Recently a response from a dear friend of mine made its way through one of the many channels of social media and rightly states a case for introspection within our community – a self analysis, an understanding of opposition perspective, and – most importantly – a change if deemed necessary; to refuse change would be to act with an ideology akin to what we regularly rally to ridicule and weaken.
The entirety of the response can be found immediately below and is being reproduced with complete consent of its author- once again, someone I respect highly and genuinely value in perspective and friendship.
“I found this to be an interesting article regarding Atheists. What illuminated for me was this quote, “I, for one, would just like to be able to express my views in an intelligent and heart-felt way without fear of reprisals, shunned, or otherwise being looked at as an abomination just because I do not believe in God” My assumption is the author is referring to his/her frustrations with theists when presenting his/her convictions regarding God, gods, or the lack thereof. The author emphasizes a desire for acceptance, but does not find it with theists, particularly Christians.“
“What strikes me about this is that the exact same sentiment is shared by Christians regarding Atheists by changing the phrase to “….because I do believe in God.” Often, the narrative of Atheists contains a tone of hubris and the assumption of undisputable intellectual high ground, while offensively attacking religion. Consider these titles from Atheist Analysis: “Ignorance Loves Ignorance, the Religious Wall Around You” , “Christianity Isn’t Irrational… It’s Worse Than That.” In my opinion, the berating tones of these titles alone quickly discredits the individual and the view they’re presenting. I make no excuse for the Christian who can’t speak truth in love, however, I believe some in the Atheist community need to apply some introspection and identify their own hypocrisy to build credibility amongst other communities in order to open a more diverse dialogue regarding the quest for truth.”
I agree with the majority of the message here, that we are only going to create a secular state, one of equality and hegemony, if we truly respect the thoughts and positions of those we do not agree with, on philosophical terms or otherwise, and are willing to protect their basic human rights as they would ours. Applying the golden rule, we have to act as we would wish the rest of world to treat us.
I am guilty of some of the titular offenses mentioned above as I am the Editor in Chief of the Atheist Analysis blog. In my heretical duties, I act as the middleman, colluding and glueing the many styles of content that the blog displays; nothing gets published that I do not first see and approve, thus I too have to mark a case against me for being too lenient towards the “angry atheist” mentioned so rightly in The Unassuming Atheist’s wonderful post last week.
This brings me to the defense of strong language and proposed hypocrisy in my friends comment. The following comment draws deep suspicion…
“What strikes me about this is that the exact same sentiment is shared by Christians regarding Atheists by changing the phrase to “….because I do believe in God.”
In what would quite rightly be considered the most openly “Christian” industrialized nation on the planet (largest population at 275+ million Christians and surely the most vocal), teeming with political Christian rhetoric, an incredibly higher church per capita rating than anywhere I have ever experienced, and, of course, a growing number of laws on the local, state, and national scale that openly discriminate against people of non-belief.
I defy my good friend to find a faithful Christ following acquaintance that:
- Has been fired for that belief
- Was refused marriage for that belief (see the new Oklahoma bill that requires clergy approval in order to get married)
- Has been turned away at a storefront in places like Indiana for open godliness
I would generally inquire from them, or any other believer mentioning reprisal for the open statement of their belief, to find a case clearly outlining similar events in their own life to what our esteemed blogger mentioned below. I am genuinely curious, of my friends potential response, if those examples would be judgement from other believers and other faiths before they would be from atheists or non believers at home or travels abroad.
The Unassuming Atheist writes:
“”I, for one, would just like to be able to express my views in an intelligent and heart-felt way without fear of reprisals, shunned, or otherwise being looked at as an abomination.”
I honestly feel you would be hard pressed to find more than freedom of speech protected social media reprisals, online mockery or satire, and similar antics from armchair atheists (all of which you have the power to block and censor). To every one of the above discriminatory actions listed, I can personally attest to someone I know, or have directly communicated with, that has experienced this open hostility from the Christian majority in this country and others.
I thank my friend, and every other person of faith in my life, for not eliminating my messages and tirades, as I have obviously not ignored theirs. They may not be as openly political as I am, but nonetheless their online messages have never been, and will never be, blocked by yours truly. I try to live my life with an understanding that mere differences of opinion can NEVER be enough to click that banishment button.
That being said, in a world where saying, “I am an atheist” can get me fired, ridiculed openly, segregated in this very state, Michigan, part of “the greatest nation on earth”, and even murdered in the southern Asian and Arabic regions, I find open contempt of religion and any other social matter in the form of honest satire morally astute. Furthermore, I will clearly deduce that what most Christians see as an attack on their faith is quite likely the side effect of losing the near monopoly on issues of morality, education, reproduction, and intellectual freedom so luxuriously enjoyed in the past. This is part of the price to pay for the freedoms enshrined in the constitution on this country; all races, religions, genders, and sexualities are of equal right and no specific sponsorship from the government shall usurp that balance.
If you care to notice the titles mentioned by my friend are all authored by others on the team (I still stand 100% behind their arguments) and you will be pleasantly surprised to see a lack of vitriol on my own backlog of posts. Go ahead – take a peek. I wont tell.