I started writing this blog earlier this week in response to a slightly odd article in the Spectator from Nick Cohen on “The Spectre of Militant Secularism”, but I find these proselytizing atheists so tedious that I stopped. However now others have started to wade in on the issue and I thought I might as well. The problem with opining on this is that it will attract these proselytizing atheists, but as I can moderate comments then I’ll start by saying that if you comment just to have a go then I’ll moderate the comment. This doesn’t affect your freedom of speech. You can write your own blog in response, I might even read it. If you don’t like it, tough.
The main response you get when you mention the mainly atheist militant wing in the secularism movement is “Ooh we’re not violent”, but then militant doesn’t necessarily mean violent. It can mean violent but it doesn’t have to. Another is “Ooh religions have killed people”, well yes, people have used religion as an excuse to be unpleasant to other people, but people have used a number of things to be unpleasant to other people, money, knives, non-religious ideologies, few people say we should sweep them all away. A third is “Ooh, not all secularists are atheists”, well we aren’t talking about non-atheist secularists we’re talking about Militant Atheist Secularists it’s a subset; draw a venn diagram.
However, there are Atheist Secularists out there who, for want of a better word, proselytize. It’s hard to be in the “of faith” minority on Twitter to not encounter a few of these people. [Twitter, in the UK at least, is apparently designed to be a group hug for left wing secularism, anyone not conforming to this group will struggle to get followers in triple figures unless they work for a major media outlet, in which case they'll get a lot of left wingers following them so they can complain about them, ok that's probably not true]. These people are so fired up by their rejection of God and their embracing of the way of Dawkins that they find themselves unable to not go on about it to anyone they find who still believes in God and agress at them until they either go away (as per winning an argument on the Internet) or they swear at them, which they take as a sign of victory “Ooh, you swore, that’s against your “God”, you can’t really believe.” In many ways they’re a lot like “born again” believers, and at least as annoying. In fact they are often converts themselves so very like the born again.
Proselytizing Atheists are easily spotted.
They appear to have read the Bible, although of course they haven’t. What they have read is a list of choice quotes, probably on a website or in a Richard Dawkins book, together with an interpretation that makes them appear to be out of step with current secularist thinking. Yes. A series of books thousands of years old written in a particular historical context (which they overlook) doesn’t agree with current secularist thinking. It’s such a surprise. Not. The books of the New Testament were written almost 2000 years ago and related to a new and, at the time, quite radical change of belief system. As such, many parts of it, don’t try to rock the boat against the society of the time too much. Maybe there’s a lesson there. The books of the Old Testament were written thousands of years previously. Part of this, Leviticus, contains various rules. They also excite the Secularists rather a lot. I’ll come back to Leviticus.
They tend to claim they embrace freedom of religion, although their language suggests they don’t. They will, at some point, mention at least one of Sky Fairies or Spaghetti Monsters. Embracing freedom implies an inherent respect for others, denigrating the beliefs of others doesn’t imply a great deal of respect. They do of course demand respect for themselves. As a person of faith you must respect them and if you deign to suggest that their language is at best rude or you return an insult then they may get a bit mouthy with you.
They seem to know better than those of faith what belief in a particular religion entails. In this way they are much like people who hate Islam with their precious quotes from the Koran, they “know” a bunch of rules (mainly from Leviticus) and say that if religious people aren’t following them then they can’t be very religious or they can’t be truly religious. What they fail to understand is that Christianity (and Judaism and Islam who share Leviticus in one form or another) are all broad churches. As are atheism and secularism. Not all believe in the same way, there’s the obvious split between Catholicism and Protestantism for a start. So, just as not all secularists are wont to jump down the throats of religionists, not all religionists are wont to reciprocate. Leviticus is thousands of years old, originally it was a part of Judaism, latterly it’s used in part by some branches of Christianity, a lot of it relates to the laws of a people who lived in a desert climate. Jesus himself broke aspects of Leviticus, that’s one reason why the Jewish authorities took exception to him. Why do some parts of Christianity follow some parts of it and not others? Times change and various parts of various Christian churches have changed with time. Secularists will often recognise that Christianity has adapted its festivals over the centuries but seem curiously blind to the idea that it might have adapted in other ways too. They often take this variance of degrees by which people abide by these rules as another justification to remove religion altogether from life.
Which brings me to ask just what do they really want? They seem to say that they want to separate church and state, but many by their actions and for all their talk of freedom of religion actually seem to want a total removal of religion from all public life for all people, regardless of their faith or lack of it. They’ll do whatever it takes to try to force their point of view on society and in doing so they’ll shout and push until they’ve persuaded or silenced all opposition and they have an apparent majority that is converted to their “cause”. Curiously one charge they make against religion is that it won’t listen to opposition and runs roughshod over it, as Midtown sang “you’ve become everything that you had hated”.
Of course any such that run across this blog will accuse me of doing the same with the moderation policy, but well, fuck ‘em.