliafcfs

        How about repudiate the essentialism and dehumanization latent in much of the discussion about Islam and Muslims in Western atheist circles? Because from what I read it’s clear the shooter had been exposed to such rhetoric.

        • Phaedrus

          The vilification of Islam and Muslims is not unique to Western “atheist circles”. Sadly, it can be found everywhere in various cultural and religious environs. Also note that, as the statement says, atheists mourn equally with those of faith, and wholly condemn such violent acts.

          What you are doing is ‘exactly’ what you claim atheists are doing… vilifying a group without a firm grasp of the reality. If you understood what atheism really was you would ashamed of your exposed ignorance.

          • joseliafcfs

            First off, I’m an atheist. I just don’t embrace the term myself in this page because of the political connotations of the word. It’s clear that, sociologically speaking at least, atheism is not just about non-belief in God, as the pedants have been saying to anyone who suggests that, parking lots aside, it’s quite plausible this crime was inspired by the murderer’s atheism. Some people have politicized their atheism, and use it as a reason to claim superiority over others, and as a reason to hate and hurt others, and with that I just don’t identify.

            And no, dehumanization of Muslims is not unique to atheists – in effect, it’s a lot more virulent within Christian conservative and Zionist Jewish circles. That doesn’t say much about how nice atheists are – it says something about how nasty religious nationalists, even (or specially) in the West, are. But the fact that atheists are not the sole (or the worst) offenders is poor consolation, and since this crime was perpetrated by an atheist, debate about this subject, focusing specifically on atheists, is not unwarranted.

          • Phaedrus

            Okay… As an atheist you know that you make only one claim,specifically a rejection of any premise that includes the existence of god(s). I am one of those pendants who will adamantly claim that “atheism’ does not exist. The ‘-ism’ implies an organized structure of a
            belief system, and that simply does not exist for atheists. I assume we will need to agree to disagree on that point.

            With regards to the shooter, his claim to being an atheist says one thing, and one thing only… he rejects the premise that god(s) exist.Nothing else about him may be claimed without evidence.

            Having said that, he also apparently claimed to be an anti-theist. There is much debate about what exactly an ‘anti-theist’ is but, taken at face value, he’s got some sort of problem with organized religion. However, an ‘anti-theist’ is not mutually inclusive to being an atheist… many religious people eschew organized religion in any form, making them anti-theists. Many atheists (I assume you included) do not. Until further evidence is available, no claim can be made as to the role
            his anti-theist stance had in the actions he took.

            Lastly, given the fact that atheist ethics, morality, political affiliation…whatever… is not dictated by some ancient tome or religious agenda, it is somewhat of a strawman argument to suggest that atheists place themselves on a high horse, only to be grounded by hypocrisy. Atheists are as varied as any other community on this planet. Good luck getting atheists to agree on anything but the one common denominator. Atheists are
            human, with the same human strengths and failings as anyone else.

          • Endront

            Atheists from my observations are only “organized”, about talking with each other. No common view really except, “There is no scientifically validated evidence that supports the existence of “god/gods”. Oh, wait that’s not even a view point, just a fact. So…. We like having someone to vent to, about all the crazy??? With the exception of the drive to keep religion out of politics, just in general(and that’s not concrete across the board), atheism doesn’t really have a lot of common ground, except rejection from religious people for poking holes in there fantasy bubbles.

          • Endront

            I would never say someone’s take on religion is what’s wrong, I would simply say organized religion itself is wrong.

  • Roxie

    They were killed yesterday, not today. I can see how on top of the media you are.

    • Alex Healey

      “…who were killed on Wednesday”

      Yeah, I think they got that covered.

    • Harry

      Hey Roxie your a scumbag I knew that yesterday!

  • Rey Ty

    Great statement from American Atheists condemning violence in any form, including violence against people of faith. Interfaith dialogue involves mutual understanding among people of all faiths and of no faith, atheists and agnostics included.

    • joseliafcfs

      Great statement? A dry two line thing that could not be cut any shorter?

