A guest post by Bruce Gorton.
A faitheist is essentially an atheist who argues for “politeness”in atheist/ religious discourse, in which the polite path is essentially the atheists shut up.
In the civil rights movement these were the “Uncle Toms” and the exact same crew are present in the gay rights movement right now. Ever hear a woman proclaim how much of a feminist she isn’t? It is the same basic deal. If you watch politics, this is the reason why “bipartisan support” has such an ominous ring to it.
It is people who strive to appear reasonable by appealing to what you want to believe, rather than actual reason. We want to believe sexism is a thing of the past, so we are inclined to favour women authors who make that claim.
We want to believe racism is a thing of the past, so we are inclined to favour black intellectuals who talk about the need for the youth to pull themselves up by their boot straps. We want to believe that homophobia isn’t the serious problem it was in the past, so gay people who point out that isn’t the case get silenced.
So long as religious injustice exists, there will be a market for atheists prepared to claim the problem is those who speak up against it.
Now the thing of this is that the “New Atheist”community does have some problems, and being the same species from roughly the same culture atheists are not that much better than the religious and there are serious concerns within the atheist movement.
Concerns such as sexism, or racism, or incredibly inept economic views such as libertarianism exist right now. There is such a thing as an atheist right wing.
But that is never the focus of a faitheist, because if it was it would require acknowledging that sexism is wrong in and of itself, and that includes sexism in the holy teachings of various religions.
Racism, being wrong in and of itself, means we cannot in good conscience not oppose the teachings of the book of Mormon in which the following is said (2 Nephi 5:21-23);
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.“
Instead the faitheist position is one of constantly complaining about how atheists are being quite upfront in criticising religious ideas.
Take a child who has been abused, would you tell that child that feeling anger at his abuser makes him a murderer? The character Jesus would. To Jesus the rapist who begs forgiveness could get into heaven, but the victim?
Luke 6:37; “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven”
Christianity includes the instruction to forgive not as a step in the process of healing from past wrongs, but a commandment. You do not get forgiven unless you forgive, Jesus does nothing more than add insult to injury.
In the battle between the wrongdoer and the wronged, the figure of Jesus is against those amongst the wronged who would actually do anything about it. The slave must obey his masters (Collassians 3:22), the slapped must turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and there is no authority except that established by God (Romans 13).
And by expressing this I am sure the likes of Chris Stedman see me as being “divisive” – yet I am not criticising the religious but the teachings of religion so long held to be good, that their apparent evil can go undetected.
Now I bring up Stedman for a simple reason – the man holds a degree of the basic unconscious racism that I find common in a lot of these arguments over religion.
“But how can we discount the role religious beliefs played in motivating the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi?”
Why do I say this is unconsciously racist? Gandhi and MLK Jnr were both fighting against social injustices they personally suffered – and they were fighting shoulder to shoulder with atheists to achieve it.
Religion, it appears, only motivates against oppression suffered by the specific religious group that is being oppressed.
History is full of religious figures that have used their religion to maintain oppression (such that Frederick Douglass remarked; “We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls. The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the relgious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave trade go hand in hand.”)
And what of figures like A Phillip Randolf or Jawaharlal Nehru? What of those who were not religious, yet still stood up?
I do not think religion was the motivating factor behind Martin Luther King Jnr, I think not wanting an America where the colour of his skin relegated him to third class status had a lot more to do with it. I do not think religion motivated Mahatma Gandhi, I think desiring an India free from colonial rule had a lot more to do with it.
Mr Stedman as an atheist, by definition believes religion to be factually incorrect. His question thus reveals that he also believes that in order for non-whites to stand up to injustice, they need to be fed factual inaccuracies.
But Stedman caters to that seeks order instead of justice, in which it is better to maintain the status quo than risk the “divisiveness”involved in thwarting it. He would talk of online snark, while ignoring the death threats received by the likes of Damon Fowler or Jessica Ahlquist, he would speak of being treated dismissively while ignoring the plight of Fasil Say.
Stedman supports the common myth, and there are many who are willing to do that along with him. Heck there are many atheists who believe they are doing the right thing by doing so – yet there is a reason they are treated as being irrelevant.
There are many who deal with ideas, and many more who deal with people. Those who deal with ideas will tackle the rightness or wrongness of the holy books, and you can argue with them. Those who deal with people will tackle the abuses of the holy groups, and you can rally with or against them.
Both those groups have their merits, because both seek to bring humanity forward in their own ways. There is however a third group – those who seek to maintain a status quo with which they are comfortable, for whom tone matters more than argument, and for whom people matter not at all.
And those in this third group will be forgotten as irrelevant, because they contribute nothing but hand wringing over tone and how uncomfortable they find the argument.