Atheists take note…you could be wrong. Intolerance cuts both ways…

Religion in America. Supposedly a big tent where diversity is honored and welcomed. Not one religion has a monopoly on the truth . Indeed, those with no religion at all have every right to their belief….but they also don’t have a monopoly of the truth. However, a disturbing trend has emerged that we should talk about.  For most of my life I was somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist. Over the last several years my opinion and heart has changed and I truly believe there is a high power…call it what you like. While the majority of Americans believe in God one way or another, a somewhat sizable minority consider themselves atheist or agnostic..particularly Democrats. Many keep it a private matter..and that’s just fine. ..but the reality is religion and politics …they just sometimes go together…whether we like it or not.

  Years earlier, when I considered myself pretty much an atheist, I never rubbed it in anyone else’s face. I never tried to talk anyone out of their beliefs or ridicule them in any way. My, how things have changed. Over the last several months, I have built my twitter following list to several thousand people. . The majority are liberal, but I have also representative amount of moderates , libertarians  and conservatives. I don’t block conservatives..I don’t call them names. Often we engage in some interesting discussions, and I feel Ive learned a thing or two from conservatives ( liberals don’t gag). The RWNJ (right wing nut job) moniker  doesnt help Obama get re-elected..think before you hate!

   The correlation between people that consider themselves liberal and also atheist I have found  concerning. Additionally, many of the atheist I find are just as  narrow minded as those bible-thumpers…there’s very little difference…. and many are very dismissive of people who believe in God or a higher power. “In your face” atheism is alive and well and I don’t quite understand the ferocity,nastiness or politcal purpose. I accept all people’s  beliefs  without  any animosity …so… Why do atheist seem to be  so aggressively  against God and religion?

   I think the case for progressive thinking is diminished and creates unnecessary polarization against  people who embrace God and religion. So often I hear how conservatives/Republicans are narrow minded …but shouldn’t the  the nature of progressive thought also  reject narrow mindedness as well on the left?  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander? I’m very uncomfortable when I read profiles  of liberals/progressive who align themselves with atheism and reject alternative thought…and add the disclaimer ” if your a Republican don’t follow me and dare not talk to me.  Are liberals so smug and “in  the know”  that they can insult large groups of people who embrace a variety of different religions and thoughts?   

   Going into the fall elections it would behoove progressive thought to find some openness and kindness in their talk  about religion and religious people. Progressives often  blast conservatives..who are considered   out of step with America. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot and understand why conservatives feel  the same way. Can we all rise up and find some mutual respect? No one group has all the answers, no one group is correct 100% of the time. The best baseball player only gets  a hit 3 out of every 10 times… let’s remember that when we discuss the issues of the day. America is a big country with many different religions and political persuasions. The sooner we all can be more accepting of each other, the sooner we might be able to get together and solve some problems. This election will be decided by the 10% of Americans  that are squarely in the middle. No purpose is served by giving fuel to the fire by having those independents bristle at  “in your face” atheism. All Americans are deserving of respect and having their thoughts and ideas discussed without insult…let’s keep our eyes on the big prize…alienation and polarization are Mitt Romney’s best friend..let’s be smarter..and show respect to all..intolerance is a two way street.





20 comments on “Atheists take note…you could be wrong. Intolerance cuts both ways…

  1. I’m still waiting for the reason we “could be wrong” as teased in the title, but no info on that. Oh no! I’m being intolerant and smug for asking for facts! Am I on Fox News?

  2. Joseph Gaughan on said:

    You write about the unsolvable.It is to each man to seek the answer to satisfy himself. In ancient Greece the question was the same and to announce a position it was viewed that only a fool would do so. You didn’t and now you do.What you think is what matters to you.An annoying article.

  3. Lynett on said:

    I was raised Roman Catholic, went 2 catholic schools-even collage. I consider myself more spiritual than religious at 44 but I’ve always believed in strict separation of church and state. No good can come of mixing the two, I have no desire to inflict my beliefs on anyone else and I have every right to expect the same courtesy .

  4. Well said, Thank you!

  5. Im an atheist/agnostic. I believe humans in general do not have all the answers, but I live by the fact that science will eventually prove or disprove everything we believe. There are a few fundamentalist in your face atheists, and I absolutely do not agree with their approach, but I understand why they are the way they are. After being mistreated, called unholy abominations, tools of Satan, and the slime of humanity, it tends to make one bitter.

