Book Review: ‘The New Atheist Threat’ By CJ Werleman


Like all cults, New Atheists believe that “the best human beings, as defined by them as ‘rational’ and ‘enlightened’ should become powerful enough to dictate to the rest of the planet a new way of being…they not only espouse white supremacy but they also speak in a language that is every bit as crude and racist as fascist, neo-Nazi, movements“- CJ Werleman, The New Atheist Threat 1

I suppose I’ll start this latest (and hopefully last) blog post on CJ Werleman in the same spirit with which I approached the others: by rattling off an ever-expanding list of curiosities. The greatest hits compilation includes; misrepresentation, serial plagiarism, probable sockpuppetry, outright lies, a suspicious Twitter follower count, false accusations and the latest entry: a history of anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. And unfortunately, some new entries to follow below.

Werleman’s rabid anti-‘new atheist’ vitriol finally culminated in the release of his latest self-published book ‘The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise Of Secular Extremists’. It would be more fitting were it titled ‘Quotes From People Who Hate Sam Harris’  – as without quotations from others, I’d wager that only a quarter of this book is actually Werleman’s own original writing. If I ever get the time, I’ll complete a word count with and without quotations/extracts. The fact is, if you’re familiar with the output of Reza Aslan, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Karen Armstrong, Nathan Lean, Max Blumenthal and Robert Pape, then you have read this book already, which is nothing more than a love letter to them. “Why pay for this?” I hear you ask. Well, I didn’t. Special thanks to Kindle Lending Library.

A few weeks before ‘The New Atheist Threat’s’ publish date, I chanced the following prediction:



Now, of course it’s never a wise move to judge a book before you’ve actually read it, but given I’m familiar with Werleman’s other published output on ‘new atheism’, I suspected the gamble would be low risk. Well, how did I do?

Blah Blah Soviet Union

Including the reference section, the word ‘Soviet’ appears in this book a total of 32 times. It’s laughable when you consider ISIS are currently rampaging through the middle-east, raping and dismembering, all the while having no trouble recruiting swathes of people from The West – CJ Werleman has to reach back in time to the Soviet era to pin an example of godless genocidal behaviour on ‘new atheists’  – and worse! –  he has the gall to finger them as the current ‘threat’.

Werleman declares:

‘the last 100 years produced the mass slaughters of World War 1 & 2, colonialism, Communism, imperialism, and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq – all of which had nothing to do with religion. Nor do any of today’s biggest problems have anything to do with religion’.


‘This 21st century era religious eradication ideology is hardly a new way of thinking, given it’s the same ideology that drove the anti-religious genocides of the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Albania, and North Korea over the course of the last 100 years. And it’s the ideology that indeed drives the New Atheist movement in America today’.

His ‘thesis’ seems to be that the ‘new atheists’ are one parking dispute away from emulating the anti-religious genocides of the 20th Century. But as we know, although these regimes were godless, they were themselves quasi-religious in nature.

The Soviet Union made Marxism–Leninism into a civil religion, with sacred texts and many statues of Marx, Lenin and Stalin.[13] via Wikipedia

There’s nothing about being an atheist, nor being an ‘anti-theist’ (which is what Werleman appears to mean by the term ‘new atheist’) that rationally leads to genocidal intent or action. His ‘argument’ is a staple of the fundamentalist Christian right and you’ve heard it a million times before. You Commie.

Blah Blah Chris Hedges

Werleman’s book reads like an ode to Chris Hedges, heaping gushing praise upon him like some anti-atheist prophet – referencing him, or his work a total of 73 times. Which is amusing given he chastises ‘new atheists’ for worshipping at the altar of Dawkins and Harris – singling out their books as the ‘New Atheist’ doctrines. Werleman says:

‘The Pulitzer Prize winning Hedges is not only an expert on Middle East conflict, but he’s also a master of the written and spoken word’.

The bulk of Werleman’s book is literally a collection of Chris Hedges quotes. Werleman is happy to provide us with a seemingly never ending hell of Hedges straw men, such as:

“New Atheists believe evil is embodied in lesser breeds, in lesser human beings, and, therefore, must be eradicated,”

Now, I speak to a lot of atheists. New, old, whatever etc. I’ve never known any to consider religious people ‘lesser breeds’ or call for their ‘eradication’. You certainly won’t find such sentiment in the works that Werleman holds up as examples of the worst embodiments of new atheism, namely Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Although, if dehumanising those you disagree with is your thing, look no further:


Blah Blah Stephen Hicks

Craig Stephen Hicks was a self-professed atheist who gunned down three innocent Muslims in Chapel Hill in February 2015. This was widely reported as escalating from a parking dispute. Immediately following these horrific murders, Werleman could barely contain his excitement long enough for the bodies to go cold before exploiting the atrocity to lash out at the more successful atheist authors he holds grudges against:

It’s unintentionally humorous that he draws a direct line of causation between reading texts (the books of Dawkins and Harris) and violent actions, yet completely discounts that possibility when it comes to the more enthusiastic followers of Islamic scripture. Of course, there is nothing in the works of Dawkins or Harris that encourage or suggest that their readers should harm people. Unlike, say The Qur’an or Bible.

Werleman admits this in ‘The New Atheist Threat’ when he says:

‘While I’m yet to hear a prominent New Atheism openly call for the outright destruction of those who hold religious beliefs, many have come perilously and intentionally close’

Anyhow, he begins his latest book with a dedication to the Chapel Hill victims with the following titbit:

Their respective lives cut short – execution style – by an avowed New Atheist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, February 2015′.

The dedication would be touching were it not so grossly opportunistic. It’s clear that Werleman views Hicks’s abhorrent crime as a direct consequence of his ‘new atheist’ worldview. Now, is it beyond the realm of possibility that someone with rabid anti-religious convictions may also wish to harm people of faith? Of course not. In fact, I would accept that explanation in Hicks’s case, were the facts suggestive of it. But the simple truth is this: they are not. As I understand that not every crime committed by a Muslim must be due to their Islamic faith, Werleman is unable to grasp that not every crime committed by a nonbeliever is due to their atheism (new, old, middle-aged, whatever). Werleman categorically pins this terrible crime on Hicks’s atheistic worldview. Werleman notes of Hicks:

‘He lists Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion as one of his favorite books, and has littered his timeline with dozens of antagonistic, anti-religious meme infopics’

Werleman also highlights this Facebook posting from Hicks as his jumping off point:

“When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I.”

Hicks was actually paraphrasing YouTuber Pat Condell here. And just as the paraphrase fails to highlight anything sinister, so does the original quote in full. As we will see, misquotation and an inability to Google plague Werleman’s output.

Werleman also claims:

‘Prior to the murders, Hick’s former wife had cut communication with him, branding him as someone who is very hateful towards religious people’

Hick’s former wife said no such thing. I can only imagine Werleman means Hicks’s estranged Daughter, Sarah Hurley. Who also said no such thing. Werleman appears to have achieved a misquote and false attribution all in one go based on this quote from Hicks’s Daughter (emphasis mine):

“I shut him out of my life permanently for not only disrespecting the religious beliefs of others, but bashing them on social media. It was obvious he had a lot of hate in his heart

The ‘very hateful towards religious people’ claim appears to have been plucked from thin air. It seems his daughter was unhappy with Hicks’s anti-religious postings on social media, not for hatred of actual people. She even confirmed that Hicks agreed to ‘respect her beliefs’ – despite their differences.

Incidentally, Hicks’ former wife, Cynthia Hurley did say Hicks’s favourite movie was ‘Falling Down’ starring Michael Douglas, whose character goes on a gun rampage. “He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at allshe said.

This and the opinions of the victims’ family is seemingly the sum total of data Werleman needs to conclude that Hicks carried out his abhorrent deeds solely because he is a ‘new atheist’. But what do we actually know about Hicks and his views from his online activity?

Werleman makes this objectively false claim about Craig Hicks’s Facebook page:

‘Hicks’s entire page is a shrine to New Atheism’

Unlike Werleman, Chairperson of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent has actually bothered to do the research on Hicks’s online activity. Here and here Nugent combs the online postings of Hicks with almost detective–like diligence. Nugent’s findings include the following:

  • Hicks promoted religious freedom – saying the first amendment takes precedence over any ‘feelings’ Americans might have. He said: “Not that I care for religion, as I most definitely do not, but banning it would be taking away a persons rights and I oppose that.”
  • Hicks supported the rights of Muslims to build the controversial ground zero Mosque
  • Hicks claimed to know several dozen Muslims, stating ‘they are not what most people think’ and that he actually ‘prefers them to Christians’.
  • Hicks was of the opinion that extremists in the Islamic faith were not common.
  • Hicks said: “I don’t see how anyone who calls themselves American can claim that a Mosque shouldn’t be TWO BLOCKS AWAY from what is known as ground zero”
  • Nugent Notes: ‘He [Hicks] repeatedly expresses his belief that all human beings are equal regardless of race, sexuality, religion or other criteria, and he actively opposes racism’.
  • Hicks shared quotes from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Ulysses Grant, Epicurus, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Isaac Asimov, Susan B Antony, Albert Einstein, Voltaire, Barbara Walker, Rousseau, Daniel Radcliffe and Aldous Huxley – individuals which escaped Werleman’s finger pointing, of course.
  • Hicks said “I don’t believe in Christianity at all, but I would never vandalize anything of theirs. Course neither would a Muslim, makes a person wonder which is more of a peaceful religion I believe!” Nugent notes: ‘The next day he posted a link to a news story about a suspicious fire that damaged construction equipment at the site of a future mosque in Tennessee. (2010)’

Although Hicks did post tame anti-religious memes and sentiments, at no point does he target Muslims with his rhetoric. In fact, he is notably favourable towards them.

