After posting the list of things that Christians do in church that annoy me, here is something slightly different.
I should say that not all Christians do all these things. And not all the items are positive. But atheists could learn a lesson from Christians regarding some of these…
- Doing charity work.
(I’m not saying atheists don’t do it. Of course we do. But Christians do it more frequently and they are much more visible in this realm, even if we exclude the proselytizing missionaries. Most atheist groups rarely do this work on a consistent basis. Some do. That’s great. Let’s do more of it.)
- Giving money.
(Sometimes, it’s the “required” tithe. But often, it’s more. Christians give back to the community they love. It’s a part of their budget. Many atheists might pay their organizations’ membership dues, but they do very little else to support them. Even college students can afford to give a donation of $5/month to a secular group. And adults can do more. But it’s frustrating to have to pull teeth to get them to do it.)
- Getting their base fired up about elections, social issues, etc.
(Atheists have differing opinions on many issues, so it’s not easy to get them to vote in a bloc, but even when we have a need to be politically motivated about something, I just don’t see the drive and sense of urgency to take action that I see from Christian groups. We spend too much time arguing about the details. As a result, we forget the big picture.)
- Welcoming those who are new to the fold.
(They have the swag, the pastor’s welcome, possibly a dinner with church leaders, books, etc. Oh. They have Heaven, too. When I joined American Atheists and the ACLU, I got a wallet-sized membership card from both. And nothing from my local chapters.)
(I got a nifty-looking postcard from a local church telling me about its upcoming sermons: I was ready to go until I saw that I disagreed with everything they were talking about– that’s how enticing this postcard was. Christian conferences get several thousand attendees. Yes, these churches and Christian organizations have both the money and the numbers, but if they want you to know about something, they’ll find a way to get the information out. Quick: How many atheists have heard of Christianity Today? Now, how many non-atheists have heard of Free Inquiry?)
- Getting the media to cover them.
(It doesn’t matter if it’s a local church cleaning a sidewalk or a pastor making a statement on a particular issue. The newspapers and news programs will be covering it. We had thousands of atheists marching in Washington a few years ago. If you’re religious, did you hear about it? Hell, I’m guessing many atheists hadn’t heard about it, either. The lack of coverage was embarrassing. If we were a group of evangelicals, though, you can bet the media would have been there.)
- Public speaking.
(Those pastors can get you excited about anything. But listening to lectures by prominent atheists just doesn’t get you fired up. Here: Watch Sam Harris speak. And then watch Random-Pastor-I-Found-On-YouTube. Forget the words for a second. Who gets you more pumped up? I’m not talking about content– atheists are great at content. But if we had atheists saying the words of Sam Harris with the energy level of Random-Pastor, we might get somewhere.)
- Spreading disinformation.
(Intelligent Design is not science. Abstinence-only sex education has not stopped teens from having sex and has left them with more problems than before, Terri Schiavo was not responsive, and atheists were never declaring a “War on Christmas”– not until it became satirical to do so.)
- Setting the language we use.
(George Lakoff can attest to this. Which do you hear more often: Anti-choice or pro-life? “Teach Intelligent Design” or “Teach the controversy”? When did “family values” come to mean “Christian values”?)
- Eating their words.
(Pat Robertson. Jerry Falwell. Need I say more?)
[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, Christianity, church, charity, tithe, Heaven, American Atheists, ACLU, Christianity Today, Free Inquiry, Godless Americans March on Washington, evangelical, Sam Harris, Intelligent Design, Evolution, Abstinence-only sex education, Terri Schiavo, War on Christmas, George Lakoff, Anti-choice, pro-life, abortion, Teach the controversy, family values, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell[/tags]