Mailvox: don’t diss the disbelievers

DG writes to defend the faithless:

While I usually agree with much of your column, I must take exception to your classification of “secular” as being “anti-christian”. I am an atheist conservative Bush-supporting disabled veteran who spent 10 years in the military sworn to fight and die if need be for your right to express your beliefs and practice your faith in any way which did not violate the rights of others. I am in no way suggesting that you are violating my or anyone else’s rights with your column or your blog, however, you seem to make secular and liberal (neo-fascist) one and the same.

I am not alone here. Many atheists realize that freedom of religion IS freedom to practice or not to practice as they see fit and will happily defend your right to do so along with our right to decline. We are not vocal, though, and perhaps we are lost in the shuffle or drowned out by the Deans and Clintons and Kennedys of the political world.

My point is this: do not assume that non-religious automatically equals neo-fascist. Just because we do not believe in god doesn’t mean we don’t believe in helping those incapable (not unwilling) to help themselves or believe in stifling the open and free expression of faith.

In slamming the anti-christian secularists who have attempted to portray themselves as the defending party even as they vociferously attack religion in general and Christianity in particular on the social, political and judicial fronts, I was certainly not including with them all those who do not believe in the supernatural. For example, there are many agnostic and atheist libertarians; I have no fear of them wielding government power in an attempt to persecute Christians because they are opposed to permitting the use of government power to persecute anyone.

Indeed, I am usually in more intellectual harmony with an atheist libertarian than a Christian socialist who does not understand the vast difference between a moral imperative for the individual and a state-imposed policy applied to the masses supported by the threat of theft, jail and execution.

That being said, it is not an accident that the lethal policies of left-wing governments in the China, the Soviet Union, Germany, Kampuchea, Ethiopia and numerous other historical hellholes have uniformly been applied by those who reject the Judeo-Christian ethic. For while it is true that the atheist can personally subscribe to a similar neo-morality, he has very little rational requirement to do so. The fact that many here in the West do choose to construct ethical systems in imitation of those belonging to their religious neighbors is, in my opinion, far more likely to be a matter of cultural immersion than any highly refined intellectual effort; indeed, there are few atheist philosophers of note who subscribe to any restraint of the individual or the state.

It’s worth noting that although most people in America today are not Bible-believing fundamentalists, they still consider themselves to be “Christians” even if they don’t attend church, don’t attempt to live by Biblical precepts and in some cases don’t even believe in the historical existence of Jesus Christ. If these people are so influenced by their culture that they claim to be something they are probably – probably, for no man can judge another’s heart – not, then it is difficult to deny that there are strong underlying influences even on those who explicitly deny belief in the foundation of traditional Western morality.

Faithlessness does not automatically equate to socialism, but the evidence strongly suggests that it makes one more susceptible to it. When one subscribes to no clear and universal definition of right and wrong, it is very difficult to find the courage or the reason to point to a specific action, be it shoplifting or mass slaughter, and state with authority: “that is evil!”

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