However, Nugent does find significant reasons to bolster the official ‘parking dispute’ combined with gun love narrative when he notes:

‘He also posted on several online forums about his opposition to people breaking traffic laws, linked to a video of a trooper dealing with a motorist with an anger management problem, and liked eight different Facebook pages on the subject of being angry at people who drive in passing lanes.’

‘On Facebook he liked different eight pages on the subject of driving in passing lanes.

  • It’s called a PASSING LANE for a reason, get the F*ck out of my way!!!!
  • If people in the right lane are passing you, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!
  • People who understand that the LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING.
  • If you’re not passing traffic, GET THE #%@* OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!!!!
  • Get out of the left lane unless you are passing!!!
  • People who drive slow in the passing lane piss me off
  • I’m tailgating you because you are driving slow in the PASSING lane, dbag’.

‘Also on his Facebook page, he is strongly pro-American, frequently posting links to American flags and symbols, and his version of Americanism includes support for gun ownership and for strict separation of church and state. He has posted images of his wife shooting a gun on a firing range, and of his own gun in its holster, and has criticised people who blame murders on gun ownership’.

Also on his Facebook page, he has liked a link to the North Carolina Code, General Statutes § 20-174, prohibiting crossing at other than crosswalks and walking along highways. He has liked a Community Page called “If you’re not passing traffic, GET THE #%@* OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!!!!” In January he wrote that he had called the police when he saw a couple having sex in their vehicle in his parking lot‘.

Nugent notes his keen interest in guns:

    • He posted a picture of his wife shooting a gun at a firing range. And he shared a link to a news story about two convenience store clerks who were not to face criminal charges after being involved in the fatal shooting of a would-be robber. Hicks quoted from the article: “In Union County we have a no return policy on armed robbery,” and he added: “I like this guy!!” (2010)
    • He wrote: “I guess after the horrible tragedy early this week in Arizona, all Glock pistols will officially be labeled ‘assault weapons.’ While I never cared for Glocks personally, it stinks that anyone would blame a firearm rather than the operator of such firearm for such a terrible act. I think I’ll start blaming McDonalds for my weight problem, Christianity for the Ku Klux Klan, and Islam for terrorism.” (2011)
    • He shared a story about an Arizona politician who was being criticised because she had taken out a gun and aimed it at a reporter’s chest during an interview. He commented: “While I’m very much pro-gun, I’m equally for firearm safety. People will now put blame on firearms in general rather than ignorant people like this.” (2011)
    • In January 2015 he posted a photo of his gun, writing: “Yes, that is 1 pound 5.1 ounces for my loaded 38 revolver, its holster, and five extra rounds in a speedloader.” This was his first gun-related post since 2011.

Nugent summarises:

‘What is remarkable about his Facebook posts is that, alongside his atheism, religion and science posts, he consistently promotes social justice issues. He does not express dislike, never mind hatred, for people on the basis of their religious beliefs. He does differ from many (but not all) people who also promote social justice issues in his support for gun ownership.

He consistently promotes religious freedom including explicitly the rights of Muslims, marriage equality for LGBT people, women’s rights including reproductive rights, human rights and equality, animal welfare, and progressive politics generally, as well as his posts about his pride in America, support for gun ownership and personal posts’.

As reported here:

A woman who lives near the scene described Hicks as short-tempered.

Anytime that I saw him or saw interaction with him or friends or anyone in the parking lot or myself, he was angry,” Samantha Maness said of Hicks. “He was very angry, anytime I saw him.”

Samantha Maness was also reported as saying:

“I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” Samantha Maness, another resident of the Finley Forest development, told the Times. She said that Hicks displayed an “equal opportunity anger” and that he made “everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe.”

This backs the official reports of Hicks’s unhealthy fixation with perceived car related offences and guns. Hicks appears to be a classic example of the all too common inability to regulate one’s temper combined with easy access to – and a love for – lethal weaponry. There are many, many more examples contained within Nugent’s findings which highlight his fixation with guns. Could Hicks have gunned down those poor Muslims because they were Muslim? Absolutely. Is anything he posted online pertaining to his atheism (new, old geriatric, whatever) suggestive of that scenario? Absolutely not.

Werleman is shamelessly exploiting an atrocity to further his bitter agenda. As I’ve previously documented, CJ Werleman has a track record of misrepresenting and exploiting topical events to further his narrative. He once took an instance of a violent crime carried out by a Muslim, and reported it as an act of violence against Muslims. When this error was pointed out to him, rather than issue a correction or note, he opted to simply delete that section from his article – an article that had been online with the erroneous claim for over a month. An article he had used to whip up hysteria about rising anti-Muslim hate crime. This is not journalism. Most recently, he used the example of an assault from 2012 as an example of ‘Islamophobia’:


It wasn’t an ‘Islamophobic’ attack as I explain here. Unlike CJ, I don’t delude myself into thinking I’m a Journalist, however I do at least bother to check my information before making inflammatory claims that are likely to stoke tensions.

Blah Ayaan

CJ Werleman has been relentlessly critical of (and abusive towards) Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan is clearly a frustrating inconvenience to his narrative. A black, female refugee who has experienced the worst Islam has to offer and spends her days critiquing the devastating effects of Islam where human rights are concerned. Unfortunately for Werleman, she’s smarter than him and won’t shut up. She flies in the face of Werleman’s ‘racism of poor expectations’ narrative. So how best to deal with her? Lies and racism of course.

This has been exposed before the release of his book in the articleThe creeping racial bigotry in CJ Werleman’s rhetoric’ over at Futile Democracy.

In his book, Werleman tells us more than once that Ayaan Hirsi Ali ‘expressed sympathy for Islamophobic mass murderer Anders Breivik’. This is categorically untrue. Seemingly more appreciative of context than Werleman is, Dan Arel takes the liberty of wiping this particular toilet seat in his article ‘Sorry faux-liberals but Ayaan Hirsi Ali did not defend the terrorist attack by Anders Breivik’.

Ayaan also clearly states:

“Well, on the topic of Breivik, it goes without saying that I was horrified by his actions. He is one of the worst mass murderers in history, and there’s no question about that

‘No question’ seems fairly unsympathetic to me.

Incredibly, Werleman appears to blame new atheists (specifically Hirsi Ali) for inspiring Breivik’s attacks, completely omitting the fact Breivik described himself as a ‘militant-Christian’ and said he would ‘pray to god’ whilst carrying out the attacks.

Hirsi Ali fled Somalia to escape an arranged marriage. A victim of violence and female genital mutilation, she embellished details on her asylum application to ensure her ‘husband’ wouldn’t be able to find her (he still did). She has been more than open about this. You can read about it here. Werleman calls Ayaan Hirsi Ali a ‘fraud’ in his book. On what information does he base this? A documentary crew tracked down Ayaan’s family in Somalia and asked them whether claims of an arranged marriage were true. They answered ‘no’. End of investigation then. Fraud.

Blah Harris Nuclear Strike

Werleman is utterly obsessed with Sam Harris. Harris’s name is mentioned a total of 228 times in this book, a number not far off the total page count. This animosity seems owed in no small part to Harris publicly rebutting Werleman’s libel, resulting in the amplification of Werleman’s plagiarism, and in turn – further public humiliation.

Without doubt, Harris is one of the most misrepresented people in our solar system. Thanks to people like Reza Aslan, Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges and now CJ Werleman, there is now an entire version of Harris’s career online that isn’t even his. I refer to this straw man version as ‘Sham Harris’. In order to truly understand what Harris thinks on the particular topics he covers, I suggest reading his thoughts direct from the source, in context. In fact, due to the malicious distortions of his views such as those contained throughout this book, Harris has already addressed said distortions at length here. Werleman accuses Harris (and quotes from others doing the same) of harbouring nuclear, genocidal intent towards Muslims, or depending on his accusers’ mood, ‘Arabs’. In the writing they are referring to (Harris’s only writing on pre-emptive nuclear war), Harris says a nuclear first strike on an ‘Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons(not simply ‘Muslims’ or ‘Arabs) would be an unthinkable crimeand such a reality would be a horrible absurdity.

