At times I can be very critical toward religious faith. I am not shy calling out Nonsense dressed as Religion particularly when one faith demands exceptional privileges in the public square.
I’m also not reticent to call out fellow Seculars who like nothing better than making fun of faith and believers of any kind. It makes me wonder if they know there are alternatives to being anti-religious, anti-faith. You can be an atheist, secular, freethinker without being an AAA (Angry, Anti-religious Atheist).
Years of working alongside people of faith, building cooperative coalitions with them, developing collegial and personal relationships, I’m consistently sensitive to people I know and respect in faith communities (as well as friends and family who hold a faith position). Including diverse voices and drawing on wisdom wherever it may come from, is a practice I learned throughout years of ministry and critical thinking.
I may not agree with some of their beliefs, but I know too many good people in churches, synagogues, temples and elsewhere to disrespect them. Freethought is not the exclusive property of the faithless.
Now, reading yet another snarky meme from an AAA putting down people of faith, I’m once again disturbed by the apparent lack of depth and breadth evident in the cheap shots.
And, I’m getting more clarity about what’s really going on.
The current theory I’m testing (not judgments but observations):
♦AAA folks may come from very limited religious backgrounds (often narrow and strict traditions)
♦AAA folks may have rather limited religious education (Bible schools, restricted theological training, etc)
♦AAA folks may have quite shallow relationships (past and/or present) with people of faith (particularly people of diverse faiths)
♦AAA folks may have little or no experience working cooperatively with people of faith (especially ecumenical or interfaith activities such as operating affordable housing, shelters, collaborative chaplaincies, food pantries, educational forums, etc)
It’s not so easy to flippantly dismiss people you’ve worked beside while doing important community work.
When I hear mocking sarcasm or outright attacks on the integrity or intelligence of religious people I immediately think:
“This person has a very narrow view and experience.”
“Doesn’t this person have anyone in their life they care about or respect who believes in a god?”
“What makes them so angry and anti?”
(btw, I would ask the same questions of a person mocking and disrespecting secular people. I have the same problem with an RRR: Raging Righteous Religious person.
What do you think of these observations and questions? Does any of this ring true in your experience?