Live-blogging Reasonfest: Interfaith Panel

The contents of this post represent the opinions of JT Eberhard, not the Secular Student Alliance.  The SSA supports groups that work with interfaith and I will work to support those groups and those projects no matter my personal feelings on interfaith.

Mark Blumberg rocked faces.  This was my first time experiencing his work and I’m impressed!  I really recommend this guy.

Next up is the panel Do Nontheists Belong in Interfaith?  I’m going to save some time: no!  Hello no!  Fuck no!

The common ground between  theists and non-theists lies precisely where the atheist already resides: in secularism.  Interfaith people are all about doing good, an act which requires zero belief in god.  The problem is that since faith is in the name it allows faith, a poison to humanity, to get the credit for helping.  This is bad.

The panel will be made up of Greg Lammers, Fred Hein, Serah Blain, and Ed Clint.  All good people.  This will be interesting.


So far Lammers is the only one stating the obvious.  Fred, Serah, and Ed all cited the need to do service projects and do good in the world.  Nobody is saying otherwise.  What we’re saying is that faith gets to leech the credit.  Good job, Greg.

Fred, the Christian on the panel, says that avoiding interfaith will marginalize atheists further.  If not being marginalized means being buddy-buddy with faith, which signifies only the corruption of human reason, then I’m unwilling to sell out on that front.


Ok…seriously.  We can work with Christians to build houses, we can do charity work.  We’re all for that!  We just don’t want to be dishonest about it.  We’re human beings doing good thing.  Take faith and god out of the equation and we’re still human beings doing good stuff.

Ed says the label of interfaith has to go.  He’s right.  How about something like “charity” or “service projects”?

Serah now saying we have to work really hard to build relationships.  That we have to smile and be a nice human being so religious people want to work with us.  Fine!  Nobody’s saying that’s a bad thing.  You can do all of that without giving faith the credit for secular work.

As reasonable people, people opposed to irrationality due to the fact that it hamstrings humanity, we should hate faith.  That doesn’t mean we should hate believers and shouldn’t try to work with them, but we shouldn’t pull punches on faith.

Fred says atheists shouldn’t back off on criticism of religion, he just wants tact.  Awesome!  So while doing charity work with religious people we can criticize their beliefs (and they can criticize ours).  Fantastic!  So why must we call it interfaith?


Serah says her personal goal is to advance human well-being.  It’s a goal I share.  I pursue the advancement of human well-being by seeking to remove irrationality from the world.

Most atheists want to advance human well-being.  How is calling shared projects between atheists and believers “interfaith”, and thereby allowing faith to further marry itself to morality in people’s minds when it doesn’t deserve it, helping that?  Nobody is defending this.

Fred says ridicule should be reserved for those situations where you have something to say that’s really, really funny.  I would amend that to include times when things are so overtly absurd that legitimate argument is less effective than shame.


Holy crap…I just got a round of applause for asking a question.  Pretty much just voiced the contents of this blog.  Right on, atheist movement.

Ed says that in interfaith it’s not the time for criticizing faith, even though criticizing faith is something we should do.  I disagree, since I think religion should never be protected from criticism, but it doesn’t answer the question.  Even if I said we shouldn’t criticize faith in interfaith, why must we allow the title to let faith leech all the credit.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

    Well if “in interfaith it’s not the time for criticizing faith” then that’s another reason nontheists don’t belong in interfaith.

    (Well, ok, some nontheists are just nontheists, without any desire to criticize faith. But then when people start pushing faith on them, even some of those nontheists start wanting to do a little criticizing.)

  • Edward Clint

    I did not say “interfaith is not the time to criticize faith” because interfaith isnt a “time”. It is, among another things, a class of activities with a circumscribed purpose or purposes. That purpose can be criticizing faith, but not all the time every time. When you want to accomplish a service project, the project is not about anyone’s faith, what your favourite football team is, what school you go to, or anything else. It isnt about you, at all. If anyone thinks that, religious or not, I would not work with them.

    • Andrew B.

      #2: How is that different from “life?”

  • http://Templeofthefuture.net James Croft

    So we don’t attend, let people of faith do all the work alone, and allow them to legitimately claim ALL the credit? SCORE! It’s not like they will stop doing the work because we choose not to show up. Better to get stuck in and show people you can be good, principled atheists who can work beside others without compromising our views.

  • Jaime

    That was Fred Herren, not Hein, a science journalist and a Christian.

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