Saturday, April 6, 2013


Recently on Twitter, one (quasi-) celebrity retweeted another (quasi-) celebrity with a gratuitous swipe at Christians. The exact swipe isn't important. It's part of the usual drivel from a certain kind of atheist, the kind that is not content with his or her state of non-belief, but must insist that he or she instruct others in the rightness of that state of mind. I think of those people as the non-believer equivalent of the guy who stands on the street corner and tells you you're going to Hell for some reason or the other.
It's interesting that these strident folk will attack Christianity, often for being narrow-minded yahoos who have the bad sense to have faith in an unseen being, but those same folk will not say a thing about, say, Islam or Judaism, or any small religion. Wiccans, you're safe from ridicule from atheists. (Mitt Romney might have lost the election, but he can take solace in the knowledge that the atheists in this country surely believe that Mormons are Christians; otherwise they would not have felt so comfortable attacking his religion.)

Just the other day, a story on the Aetherwebs claimed that the student government association at Johns Hopkins University denied a pro-life group official status. One member compared the group to a white supremacist organization while another said that "we have the right to protect our students from things that are uncomfortable. Why should people have to defend their beliefs on their way to class?" The right to be "comfortable" - at a university, no less! Who'd have thunk it?

These strident complainers are usually the first to preach tolerance - for causes they support. Gay marriage? Better not say anything against it. Same with illegal immigration, "green" energy, gun control, or any other trendy cause. Speak out against any of those issues and one becomes a pariah. Complain about their anti-Christian rants, however, and you're accused of trying to suppress their FIrst Amendment rights.

Guys, it's not about First Amendment rights, it's not about your right to think and believe anything you want. It's about civility, and our interest as a society in getting along with people of different beliefs.


HeadBurro Antfarm said...

well, as a life-long non-believer I can't disagree with your conclusion; we just need some respect to help ease the getting along. I do wish religious beliefs were kept away from government though, maybe that way we could concentrate more on getting people into work and less about either the genetic makeup or sexual preferences of adults who want to get married. Hell, given the falling church attendances here in the UK I'm not sure the almighty can afford to be picky ;-)

Ravenix said...

Here in the Washington, DC area, you'll find practically every religion under the sun and we all manage to live together reasonably well. If all Christians routinely kept their personal religious beliefs personal, I'm sure attitudes toward them would be different everywhere. But some very prominent, very loud Christians always seem to be trying to write their personal religious beliefs into public policy, state law and the American constitution infringing on the personal beliefs of other Americans. Folks who don't approve are allowed to speak up. Folks who do approve are allowed to speak up to the folks speaking up. It's just debate. It might feel like an attack, but really it's just debate. (Rough and rude sometimes, but still just debate.) If things go well, the debater with the strongest case wins.

BTW, let's not forget those good and loving Christians like Bryan Fischer and Robert Jeffress who attacked Romney for his Mormanism and put poor Mormon(ish) Glenn Beck on the defensive.

Rhianon Jameson said...

HBA - Yeah, I'm hard-pressed to figure out why, for example, same-sex marriage has become the most pressing problem in the U.S., as opposed to, say, persistently high unemployment, low growth, or figuring out how to preserve entitlement programs in the face of flat population and productivity growth. I often think that these kerfuffles about social issues, where both the Left and the Right work themselves into a frenzy, are part of a plot by politicians to keep our focus away from important economic problems. Not that I'm conspiracy-minded or anything.

It's tough talking about social issues with anyone, though. Whether the subject is abortion, same-sex marriage, or liberalizing drug laws, one side focuses solely on individual liberty while the other focuses solely on the collective effect on society. It's little wonder the two sides can't meet common ground!

Rhianon Jameson said...

Revenix - My alter ego works in the DC area, too, and I agree, we all manage to get along most of the time. And I think we're in agreement that keeping one's religious beliefs private-ish - or at least confined to appropriate forums - would help keep the peace. I'm certainly not happy when a pair of well-dressed young men come to my door and ask if I've accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. (One day I made the mistake of engaging them, and it wasn't enough to say that I was a fellow Christian - if I didn't subscribe to their brand of Christianity I was part of the problem. Live and learn.)

And I'm completely with you that there are those who call themselves Christian who seem to act otherwise. You mentioned two people who attacked Romney for being a Mormon. I'd add those [unprintable] people at the Westboro Baptist Church, too.

But there's nothing wrong with lobbying to put one's beliefs into law. If you believe, say, same-sex marriage doesn't cause societal problems and enhances individual liberty, then you should press legislators to allow it. Conversely, if you believe life begins at conception, why shouldn't you lobby to restrict abortion?

My point wasn't that athiests shouldn't be loud - feel free to do so, just as some Christians (and Muslims, and...) feel free to loudly press for their positions. Debate is good, even rough debate. I can tune out noise. It's the name-calling that bugs me. And yeah, name-calling is not confined to the non-believers in the world. What I've noticed, however, is that lots of people are willing to call out the Westboro Baptists of the world, whereas fewer people are willing to call out, say, Ricky Gervais, the Westboro Baptist of the athiest world.