      • Tarquin42

        Why? atheism is not an organization
        The not believing in something does not make you responcible for anything including other people who do not believe in things.

    • Theist

      Where was the condemnation of atheist violence? Can you read English? They were saddened and they mourn but haven’t condemned the actions of their fellow mate!

      • Theist

        Finally they condemned! Good 🙂

      • Davo

        Right there in the article ““American Atheists condemns violence in any form, including violence against people of faith,” said American Atheists President David Silverman.”

  • Zafar

    It is very sad to see that there is no mentioning in this statement about the perpetrator and bringing him swiftly to the justice.

    • Frank

      They authorities have the perpetrator in custody and he has been brought to justice.

      • Rez™

        Justice comes after a trial.

  • Basma

    enough with the talking ..need to see some action !

    • Ex-Muslim

      their killer is being captured, and is waiting for justice to be served while atheists and liberals are being killed and prisoned in your countries for opening website in which they share only their opinions ! I’m actually astonished to see muslims angry that people do not pay attention to their problems, knowing that those same people are the people muslims want to kill and conquer their lands because “Allah” said so, the same people muslims curse everyday publically in their mosques, the same people muslims kill for being non muslims or apostates. I’m not calling for “hate” here, just adressing the facts so that u should be greatful for what u are getting out of “freedom and justince” which at their worst levels in the west, are vastly better than the best “justice and freedom” you can give in your own countries “rulled by the islamic laws”.

      • Sarah

        Just an observation, being Muslim doesn’t automatically make you someone from another country. The people that were murdered were just as American as anyone else. America was their home. Please don’t equate being Muslim with being Arab or from the Middle East.

        • Ex-Muslim

          welcome Sarah,
          First of all, in islam there is no muslim american, and muslim middle-eastern, all muslims are equal and live under the same rules(islamic rule #1), the only reason they do not kill apostates, take money from non muslims (aka Al jezyah) in the US, is because america prevents them from doing so, but deep down they want to do it and they believe that is their duty(commanded by allah) and that is the thing I’m arguing about. yet they’re getting justice in the US, the question is, what do they want more ? respect ? I cannot respect such believes nor the media shouldn’t, do they want western justice? they got it. This is from point of view fair enough …. I wish that atheists in the US read real islamic books or translate them into english.

  • Mohammad

    If this were a Muslim groups response to an act of terrorism by a Muslim, people would say we didn’t condemn it strongly enough. Terrorism has nothing to do with religion and much to do with irrational human emotions. Even if all religions ceased to exist, the world would remain just as violent if not more so.

    • Ben

      Did the Atheist who shot the Muslims shout “Praise Atheism!” while shooting the people he shot? You say that terrorism is not related to any religion, and yet many who commit awful acts of terror shout “Allah Akbar!” as the shoot their victims.

      • joseliafcfs

        So unless he didn’t shout any stupid slogan nobody ever uses, his reasons are unclear and any discussion about motivations that leaves you uncomfortable should be avoided? Wow, the rationalists of today are in such good form, aren’t they.

        • Ben

          Please, joseliafcfs. Re-read what I actually posted. I have no problem discussing the motives of the atheist who killed 3 Muslims in North Carolina (I believe the shooting was the result of a disagreement over a parking space).
          My post was a reply to a statement made by another person who wrote that terrorism has nothing to do with religion. Sadly, that is not true. In today’s world, much of the terrorism is carried out by people shouting, “Allahu Akbar!”. They are mistaken regarding what their own religion teaches, but that does not change the fact that they are motivated by what they consider to be a religious belief.

          • Titch

            If Saudi Kings are evil enough they can do that so easy and they have a lot of money which is they can hire group of Christian like the one in central Africa and tell them after each kill act like holy spirit and shout (Jesus Christ) and don’t forget to show me some real blood!!!! all we know al qadaa story in Afghanistan against Russian. guess what same story in Iraq against Russian Ally. Is zionist behind all that or some Americans with help of Arabia zionist ???? who knows! look all of us are innocent people and we should not be soldier in nowadays scenarios. be careful Ben!!

