A fast-paced and witty (at least to some of us) piece of writing by Robert Weitzel appeared in the Atlantic Free Press this month. Weitzel is a freelance writer and outspoken atheist whose writes regularly for The Capital Times in Madison, WI as well as several other papers and journals. The Free Press article is titled “Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris: The Unholy Trinity . . .Thank God” and is, as you might expect, a general ‘put-down’ of religion and those who profess to be religious and a rah-rah piece for the ‘unholy trinity of best-selling authors, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.
Being a member of what Weitzel calls the POF (the “pis**d-off faithless”) I found myself nodding and agreeing with Weitzel as he made the point that 10% of Americans identify themselves as atheists (which accounts for the phenomenal sales of the books written by the “unholy trinity”) and especially when he made the very significant argument that:
“If the faithful would just keep their religious beliefs in their own pocket and out of public school classrooms and bedrooms and women’s wombs, I doubt much would ever be heard from the unholy trinity or the POF. What would be the point?”
I’ve often had that very same thought and have more than once expressed it in several blog posts over the years. I realize, as I’m sure Weitzel does, that wishing for that is like asking for a cocktail at a Mormon picnic — its impractical when you consider that many religious people consider it their duty to go out and ‘heal’ us heathens; but it does frame the basic problem very well.
So as I’m reading along, enjoying the fact that the author has set so much of what I perceive in writing I am suddenly jarred to a stop!
This is the paragraph that stopped me:
“It goes without saying that multitudes of the faithful live quiet lives comfortable in the skin of their beliefs, and that good people are dedicating their lives to the betterment of humanity (locally and globally) under the banner of one religion or another. But if religion disappeared tomorrow, those same good people would still be out there doing what they can because of who they are not because of where they worship. (emphasis added)”
Suddenly a bell went off and I realized that Weitzel is attempting to completely devalue religion and I believe that that is a bridge too far.
Religion itself is not the enemy! Religion is, for many people, the only thing that they have to help them get through life. Many people would figuratively ‘disintegrate’ if religion “disappeared tomorrow.” Religion and religious values that stem from religion are not the enemy of the atheist, agnostic or secularist or of the American people in general — the enemy is that overwhelming urge that so many religious people have to ‘convert’ those who do not believe. That perceived necessity of so many religious people to “save the souls of us heathens.” I don’t want (and I do not believe any right-thinking non-believer wants) to steal anyone’s religion or destroy anyone’s religion or convince anyone that our way is the right way. All I want is what Weitzel expressed so well earlier in his article: I want religious people to “keep their religious beliefs in their own pocket and out of public school classrooms and bedrooms and women’s wombs.” Any religion that will not allow its adherents to do that is a religion that is not perpetuating itself but is destroying itself.
In plain English: evangelicalism is the enemy! Evangelicalism is, in fact, at least as I see it, the very antithesis of what America is all about!
CNN International: I-Reporters quiz CNN’s Amanpour (re: the CNN documentary: God’s Warriors”)
Atlantic Free Press: Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris: The Unholy Trinity . . .Thank God
From the Blogosphere:
The Evangelical Outpost: All God’s Warrior’s Need Secular Shoes