Can Atheists Join Forces With Liberal Religious People to Battle Religious Extremism?
By Christopher Steadman, Religion Dispatches
Posted on June 30, 2011, Printed on July 2, 2011

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in the organized atheist, humanist, skeptic and freethought movements about the potential benefits and drawbacks of interfaith work.

Over at Patheos, the Executive Director of the American Humanist Association, Roy Speckhardt, recently made an excellent case that while the terminology of “interfaith” may be problematic and there are several other important issues to grapple with, it is worth atheists’ while to get involved. At Friendly Atheist, Secular Student Alliance Communications Director Jesse Galef offered a long list of reasons atheists might participate, and how their involvement might improve some of the problems within the interfaith movement. Despite Galef and Speckhardt’s serious concerns and reservations, they have been actively involved in intentionally interfaith efforts, and I suspect their participation has informed their conclusions about the idea.

However, those speaking out against atheist involvement in the interfaith movement are, at the moment, a bit more numerous (just a couple of examples, with several others to follow). As far as I can tell based on what many atheists opposed to interfaith involvement state in their writing, a large percentage of them seem to have kept their distance from interfaith work. I understand their hesitation given the criticisms they offer, but I can’t help but wonder if there is some disconnect when those who criticize the interfaith movement the most also seem to have had little to no actual experience with it. I could be wrong, but I’d be surprised if someone who had been involved in interfaith work would suggest, as prominent atheist blogger P.Z. Myers did, that it “cheerfully and indiscriminately embrace[s] every faith without regard for content.”

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5 Comments to “As Christo-fascists work to kill the world, can atheists join forces with believers?”

  • Over my nearly 5 decades as a “lefty” I have often noticed the our unfortunate and all too prevalent tendancy to have strong opinions based on some theoretical analysis or another on matters with which we have no personal experience. As I see things this is the most frequent contributing cause to our collective lack of results over the last 40 years. How can any practical person have faith in the opinions of someone who has no experience of the matter at hand?

    It’s not all theory folks. IMO we need to keep our mouths shut and muck in until we know a little something about what we’re talking about a lot more often than we do.

  • Uh-huh

  • So should we start reading Ayn Rand novels night and day, or become fundamentalist Christians? Should all of us on the left connect with our divinely inspired “invisable hand of the free market”, Tea Party inner child? Maybe we could have animated, and spiritually nurishing intellectual debates long into the AM hours about how to redefine rape, or discuss the benefits of ditching child labor laws. That would all be very helpful.

  • What are you talking about? There are—as there have always been—a lot of practicing Christians who oppose that crap at least as fiercely as you do. Do yourself a favor, and
    check out the history of the Christian left (without which there would have been no
    abolitionist movement, or, later, much of a civil rights movement, either).

  • Sorry, is this a reply to my comment? If so, I’m aware that there is a religious left, or even a radical religious left of which a person like Chris Hedges might belong to, as an example. While I didn’t read the article(I have now), I was just riffing on the title of the article and the first comment posted. I was, however, referring to the present surplus of fringe GOP politicians who are trying to enact Christian fundamentalist based pieces of legislation on one hand, and who are free-market fetishists on the other (like Michele Bachmann for example). Needless to say, the irony is pretty strong because of Rand’s atheism and he own personal, Godless universe. When I see the word “Christo-fascists”, someone like Erik Prince springs to mind. While he’s a born again Christian, and see’s himself as a man of God, he is the CEO of Blackwater/Xe Services which is pretty hard to reconcile. Anyway, are there any particular writers, and/or philosophers of historical importance on the Christian left I should check out?

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