This being my first blog-post on A/N, I thought I'd address an issue that vexes me to no end: How to deal with the "Good Christian". In carpet-bombing the religious right we non-theists, try as we might to avoid it, end up inflicting collateral damage to Christians who, otherwise, lead exemplary lives. That just gnaws at me to no end. But I suppose the fact that I feel bad doing so is a 'good' thing from a moral point standpoint. But if you think me too weak-kneed, think again. A visit to my site should dispel that notion. Pronto!
The piece is one that I posted originally on my blog-site, "The Atheist Observer"
back on May 20, 2009. It was inspired by an individual who I perceive to be an outstanding human being despite his believing what he does. I am referring here to the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance and host of the popular radio program, "State of Belief" on Air America Radio. The non-theist will not find a more vigorous opponent of the religious right than this Christian.
See. It's tough. You don't want to 'hurt' people of character like Reverend Gaddy. But at the same time you're not going to share his world-view either.
Anyway, here is that post:
In recent decades atheists have seen a remarkable increase in the number of Americans joining their ranks—right along with an increase in antipathy towards the Christians that make up the religious right. And why not? Far too many far-right Christians have made transforming the United States into as close to a theocracy as possible their life’s mission.
“Reclaiming America for Christ!” is what some of their leaders have labeled this pipe-dream; insisting all the while that in the course of promoting their faith they would not impose their religious views on others. Just who they think they’ve been fooling with their patently disingenuous rhetoric, however, is anyone’s guess.
This quasi-theocracy would, of course, be led by individuals with a built-in abhorrence of and contempt for atheists and other freethinkers; individuals whose only “crime” is one of unbelief; fellow Americans guilty of nothing more than harboring a reasoned difference of opinion with those who believe in alleged supernatural creatures that not a one of them can prove exist!
But I’ve been speaking in regards to an extremist minority up to this point. What about the ‘good’ Christian? What about the ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ Golden Rule-abiding friend, relative, or acquaintance that carry themselves in a manner we atheists often find so downright “noble”; that stripe of Christian that is nearly as opposed to the religious right zealots as the non-believer? We non-theists all know such individuals. More likely, several! What about them?
Fact is that these wonderful people, these wonderful Christians, want to believe what they want to believe and have every right to do so. End of story.
Fact too is that despite our resounding differences of opinion, atheists respect, even admire, good Christians who do genuine good. The good Christian, we know, is possessed of grand character and a noble heart. But perhaps equally important, a live-and-let-live spirit of amiability that is so vital to peaceful co-existence in a country filled with so many divergent beliefs as ours.
The good Christian embraces a profound belief in their God while respecting the atheist’s right to disbelieve. The rabid, far-right Christian does not. The good Christian poses no real threat to the atheist, agnostic, or most any other shade of freethinking individual. We are, in fact, far more alike than dissimilar, the atheist and the good Christian.
The Christian extremist, on the other hand, does this country no real good. Their brand of Christianity is a bane on our cultured, freedom-loving society. They need to learn how to actually live the Golden Rule like good Christians do instead of just speak of it in the abstract or apply it only to Christians of their own persuasion. They need to learn to be more accepting of those who do not share their world-view. After all it’s their world-view, not ours; we atheists live on this planet too.
Non-believers are an ever growing segment of American society. But just as important is the fact that we are every bit as moral and ethical as the Christians--perhaps more so. Ever wonder which world-view those overflowing our jails and prisons to beyond capacity tend to call their own? Go figure.