As someone who has been a convert from a conservative Catholic as a child and young adult to being an agnostic Progressive now, I’ve been in the foxholes of both sides and seen the respective viewpoints of many different religions. After all, it’s been through these life experiences that I became the person that I am today.
There is a central point in the original messages of all major religions when you condense them down and filter out the maniacal rants of the extremists. It’s the “Golden Rule” of treating others the way you would want to them to treat you. You really can’t go wrong with that rule but I think within the collective of the liberal/progressive movement, we tend to forget that sometimes.
I know a lot of religious people who would probably be on our side more often if it wasn’t for the fact that they’ve been convinced that we’re out to destroy their religion and take it away from them. Instead of crossing over the lines and joining us on issues we can both agree on, they stay huddled in the bunkers with people they have very little in common with, other than a belief in the same supreme being. They’ve been told over and over again from the pulpit and from the TV, that we want to abolish religion and that we hate their god. Even though this isn’t true, we need to start doing a couple things differently.
For those of us who are atheists and agnostics, let’s let go of the religion bashing. There’s many religious scripts that coincide with the common goals we share such as social justice. Who cares what source it comes from? Should we really care if it comes from our own life experiences and convictions or if someone was taught this in a shul, madrasa or Sunday school? Is it really that important if we’re working towards the same thing? I think not.
So often we want to be right and to think we understand everything, and we want to let everyone know the extent of our knowledge. This applies both to militant atheists as well as militant religious people I’ve known. With these differences, this is how they divide us. Atheists vs Theists. Jews vs Muslims. Muslims vs Christians. Christians vs Buddhists. You get the point. Why does it matter if someone believes in a supernatural being or not when you’re standing on the same picket line or lobbying for the same social change?
Once we’ve solved world hunger, gun violence, global warming, obesity and unemployment, then we can get to down to discussing whether or not our beliefs on religion are correct. I look forward to that day, but until then, we have a lot of work to do.
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