A Message to the Moderately Religious

It’s Time for You to Speak Up!

It is quite common to see statements such like the following, “I don’t care if your Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist or whatever, believe what you want, just don’t force your belief down my throat” or “I’m not a crazy religious person, so why do you care what I think?”, and other statements in that line of thought.  I have a few thoughts that I want to share with those people.

First, I am truly glad to see that you do not strictly adhere to the dogma and doctrines of your religion.  Many people who are moderately religious support things like homosexual marriage/equality and believe in science like evolution.  (Two cite only two examples).  In many ways they are correct, they are not necessarily the problem that vocal atheists speak about.  I get that.  But, there is a “but”…

It is the moderately religious person that provides the foundation or platform for the “crazy” religious person to preach and inflict damage.  Take a moderate Catholic for example.  This person could be pro-gay marriage and pro-choice (again to cite only two examples).  Super, from my perspective we agree on those two issues.  But, when they attend Mass and put money in the collection basket they are financially supporting a strong movement that is actively working against their beliefs.  When they attend Mass, they provide an audience to the sermons against those things.  In a way, this is a “soft-approval” for that message, even if unintended.  This same analogy can be applied to all religions.

It is from the moderately religious that people like Cardinal Dolan, the Pope, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll and “non-clergy” such  as Bryan Fischer, Glenn Beck, Pat Robertson, etc. build a foundation from which to preach their nonsense.  If the moderately religious protested when their religious leaders made outrageous statements, we would likely find a decrease in those types of messages.  No preacher or pundit wants to talk to an empty room.  We would likely find that they would adjust their message.

To be clear, I do not hold the moderately religious in contempt in the same way I do the toxic leaders.  However, I do have a problem with them continuing to fill pews and halls.  Religion is the only arena where this seems to happen.  We would never sit through a political rally every week for the party that has the opposite viewpoints that we hold.  Yet, it is quite common to see people do exactly that when it comes to their religion.

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Second, religious views are not exempt from criticism and not all criticism of religious views is personal.  This is an important distinction to make.  If I write a scathing post against a position of a particular religion, I am criticizing that position.  It is the position that I often have the problem with.  If that position is part of the dogma or doctrine of a religion so be it.  If you are a member of that religion and happen to disagree with the position as well, why are you mad at me for criticizing it?  The fact that your Priest, Pastor, Bishop, Imam, Pope, etc. would find your views to problematic should bother you.  Take that up with them.  The fact that I am criticizing those views should not be offensive to you.  In fact, perhaps you should be joining me.

Third, perhaps you are upset that I am criticizing religion at all.  I would say I am sorry for that, but in truth, I am not.  Religions have had a free pass from criticism for far too long.  They can no longer receive a free pass in the market-place of ideas—not when so much is at stake.  Some religions may do a great deal of “good” in the world, but they also do a great deal of “harm”.  This harm stems largely from outdated ancient superstitious nonsense.  Please understand; this is not to say that you cannot believe what you wish.  By all means please feel free to do so.  This is not to say that you (or anyone else) cannot speak those beliefs.  By all means please feel free to do so.  However, expect to be challenged when those beliefs are absurd.  That is how a free society works.  We challenge all absurd ideas—be they political, social, scientific, or religious.  We challenge absurd ideas in our daily lives regularly.  Don’t believe me?  Go propose something absurd to your boss and see how that goes.  Religion cannot be exempt from this process.

When extremists in religions wield a great deal of power, their ideas must be challenged.  When it comes to Christianity in the U.S., Islam in the Middle East/Asia, and both in Africa (to name a few examples) extremists possess a great deal of power.  Living in the U.S., I am most familiar with the effects of religion here.  In the U.S. we have Christian extremists proposing legislation that curtails women’ rights, bans contraception, seeks to ban evolution and/or teach creationism, treat non-Christians as second class citizens, limit the rights of homosexuals, etc.  Religion has entered the social and political arena.  Once in that arena it is open to the same criticism as all other participants in the discussion.  Once in the arena for public discussion of ideas, the gloves are off.  If pointing out that women, atheists, other non-Christians, and homosexuals are all deserving of equal rights, that creationism is pure ignorance, etc. embarrasses your religion, the problem is with your religion, not with the criticism.

By staying silent, the moderately religious are enabling those extremists to spread their agenda.  That is certainly their choice.  However, do not ask me to refrain from arguing against those extreme positions.  That is not going to happen.  If that greatly offends you, take it up with the extremists in your own religion, not with me.  After all, it may be much easier for you to affect change from within than it is for me to do so from without.  In short, it is time for you to speak up, not for me to be quiet.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-John

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10 thoughts on “A Message to the Moderately Religious

  1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    I have a question for those who are, as you call it, "moderately religious," to wit: WHAT are you going to church for, predominantly? Is it the message, inspiration, the appearance of being proper / moral / whatever … or are you going for the fellowship, the company of others, many of whom you call "friend"? If it's that last, is your church really a church to you or more of a social club that you meet at once a week?

    Another question: if your church is a social club to you, how much attention do you really put on that message? Do you care what your priest / pastor / rabbi is saying or is it mostly in one ear and out the other? How about your fellow parishioners or congregants? Are they more interested in the religious elements of churchgoing or the social ones?

    Finally … just how attached are you to the belief system represented by your church? You might want to be careful how you answer this one … because you could reveal yourself to be one of those "practical atheists" which Joe the Rat disparaged some time back … and a certain Reason Being wrote about as well … and you might be on your way to becoming a straight-up ATHEIST.

    Reply
    1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

      To be honest, I would say that moderate theists are a problem, they just aren't the most dangerous problem, but they do provide cover for the most dangerous problem by insisting on special treatment for religion, by whining about criticism of religion, etc.

      They're not likely to go out and kill people but they sure are shielding those, knowingly or not, that might.
      My recent post Rights Around the World

      Reply
        1. Hausdorff from Oak Park, MI, United States

          I suppose it's not terribly surprising, it's not just that we are atheists, but we are atheists who care about it enough to write a blog about it. I don't see a lot of people doing that just because they think God isn't real, the reason for speaking out is that we see the danger of religion.

          oh shit, I just agreed with you that we agree, but not that we should find it curious. I think I find that much more amusing than I probably should.

          My recent post God is Love

          Reply
        2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

          Oh, we often do agree, but that agreement has nothing to do with atheism, that's the point.

          The other point that needs to be made is that it isn't even religion that's the problem, it's irrational thinking. It doesn't matter if you're moderately irrational or extremely irrational, the problem is that you're irrational at all. I never understood the theists who essentially say "yes, I'm batshit insane but at least I'm not as batshit insane as the lunatics over there so leave me alone!"

          Um… no.

          My recent post Rights Around the World

          Reply
  2. Pingback: Catholic Health Initiatives Fetus Hypocrisy | Reason Being from Columbus, OH, United States

  3. Beth @ MSA from Lipa City, Lipa, Philippines

    Every culture in history has had its own religious/spiritual legacy. That alone should tell you something. Given a set of very predictable environmental circumstances, human beings are predisposed to believe (and institutionalize) a set of religious/spiritual beliefs.

    A tenet based on "faith" is not so much a belief as much as it's a hope or desire.

    Reply
  4. Mariapitson from Kaul, Haryāna, India

    SMS Marketing
    I'm happy that I found your blog while searching the internet for ideas and good content about A Message to the Moderately Religious. It's very informative and the quality of your posts is excellent.

    Reply

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