It’s accommodationism day in the neighborhood…I guess it’s a Christmas thing. Baby Jesus is born, Tim Minchin got his (requested) song dropped from a tv show, Julian tries to square a circle, and to make it all complete, Chris Stedman writes yet another “mean atheists are doing it wrong and I am doing it right” article for the Huffington Post. I had been ignoring Stedman for months, but he does make it difficult.
…effective criticism of religious dogmatism accounts for the diverse spectrum of religious expression. It is balanced, it is rooted in compassion, and it responds to what people actually believe and practice, not just the most extreme forms of religious thought.
Well some people do actually believe the most extreme forms; often a lot of people. It’s not the case that most religious believers are thoroughly liberal and unextreme.
But some of the most vocal atheist activists understand religious criticism differently. Take, for example, this sampling of comments from prominent atheists about Islam and Muslims:
Ah ah ah – not so fast – those two items shouldn’t be mashed together. Talking about Islam is not the same as talking about Muslims and they can’t usefully be talked about under a single heading.
PZ Myers: “Come on, Islam… It’s bad enough to be the religion of hate, but to be the religion of cowardice ought to leave you feeling ashamed.”
Yes, and? Stedman fails to say what is wrong with that, and he also fails to say what the post was about. It was about the Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris whose life was trashed because she had to go into hiding after drawing a benign cartoon of Mohammed for Draw Mohammed day. I hope Stedman doesn’t deny that Islam takes Mohammed very very seriously.
I maintain significant disagreement with many religious beliefs, but I do not wish to be associated with narrow-minded, dehumanizing generalizations about religious people. I am disappointed that such positions represent atheist activism not only to the majority of our society, but to many of my fellow atheist activists as well.
But they don’t, and it’s unfortunately typical of Chris Stedman to pretend that they do.