Monthly Archives: March 2010

We’re Not Alone

One thing I hear a lot from my fellow nonbelievers is that it seems like Christian extremists are constantly pushing for an American theocracy. While I’m convinced that this is true – that is, that fundamentalists would love to take over the country and turn us “back to the Bible” (whatever that means to them) – I’m not sure just how successful they would be. After all, they would have to deal with all the non-Christians, not to mention the other Christians who disagree with them. That’s no small number of people, either; regardless of how noisy and obnoxious the extremists are, they’re still technically a fringe. And they’re not without their detractors inside the faith community, either. Anomaly100, one of the few Christians I follow on Twitter, wrote (among a lot of other stuff that makes good sense):

The Family at 133 C Street, infamous for their stifling and oppression, behind closed doors, [and for] deeming who is and who isn’t moral, are the very ones showing support to Uganda for giving homosexuals the death sentence.

The protesters in Iran are determined to topple their government due to the oppressive dictatorship they’ve had to endure from a forced theocracy.

Are we becoming them? So much is done in the name of God but do you think God needs their help?

This is something I’ve wondered about quite often. Why do religious extremists feel that they need to enforce their God’s rules? Do they honestly think that an omnipotent, omniscient being wouldn’t be able to handle things on its own? That they’re so ready to take action in defense of their deity seems to directly counter the idea that they are devout in their faith. After all, were they truly of the opinion that their God’s will would always be done, they would see no reason to act on his behalf. And if their God were omnipotent, how could anything possibly go any way but his? The idea of something going against the will of God would be a logical impossibility.

Anomaly100 and I definitely don’t agree on the basic theological argument – that is, she argues against religious extremists on the basis that they distort Christianity, while I argue against them on the basis that their actions belie doubts that their words deny (and think that their stance is more in keeping with a fundamentalist tradition). But her viewpoint is a good reminder that nonbelievers aren’t the only ones who are loath to allow dangerous religious ideas to take a solid root.

Uncomfortable Gift Requests at Work

Recently, one of my coworkers lost her father after a long battle with a terminal illness. She took the last week off from work to grieve and deal with family business. Today, she came back to work, and one of my other coworkers passed around an envelope containing a sympathy card.

The catch? There was a note on the envelope asking for cash to be given in her father’s name as a gift to a local church.

Being the nonconfrontational person I am, I was a little irritated at first, but not enough to raise a stink about it. I simply signed the card with my condolences and an offer to lend her an ear if she needed someone to talk to, then passed the card off to the next person on the list. I considered the idea of asking her if there was anything else I could do in her father’s memory, but quickly dismissed the idea as (obviously) a little insensitive.

I’d like to make up for not chipping in on this gift, but I’m not quite sure what to do. Most of my coworkers are Catholic, and asking them for alternatives would almost certainly lead to an uncomfortable discussion about religion that I really don’t need to have in the middle of my workday. I’d talk to my parents, except that they seem to be confusing “I’m an atheist” with “I’m a nontraditional Christian who is struggling with his faith.” I figure my best bet is to toss the question out onto the web, and hope something comes up in the net: What could I do to honor her father’s memory without offending her and bringing up subjects that aren’t really appropriate for work?