Remember that editorial by Wayne Laugesen of the Colorado Springs Gazette in which he said the atheist movement was on the decline because of groups like Atheist Agenda and their Smut for Smut campaign and FFRF going after the Mother Teresa stamps?
I argued that Laugesen ignored many of the bright spots within our movement and the idea that the overall trend is in our favor.
And it was written by a pastor, Rev. Roger Butts of High Plains Unitarian Universalist Church.
Your piece equates atheism with a small student group in Texas and one foundation. You made no mention of the Ethical Cultural Society. You made no mention of the Humanist Institute. You made no mention of Buddhist atheists, Unitarian Universalist atheists, the American Humanist Association. I don’t think the editorial board would ever say that organized Christianity is represented as a whole by [Glenn] Beck and [Fred] Phelps.
You seem to suggest that atheists — or religious humanists, or religious naturalists — are somehow not involved in acts of service and compassion and justice and that they act out of spite and anger and fear. Well, you paint a picture with a broad stroke. The agnostics and atheists I know contribute plenty of money to important organizations involved in making the world more just and act in community organizing and groups like the Sierra Club, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Red Cross or other international aid organizations. And you seem to paint a picture of angry, spiteful atheists acting out of malice. There are those, certainly. And when they act out of ignorance or intolerance, it is as pathetic and pitiful as when anyone else does. Atheists are not so monolithic as you claim.… In my experience most folks know that anytime a cynical attempt to portray any group as one thing, one mind, one collective is off-base and shallow. Your dualistic thinking is unfortunate and lacks intellectual rigor and integrity.
I don’t think Christianity should be judged by men like Ted Haggard, Fred Phelps, Glen Beck and I don’t think atheists should be judged by a group of college kids in San Antonio trying to get a little publicity.
*slow, crescendoed applause*
I’m becoming less of a fan of the interfaith approach that Butts suggests — the kind that sees value in all religions — but in this case, the reverend makes many terrific points.
On a side note, why does the picture of him on the Gazette’s website make it seem like he has horns growing out of the side of his head?
(Thanks to Raleigh for the link!)