I was recently reading Greta Christina’s blog at gretachristina.typepad.com and I was reading her piece on ecumenicalism in these liberal Christianity circles and even includes some atheists. These people feel that ALL criticism of religion and sometimes just saying that you feel that a religion is wrong is intolerance. Not just dissent, you’re considered to have intolerance, bigotry, and hate in your views, simply for saying you disagree with something.
I have talked to them and why are they so less critical of believers? They feel that the believers are doing the right thing, they aren’t ruining the hippie paradise where everything is right and all views of religion are equally valid, but they are contributing, thinking that god is really three gods or is really named Allah, whatever. We are seen as the critics who hurt people’s feelings and ruin all the fun. The problem is, we need to show them all the wrongs religious conservatives commit and and hurt us frequently, show them the prejudices we face for simply not believing what someone else does.
Here’s my original comment/commentary on the piece:
Thank you so much for taking the time for writing this! Almost all of the atheists I know don’t worry much about religious liberals despite the ecumenical attitudes displayed by so many people. For example, my school has a gay straight alliance which I belong to. Theres a few people in there who think I can be the most intolerant bigot out there for saying I say something bad about religion, ESPECIALLY liberal Christianity. Whens someone makes an assertion that something is true and you should be violently punished in this life or the supposed afterlife as they claim, that shouldn’t be taken as their opinion. Facts are objective, right or wrong, and they willfully deny this time and time again, as if it doesn’t even matter if something is right or wrong. I’ve also noticed something within the progressive groups I’m in is that the motives of religious people matter. We were once talking about the Westboro Baptist Church and almost the entire discussion ended up being about how we shouldn’t be too critical of them because they feel like they are doing the right thing. People who try to restrict marriage rights for gays, they feel they are doing the right thing. Interestingly enough I asked some of them about atheist authors such as richard dawkins and criticism of religion in general. It’s amazing what they thought, they think we are like the Simon Cow critics of religion, not caring about others sensitivity and only trying to put people down. I think a lot of this is that many people don’t think there really is any power that religious people have over us despite everything we go through. They don’t feel we have a reason to and think we should just shut up. People really need to show them that atheist/agnostic discrimination is real and needs to be addressed, sometimes they even say that criticizing religion so much is why the stigma exists. What do you feel is the best way to combat this?