          • marc

            Allah u akbar is an often used colloquial expression in many cultures. The fact that the ”chapel hill murderer” didn’t shout ”darwin u akbar” or ”Nietzsche u akbar” doesn’t mean he wasn’t motivated by an irrational hatred of religious people. The victims had complained about him being hostile to them before the parking space incident.

          • Joel T. Weigand

            Well said!

          • non believer

            Pisslam teaches murder of non believers and to forcibly turn the world Pisslami so you evidently have no idea what is in that evil Koran

      • Mohamed Mohamed

        This is a good point Ben. But this is why I do not know why atheists are making this statement in the first place. He did not behave as an atheist. He behaved as a conservative white American. I do not know what he shouted when he assassinated them one by one. I do know however what he posted on his Facebook page.

        • Theist

          He screamed ‘Atheist Akbar’ in silence, don’t you get it? Typical conservative white ghetto american of him!

        • Jim

          false. he behaved as an atheist.

          how do we know this? because he was a liberal atheist and he shot 3 kids.

          the left is desperately trying to spin this to somehow make it about “white conservatives.” LOL

          let the mooslims and the atheists have each other. good riddance to bad rubbish.

        • Michele Archer

          Oh,yeah, everyday we have examples of white conservative men blowing the hell out everyone….Whatever you’re smoking, can I have some?

    • Andrew Miller

      Terrorism is not necessarily irrational. It is a strategy and a strategy that often works. That said, it has more to do with material and political conditions than with any one religion. Anyone who needs a reminder of that need only look at el Sendero Luminoso, the Brigate Rosse, the Red Army Faction, the KKK, Anders Breivik, the Organisation de l’armée secrète or dozens of others.

    • Carl Pilk

      The irony here is just fucking overwhelming: “irrational human emotions.” Yes because religion tends to root out irrationality and tack people towards the rational. Oh wait, that’s Science and Reason. Your zero sum gain argument that if we ditched religion the world would be just as violent is so fantastically preposterous, because a) how could you know this, and b) it’s like saying that if I have seventy abstractions in my thinking instead of 5, I’m going to have the exact same level of rationality. Here’s the thing, genius: abstractions tend to make people irrational. Religion has a lock on irrational thinking, riding free in the land of “faith” (oh can’t make fun of his silly, fucking ideas now). These abstractions tend to grow and grow until half of a religion is literally trying to murder the other over an “interpretation” (burp, abstraction): Sunni/Shia << Line one! Hey I don't know but I'd really, really like to try a world without stone age religions, if only to try and develop something a little more modern, shall we say. Can you let us Mohammad? Please (don't kill me).

    • Guest

      Atheism = not god. The not believeing in something does not make you part of a group or organization so you can’t be held responcible for anything with regards to being an atheist. That you now have an organization of atheists is a reaction to the fact that we are treated as a group and must organise as a group to counter this discrimination.
      But that does not mean that we as atheists must start believing in this organisation as an entity equal or like the other believe organizations.
      ‘There is no there there’
      So this statement is laugable, stupid and plays into the hands of the dumb religious people who’d love to attack atheists as a group in the future.

  • Mohamed Ashour

    why he did it ?… bcz they muslims !! who is Terrorism ????

    • Kyle Hale

      But then who was phone?!?!

      • thatguy

        Lol that’s what they say in Iraq when an IED goes off

  • Rez™

    I’m sick at heart over this. Deah, by a look at his Twitter account, was a fun loving college student with a bright future and a rabid love of football. He did not appear to have a single hateful bone in his body. Three promising lives cut short, and for what?

  • roccolore

    The killer was an atheist and a fan of the SPLC, but the Democratic Party and other leftists blame…Christians and Pamela Geller.

  • Bob

    Silverman has a long standing history of anti-arab bias. So his printed words mean nothing.