    I have no problems with those that use their faith as an uplifting tool to fight for equality, knowledge, and acceptance of those with differing beliefs (or non beliefs). I DO have a problem with those that would use their faith or lack there of to denigrate or destroy that which makes our civilization what it is: a beacon of hope for those that are lost and mistreated. We were once a nation believed to have streets paved with gold, where anyone willing to set a goal and work to reach it was welcomed and rewarded. Now we are bordering on a theocracy built on the backs of those same dreamers.

    It’s hard to not become bitter and resentful and intolerant of those that would shun knowledge and advancement for misplaced trust in a most likely non existent being.

    Good words in your post, I feel very similarly, but those progressives who fight so hard to keep us moving forward are often worn thin trying to drag that stubborn elephant into the future.

  6. Aran on said:

    I find myself a little bit miffed at this article. While I agree that there are some atheists who are rude and aggressive the idea that this is anything to do with atheism is a nonsense. Atheism is merely the state of not believing in any gods. There’s nothing beyond that which belongs purely to atheism.

    Atheists don’t have to believe in evolution. They don’t have to accept modern geology. The Big Bang was first postulated by a Catholic Priest so it’s hardly synonymous with atheism. Yet people conflate all these things and they also find a way of conflating the existence of some aggressive and rude people who happen to be atheists with the idea that atheism itself is becoming aggressive and rude. How can a state of NOT believing in something be aggressive? Atheism is an almost meaningless term that only exists because of the widespread and persistent existence of those who choose to believe in one or more of the thousands of gods man has created over the millennia. Consider that there is no word for people who don’t believe in the tooth fairy.

    Beyond this, the idea that one should automatically respect the beliefs of another is just plain silly and to equate it with respecting someone’s sexuality is just downright rude. Sexuality is not a choice but beyond that it is something that does not affect anyone else. While beliefs, religious or otherwise, are a choice and, when were talking politics and religion, they are choices that affect other people because they are part of the wider discourse which ends up shaping culture. I absolutely respect the right of someone to hold the view that gay marriage should be illegal but I will not under any circumstances respect that belief. I can’t. It is a belief that denies human dignity and equality to someone based on prejudice. It’s also a belief pushed by most mainstream religions. You can’t ask me to respect the beliefs of a Catholic, for example, if that means respecting his belief that gays will burn in hell and should be denied the right to marry and have children. I will disrespect those views. I will belittle and insult those views. I will do this and I will be proud to do it.

    Atheists are now more willing to speak openly about not believing and this upsets some people. We carry this label because, for now, we remain a historical anomaly but one day, as belief in the supernatural fades into the history of humanity to join the other relics of our early ignorance, the word “atheist” will be no more commonly used than the word for people who don’t believe in the tooth fairy. That some of us are rude is only notable because it is only in very recent times that atheists have been able to reveal themselves in numbers. To the believers who cry foul at receiving a taste of their own medicine after millennia of holding a monopoly on abuse, I say, buck up.

  7. Bradley Clopton on said:

    If you look at the totality of the arguments of the responders I think several things become clear.
    1. Atheists are in fact under fire all the time from the various groups of believers.
    2. Believers by the fact that they have bought into a belief system tend to think that only their views are correct, and therefor are justified when they inflict their views on others.
    3. The intrusion of religions into our secular government is causing great turmoil and damage in our country.
    4. We have been marginalized throughout history and our knowledge deserves at least as much attention as those of the multitude of religious beliefs out there.
    When these issues have been addressed then we might be more willing to let things slide. As it stands we are just beginning to explore the limits of our social power, and we will seek to enlighten those who have ignored all evidence available to buy into a belief system that uses lack of verifiability as a selling point.

  8. Great comments! Appreciate the feedback. Blessings.

  9. Rob Moore on said:

    Your caution against becoming as intolerant as the religious is well heeded my friend, but I fear you misunderstand our anger. No atheist I know has any beef with a person’s personal beliefs. Who would care? We are tired of:

    The continued intrusion of Church into Government, to the point where policy is affected.

    The decline of education standards as state after state pass laws to deny our children the best in modern science education in favor of mythologies.

    Being treated like the stupid ones by blind faith sheep who can rarely even defend their own position.

    Being equated with Satanism and Evil as the most reviled minority in America, by those same undereducated masses.

    The Religious have a long history of shoving it down your throat. If they could keep it where it belongs and just shut up about it, you’d be surprised how fast Atheists shut up too.

  10. ChristofPierson on said:

    Why is it always the lefties who have to temper their thoughts? Why not the centrists? Food for thought.

  11. Ron on said:

    Sometimes we have to lose a battle or two to win the war. Romney is repugnant..and if we have to temper our thoughts abit..well..thats just the way it is.

