Bobby Henderson, the Prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is concerned about the future of the atheist movement and what he sees as an emerging trend. In a serious piece, he makes his case for us not to be dicks:
What I worry most about, though, are the emails from young people who see in the Church of FSM an opportunity to bash religion in general and more specifically to bash people for being religious. Tolerance is more of a nuanced view and I believe they will come to it eventually if they stick around but it’s really very concerning that so many kids think this way when they first come to a place of free thinking.
I am not a huge fan of organized religion, and it’s impossible to ignore the abuses and corruption that have grown onto so many religions over the years, but at the same time, it’s impossible to deny that so many people get something meaningful out of their beliefs and that they have every right to continue to believe whatever they like *even if it’s irrational*, as long as it does no one else any harm. Just as we have the right to believe in the FSM. Just as nonbelievers have the right to be free from it. And we are all richer and more complete people for interacting with people who challenge and disagree with us.
It seems disingenuous for the creator of a mock religion to be upset when others use the FSM to mock religion. But I do get his point. We just have to be careful that our target is religion/the supernatural and not necessarily the good, decent people who happen to succumb to it.
Yes, some people benefit from their belief in a non-existent god. But many people try to take their belief and turn it into public policy, or use it to justify ridiculous statements and oppressive behaviors, or turn it into an excuse to not take real action on a problem. We can’t stop calling them out on their behavior.
I support civil dialogue with the other side, with the knowledge that we don’t need to hold back our criticism. We’re on the side of reality; they’re not. We (on the whole) support good science and church/state separation and telling the truth. They’re the ones who have to justify belief in what they can’t see or prove, and defend their faith from its crazy and plentiful followers, and reconcile their holy book with a reality that disagrees.
You can do all that without being a jerk about it.
In the meantime, there are areas where the two sides can cooperate. You don’t need religion to be a divisive factor when it comes to helping those less fortunate or raising money for a good cause.
***Update***: Commenter Allecher points out that the first “I’d Really Rather You Didn’t” in the Church of the FSM is:
I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Act Like A Sanctimonious Holier-Than-Thou Ass When Describing My Noodly Goodness. If Some People Don’t Believe In Me, That’s Okay. Really, I’m Not That Vain. Besides, This Isn’t About Them So Don’t Change The Subject.