    • Endront

      Wait so you’re saying that because the American Atheists President, is biased against a religion, his words don’t matter????

      Really????Think about it… come on…. This is like saying the president of the Anti Saloon League Stating he feels bad because an AA member got drunk and wrecked into a family’s minivan.

  • Lori Goshert-Shokirov

    Thanks for the support. Peace!

  • Endront

    Has anyone determined how he knew them? Or what their interactions had been like, up to that point?? Just saying, most people are murdered by people they know, unless it’s a hate crime. If it is a hate crime, then why just the three? I mean if he wanted to kill muslims why not just save up for a ticket and go to Jordon, from what I here they are forming militias at this point. If you’re gonna commit a hate crime, might as well do it to someone who murders random villages,
    Just saying…

  • Theist

    Yea. You are saddened. You mourn too. But have you condemned your fellow mate, mentally troubled lone wolf aka atheist terrorist? Had 3 Christians or Atheists were gunned down by a Muslim, you would first condemn him and then call him a Muslim terrorist, wouldn’t you?

  • Angry words lead to angry acts

    “Anyone who would attack a person because of their religious beliefs, or
    lack thereof, attacks the very foundation of freedom. We must work to
    understand one another as people and recognize that our differences are
    an important part of our shared humanity.”

    CORRECTION : you mean PHYSICALLY attack, don’t you? Because your organization and its members are (sadly) more interested in attacking religion than promoting atheism. NONE of your billboards, etc. proclaim the virtues of rationalism per se, but rather mock, abuse, and insult believers.

    And while you may “recognize” differences, you obviously feel that the world would be better off without religious belief .

    Sorry, but you can’t deny that unfettered verbal/non-physical attacks don’t sometimes encourage physical violence.

    • fastfood

      Kind of stepped in you own dung, there!

      • thatguy

        He rationally explained his opinion while you resort to insulting him. His point just got validated.

  • BOB

    Silverman has a long standing bias against Arabs and Persains and religion has nothing to do with it.

  • rwnot

    Well said Phaedrus! I would point out additionally that: This guy apparently worshiped the “Gungod”. I know – what the hell is a Gungod? Apparently a Gungod is another imagined god that someone who worships guns can become so in love with that they lose contact with reality. And, it seems they are also quite often folks who either enjoy hurting and killing others or, perhaps it can be better explained that they are simply just plain paranoid cowards that find the gun gives them the courage to act out their cowardly desires! It appears from his Facebook page that he fits that description. He had posted comments about his love for guns and also had at least one photo of his beloved Gungod on the site. I haven’t heard any reports that said he was being stalked or harassed with chains and knives or other types of weapons by those two young sisters or even the newly married young man. The problem as I see it isn’t religion or the lack thereof. It’s the fact that there are people (a relatively small minority) who imagine all sorts of things that just isn’t so. And, the vast majority of folks either go along with their crazy ideas or otherwise reinforce the insanity by not calling them out on it. Owning weapons, being religious, worshiping gods, cows and rich televangelists faith healers are all fine with me as long as it doesn’t cross over the boundaries where they threaten or unduly cost other’s their freedom and wellbeing. Like Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombing or the school massacre in Sandy Hook, Connecticut or, or, or …(there are just way too many to name). These are all people that have “lost it” and friends, family and the general public needs to start paying attention and try to intervene before, like in this case – it’s too late. We can’t stop it all but they really are a minority of humanity. Most people are like the hero’s who risk everything to save someone from a burning building, put themselves in harms way to fight diseases like Ebola or helping the refugees in Syria. The Gungod worshipers think that their Gungod will solve all their problems – Not! What did it gain Mr. Craig Hicks (the suspected shooter) or any of these other mean/crazy killers? I for one, totally recommend and support suicide, if done in a relative clean way – for all who think life on this earth is so terrible or that to kill a bunch of folks is a solution to anything.

