I chanced upon this WordPress blog post apparently about religion and American politics – explaining why atheists, according to the writer, get so angry with Christians. Now as a preliminary note, I should like to make clear that I have theological reasons for not lobbying Christian ethics in the political arena, although I accept that the demographic of Christians to non-Christians is not the same here in Britain as it is over the author’s side of the pond, and that nor is the political climate – and that this could be a potential influence too. The author of this article criticizes religious conservatives for “forcing their beliefs into law”, but I cannot consider this an unhypocritical criticism as the liberals I know tend to hark on about ‘fighting for political progress’. The author likewise criticizes conservatives for trying to make a ‘Theocracy’, whilst anything except a secular government operating by humanistic atheist principles would appear abhorrent to her. It’s all the same difference, as far as I’m concerned – what’s one woman’s “progress” is another woman’s “belief”, and both are being forced into government from either side in the hope of annihilating the other. The difference is that what the conservatives are doing is given a more pejorative phrasing here.
It seems that anyone with strong convictions about how the world should be will try to garner as much support for them as possible – whether these convictions involve a God or not. You believe that abortion is abhorrent? You’ll want it to be made illegal. You believe it’s abhorrent that abortion is illegal? You’ll want it legalized. As I said before, my reasons for not choosing to lobby for pro-life politics is bound up in my theological persuasion – and perhaps some environmental factors too. But for those who do choose to do so, it would appear that both sides have their reasons; that both sides have their underlying presuppositions and justifications, and that these are mutually exclusive. Let’s break down the facades here. When two conflicting ideologies share the same space, then provided both have adequate ammunition and sufficient means to defend themselves, it’s not going to be a one-sided battle. If they were not fighting to obtain the same prize they would not be fighting at all.
The author’s conclusion is this: “Stop preaching and stop trying to force your beliefs into law.” A more neutral rephrasing of the author’s conclusion would be the following: don’t hold convictions. Because anyone who tries to garner political support for their cause is essentially doing that. Well spoke Christ when he said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division,” and “Whoever does not pick up his cross is not worthy of me.” If we hold strong convictions, we should not expect peace from the rest of the world, and if we would remain Christians with strong convictions, we have to take all the flack we get for it.
The more pressing question for me is why atheists in Britain won’t leave Christians alone, where regular churchgoers account for 6% or 7% of the population, where 70% of the population put down ‘Christian’ on their census forms, where Richard Dawkins is widely revered for his ‘God Delusion’ book and believed by many to have swept the ‘God’ issue under the carpet along with his two remaining horsemen, where two thirds of the population don’t know the name of the first book of the New Testament, and where a thinly-veiled derision is poured on conservative Christians from all political sides – including the Conservative Party. There doesn’t seem to be much left over here for an atheist to feel threatened by. We Christians still trust in the words of Christ, of course: “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” No-one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs, says St Paul. Fight the good fight of the faith, be prepared to give a reason for your hope, and keep running the race in such a way as to win the prize.