I wasn’t going to post today, but I was going through my Google news alerts and what do I find:
The Daylight Atheism author states, “Over the past several years, I have observed to my dismay the forces of militant religious fundamentalism gaining in strength, both in my home country, the United States of America, and worldwide. This ominous development, driven by those who are dedicated enemies of all the progress and enlightenment that has been achieved over the past several centuries, threatens the liberty and happiness of all people everywhere. As a result, I have been compelled to grow more involved in political causes to help oppose it. We need as many voices as possible calling attention to the evil of the religious right and shining the light of scrutiny on their true goals. Only by doing so can we hope to stop them, and I hope to play some small part in that.”
This brief article appeared in the Navasota Examiner, which printed a howler of a column back in December wondering if America’s separation of church and state was meant to punish Christianity for the Inquisition, and fretting that the atheist cabal which apparently controls our country now is about to ban the celebration of Christmas. In “The Real Enemies of Christmas“, I gave the column’s author, Joy Stephenson, a brief lesson in American history and encouraged readers to write in to correct her faulty understanding. Evidently some of you took me up on that, and evidently, Joy Stephenson’s bosses at the Examiner are just as blinkered and ignorant as she is.
The letters sent in which were reprinted in my comment thread were very reasonable and polite, but the Examiner’s Evalynn Christiansen immediately takes a tone of huffy dismissal, gasping in shock that we dare to disagree with her:
These atheists have declared themselves intellectually superior to all who do not hold their beliefs. That sounds like hypocrisy to me.
In the first place, if disagreeing with someone amounts to declaring yourself their intellectual superior, then one can only assume that Christians must consider themselves the intellectual superiors of everyone who believes differently. I doubt most believers actually feel that way, but it’s a direct consequence of this columnist’s own logic – which, as usual, she selectively applies only to people she dislikes, with no thought to how the same reasoning would affect her own position.
Second, Christiansen apparently doesn’t know what the word “hypocrite” means. Hypocrisy means speaking for one position and acting to support a different one. We atheists are clear and consistent: we advocate free speech, religious neutrality in government, and the use of reason – but since she doesn’t like that, she evidently gropes for the first term of insult that comes to mind and then throws it out without thought for its relevance.
Joy Stephenson writes witty op-ed pieces with her audience in mind and was really “preaching to the choir” with this one.
Joy is a delight to read. Keep it up!
Keep what up? Making foolish errors based on a pervasive misunderstanding of America’s laws and history? It’s notable that Christiansen doesn’t even respond to the corrections sent to her, nor does she acknowledge that her columnist was in any way mistaken. She just insults the letter writers, assumes that by doing this she’s dealt with their criticisms, and then cheers on her laughably uninformed colleague.
To finish her column, Christiansen announces that most of her paper’s subscribers “believe in Christian values” – as if that somehow excused their getting the facts so outrageously wrong. Like many believers, she assumes that her religion should be exempt from criticism and that everyone else should treat her pronouncements with unquestioning assent. Perhaps we need to show her the error of that way of thinking. Here’s a link to send a letter to the editor. Anyone care to join me in giving this paper another volley?