Sunday, May 10, 2009

Respect, Continued

I recently saw "Atheist vs. Christian," the episode of 30 Days where an atheist spent a month living with an evangelical family. No doubt there were critics who objected that the atheist was a little too perfect - a middle-class mother of three with strong morals who could very articulately explain and defend her beliefs - but contrary to popular belief in evangelical circles, such people really do exist.

The couple she stayed with did exemplify the ignorance that most evangelicals have about how the rest of the world really lives, but the show wasn't weighted against them; they were also very normal, successful middle-class parents who could articulate their own beliefs without being overtly disrespectful.

Even so, it was very telling that the atheist knew more about Christianity than the Christians knew about atheism, especially given the commitment that evangelicals have to "winning the lost." This woman hadn't run to atheism out of a negative reaction to the church, or because she wanted to do things "her way" in defiance of God's commands. She came to her beliefs through an intellectually and personally rigorous process that puts most Christians to shame, and it doesn't bother her in the least that other people continue to believe in God (or gods) despite her disagreement with their conclusions.

Yes, there are atheists like Richard Dawkins who are virulently anti-religion and who actively seek to stamp out religious belief. That their outreach efforts are reminiscent in many ways of Christian evangelism is a telling point that goes over the heads of zealots on both sides, but I digress. The simple fact that most evangelicals seem oblivious to is that there are many more atheists who are happy to live and let live, and who can even appreciate the positive contributions that religions have made to the world.

Such an accepting attitude is, in fact, a sign of maturity and an outgrowth of being secure in one's belief. It speaks volumes that so many evangelicals complain about how much the rest of the world hates them, all the while refusing to show any genuine respect to those who disagree with them. Is it any wonder when such self-serving displays of insecurity earn us the very disrespect that we rail against?


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Totally amazed that you not only maintain your Christianity, but seem to expand it's impact to your world and still live as a gay man. You project yourself as more of a passionate Christian than as a gay. That must be a huge hurdle when establishing a relationship with another gay man. I am frightened of religion - well not really frightened but angry with how the vast majority of mainstream houses of worship make it so clear WE are not welcome.

You appear to somehow handle all the obstacles beautifully!

Regards - Zachariel the Angel

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