There is no doubt given the number of times people have attempted to correct CJ on these distortions that he is reprinting them out of malice, not ignorance.

You can read Harris’s actual views on pre-emptive nuclear war here.

A recurring theme in this book is Werleman misrepresenting criticism of Islam to mean criticism of all Muslims. He says:

There’s a tendency of many New Atheists, like Bill Maher and Sam Harris, to paint all or a majority of Muslims as having a proclivity for violence, anger, and anti-modernism‘.


They reduce all 1.6 billion Muslims to the brutality of ISIS‘.

Sam Harris has noted this lack of comprehension previously:

I don’t know how many times one must deny that one is referring to an entire group, or cite specific poll results to justify the percentages one is  talking about, but no amount of clarification appears sufficient to forestall charges of bigotry and lack of “nuance.”

Werleman also accuses Harris of calling the Iraq War a ‘humanitarian mission’. Harris didn’t support the Iraq war. Amusingly, Werleman criticises Harris for suggesting we should profile Muslims (implying it indicates moral decay), then goes on elsewhere to approvingly quote Arun Kundani who says:

…it is perfectly possible for cultural markers to be associated with Muslimness (forms of dress, rituals, languages, etc)

Sounds remarkably like profiling to me.

Werleman also spends a large portion of his book denigrating Sam Harris et al. for not being scholars in the fields of theology and the middle east, which is a strange route to take given CJ’s own stated credentials appear to amount to nothing more than repeating ‘I witnessed the aftermath of a terrorist attack once’. A story he changes, depending on who you ask apparently. Werleman also says:

That ISIS leader al-Baghdadi and Sam Harris interpret the Quran in the same fundamentalist way says a lot‘.

Except, al-Baghdadi does have qualifications in Theology, a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Baghdad no less – but I suspect qualifications would suddenly lack importance in this particular instance for Werleman.

The hypocrisy continues when Werleman claims this out of context Harris quote may influence anti-Muslim violence:

Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them

Once again, with all things Harris, I urge you to read what Harris actually said, not what Werleman would have you believe he meant. Yet, Werleman in his sycophancy has nothing but praise for Reza Aslan who recently said of ISIS:

The way you confront an organization like that is twofold. No. 1, you kill their militants. There is no room for discussion or negotiation when it comes to an ISIS or an Al Qaeda militant. They don’t want anything concrete. And if you want nothing that’s measurable or concrete, there is nothing to talk about. You must be destroyed‘.

As Harris notes:

That’s an even more hawkish note than I struck above. At least I gave a passing thought to capturing the bad guys. I also used phrases like “may be justified in killing them” (which, admittedly, lacks the clarity and passion of “You must be destroyed”). But let’s not split hairs: It seems that Aslan and I share the same “horrid” view of the ethics of self-defense. I await his sophisticated explanation of why it is justified‘.

Werleman also cites the work of Robert Pape when it comes to the issue of Islamic terrorism. Pape’s work has been discredited for a number of reasons. However, Harris did offer to debate Pape on this topic. Pape agreed, then for reasons unknown, completely disappeared.

And The Rest

Suspicious (and entirely coincidental) Amazon Reviews

Werleman takes a swing at the Amazon review system (whilst of course issuing the mandatory Hedges praise) when he moans:

Hedges’ I Don’t Believe in Atheists is a brilliantly written expose of the respective geo-political ignorance of both Dawkins and Harris, but is awarded only 2.8 stars (out of 5) by reviewers. Amazon permits customers to post reviews of books they have not purchased, which is an obvious flaw in their rating system – that can be used to both evangelize or denounce any particular book without the reviewer ever actually having read it‘.

It seems that he doesn’t like the injustice of people manipulating the Amazon user rating system. Which is interesting.

I’m sure this is a complete coincidence of course, but Amazon user ‘The Happy Atheist’ has left a handful of book reviews (and only book reviews) including a 5 star review of Werleman’s ‘Koran Curious’ stating:

Werleman does a fine job of piecing it all together, and like his previous works, he does it in a very entertaining way.

‘The Happy Atheist’ also leaves a 5 star review for a book called ‘Jesus Potter Harry Christ’ by Derek Murphy calling it a ‘masterpiece’. Interestingly enough, Derek Murphy also supplied this blurb for CJ Werleman’s Koran Curious:

CJ Werleman has crafted an absorbing biography of the man behind Islam and the development of the Koran. Although there are hundreds of plain-speech retellings of the political, interpersonal and spiritual developments of Jesus, few have dared to tread into the same territory regarding the prophet Muhammad.” – Derek Murphy, author of Jesus Potter Harry Christ. –Derek Murphy ‘Jesus Potter Harry Christ’

A five-star review is also left by ‘The Happy Atheist’ for a book called ‘Fighting Back The Right’ by David Niose. By a complete utter coincidence CJ Werleman also supplied a blurb for that book:

Fighting Back the Right is a searing and provocative indictment of the right-wing’s war on America’s secular values. Timely and powerful, it’s a refreshing jolt of cerebral clarity. Niose outlines a blueprint for restoring rational, progressive public policy. (CJ Werleman, author of Crucifying America: The Unholy Alliance Between the Christian Right and Wall Street)

Entirely by coincidence I’m sure, author of ‘Fighting Back The Right’, David Niose supplies this blurb for Werleman’s book ‘Crucifying America

With the passion and urgency the subject deserves, Crucifying America is an unabashed wake-up call to a nation that has allowed religious conservatives to hijack public policy.” -David Niose, author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans

The ‘Happy Atheist’ also gives a 5 star review to a book called ‘The Christ Conundrum’ by Andrew Carruth. By absolute certain coincidence CJ Werleman also supplied the following blurb for that book:

The book gives a very thorough argument, it’s an intriguing exploration of the life and times of Jesus” – CJ Werleman, author of ‘God Hates You, Hate Him Back.’

‘The Happy Atheist’ also gives a 5 star review for a Book called ‘Hellbound’ by Tim Hawken. Tim Hawken also supplies the following blurb for Werleman’s book ‘Jesus Lied’ (entirely by coincidence):

With this book, CJ has rightfully earned the title of atheism’s preeminent blue collar intellectual. No one has successfully brought down a religious faith as comprehensively and meticulously as he‘. –Tim Hawken ‘Hellbound’

Out of the 11 reviews left by ‘The Happy Atheist’, only one is negative. A two star review is left for Peter Boghossian’s excellent ‘A Manual For Creating Atheists’. On an entirely coincidental note, Boghossian was instrumental in exposing Werleman’s plagiarism and is described by Werleman as sounding almost ‘Psychopathic’ in ‘The New Atheist Threat’. Another coincidence.

But most interesting (and coincidental) of all, ‘The Happy Atheist’ has a public Amazon Wish List, which you can find on their profile page. When clicked, you are directed to a wish list belonging to someone called C Werleman. Coincidence explosion.


I’d tell Werleman to ditch his publisher, but since they are one and the same…in fact, I stand by my first suggestion. I noticed a fair few spelling and formatting errors with his previous books, and this one may be even worse. From rogue punctuation to missing spaces. An entire paragraph is repeated in the Kindle version at one point. Not to mention misspelling people’s actual names. He refers to Reza Aslan as ‘Alan’ at one point. And who the hell is Ali Rivki? Jaclyn ‘Glynn’ is a new one to me. Hermant Metha anyone?

The God Delusion

Werleman, whilst explaining his path to new atheism says ‘The first book I read was The God Delusion by Dawkins’ citing its contents as a source of this ‘new atheist’ threat. Well, he either didn’t read it, or has forgotten what’s contained within:


Werleman says:

New Atheists freely take the Quran out of context where a verse commands, “kill the unbelievers.”

Perhaps that’s true, but my answer to such charges would be: It’s not a problem when atheists do that though, is it? Fortunately, atheists don’t consider Islamic scripture to be the literal word of a perfect creator. Unfortunately, a significant number of Muslims do. They prove it to us daily. And that is a problem.

Plagiarism and Christopher Hitchens

Back in October 2014, I exposed CJ Werleman for serial plagiarism on this very blog. Given he’s never fully taken responsibility for this, I was surprised to see him mention it at all in the book. I was less surprised then, to read that he paints himself as the victim in this scenario and outright lies about the extent of his plagiarism. First, citing the dreadful book ‘Unhitched’ he takes the late Christopher Hitchens to task for plagiarism, and bemoans that new atheists didn’t attack Hitchens for it, yet attacked him. Nick Cohen addresses the accusations levelled at Hitchens here.

