In February of last year (2012), I published a post entitled “The temptation of anger in response to militant atheism.” That post received a number of comments from those who challenged some of my assertions. The commentors also asked some very good questions. In this post, I attempt to answer some of the challenges and questions.
Let me begin by thanking the commentors for the civility in their responses. While I think that my opinions are reasonable (or else why bother to post them?), I have no delusions that I have all the truth or that my thinking is not, nor ever could ever be tainted by illogic. I appreciate both the dialog and the respectful tone throughout the comments.
In considering my previous post, I regret the use of the term “militant” to describe the actions of Jessica Ahlquist and others who would identify themselves as atheists. As the commentors pointed out, the term carries connotations that are not helpful in the midst of civil discourse. For this I ask forgiveness of my readers. I want the focus of my writing to be on ideas without being incendiary or antagonistic.
My struggle is in finding a suitable term to convey my thoughts. Other terms like aggressive, evangelistic or offensive also carry negative connotations. My choice of the word militant was intended to describe an atheism is that is seeking to change the mind or behavior of others. It is not passive atheism, therefore I propose to use the term “active” in lieu of the word “militant” in any future dialog on this subject.
A second point of clarification. The focus of the post was to challenge Christians to rethink their response to Jessica. I am often embarrassed by the hateful responses of Christians to those with whom they disagree. When Christians respond in anger, they cease to be like the one by whose name they identify themselves. In fact, the only group to which Jesus ever expressed any anger was the religious leaders of his day.
When I wrote the post, it did not cross my mind that those who sympathize with Jessica’s actions would be reading and commenting. I am thankful that they did read it and took the time to comment.
I agree that the status quo has no value in and of itself. The current situation may be good or bad and there is nothing inherently wrong with a challenge to the status quo. Truth should always triumph over error.
That being said, it saddens me to see that we, as a country, are leaving the philosophical underpinnings that provide the very freedom on which Jessica’s challenge is based. Even a casual observer can see that the only places in the world where democracy and freedom are experienced are countries that once had a Christian heritage.
Yes, I am aware that when the church has gotten political power, it has gone badly for both the church and the world around her. I am not in favor of any form of theocracy. I am glad that I live in a country where someone like Jessica can challenge something that she finds offensive, even if I do not understand how the prayer could be construed as being so.