Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Why are Atheist so Afraid of Religious People?

Posted by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:18 PM
  • 77 Replies
2 moms liked this

What exactly are atheists so scared about?

Christians aren't indoctrinating their children, just trying to make sense of the world, says George Pitcher.

Andrew Crowley Philip Pullman
Philip Pullman alternative ending to the Bible isn't exactly wacky or daring Photo: Andrew Crowley

As I was leaving church yesterday, a nice chap called Andy called to see if I would go on Radio 2 to talk about a new billboard campaign enjoining us not to "label" our children with religious tags such as "Catholic child" or "Muslim child". Beside pictures of bonny toddlers (all white, as it happens), runs the tagline: "Let me grow up and decide for myself."

Andy said that the idea was that we shouldn't indoctrinate our young. I've no idea whether the word "indoctrinate" was his own, or whether he'd picked it up from talking to the British Humanist Association, which is behind the campaign. Anyway, my first reaction was this: chance would be a fine thing. I don't know if you've actually tried to indoctrinate a child, but outside of an Afghan madrassa or a Moonie temple I'd say you've got your work cut out.

Sure, a six-year-old will believe anything Daddy says. I could have told my children that the sea was made of wee-wee or that Tony Blair had a legal justification for invading Iraq and they'd have believed me. But by the time they've "grown up", or at least hit their teens, forget it. The most positive response you're likely to get from labelling them Christian, or atheist, or Communist, is "whatever". More likely are shrugs, or giggles.

And, anyway, who are these grown-ups who are meant to be doing the labelling? I've never introduced my children as "my pagan daughter" or "my atheist son". It's like that old joke about the Jewish mother: "Help! Help! My son, the doctor, is drowning!"

In the end, these humanists aren't worried about "labels" at all. What they want to abolish is children being brought up in any kind of faith tradition. They might pretend that they're fighting political and ethnic labelling, but the giveaway is that they're using the same typeface, and indeed the same money, as for the literally hopeless bendy-bus campaign last January. You may remember its genius: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The best that can be said for it is that it got people talking about God.

It's strange, though, that it isn't us, the faithful, who seem to be doing the worrying: it's all these neurotic atheists, humanists and secularists. Anyone would think they were trapped in 18th-century France or Tsarist Russia. When it's not our old friend, the celebrity atheist Professor Richard Dawkins, fund-raising for an uncertain and feeble proposition that serves largely to make Transport for London a bit better off, it's some other self-regarding personage thinking they're being frightfully daring by taking a pop at the Christian story, like an over-excited child shouting a rude word at the Christmas table.

Yesterday, it was the turn of the millionaire author Philip Pullman, who's writing an alternative ending to the story of Jesus Christ. Well, how wacky and daring. "A friend" is quoted as saying: "He knows it will be controversial, but he has some serious points to make." Perhaps as serious as the scholars and theologians who have wrestled with the doctrine of the atonement since the time of Augustine, or the late, great Oxford don John Macquarrie, who posited a viable alternative ending to the Christian story at the Cross, with no resurrection. C S Lewis was imagining alternative Christian narratives when Pullman – who reportedly claimed in 2001 that his aim was "to undermine the basis of Christian belief" – was just an idea in the mind of God. Do these people actually read any theology before presuming that they're being envelope-pushingly radical?

But I suppose it's easier to decide that all Christians are brainwashed, wall-eyed literalists, that there is no catholic tradition of mystery, that the Reformation never happened and that we are driven by the imperative to force our religion on the next generation – a charge I would take a little more seriously if Prof Dawkins hadn't recently endorsed atheist summer camps for children.

The world view of the anti-religion militants, unfortunately, is that one of us has to go. They really think, paradoxically enough, that this is their Armageddon: the forces of religious evil must be swept from the public sphere, to be replaced with a new hegemony of secularism and atheism, which from their mouths sounds remarkably fundamentalist. The rage of wiseacres like Dawkins is fuelled by a deep frustration dating from their smug formative years in the Sixties and Seventies, when religion was thought to be doomed as the great secularist revolution rolled on. It hasn't happened. Faith has prospered. It wasn't meant to be like this.

They will deny all this, claiming that all they desire is a level playing field, a disestablished Church and no faith schools. But their websites tell a different story. The British Humanist Association's (vice-president, Prof Dawkins) is a study in paranoia. The even more spiky National Secular Society's (honorary associate, Prof Dawkins) has stories with extraordinary headlines like "Gas is turned up on battle for a secular society". All I can tell you is that it's about the decision to ban crucifix-wearing in Italian state schools, the environmental campaigner who got his green beliefs recognised as religious, and a Muslim boy who has been granted permission to pray in his break-time.

Relax, fellas. We're not forcing our faith on you or our children. We're just trying, like you, to make sense of the world.

by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:18 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
lga1965
by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:23 PM

 laughing

talia-mom
by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:23 PM


class and breeding

Quoting lga1965:

 laughing



gigis1
by Member on May. 31, 2013 at 9:26 PM
Wtf?
lga1965
by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:26 PM
1 mom liked this

 sticking out tongue

Quoting talia-mom:

 

class and breeding

Quoting lga1965:

 laughing

 

 

 

talia-mom
by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:27 PM
1 mom liked this

Not my fault you have none


Quoting lga1965:

 sticking out tongue

Quoting talia-mom:


class and breeding

Quoting lga1965:

 laughing



 



JP-StrongForTwo
by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Did you read it? 

Quoting gigis1:

Wtf?


stormcris
by Christy on May. 31, 2013 at 9:29 PM
3 moms liked this

Perhaps (this is just a comment not intended to actual represent those who are atheist but may represent some) it is because some Christians get rather tyrannical in their views. If you do not believe there are a lot of them, go to any Christian town outside of MA (there are several to choose from) and profess you are a witch and see what happens. Oh yes, bringing up Dawkins does not really help your position. And perhaps do not say religious people when you only mean Christians as evident by the next to last paragraph.

*shrug*

parentalrights1
by on May. 31, 2013 at 9:30 PM
Dafuqing fuq?
pansyprincess
by Silver Member on May. 31, 2013 at 9:30 PM
6 moms liked this

You think this makes a lot of sense?  Do you think believers would be ok with taking "Under God" out of the pledge?  Because right now, if my kids want to pledge to our country, they are forced to say under god ... or leave it out, and have everyone look at them and wonder why they dont' say it.  Please tell me again how you aren't forcing your faith on our children.  Also, why is Christmas a national holiday?  Why is In god we trust on our money?

I am not afraid of believers.  Most people I know are believers.  Including my family.  I am disgusted by those believers that believe that they should have some sort of religious advantage because they are part of the religious majority. 

gigis1
by Member on May. 31, 2013 at 9:31 PM
Unfortunately

Quoting JP-StrongForTwo:

Did you read it? 

Quoting gigis1:

Wtf?


Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)