Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Give Evangelicals a break

I am a former born-again Christian, now an atheist. I don't believe that Christianity is true and some of Jesus' advice is bad -- outright bad advice.

But I commend Evangelicals. I have fond memories of most of my experiences as a Christian (the worst part was really the anguish of struggling to believe, and that ended when I stepped away from the Faith).

Christians, especially Evangelical Christians are in general some of the most loving and generous people on the face of the planet. I also believe they are, in the main, extremely tolerant.

Some people find the Gospel to be irritating and maybe even a little boring. They find the professed certainty and judgementalism of committed Christians appalling. Christian-haters are entitled to such uncharitable feelings. After all, they are just feelings and don't by themselves do harm.

I feel sorry for people who let other people's fantasies bother them. Religious fantasies about Jesus and God and heaven might bother so-called liberals (what's liberal about despising Christians? Not much). Christians probably find some sexual fantasies repulsive. Everyone is entitled to feel that way about other people's myths. I don't mean to disparage genuine revulsion to other people's "happy thoughts". But I also feel sorry for people who let that innate revulsion eat at them or cause them distress.

For example, there's something about the irrationality of Christian myth that bugs me. But I don't let it distress me. If it makes some people happy, I don't want to take that away from them. I am not going to church anytime soon, but I am not trying to shut down any churches.

Similarly, I don't pass judgement on homsexuality. I see no rational basis for denigrating it in any way, but I feel an innate revulsion to it (well, to male-male acts mostly). I don't know why that is, but I would be lying to deny it. Still, why should my revulsion become a source of distress for me. No one is telling me I have to like it, just that my revulsion is not the basis for prohibiting somebody else's "happy thoughts".

To my way of thinking, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs about the cosmos -- and that includes the belief that all other belief systems are crap. I don't think you can really be said to have faith unless you believe that all contradictory faiths are crap. The tolerance required by the First Amendment is not that we pretend not to have faith, but that we don't take any action against all those others who do not share our particular beliefs.

You see, no one can make me believe in God. Nor can I make someone stop. Nor would I care to, especially since, as I said, I have fond memories of being a Christian. Christianity is a really blissful religion. It makes a lot of people really happy -- genuinely happy. And that's a pretty good thing.

My faith is now the faith of Liberty. I believe that letting other people act, talk, believe and own property as they wish is the profoundest rule we all should obey.