Werleman states, in reference to plagiarism:

‘I too have been guilty of committing a similar error, albeit unintentionally’

a campaign to discredit and destroy my reputation was organized by a number of celebrity New Atheists. During their “opposition research,” they discovered that a half-dozen of my nearly 100 opinion editorials and blogs contained incidences of unattributed sources’

He is repeating the same lies I’ve originally refuted here. It’s pathological at this point. Werleman continues to downplay his plagiarism as a ‘half-dozen’ instances, wilfully ignoring an additional 14 instances that were discovered. He also tries to explain away his copy and paste frenzy by claiming he simply forgot to enclose quotations. These would not actually be ‘quotations’ then, but rather misquotation, as every other word appears to have been altered. One need not ponder too long to formulate an explanation as to why this may have been done. Also, it only serves to quote paragraphs in your piece if you actually mention who it is you’re quoting. CJ did neither in several articles, further suggesting these were not quotes, but paragraphs intended to be considered CJ Werleman’s own writing. Whether he accepts this was genuine plagiarism or not is irrelevant, Alternet and Salon did and gave him the boot, the former removing his articles altogether, the latter issuing an apology and adding notes to the offending pieces. However, given Salon has no journalistic standards whatsoever I wasn’t surprised to read this in ‘The New Atheist Threat’:

More recently, Salon has offered me a second chance – of which I am deeply grateful’

Werleman was dubbed ‘Ctrl+CJ Werleman’ after this debacle. Incidentally, much of ‘The New Atheist Threat’ is a copy and paste job of previously published articles. Fortunately, those articles were published by Werleman this time. I assume.

Werleman also attributes this quotation to Christopher Hitchens:

“Islamophobia – a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”

Perfectly fine sentiments, with one problem however. Christopher Hitchens never said it. Others have made this mistake online too. Yet were I to be publishing it in a book, I’d at least bother to check my sources. This isn’t the first time Werleman has wrongly attributed a quote to Hitchens either.

Plugging Of Previous Books


CJ Werleman has instructed people on a number of occasions not to purchase the older books he wrote whilst he subscribed to the ‘new atheist’ worldview. These books conspicuously remain available to purchase, and advertised via his official website however, and are even plugged at the start of this latest book. He obviously doesn’t feel too $trongly about thi$ then.

Threats of Violence on Twitter

CJ Werleman makes note of a threatening tweet he received on Twitter as an example of ‘new atheist’ hostility towards his opinions:

Someone kill CJ Werleman. Silence that cunt.

I’m unable to locate the tweet in question, so it must have been deleted. Threats and abuse of course are completely unacceptable. However, I’d remind him that people who criticise Islam are actually killed. Critics of ‘New Atheism’? Not so much. There’s a reason someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali requires armed protection and he doesn’t. However, I do think wishing serious harm on anyone via social media is disgusting behaviour. I hope CJ would agree:




Understanding Of The Word Atheism

Given Werleman considers himself an atheist author, he seems to lack a basic understanding of what the word atheism actually means. In this book, he says things such as:

Wholly and solely atheism means non-religious belief’.

That might be news to agnostics or atheistic religious practices such as Buddhism.

He also says:

atheism, on its own, is a non-positive assertion.

My atheism, for instance, means I believe there are no gods‘.

Really? He *believes* there ‘are no’ something? Does he also require belief to reject notions of goblins, fairies etc?

Ergo, Ipso Facto

Werleman uses this flourish four times (if you include one instance of ‘Irgo, Ipso Facto’). I’ve no idea why. It would make David Brent cringe.

New Atheists Are Just As Bad As Religious Fundamentalists

Werleman writes (probably):

‘The emergence of Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris as household names has allowed atheism to be entirely hijacked by anti-theists. The media refers to the aforementioned as both atheists and voices of liberal reason. They are neither. They are anti-theists who are as equally hostile to any piece of new information that contradicts their worldview as the religious fundamentalists they scorn’.

Equally’ hostile? I’m yet to hear of any of the living aforementioned authors (or their readers) storming the magazine houses of their critics and gunning down staff before declaring “we have avenged the prophet Hitchens!” Non. Sense

The Jews/Israel

Werleman writes:

while [New Atheists] they’re critical of all religion (maybe with the exception of Judaism, as one tends to lose employment pretty quickly whenever one says anything that could be remotely misconstrued as anti-Semitic)


If Israel were genuinely interested in its security, it would end the occupation, which would bring about an immediate end to violence against Israel.


Let me state again: there is no evidence whatsoever that Palestinians have used Palestinians as human shields. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Nathan Lean

Werleman quotes from Nathan Lean almost as much as Hedges. Lean is quoted in the book as saying ‘New Atheist’ opinions on Muslims are ‘uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect’. Which is interesting given Lean’s attitude and comments towards Muslim and anti-Extremist Maajid Nawaz are utterly disgraceful – referring to him as a ‘lapdog’ and Harris’s ‘Muslim Validator’. The idea being that a brown-skinned Muslim critical of Islamism can’t possibly be thinking for themselves, but must be a puppet of the evil (and smarter) white man.

Tell MAMA (a monitor of anti-Muslim hate) have appointed Nathan Lean to their advisory board. Patron of said organisation, Mohammed Amin had this to say:

I find the language used to refer to Maajid Nawaz completely inappropriate…I believe Nathan owes Maajid an apology

He’s still yet to receive one.

Iraqi Civilian Death Toll

Werleman Writes:

Iraq war, which not only led to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi civilians,

Whilst any number of civilian deaths are tragic, the BBC notes of these figures (which Werleman doesn’t):

The toll includes not only violent deaths from the invasion and subsequent insurgency, but avoidable fatalities linked to infrastructure collapse

These figures also include sectarian violence, chronic illnesses, cancer and heart-attacks. Also reported on the BBC concerning the research:

The researchers warn that their estimates are associated with “substantial uncertainties”. Their estimated death toll was extrapolated from a small representative sample of households, and respondents were asked to recall events that occurred up to 10 years earlier. They also had to rely on outdated census data from 1987 for their population figures.

Martin Luther King

While attempting to make an argument for the good deeds carried out in the name of religion, Werleman says:

..despite the fact MLK had many times declared he was inspired by the New Testament’s social gospel, Dawkins and Harris contend he was inspired, instead, by secular humanistic ideals.

No, they did not. They said his commitment to non-violence was inspired by Gandhi:

Dawkins: “Although Martin Luther King was a Christian, he derived his philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience directly from Gandhi, who was not.2

Harris: “While King undoubtedly considered himself a devout Christian, he acquired his commitment to non-violence primarily from the writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi.3

Richard Dawkins

Werleman writes:

In Dawkins’ mind, terrorism starts and stops with Islam. Case closed‘.

That’s an untrue accusation of course, but even more odd when you consider Werleman Tweeted this out as recently as Oct 2014:


The above article that Werleman links to in his tweet quotes Dawkins as saying:

Religion itself is not responsible for this… It’s also this feeling of political involvement. It’s a feeling that it’s ‘us against them.’ And I think that quite a large number of young Muslims feel kind of beleaguered against the rest of the world. And so religion in some sense might be just an excuse, but I do think that a dominant part of the motivation for these young men has to be religion.”

Perhaps Werleman had forgotten about this.

Osama bin Laden

Werleman frames Osama bin Laden’s concerns as solely pertaining to foreign policy. Read bin Laden’s ‘Letter To America‘. It is awash with religious justifications, and motivations even going so far as quoting specific Qur’anic verses.

French ISIS Recruits

Werleman points to things such as the veil ban in France, and overt secularism as the cause of scores opting to join the murderous death cult ISIS, asking: ‘Is it any wonder French Muslims have become such easy targets for ISIS recruiters?’ – as though a desire to rape, torture and pillage is the only logical response to staunch religious restrictions. Perhaps he’d like to explain how ISIS seemingly have no problem poaching recruits from other Western nations who do not ban the Veil.

Boston Bombers

Werleman, referencing a note by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, claims the actions of the Boston Bombers were entirely motivated by The USAs involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq saying:

…the Tsarnaev brothers had declared they were motivated by the “killings of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan

Perhaps then, Werleman could explain what could possibly motivate two Muslim-American citizens of Kyrgyzstan origin to declare solidarity with Muslims in these unvisited, far-removed lands? Werleman accuses atheists of simply fixating on one or two comments about religion, whilst ignoring the rest when it comes to extremists. This is outstanding hypocrisy given the contents of (surviving brother) Tsarnaev’s note. The note was scrawled on the inside of a boat that was subsequently riddled with bullets during police attempts to ‘apprehend’ Tsaernaev. Here is Tsarnaev’s note in full. The ‘[Hole]’ sections represent missing text due to bullet holes. I’ve highlighted Tsaernaev’s religious sentiments in red, and the parts CJ fixates on in green:

‘I’m jealous of my brother who ha [hole] ceived the reward of jannutul Firdaus (inshallah )

before me. I do not mourn because his soul is

very much alive. God has a plan for each person.

