As an atheist I find people often question my morals and beliefs as though they somehow lack substance or a foundation. This is extremely frustrating for many of us who are non-believers and I suspect its frustrating to many theists who encounter other theists who assume similar things of them. I ask you to ask yourself and anyone you know to reflect on what goodness and moral behavior is. Many people think of goodness in a one-dimensional way, like in in-group out-group politics. A very black and white type of thinking that makes enemies of outsiders for being outsiders. And so if any of us had any doubt about the conservative religious right movement its sexist, racist, homophobic, islamophobic, anti-everyone who has never been baptized with the holy ghost agenda, we shouldn’t now.The recent decision by Lowe’s Home Improvement to withdraw its advertising from the show “American Muslim” after the Florida Family Association pressured them to, is one example. I mean how is it possible that a show that shows patriotic, hardworking, family oriented muslims any more of a misrepresentation that the notion that christianity offers more morality, charity, and humanity than other faiths? I’m not arguing that religion is responsible for evil in the world but to point out the evils committed by some who practice Islam while acting as though Christians are blameless is the height of hypocrisy. Its especially hypocritical when you consider that the religious right would have you believe this when they supported the war with Iraq. And that leaves out the hypocrisy of celebrating the birth of a savior who’s supposed sacrifice was to pardon humanity for its sins while expressing or holding views which favor the torture of those perceived to be enemy combatants or terrorists, even when evidence shows that torture is ineffective. I could go on but I think you get my point.
From phony accusations from unintelligent politicians about the war on religion or Christmas to the supposed war on marriage, the religious right is doing everything in its power to preserve christian privilege, diminish the voices of people of other faiths and secularists, and to deny rights to other Americans based on their rigid interpretation of the ancient works of desert tribesman. This brings me to Jesse Lee Petersen one of a few minor players in this scheme but who recently conducted interviews with three atheists of note, Debbie Goddard, of the Center for Inquiry, Skepchick, and African Americans for Humanism, Tom Flynn, of the Council for Secular Humanism, and Ayanna Watson, founder of Black Atheists of America. Some of you might know Jesse Lee Petersen from remarks he made to the effect of being grateful for slavery. I know, I know…Yikes! Right? Among the ridiculous assertions he made during these interviews is that atheists are acting “like homosexuals” and were insecure because they choose to organize around particular causes or socialize with others who share our views. Petersen also asserts incorrectly that atheism is a belief in no god, but it is the way in which he defines goodness that most troubles me. He defines Christianity as freedom. According to him a person can be evil for simply not believing in god or lacks a belief in goodness by virtue of disbelief. This from a man who says that “god” is all good in one breath and that he would kill for god in another. And this man thinks he can define goodness?
*Yes I know the title should be “Morality is not spelled C-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n-i-t-y”but unfortunately the theme I am using makes the dashes look like needles. I found it distracting so I went another way.
**Yes I know Luke 2:14 reads “glory to god in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men”. But if you are nitpicking the first part you missed the point and the second part… well don’t get me started on how many languages assume maleness.