Angry Atheists … ho hum, ho hum

Of late there has been a spate of people talking about how atheists and non-believers are too aggressive or angry, that their agenda is to rid the planet of religion. It has been getting about as much news coverage as Climate Change. Okay, maybe not quite as much but the trend is growing. A recent article in the Guardian by Julian Baggini gives us these gems:

To defend secularist ideals we therefore have to renew them. The neutrality of the state has to be fiercely defended when it comes to legislation and key institutions. But as to what happens beyond that core, secularists should be more relaxed. And if we are to complain, we need to do so selectively and proportionately. Having unelected bishops in the House of Lords is indefensible and the case should be made firmly and persistently against it. But to try to use the Human Rights Act to stop prayers at a meeting strikes many, even those sympathetic to the cause, as overkill. And to keep going on year after year about Thought for the Day looks more like obsession than a quest for justice.
Julian is wrong. Stopping those prayers is paramount to fixing the wall of separation between church and state.  While that idea has particularly American connotations, the principle is integral to preventing theocratic abuses. I doubt that anyone wants a recitation of theocratic abuses of the past. Historically theocratic supporters like to claim what goodness religion brings, the order and morality. We all know this is not true. Not to be deaf to new ideas, Julian may have a point. The trouble is that his point is exactly what theocratic supporters want – a controlled battle, an opponent that will not be too disruptive to the status quo. In this respect he is on the side of theocracy. In fact, support of theocracy can be his only point when he goes to such lengths to caution non-believers to tone it down. I wonder how that would have worked if King John had simply been asked if he would be kind enough to be slightly more fair and just, perhaps cut back on the use of torture and taxes or something like that? Would the Magna Carta have been just another forgotten moment in history?
What I’m advocating is in part pragmatic but its core is entirely principled. Allowing the free expression and discussion of religion is as much a non-negotiable tenet of secularism as maintaining the neutrality of the core institutions of civil society. It may be unfair to criticise secularists for being “militant” or “aggressive”, but we are often ham-fisted and heavy-handed. If secularism has come to be seen as the enemy of the religious when it should be its best friend, then we secularists must share at least some of the blame.

And there we have it, blame the victims. I’m not a fan of over-reaction or 180 degree reversal of inequity. I like to see things just move toward the middle and stop there or where it is fair for all rather than swing all the way and create a reverse of what inequity was before the change. The problem is that we are nowhere near the pendulum swinging that far in the other direction yet. What we have today is only the first screams of pain from an enemy who has been oppressing the masses for thousands of years, unchecked, and who destroyed, maimed, and killed it’s opponents. Revenge is not needed but equality is. Even as they claim to be persecuted fundamentalist monotheists continue to push for teaching creationism as science, that only through belief in gods can a leader be strong enough.

Even as they complain that non-believers and atheists are too angry, too aggressive fundamentalists are pressing to oppress free thought and science even further.

I ask that all who read this not believe those traitors like Baggini and his ilk. Turncoats and cowards, they seek not liberty and freedom but to simply be left out of the fight. He should be thanking those brave enough to take the fight forward rather than try to belittle them with such thoughts as he has spat out. If, dear reader, you find his cowardly capitulation disgusting you should know that you are not alone.

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