Ruchira Paul in Accidental Blogger:
But defenders of religion like [Kathryn] Lofton and Karen Armstrong and the not-quite-pro-religion-but-getting-there types like Terry Eagleton invariably attack atheists for their lack of charm, style, empathy and another nebulous quality (I think of it as *mysterianism*) which keeps them from fully appreciating the true nature of religion. In the first part of her article Lofton sticks to that formula. Toward the end however, she introduces a new accusation that I have not until now seen hurled at the new (or old) atheists.
What is religion? The New Atheists reply, with clarion diagnostic consistency: Religion is something that sells you something invisible so you may feel that which you cannot find elsewhere. It is something for which there is insufficient evidence. It is something people do because they have always done it, not because they know how to think about it. Religion is irrational, it is emotional, and it is instinctual. Religion enslaves you with its wiles, then forgets to remove the handcuffs. It is the fortune teller reading entrails, not the captain consulting his compass. It massages and preys and toys and plays and screws you over, time and again, with a promise it won’t keep because of its irrationality and its whimsy. Religion is a know-at-all with no knowledge. It makes “a virtue out of not thinking.” Religion is cutting the hedge repeatedly around an erection. Religion is, it turns out, a lot like a girl.
Religion as effeminacy is nothing new. Nor indeed is the accusation that religion is socially sanctioned lunacy. Treating it as a neurological disorder, however, sets the New Atheists within a long tradition of critical misogyny. Under the guise of protecting your children, in the effort to best serve your sweet flock of idiots, if you want to be a New Atheist you have reclaimed a New Virility to counter your post-industrial emasculation. This virility plays out in demonstrations of protective strength, plowing away at the big two nemeses (Christianity and Islam) in the interest of protecting the little guy. It is also exhibited in grand tours of scientific proof, or plodding expulsions of religious duplicity.
Wait a minute! Have atheists and skeptics ever said that religion is like a girl? (Not that there is anything wrong with being a girl) Or that believing in unverifiable myths for comfort is exclusively a womanly quality? Have atheists refused to admit women into their fold? Do they claim that women are genetically incapable of possessing rational minds? On the other hand, organized religion has diligently kept women out of leadership roles through much of history. So, the charge of misogyny from a defender of “faith” sounds strange.