Mine was to hide in his boat and shed some

light on our actions I ask Allah to make me a

shahied (iA) to allow me to return to him and

be among all the righteous people in the highest levels

of heaven.

He who Allah guides no one can misguide

A [hole] bar!

I bear witness that there is no God but Allah

and that Muhammad is his

messenger [hole] r actions came

with [hole] a [hole] ssage and that

is [hole] ha Illalah. The U.S.

Government is killing our innocent

civilians but most of you already

know that. As a M[hole] I can’t

stand to see such evil go unpunished,

we Muslims are one body, you hurt

one you hurt us all, well at least that’s

how Muhammad (pbuh) wanted it to be [hole] ever,

the ummah is beginning to rise/awa [hole]

has awoken the mujahideen, know you are

fighting men who look into the barrel of your

gun and see heaven, now how can you compete

with that. We are promised victory and we

will surely get it. Now I don’t like killing

innocent people it is forbidden in Islam

but due to said [hole] it is allowed.

All credit goes to [hole].’


Investigators also concluded the brothers were motivated by their extremist Islamic beliefs.

Anti-Muslim Prejudice

Werleman informs us that:

‘Today, Muslim-Americans must endure harassment from both law enforcement officials and the general public. According to FBI statistics, anti-Muslim violence has soared since 2010’.

As though atheists (new, old, fetal, whatever) deny this fact, or are unaware of it. It’s perfectly possible to notice, and oppose prejudice and hate directed at Muslims, and to notice and oppose such behaviour in the name of Islam.


I’ll leave you with this from Werleman, where he seemingly contradicts the entire point of his own book:

It takes no high degree of enquiry to know bad stuff happens in Muslim countries. Female genital mutilation, honor killings, punitive gang rapes, and the discrimination against homosexuals and apostates should trouble anyone with even a smidgen of humanistic sensibility. Equally, it’s right to call out the many civil liberty violations carried out in Islam’s name by thugs, gangsters, extremists and opportunists in some Muslim majority countries. Duh!

I imagine this will be the last thing I write about Werleman. This book seems to be the conclusive finale of any lingering credibility. His audience must almost exclusively consist of Islamists, anti-Semites and liberal regressives. That will never end well for him. I can only suggest starving him of attention from now on. I’m going to take Jerry Coyne’s lead and pledge to make a charitable donation if I mention or interact with him again in future. Feel free to remind me of it should I fall off the Werleman Wagon. I can only imagine the passage of time will (should) cause him to look back in deep shame as he recalls saving the big fight for ‘New Atheists’ – at a time when Islamist fascism was at its most murderous, human-rights violating worst.

Given the disdain for ‘New Atheists’ and specifically, ‘New Atheist Bloggers’ throughout this new book, I wonder whether Werleman will accept some responsibility the next time a ‘New Atheist’ blogger is hacked to death in Bangladesh? Of course he won’t. And neither should he. He only would were he to apply the same standards of instigating hate and violence to his own words, as he does to others

UPDATE 14 September 2015 – Threat Of Legal Action From CJ Werleman

On the day this blog post was released (12 Sep), CJ Werleman contacted me by email to demand the removal of three items ‘within 48 hours’. The items are: one reference to ‘probable sock puppetry’, one reference to ‘a suspicious Twitter follower count’ and the section titled ‘Suspicious (and entirely coincidental) Amazon Reviews’. Werleman states that failure to comply with these demands would result in ‘immediate legal action’ for ‘defamation’. I replied to say this blog post would remain unchanged.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

  1. Due to CJ Werleman’s inability to cite and quote properly, it has come to my attention that at least part of this quote is actually Werleman quoting Chris Hedges. He fails to indicate this in his book
  2. The God Delusion, page 307, Richard Dawkins
  3. Letter To A Christian Nation, page 12, Sam Harris


  • Great review. Thanks for taking the time to write it up; it can’t have been pleasant taking a trip through the sewer of CJ Werleman’s mind.

    The one area where this review falls down is the section on Israel, which is presented without comment, as though what Werleman is saying is so obviously absurd that it requires no discussion. However, regarding the use of “human shields” by Palestinians, this is (in part) what Wikipedia has to say:

    The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict that took place in 2008-2009 stated that it “did not find any evidence of civilians being forced to remain in their houses by Palestinian armed groups”. The Mission “asked numerous witnesses in Gaza why they had stayed in their homes in spite of the shelling, bombing and Israeli ground invasion”; respondents stated they “did not think they would be at risk as long as they remained indoors or because they had no safe place to go”.[55] An Amnesty International report in 2009 criticized Hamas for human rights violations, but found “no evidence Palestinian fighters directed civilians to shield military objectives from attacks, forced them to stay in buildings used by militants, or prevented them from leaving commandeered buildings”.[56]

    As for more recent conflicts, investigations haven’t been concluded, though Amnesty did say the following:

    [Amnesty International] does not have evidence at this point that Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to “shield” specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks. In previous conflicts Amnesty International has documented that Palestinian armed groups have stored munitions in and fired indiscriminate rockets from residential areas in the Gaza Strip in violation of international humanitarian law. Reports have also emerged during the current conflict of Hamas urging residents to ignore Israeli warnings to evacuate. However, these calls may have been motivated by a desire to minimize panic and displacement, in any case, such statements are not the same as directing specific civilians to remain in their homes as “human shields” for fighters, munitions, or military equipment.

    And Hamas has said there was no intention to fire from schools or hospitals even though “mistakes” were made (and “quickly dealt with”):

    “The Israelis kept saying rockets were fired from schools or hospitals when in fact they were fired 200 or 300 meters (yards) away. Still, there were some mistakes made and they were quickly dealt with,” Hamad told The Associated Press, offering the first acknowledgment by a Hamas official that, in some cases, militants fired rockets from or near residential areas or civilian facilities.

    By contrast, the use of Palestinian human shields by Israel is ongoing and well-documented by Amnesty and others.

    As for “If Israel were genuinely interested in its security, it would end the occupation, which would bring about an immediate end to violence against Israel”–that may be overstated (it’s CJ Werleman after all…), but it’s largely true. In fact through the Arab Peace Initiative, Israel was offered a comprehensive peace with its Arab neighbors as well as diplomatic recognition in exchange for ending the occupation, and instead of embracing or even exploring this offer it did everything it could to undermine it. Atheists have a tendency to view issues largely through the prism of religion, but the fact is that religion plays only a small role in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    Werleman is pathologically dishonest and also wrong about many things. But he’s not wrong about this.

    • You haven’t been paying attention. Amnesty International came out with a report in March that documents Hamas use of human shields during the conflict last summer.

      • Sorry, but you’re wrong. The only mention of “human shields” in that article is to “many Israelis” claiming Hamas used them, not Amnesty International saying so in its report. And in fact that actual Amnesty report says just the opposite:

        Several of these actions which have been discussed above, such as storing munitions in civilian buildings or launching attacks from the vicinity of civilian buildings, violate the obligation to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of attacks. But they do not necessarily amount to the specific violation of using “human shields” under international humanitarian law, which entails “using the presence (or movements) of civilians or other protected persons to render certain points or areas (or military forces) immune from military operations.”
        Public statements referring to entire areas do not amount to directing specific civilians to remain in their homes in order to render fighters, munitions or military equipment in specific locations immune from Israeli attacks. Thus, while potentially of concern, such statements would not constitute the use of “human shields”…. In some cases, the warnings issued by the Israeli military did not specify safe evacuation routes, and in many cases, civilians who tried to evacuate came under Israeli fire. In these circumstances, the Hamas authorities instructing civilians in the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes could have been out of concern for their safety or a desire to avoid further panic. It cannot be presumed that the intention of any such statements by the authorities was to use civilians to prevent the targeting of specific military objectives by Israeli forces.

        The Israeli authorities have claimed that in a few incidents, the Hamas authorities or Palestinian fighters directed or physically coerced individual civilians in specific locations to shield combatants or military objectives.Amnesty International has not been able to corroborate the facts in any of these cases.

        Furthermore, Amnesty’s request to Israel to provide evidence for its allegations of the use of human shields and received “no substantive response”–rather telling considering that Israel was so quick to hurl accusations of the use of human shields while they were going about their slaughter in Gaza.

        So people claiming the Palestinians use “human shields” are (wittingly or unwittingly) repeating Israeli propaganda. And as much as it pains me to say it, on this particular point CJ Werleman is 100% correct.

        • When the IDF publishes what soldiers actually saw first-hand, however, those testimonies are not worth even mentioning.

          Because Amnesty (and HRW) assume a priori that Israelis are liars.

          The IDF document shows that Hamas didn’t merely warn the general Gaza population to stay in their homes, as Amnesty claims, They were a lot more specific:

          “Prior to the July 19 entry of IDF ground troops into Shejaiya, neighborhood mosques instructed civilians to remain in the area despite IDF warnings to evacuate, assuring civilians that Hamas was strong and no harm would befall them.

