During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. [James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]
Recently I had the dubious honor of spending some time arguing with a very dense person, who kept complaining about “hostility against religion” in the political left, and demanded that atheists should leave politics. Further, he claimed that since not 20% of the population who are without a religious affiliation are atheists, that means that atheists are too tiny a segment of the population to deserve any attention. (Of course the 20% would also include countless people who are not atheists but are strongly against any religion in government, as was James Madison. Our friend would have disenfranchised Madison in a heartbeat if he could.)
Here are a few of his gems:
The problem is far more that anti-religious expression is believed to be a requirement on the left, that hostility to religion is widely assumed to be an expression of being a leftist and that people whose religious belief is important in their lives are somehow tainted in the way your second sentence indicates. I’ve come to be extremely skeptical of leftists who make hostility to all religion an assumed attitude and common practice. It almost always comes with a coercive enforcement of their preferred ideological expression and attitude.
I would question the idea that “half of the current members” of the left are hostile to religion. Any surveys I’ve seen would indicate that the large majority of people who could be considered liberal or on the left are religious believers. I’m entirely unimpressed with the track record of electoral and legislative success by the anti-religious “left” from the Herbertists down to today. That kind of “leftism” has far more in common with the worst of the right than it does with the civil rights movement, the last notable series of achievements of the left in America.
A movement that spends more time deriding the large majority of people than in actually making progress is bound to fail, as the left in the United States has as its face and voice became increasingly anti-religious and materialist. There is nothing I’ve seen in materialism that can sustain civil rights, equality, and the rest of the genuinely leftist agenda.
If the left wants to lose it will allow anti-religious bigots to become associated with the left. The left doesn’t owe anything to people who would rather shoot off their mouths, costing us political support and the possibility of making coalitions with those the obnoxious brand of atheist alienate. The left could lose every last vote from that group and it would probably be better off.
If 100% of atheists support gay rights it would still be fewer people than if 10% of religious people did. If I was forced to choose I’d go with the religious support, there are more votes there and they’re less likely to alienate people we could convince.
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
But, back to our friend:
I’ll give you another clue. If you think people don’t like you, being obnoxious and rude to them doesn’t have much of a record of success in getting them to like you. That, though, is something I have no fear, whatsoever, that you guys will ever learn. I figured that out from looking at The Friendly Atheist whose friendliness seems to consist of being obnoxious and rude to religious people and calling it being friendly. I guess when you think people are just material objects you don’t figure you need to be nice to them. But, then, materialism can’t account for a moral obligation to treat people better than objects so it’s not surprising.
I’m not shaking in my sneakers over atheists becoming a major force in American life. Atheism is a fad these days, just as deism was in the late 18th century. I look at countries like Albania where religion was suppressed and see that it survived. I have every confidence that it will peak at well under 10% of the population as obnoxious atheists alienate far more people than they attract.
Lol. I have to say that was the stupidest thing he said. But maybe he can start educating himself about the subject by taking a look a this book.
So what is the point in bringing up this ignorant bile? I wanted to bring to my friends’ attention that we are still a popular punching bag, among the political right as well as left. It is probably a better idea at this time to be focused less on disputes among us and more at the hateful ignoramuses who are trying to turn us into second class citizens.