Faith-based opposition doesn't help

This letter has been floating around the tubes.  It was sent to the home of Jessica Ahlquist.

How evil does she have to be for these people to be the good guys?

We’ve seen the pages upon pages of threats Jessica has received.  There are plenty of Christians out there who have been wishing harm on Jessica for daring to insist that their religion is not above the law.

Faith does not make people better.  In fact, in cases like these, it empowers the worst of humanity by allowing people to think god endorses their beliefs and behavior.

The irony is that there will be Christians who wax passionately that those wishing harm on Jessica are wrong, not because sending threats to a sixteen year-old is immoral on its own merit, but because god endorses their kinder beliefs and behaviors instead.

But neither get faith right, because it is impossible to get faith right.  There is not a single position for which the best defense is faith that is not utterly ridiculous.  Faith is a bad reason for the nice Christians just as it’s a bad reason for the monsters.  The message is not “You’re wrong because those other believers have a better case,” the message is, “You’re both wrong because faith is a shitty reason to believe anything.”  God endorses neither the niceness of some or the malice of others because god does not exist.

We cannot say it to the villains of faith without also saying it to the saints.  But make no mistake: it’s time we started saying it plainly without worrying about offending the nicer Christians who reinforce the idea that faith is a suitable defense for beliefs/behaviors by expecting people to buy into their faith-based protestations.

Yes, the authors of this letter are Christians.  Yes, they believe passionately in Jesus.  Yes, the people grateful to the authors of this letter are Christians who also believe passionately in Jesus.  Nicer Christians, who also believe in Jesus, will oppose the authors of this letter, and I have no problem saying those Christians are nicer.  What I will not say is that the nice Christians are more likely to be right.  They’re not.  And we should convey that when they tell us that the mean Christians get faith wrong, as if the nice Christians have some better reason to believe god exists and supports them.  This is important, because if you cannot tell someone that you are more likely to be right then you’re relegated to telling them, at best, only that they are different, which is both an obvious and impotent statement.

We’re on our own down here, all playing for team humanity.  We should oppose things like this because they are malicious, and malice is not conducive to our collective happiness.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.