          International organisations reported to the IDF’s Coordination and Liaison Administration that Hamas had used megaphones to exhort residents of northern Gaza, particularly Shejaiya, not to evacuate their homes.

          On July 16, Fatah officials reported to the Palestine Press News Agency that Hamas security services had placed Fatah members under house arrest in order to prevent them from assisting civilian evacuations.”

          Is this manual a forgery?

          Amnesty made no attempt to interview these witnesses these stories which they are aware of.. They merely said “Amnesty International has not been able to corroborate the facts in any of these cases. Specific assertions of the use of civilians as “human shields” by Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip should be independently investigated.”

          As usual, claims that benefit Hamas are believed unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and claims against Israel are believed, well, completely.

          • Amnesty International has concluded that Hamas committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict by firing rockets ‘indiscriminately’ at civilian areas and using non-combatants as human shields.

            ‘In launching these attacks, [Palestinian jihadis] displayed a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and for the consequences of their violations on civilians in both Israel and the Gaza Strip,’ said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

            It confirmed that during the 50-day war, Palestinian terrorists launched unguided rockets and mortars from civilian areas toward other civilian areas, constituting a breach of international law.

            Launching from civilian areas is using your people as human shields.

        • I included “unwitting” to give you an out, though I was fairly sure your vectoring of Israeli hasbara was intentional. So it’s helpful to see you verifying that you are in fact just repeating Israeli/IDF propaganda, whether or not it’s been verified by human rights organizations and even when it’s been explicitly contradicted by them.

          As to your assertion that Amnesty made no attempt to follow up on Israel’s claims, that’s entirely false, as I already mentioned above–they did follow up and received “no substantive response” from Israel (as I quoted). Here’s the complete quote of that paragraph from the Amnesty report:

          Amnesty International monitored and analysed public statements by the Israeli authorities during and after the conflict. The organization sent a memorandum to the Israeli authorities on 8 October 2014, requesting detailed evidence of specific violations by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups, among other concerns. In particular, the memorandum asked for information possessed by the Israeli military or other Israeli bodies on rocket firing or other offensive action by Palestinian armed groups from civilian areas, the use of civilian buildings or installations to store or conceal munitions, and the alleged use of “human shields”. In a brief letter to the organization dated 9 November 2014, Israel’s State Comptroller noted his plans to examine Israel’s political and military decision-making processes and investigative mechanisms with respect to Operation Protective Edge. However, as this report was being finalized, no substantive response to the concerns raised in the memorandum had been received from the relevant authorities.

          Again, people should consider what it means that Amnesty received “no substantive response” to requests for documentation of the use of human shields, despite the readiness (“recklessness” is a better word) with which Israel hurls the accusation. The fact is that Amnesty investigated all allegations of the use of human shields by Palestinian armed groups and found no evidence for them. Again, this is the link to the full report for anyone who wants to read the relevant section(s) for themselves, which I highly recommend over quoting press summaries of the report (e.g. reports from the right-wing British media that sometimes go so far in their attempts to push the Israeli narrative that they invert the report’s findings). See in particular page 45 of the report, which is page 47 of the PDF:

          The lack of evidence Amnesty found for the use of human shields by Palestinian groups in 2014 echoes its similar findings from earlier attacks on Gaza by Israel. So the point stands: CJ Werleman is absolutely right regarding the lack of evidence for the use of human shields by Palestinian groups, and anyone who values the facts needs to stop asserting–directly or indirectly–that Hamas uses human shields.

          • I don’t have discussions with people who dumb down discourse by using stupid terms like “Hasbara” and refer to evidence that makes them uncomfortable as “propaganda” and “lies”. You suffer from a lot of cognitive dissonance on this issue.

          • “Hasbara” is the official Israeli term for its public diplomacy, as I’m sure you know. Here’s just one authoritative reference for that from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussing the importance of hasbara/public diplomacy:


            I encourage people to review the World Union of Jewish Students “Hasbara Handbook”, discussing the best tactics to use to promote Israel’s interests:

            As for avoiding evidence that makes them uncomfortable, I’m confident people can decide which of us has been more faithful to the evidence here.

          • “Hasbara” is also used by Israel anti-activists anytime they’re confronted with a fact that doesn’t fit with their narrative. One can articulate positions that are supportive of Israel without having read propaganda pamphlets, which is the assertion you were trying to make about me, I presume.

            As far as your last line goes, I don’t know what people will decide. You’ve appealed to the authority of amnesty international, while I cited a handbook that was found by the IDF that you discredited because you don’t like the IDF.

            Additionally, here are some videos in which Hamas leaders speak of using human shields.

            There’s a lot more out there. Hamas strategy makes sense, John, for a number of reasons. 1) Progressive “kuffar” are often more sympathetic to the visibly more pathetic side whenever there is a conflict. Exploiting your civilians so you can gain world sympathy helps you win the propaganda war, which is part of any conflict. Also, and you should probably be aware of this as an atheist that is critical of religion, but Islam promotes martyrdom throughout its scripture. It’s only natural that Hamas, a “radical” Islamist group who have a Koran passage about killing Jews in their founding charter, are modeling their war effort after Islamic doctrine.

          • I have no idea what “pamphlets” you’ve read, but you’re presenting information from the Israeli military and videos from MEMRI (a propaganda organization founded by Yigal Carmon, a former IDF Colonel who spent several years working in Israeli military intelligence)–textbook hasbara–as though they’re impartial and authoritative. Furthermore, you’re ignoring or outright misrepresenting investigations by Amnesty International, an organization that has shown its objectivity on this issue by condemning both Israel and Hamas for war crimes.

            The “Hamas strategy” of using human shields that you assert as though it’s a fact is nonetheless unsupported by any evidence that human rights organizations can gather–and that includes information from the Israeli government, which despite its vested interest failed to supply corroborating evidence in response to Amnesty International’s specific request for such evidence. That alone speaks volumes to anyone with a genuine and objective interest in understanding whether or not Hamas and other Palestinian groups have used “human shields”. Those with a vested interest in defending Israel, of course, will continue to ignore it.

            To anyone following along, I’d again highly recommend that you read the WUJS’s Hasbara Handbook I cited earlier to get a sense of how Israel’s defenders (online and otherwise) operate–particular the section on “point scoring”. An excerpt:

            Point scoring is a method of communication that prioritises making certain points favourable to the speaker, and attacking opponents of the speaker by trying to undermine their positions. Point scoring communication ought to give the appearance of rational debate, whilst avoiding genuine discussion. The aim of the Israel activist point scorer is to try to make as many comments that are positive about Israel as possible, whilst attacking certain Palestinian positions, and attempting to cultivate a dignified appearance.


          • I’d also recommend that people take a look at this article from the Jerusalem Post to see how Israel has actively recruited “an army of bloggers” to make comments and postings presenting Israeli hasbara on sites across the Internet:


          • John,

            I am typing this from my phone so I’m not sure the reply will be under your comment. If it’s not I’ll resend it later. Anyway, to address a few points:

            1) I’m not employed by the Israeli government. Although I may share some of the opinions expressed by Hasbara operatives, I’ve beer interacted with the Israeli government or a Zionist organization in any form. So please stop referencing this Hasbara movement as if I’m a part of it.

            2) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the movement itself. College campuses are dominated by regressive liberals like Reza Aslan and a movement is needed to counter the misinformation Marxist cultural relativist professors teach to impressionable young minds.

            3) I’m not a Zionist. I’m not even Pro-Israel, per se. I’m anti-Palestinian, or as I like to call them, Fakestinian. I believe they’re an artificial and genocidal culture that were created to annihiliate Israel from within after failed attempts by Israel’s Muslim neighbors to do so through war. I believe the whole movement to be a lie that is predicated on one goal- the restoration of the caliphate. The tiny Jewish state is in the way of that. Islam teaches that any land that was conquered by Islam must be re-conquered. That is what this is all about.

          • Yes, identifying Palestinians as “an artificial and genocidal culture” certainly qualifies as anti-Palestinian. It’s also one of the most bigoted and wrongheaded things I’ve seen on the Internet lately. I speak from the personal experience of talking to hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza when I say you have no idea what you’re talking about. I’d urge you to reconsider, and try seeing Palestinians as human beings rather than caricatures.

            I don’t want to continue filling up this comments section (which should be dedicated to talking about what a dishonest jackass CJ Werleman is), and in any case my point about the lack of evidence for Palestinian use of human shields is clear, so I’ll sign off with a quote from Israeli peace activist and former MK Uri Avnery about the far more important moral absurdity of the “human shield” charge:

            NEARLY SEVENTY YEARS ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called “the Red Army” held the millions of the town’s inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.

            Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.

            This is the description that would now appear in the history books – if the Germans had won the war.

            Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in our media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of Gaza as “hostages” and exploit the women and children as “human shields”, they leave us no alternative but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children and unarmed men are killed and injured.


          • The fact that Palestinians never killed Egyptians and Jordanians when those countries occupied “the territories” speaks volumes.

  • It appears the author of this blog spent more time and expended more energy reviewing Werleman’s book than Werleman himself invested in writing it.

  • Thanks for writing this. CJ is just a terrible, and it’d probably be best we ignore him. I mean, who’s going to buy this garbage book, a few thousand of CJ’s fake twitterbot followers?
    That said, I still feel like ignoring him will be easier said than done, as CJ can’t seem to resist being a deceitful little ass. Seriously, a few months from now, we’re going to get some really awful, painfully stupid commentary from him on social media that will be just dying for a rebuttal.

  • It’s hilarious how much stuff he makes up out of thin air. Dawkins’ book was largely about Islam? What????? He mentions it maybe twice.
    This new atheism wants the most enlightened people to dictate what everyone else does? What? Please find a single example of any of them even remotely going in that direction.
    Perhaps the only point I’ve heard him make that I think has merit is that the “atheist” movement should largely be renamed the “anti-theist” movement to the extent that it exists. That’s fair enough because plenty of atheists seem to like religion so having Dawkins and Harris as the biggest figureheads doesn’t necessarily represent the variety of views.

  • An excellent and we’ll researched review Mr Knight, very well done. Thank you!

  • Now THAT is a right royal smackdown of a bitter, drunk-on-sour-grapes, plagiarising git of a man. Kudos.

  • Pingback: Why do some atheists hate New Atheists? « Why Evolution Is True

  • I’m curious about Werleman’s claim that Craig Stephen Hicks was “an avowed New Atheist”. Setting aside the fact that this is more or less a bogus term: did Hicks ever describe himself as a “new atheist”? I looked through his Facebook page shortly after the crime, and I don’t recall seeing him say this anywhere. There was certainly a lot about atheism in general, but I don’t believe he ever actually described himself as a “new atheist.”

    Werleman regularly describes any atheist on Twitter he doesn’t like as a New Atheist (his caps), for obvious opportunistic reasons, and usually without any actual indication that they’re “new”, “old” or anything else. So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s manufacturing this claim about Hicks as well.

    Does anyone know one way or the other?


    On Hamas and human shields. The author Helena Cobban is the wife of a member of the NSC under Nixon and Carter.

    Your arguments are predicated on the assumption that all idrological blinders are religious. History has shown otherwise. Your argument is with history, not religion.

  • Stalin was never an atheist, they already lied about Hitler and Nazism being atheistic, atheists saw through their lies about Nazism, it’s about time to see their lies about Communism being atheistic. There’s only one fake story about Stalin becoming an atheist after he read Darwin. But in reality Stalin was Anti-Darwin and called Darwinism “The whore of Capitalism”(продажная девка капитализма)

    Do some research:

    “we need not believe one later Soviet claim that he read The Origin of Species at the age of thirteen while still at Gori, and told a fellow pupil that it proved the nonexistence of God. The story fails on several obvious accounts, including Stalin’s remaining religious, even pious, for some years longer.”
    Stalin: Breaker of Nations by Robert Conquest
    page 20

    Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth Century Revolutionary Patriotism By Erik van Ree
    “Senokosov, 1989: 502. In May 1940, Stalin had reproached his officers that they had shown less concern for the well-being of their men in the Finnish war than Count Kutuzov, who visited his soldiers to see how they were doing and what they had to eat(Malyshev, 1997: 110) But soldiers could not avoid suffering. As Stalin noted in 1952: “Jesus Christ also suffered, and even carried his cross, and then he rose up to heaven. You, then, have to suffer too, in order to rise up to heaven””

    Yaroslavsky and his military-atheistic movement “Godless” were forced under Stalin’s order to write article “Why religious people are against Hitler” (“Почему религиозные люди против Гитлера”)

    In the Document “The ‘Purge’ of the Libraries” Stalin ordered the withdrawal of “all anti-religious literature, exposing religion on the basis of natural science data”
    Source: The Stalin Era By Philip Boobbyer

    Funny how atheists get blamed for Stalin when he gets so much religious support, even to this day:

    There’s no doubt that Stalin was not an atheist:

    Mao wasn’t an atheist either

    “The late Chairman Mao Zedong said when he received delegations from Peru in 1964 that “it is wrong to tell people to be against religion.””

    Yeah, real atheistic. Is that why in 1956 he created the Chinese Taoist Association? Some atheist all right!

    “My dear elder sister!….I guess for the next few years [at least] I won’t have to go to see God. Still, one must recognize the symptoms that one is on the downward side of things”
    – Mao Zedong, January 26, 1956 on page 19 of: The Writings of Mao Zedong, 1949-1976: January 1956-December 1957

    Usually the only quote people give that Mao was atheist comes from the Dalai Lama, he claims Mao said “religion is poison”, however:

    Recast All under Heaven: Revolution, War, Diplomacy, and Frontier China in the 20th century by Xiaoyuan Liu
    “Mao told the tibetan leader that religion was poison. Mao’s remark cannot be found anywhere in relevant publications in China. When recalling this incident on different occasions, the Dalai Lama has offered several versions of his reaction on the spot”

    Mao Zedong’s China by Kathlyn Gay page 122
    “tourists have come to Shaoshan to learn more about Mao. Some still idolize him. As one elderly man explained, “I worship Mao as a god. He didn’t just found our nation. He established our system of morality.”
    Tourists who go to Shaoshan each year may pray before his statue and buy “protection cards” that are said to bear Mao’s spirit and to assume safety while traveling. In other parts of the nation, “Mao is revered…in much the same way as the Virgin Mary is viewed by many Christians as a guardian and protector,” according to a report in the Taipei(Taiwan) Times. “Drivers dangle his picture in their cars, people make incense offerings to his statue in their homes.”
    …Chinese make the pilgrimage to Shaoshan each year because they view Mao Zedong as a god”

    The Baker Pocket Guide to World Religions by Gerald R.McDermott
    “Mao Zedong…seems to have believed privately in a realm beyond the grave….The thoughts expressed are reminiscent of a religious Daoist cosmos”

    According to “The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, 1900-1950” by Holmes Welch, at the time of Mao rule:
    “90 percent of the population occasionally resorted to Buddhist rites or temples and 99 percent were affected by Buddhist contributions to Chinese thought and behaviour.”

    China is not officially atheist. Nowhere does the Chinese constitution identify it as such. Infact the government in China officially sanctions several different religions. “State Atheist” or “Officially Atheist” is nowadays just a stupid way to slander atheists, it’s a misnomer that refers to a government’s anti-clericalism, but every country that went through secularization went through anti-clericalism, and it was usually a violent process, there’s hardly anything atheistic about being anti-clerical, many people even today claim that the church is corrupt and seeks only money and power

    Here’s the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China:

    But to save you the trouble, the words “atheist” or “atheism” don’t show up even once in China’s constitution

    Here’s more:

    Conflict in the former Yugoslavia: an encyclopedia
    “In 1967 Albania was proclaimed the world’s first atheist state. After the ban was lifted at the end of 1990, however, the population was found to be, as before World War II, approximately 70 percent Muslim and 30 percent Christian”

    This “atheist state” stuff seems to me to be only about closing religious organizations so that the Communists wouldn’t get resistance from Muslims when they’ll try to improve Women’s rights, but religious practice was still way beyond anyone’s control and was well and alive even in their laughable Museum of Atheism, is the +99% religious country of a minor dictator the best they got? The least they could do is to give an atheist majority society, it’s not that hard. According to Gustafsson and Pettersson: 82% of Sweden, 80% of Denmark, 72% of Norway, 60% of Finland don’t believe in god. Japan and the Netherlands among many others are also doing great despite the fact that the majority don’t believe in religion and god

    North Korea is among the most laughable examples people could possibly give for an atheist regime, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, it’s “the most religious state I have ever seen”. North Korea is 51% Buddhist and Confucian, Shamanism at 25%, Christians at 4%, and the rest are mostly Chondogyo (~12%), Chondogyo even have their own party, sure it’s under control, but so much for the so-called atheist state. Am I the only one who fails to see any proof North Korean leaders were atheists? To a large degree I even think it can be blamed on religion

    Juche is the state religion of North Korea, and yes, it is a religion, it has everything a religion has, including supernatiral elements like birds singing in Korean and being born directly on Mount Paektu like some mythical god, as well as controlling the wind and hearing prayers, some of the local population even say they believe he actually answers back

    The book “Pol Pot: An Anatomy of a Nightmare” by Philip Short notes:

    Page 65
    ” Khmer students…Like communists everywhere, they interpreted Marxism through the prism of national culture, in their case an intensely normative form of Buddhism”

