Rebecca Florence Miller, one of the evangelical Christian bloggers on Patheos, recently got in a conversation with a bunch of atheists (on this site, I believe), and came away with a few important conclusions:
I came away from this conversation challenged that I need to do more to stand up for the rights of atheists (and those of other religions) here in the United States. Not because I agree with them on God and theology, but because they are human beings who deserve respect. Because when we stand up for someone else’s rights, we are appropriately loving our neighbor and treating them as we would want to be treated.
She gets specific, too:
We can defend the child who is serious enough about his beliefs that he won’t “fake it” and stand up for the part of the Pledge of Allegiance that says “one nation under God.” We can stand against any instance when the government tries to establish some form of state religion. We can decry death threats against those who are speaking their beliefs, loving them enough to defend them even if we disagree profoundly with them. We can do this by considering that certain governmental expressions of religious faith may not be the greatest idea.
That’s really what most of us are asking for. Atheists, for the most part, aren’t interested in forcing our views on everyone else the way many Christians seem to want. We want the government to maintain neutrality on religious issues instead of promoting Christianity (or theism in general).
It’s been said before, but atheists are fighting to be treated the same as everyone else, while Christians often want special treatment. They get defensive when a city council says a Nativity Scene or Ten Commandments monument can’t be placed on government property… or angry when an atheist display goes up right next to their own. They think the whole world is an extension of their church and get upset when the same rules don’t apply (see: Football coaches who think prayer during practice is never a problem).
If atheists got what we wanted, Christians wouldn’t be harmed in the least. If Christians got what they wanted — and they often do — atheists (and other non-Christians) would be treated like second-class citizens. That’s why it’s so infuriating when it seems like we’re the only ones taking on these battles. The values we’re fighting for would benefit everybody, not just us.
So hats off to Rebecca for recognizing that and imploring her readers to understand it, too.
(Thanks to Debra for the link)