fidesquaerens (marta_bee) wrote,

They find your lack of faith disturbing

The Atlantic's study of the day today looks at why religious folk - Christians in particular hate atheists so much. They're not a political threat, the study claims, so why do we theists care?

The blurb at the Atlantic says this animus comes from distrust. In the study report's abstract they quote from John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration: "Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the Being of a God. Promises, Covenants, and Oaths, which are the Bonds of Humane Society, can have no hold upon an Atheist." This is supposed to be the root of the theists' distrust, because the things that make us behave simply don't apply to them. That just makes no sense to me. I mean, are my fellow Christians really saying the only thing that keeps them from rape, murder, and torturing kittens for fun and profit is that God told them not to? So much for the inner light of reason, I guess.

In case it needs to be said (and I had really thought this went without saying): the atheists I know are by and large decent, moral people. They do not reject religion because they don't want to be constrained by divine law. More often than not, they have rejected religion because they find its moral standards too low (think pedophilia scandals, the church's stance on war or homosexuality or poverty, etc.). It is perfectly possible to live morally without being religious. Now the theist may answer back that this does not make you a good person, that theologically your morality doesn't count for much. But that doesn't stop your atheist neighbor from being trustworthy. He really will return your clippers, and he can be trusted with biggger things too.

Including, for example, public office.


I know sometimes I go off a lot about religion, and that perhaps it's best to consign these attitudes to the obscurity they deserve. But this was a scientific study polling nearly 800 Americans and Canadians, and so I feel compelled to make absolutely clear: this Christian doesn't share those views. If my faith is right, then the atheism/theism divide is serious, no doubt about it. But not quite that serious. I can still see and respect the humanity in atheists, and think it's a damned shame if other religious folk can't.
Tags: religion
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