  • Liz

    All atheism is is a lack of belief in deities; all anti-theism is is a belief that religion is unhealthy, and harmful for society. There are no more admonishments, tenets, calls to x or y behavior, etc. Whatever other life actions this person took where entirely his own, and of his own biases. We don’t have books written by primitive men saying ‘Kill the believer.’ So yeah. By definition, there is no such thing as someone killing ‘in the name of atheism,’ or even anti-theism.

    • Tarquin42

      Also not believing in something does not make us a group so in effect there is no ‘we’.
      There is only a ‘we’ because other people discriminate atheists (?) and therefore you need to band together to fight for your rights 🙂

      • Liz

        Indeed… Thus, when someone makes a generalization, it is as if to imply ‘we’ (a universal kind of we) were a group. When ‘we’ are merely people who all happen to be of that one mindset in that aspect of thought. So therefore, ‘we’ have no books dictating any of that… or anything else — not even a ‘we.’

  • toomuchcommonsense

    Its nice you issue a statement about this tragedy but It wasn’t your fault any more than 9-11 was my fault. Hate and violence rears its ugly head despite religion or lack of it. Its a fault in the person committing the act. Its futile and unfair to expect other atheists to answer for this persons crime anymore than it was fair to expect all Muslims to answer for the crimes of Politicalized religious fanatics. Most of us were and are shocked every time we hear of another nutcase using our words and our faith to justify madness. They hurt us far more than they hurt people outside our faith circles because we have to deal with the fall out day in and day out and they don’t. For months after 9-11 some of us were afraid to leave our homes. Muslim’s who lost family and friends in 9-11 were afraid to mourn with everyone else. In a tragedy like this we all lose a piece of ourselves and its just nice to see that so many people have come together to comfort their family and revives a little faith in our american family.

  • Tarquin42

    Atheism = not god. The not believeing in something does not make you part of a group or organization so you can’t be held responsible for anything with regards to being an atheist. That you now have an organization of atheists is a reaction to the fact that we are treated as a group and must organize as a group to counter this discrimination.

    • Tarquin42

      But that does not mean that we as atheists must start believing in this organisation as an entity equal or like the other believe organizations.
      ‘There is no there there’
      So this statement is laugable, stupid and plays into the hands of the dumb religious people who’d love to attack atheists as a group in the future.

  • bob

    David Silverman is a well known Arab-hater. His words today mean nothing in the light of his words yesterday.

  • AtheistHeathen77

    This is my response to those of you who are apologists for the so-called religion of peace.

    Who is NOT a Muslim IS an INFIDEL:
    “Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them.” Qur’an 2:191
    “Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood.” Qur’an 9:123
    “When opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you catch them.” Qur’an 9:5
    “Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable.” Qur’an 3:85.“The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them.” Qur’an 9:30
    “Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam” Qur’an 5:33
    “The infidels are unclean; do not let them into a mosque.” Qur’an 9:28
    “Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies.” Qur’an 22:19
    “Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them.” Qur’an 47:4
    “The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them.” Qur’an 8:65
    “Muslims must not take the infidels as friends.” Qur’an 3:28
    “Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an.” Qur’an 8:12
    “Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels.” Qur’an 8:60
    Islam permits lying! It is called “Al-taqiyya”. Muslims can lie when it is in their interest to do so and “Allah” will not hold them accountable for lying when it is beneficial to the cause of Islam. They can lie without any guilt or fear of accountability or retribution. A lie in the defense of Islam is approved even applauded in their “holy” books. Heck, the two main factions of Islam have been KILLING each other for over 1300 years. Why? Blasphemy! “Sunni–Shia split lies in the schism that occurred when the Islamic prophet Muhammad died in the year 632, leading to a dispute over succession to Muhammad as a caliph of the Islamic community spread across various parts of the world, which led to the Battle of Siffin. The dispute intensified greatly after the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein ibn Ali and his household were killed by the ruling Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, and the outcry for revenge divided the Islamic community.” And they have been killing each other ever since. Of course, it doesn’t stop them from KILLING us: the INFIDELS!

Copyright 2013 American Atheists