  12. ChristofPierson on said:

    We seem to have this nervous argument every four years that says in effect, radicals keep your mouths shut or we’ll lose the center. Even when I was assured to vote Democratic, that argument bothered me. It may even be what has finally tipped me toward being a probable non-voter or non-Democrat, someone who has all but given up on American democracy in its current form.

    I voted for the Democrat in 2008 (as I always had before in all my years as a voter going back to Carter in 1980) because I thought I was voting for aggressive progressivism. But Dems are capable of delivering only moderate centrism. That’s not my camp.

    Ironically, it’s all the talk of how progressives should behave or we lose the centrists that may actually finally drive progressives like me out of that camp for good. And you’ll be stuck with Romney anyway!

  13. Ron on said:

    I respect your response. Nobody has to coddle either believers or non-beleivers. However, I do think it would improve the dialouge if so many non-blievers didn’t show such agressive disdain for religion. We may very well lose the middle of the road vote to the Romney camp.Maybe we should break out the etch-a-scetch too…and look at the big picture…and temper our thoughts…what’s the greater evil?…some civility or a Republican White House?

  14. ChristofPierson on said:

    Ron,

    Since you call out atheists in your title, I think that means you are expecting atheists to respond, correct? So here I am, an atheist, giving you my two cents.

    Like you, I’m interested in real post-partisan debate, real post-partisan dialogue between and among Americans of all kinds of beliefs, and like you, I agree this is best promoted through tolerant, sometimes even indulgent openness to people’s very different views.

    But I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in God–not an agnostic because I don’t have enough evidence one way or another, but an all-out atheist and occasionally even an anti-theist, i.e., one who believes belief in God is harmful in some ways (e.g., because it’s self-delusional, I think). I’m not going to go out of my way to antagonize believers, because I’m actually interested in why they believe what they believe. But I’m not going to pretend I think their God-belief isn’t fundamentally wrong and off-base if what they’re interested in is the ultimate truth about humans and our place in the universe. And I won’t let them get away with misunderstanding or misrepresenting atheism.

    I don’t expect other progressives and atheists to temper their critical thoughts when confronted with people who use God as an excuse to elevate their own intolerance. Further than that, I don’t expect them to temper their criticism of centrist religionists who use God to elevate more tolerant and tolerable behaviors. If religion is as much of a comfort and soul-strengthener as religionists claim it is, then they shouldn’t need atheists to coddle them any more than we need them to coddle us.

  15. Ron on said:

    Interesting comment. There’s a word “unmanifested” meaning there’s just some things human beings can’t understand in this life. I had a very personal experience…and Im sure there is a higher power…..try meditation and reiki, you can have a satori moment and see the other side..give it a try…you might be surprised..

  16. Wayne A. Schneider on said:

    I respectfully disagree. You said your views used to be atheist/agnostic, but now you “believe.” That means you went from accepting that there is a natural explanation for events, even if we don’t understand it yet, to accepting a supernatural explanation. Whatever happened to change your views (and I won’t ask because it’s none of my business), I implore you to re-consider. To decide that “supernatural beings exist” is a valid explanation for that which we don’t understand is to take a step backwards.

    Best of luck to you.

  17. Yeah, theoretically, in reality religion is so part of the right-wing..then countered by the left wing…it’s ingrained in our culture..so weve got to deal with it!..for better or worse.

  18. ronnie greenspan on said:

    What happened to the division of church/state.
    What can the government do for peoples quality of life financially. Religion or the lack thereof is out of the realm of politics ideally???

  19. Ron on said:

    I think you make some good points but the point is we all should respect each other religious views/sexual orientation. Intolerance is the problem, and I just wanted to take a reverse angle and point out that it’s not just a right-wing phenomenon. On an interesting note, the post is an hour old..and there’s an unsual amount of reaction..good and bad…and my real goal is to make people think…and that’s happening…blessings,Ron

  20. Thomas Waters on said:

    Im sorry but I find this post really annoying and shallow in scope. The very notion that a line can be drawn between those who believe and those who do not is not only misleading but misses the real point when it comes to Faith and politics. Perhaps I have a differing view as a gay man who is told over and over by those with Faith that I am an abomination. Yet you call on those who do not believe to show respect? Just silly.

    I don really care f some one believes/ has Faith. More power to them. What I care about are those wh claim to believe but for whom hypocrisy is the name of the game. The ones who dont really Walk the Talk, so to speak.

    So, you may want to caution the unbelievers because they may be wrong, but right or wrong isn’t the real point of contention. That is all about those who actually live by their Faith vs those who use it as a weapon to harm others.

    I used to be a lay minister, and I like to think I know a few things about Faith.

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