    Page 80
    “Most intriguing was his emphasis on Buddhism. Enlightened monks, he claimed, had ‘always understood very well the nature of monarchy’ and had written folk-tales like the Thmenh Chey(whose hero, one of the best-loved rogues in Khmer literature, famously outwitted the King), in order to show the people that they should not believe in royalty. The Buddha-“Our Great Master”- had abandoned princely life, he went on in order to become ‘a friend of the people; he had been the first to preach the virtues of democratic system alone that could defend Buddhism’s ‘profound values’. As a member of the Cercle Marxiste, Sar would not have been expected to write in such terms. Ieng Sary or Thiounn Mumm certainly would not have done so…Sihanouk, Sar wrote, had undermined the Buddhist faith by introducing ranks into the monkhood”

    Page 118
    “Sar…Ponnary…marry they did, at three-day long ceremony, conducted by Buddhist monks, chanting and swinging censers of incense”

    Page 150
    “In the 1960’s even more than today, religious belief provided the primary value-system of ordinary people throughout South-East Asia. Sar himself had been a Buddhist novice. The first communists, like Tou Samouth and Son Ngoc Minh, had studied at the Higher Pali Institute. So had younger leaders like Siet Chne and Mok. Both within the Party leadership and among the rank and file, the grammar of Theravada Buddhism permeated Khmer communist thought, just as Confucian notions helped to fashion Maoism…Sihanouk had called his policy ‘Buddhist socialism’, and his doctrine of neutrality, the Buddhist ‘middle path’…just as Mao had sinified Marxism, Sar gave it a Buddhist tincture”

    Page 197
    “Lon Nol prevaricated. Everything he had achieved in his life had been due to Sihanouk’s patronage. He knew the Prince trusted him. But he was ambitious and profoundly influenced by esoteric Buddhism. The mystics and seers he frequented had persuaded him that his fate was to restore the glories of the ancient Khmer-Mon empire by waging war against the thmil, the hated ‘unbelievers’ from Communist Vietnam”

    Page 208
    “Lon Nol made a radio broadcast announcing the start of a chiliastic religious war against the Vietnamese communists. They were ‘the enemies of Buddha’ he declared”

    Page 313
    “The Roman Catholic Cathedral was demolished, not so much as an anti-Christian or even anti-foreign gesture, but because its French missionary founders, with typical nineteenth-century arrogance, had built it directly opposite Wat Phnom, which in Khmer tradition is sacred ground…the Khmer Rouges preserved the most important Cambodian historical monuments. The Buddha’s Tooth Stupa in front the Phnom Penh railway station survived Khmer Rouge rule unscathed, as did the Royal Palace and the National Museum. So did all the major Buddhist monasteries in Phon Penh and in most provincial towns. So, too, did Angkor Wat and the other Angkorian sites”

    Page 341
    “Pol…when he spoke to Khmer audiences, he usually carried a fan, emblematic of the monkhood”

    Page 448
    “In the words of the Buddhist leader Yos Hut Khemcaro, ‘Millions of Cambodians, including Buddhist clergy, worked with [them]’ ” [them as in the Khmer Rouge]

  • Very much appreciate the effort put into this review, Werleman has turned out to be a lot nastier and dangerous than previously thought. The book sounds like nothing more then a smear-campaign based on straw man after straw man, the guy is obviously a pathological liar.

  • Great review Stephen! Big fan of your podcast as well 🙂

    I really LOLed when I read “blah blah Chris Hedges” spot on! 😀

  • > Really? He *believes* there ‘are no’ something. Does he also require belief to reject notions of goblins, fairies etc?

    “Belief”, in addition to its common meaning “statement held true without evidence” (opposed or conflated with [evidence-based] knowledge in religious rhetoric) is also a technical term which means simply “statement [someone] holds to be true”, much like “theory” can mean “framework of knowledge” and, in common parlance, “unfounded hypothesis”.

    Of course, if the word “belief” is used in its technical meaning, there’s no reason whatsoever to dedicate a section of the book to it; after the net has been cast as wide as possible, reverting to the other, narrower meaning and making conclusions on the basis of that is intellectually dishonest (not that Werleman is a stranger to intellectual dishonesty, hur hur). But don’t automatically assume that everyone who says “I believe there are no fairies” is a nutcase.

    • Well, then if he is using it in the ‘statement someone holds to be true’ sense, then he’s also contradicting his preceding sentence about atheism not being a positive assertion. An incoherent mess at best:-) Thanks for your comments

  • You haven’t been paying attention. Amnesty International came out with a report in March that documents Hamas use of human shields during the conflict last summer.

    • [Replying here as well as above since Bryan posted his comment in both places; I hope you’ll publish both responses just as you published both of his comments.]

      Sorry, but you’re wrong. The only mention of “human shields” in that article is to “many Israelis” claiming Hamas used them, not Amnesty International saying so in its report. And in fact that actual Amnesty report says just the opposite:

      Several of these actions which have been discussed above, such as storing munitions in civilian buildings or launching attacks from the vicinity of civilian buildings, violate the obligation to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of attacks. But they do not necessarily amount to the specific violation of using “human shields” under international humanitarian law, which entails “using the presence (or movements) of civilians or other protected persons to render certain points or areas (or military forces) immune from military operations.”
      Public statements referring to entire areas do not amount to directing specific civilians to remain in their homes in order to render fighters, munitions or military equipment in specific locations immune from Israeli attacks. Thus, while potentially of concern, such statements would not constitute the use of “human shields”…. In some cases, the warnings issued by the Israeli military did not specify safe evacuation routes, and in many cases, civilians who tried to evacuate came under Israeli fire. In these circumstances, the Hamas authorities instructing civilians in the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes could have been out of concern for their safety or a desire to avoid further panic. It cannot be presumed that the intention of any such statements by the authorities was to use civilians to prevent the targeting of specific military objectives by Israeli forces.

      The Israeli authorities have claimed that in a few incidents, the Hamas authorities or Palestinian fighters directed or physically coerced individual civilians in specific locations to shield combatants or military objectives.Amnesty International has not been able to corroborate the facts in any of these cases.

      Furthermore, Amnesty’s request to Israel to provide evidence for its allegations of the use of human shields and received “no substantive response”–rather telling considering that Israel was so quick to hurl accusations of the use of human shields while they were going about their slaughter in Gaza.

      So people claiming the Palestinians use “human shields” are (wittingly or unwittingly) repeating Israeli propaganda. And as much as it pains me to say it, on this particular point CJ Werleman is 100% correct.

  • Does your update from yesterday count as falling off the Werleman Wagon? Your work on this guy has been great reading for me, and it’s very important, so I encourage you to fall off liberally.

  • Outstanding review. The level of intellectual dishonesty combined with slimy opportunism that this creep stoops to is appalling. What slithery cowardice. I suspect he’s a sociopath, and just barely bright enough to be dangerous.

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  • Snapshot/PDF those Amazon reviews and the user wishlist. I don’t imagine they’ll be around for much longer.

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  • In chapter 4, Werleman references to two paragraphs from Christopher Hitchens’ god is not Great, and suggests that these were plagiarized from a 1923 collection of essays by one Chapman Cohen. I decided to look more deeply into this accusation, ostensibly to vindicate Hitchens. I failed – Werleman is correct. Hitchens definitely copied this material.

    Hitchens did enclose the first of these paragraphs in quotation marks, making it clear that the words were not his own (although he failed to properly credit the source.) In the case of the second paragraph, Hitchens was misquoted by Werleman. His words were altered to make them appear much closer to the terminology of the 1923 essays, and in the course of this alteration, they were also made grammatically incorrect. If nothing else, Hitchens was well versed in English grammar, unlike the individual who altered his words. (see ~loc. 965, Amazon Kindle edition of Werleman; p. 38 of the large-print edition of Hitchens, ISBN 978-0-446-55229-5, or, according to Werleman, pp. 22-23 of an unspecified edition.)

    Furthermore – and here’s the best part – this well founded accusation of plagiarism seems itself to be plagiarized. It echoes a blog post by Christian apologist Ronald V. Huggins, dating from September 8, 2013, some two years before Werleman’s book was published. (This is unless that individual also stole it from somewhere – I can’t be completely sure that he didn’t, but I strongly doubt it as he seems to write eloquently on many matters related to apologetics, he appears to hold a genuine Ph.D. in theology, and he seems to have a hard-earned reputation to protect. At least he quotes Hitchens accurately. He would surely receive the scathing label of ‘fundamentalist’ from Werleman.)

    Huggins receives no credit. How embarrassing for Werleman. Plagiarizing an accusation of someone else’s plagiarism. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    The next couple of pages consist of Werleman acknowledging that he has indeed plagiarized in the past and accepting that failing in himself, but promising that he will never will do it again. All of this, apparently, on the heels of an egregious plagiarism. How very sad.

    Huggins’ blog post may be found here;

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