Interfaith conference: “Interfaith is key to fighting secularism.”

Hey!  Good news for the interfaith people!  This should make Chris Stedman and his ilk happier than flies on feces.  An interfaith group just held a conference in Washington D.C., America’s political hub!

Participants at a recent interfaith conference in the nation’s capital discussed how interreligious dialogue can play an important role in establishing peace and fighting secularization in America.

Oh joy.  Interfaith people gathered to discuss how interfaith is important in fighting secularism…in a secular nation.  Oh how I hope more atheist groups get on board with interfaith, as though we should be eager to slide ourselves under the banner of “faith”.

The term “interfaith” even means “between faiths”, which is precisely how they treat it, apparently.

He explained that a shared “commitment to an authentic and robust dialogue will foster understanding and peaceful coexistence.”

Peaceful coexistence…what about with the people who like America nice and secular?  If interfaith is important for fighting that, it seems we’re going to have a hard time coexisting.  And who can participate in this “authentic and robust dialogue”?

Successful dialogue requires “a personal investment of our being,” free from both the external distractions of our busy world and the internal anger, resentment or other emotions that may prevent us from truly encountering the other people in the dialogue, he explained.

This commitment requires spiritual maturity grounded in daily prayer and relying upon God for divine guidance and help, Father Crossin noted. It also requires a willingness to be silent and truly listen to what others are saying rather than simply responding with our own views.

Ultimately, dialogue can be fruitful not only because it builds friendship and mutual understandings, Father Crossin said, but also because it “requires us to examine our own faith more intently and to understand it better.”

They’re big about talking up respecting others as a prime virtue, but seem to have no problem painting secularism as the villain and saying that atheists can’t listen.  I guess only people from incompatible faiths, most of which believe each other will be roasting in hell for all eternity, merit their respect.  Incidentally, when people who believe each other are damned for all time unite against a common enemy, in this case secularism, that should reveal just how little they think of atheists.

Some atheists will trip over each other trying to align themselves with interfaith groups like this, presumably to tell them how wrong they are from within.  Seems to me we can do that just fine without lending them the endorsement of our presence.  Personally, I can’t say “fuck these people” loud enough.  They are not allies to secularism or to atheists, though they’ll happily accept our help undermining both.

The secular response to religious diversity is to push all religious beliefs out of public life, Bishop Knestout warned. But while this approach has become prominent in the modern era, it is dangerous to all religious beliefs and fails to respect “the reality of the spiritual dimension of life.”

Interreligious dialogue that builds and maintains relationships among different faith traditions is therefore even more important in protecting the role of religion from the secularism that threatens it, he explained.

You’re god damn right I don’t respect the “reality of the spiritual dimension of life” insofar as that means communing with invisible gods.  I don’t respect it for the same reason I don’t respect adults who think prayer will stop droughts – they’re wrong, and embarrassingly so.  I don’t respect it because they can do better, and they should do better.

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.

  • John Evans

    So, were there Scientologists, Shia Muslims, New-age Gaia followers, Witches, and Jains a this inter-faith conference?

    • eric

      Probably not. I’m sure they follow the Blues Brothers approach to diversity

      Attendee: “What kind of faiths do you usually have here?”
      Claire: “Oh we got both kinds. We got Protestant AND Catholic.”

  • Dan

    My first thought about this is that it will backfire on the ‘churchlings’.
    Once they get comfortable, they’ll start talking to each other about their beliefs and whammo, disagreement and parting of the ways.
    The denominations are separate for one or more reasons. Interfaith won’t help them (against the seculars) and might hurt (as in get them to THINK) ‘em. We can hope! ;)

  • John-Henry Beck

    I would very much like to see the responses the pro-interfaith atheists have to this. I was leery enough due to things like this already. Seems hard to see interfaith as allies or even not enemies when blatantly anti-secular stuff goes on.

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    And once they’ve defeated those horrible, horrible secularists they can get back to the real fight: Each other!

  • Sardonique

    Calling this group that excludes Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jainists, Zoroastrians, Wiccans, and Mother Earth…ers(?) an “Interfaith group” is like calling a group made up of Irish, Scottish, German, Swedish, Anglo-Saxon, and Danish people “interracial”.

  • Rick Tucker

    I’m an atheist and belong to a a true interfaith lot, the Unitarian Universalists who routinely include atheist points of view and otherwise religious people have no problem with that. We worked towards real commonalities and embrace the spirit of shared efforts to improve everyone’s lives. There’s no teaming up to bash us atheists or we’d go back to abstaining from having anything to do with any congregation. We talk about everything from the teachings of Buddha to Carl Sagan. That’s what cooperation is about. Not having a belief system is not the same as being immoral. Until the idiots’ so-called interfaith efforts can claim their interfaith commonalities DO include the secular our species is bound to continue to fail.

  • Bruce S. Springsteen

    They are wrong, anyway. Increasing the emphasis on interfaith will only increase secularism in the long run, with or without “faitheist” blessings. People exposed to decent folks in other religions who, despite their religion, are essentially like themselves will gradually suspect that their choice of faith is arbitrary, a matter of chance, and no more or less true than the others. Secularism will be increasingly seen as the evident alternative of consequence, the one that doesn’t depend on asserting the most extravagant things without evidence, or throw up arbitrary barriers between human societies. That’s what comparative religious study outside one’s own tradition tends to do — weaken your uncritical trust in the faith of your ancestors, reduce the credibility of all to the same level, and make you wonder why you need any of them at all.

  • Loqi

    I love the whole “relies on God” and “daily prayer” things. Why do I get the feeling his idea of “interfaith” is just “Christianity that doesn’t burn heretics?”

  • Bix

    I have a great suggestion for this interfaith group. In order to foster peaceful coexistence, they could support a philosophy of civil governance that doesn’t privilege one religious sect. We could have a clause in the Constitution that says something like, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That sounds reasonable, right? People get to worship (or not worship) as they choose, and the government doesn’t impose religion on anyone. We could even develop a tradition of thought that supports the separation of church and state, as a safeguard against religious oppression and war. We could call this philosophy “secularism”, and it would benefit everyone who wants to follow the dictates of his or her own conscience.

    I am continually astounded that some religious people fail to see the benefits of secularism to themselves. But then, I spent a lot of time in college studying early modern European history. Secularism is a very good thing, for believers and nonbelievers alike.

  • Richard Wade

    JT, I’m considering participating in a panel discussion between theists and atheists at a local private Christian college. I consider god/no god “debates” to generally be futile farces especially in the US, because they almost always immediately devolve into contests of who can make the most amusing smartass remarks. Everybody emerges thinking their side “won.” Even if it weren’t a waste of time and breath, I’m simply not up to that emotionally or intellectually anyway. So I’ve told the organizers that I won’t be commenting if the discussion goes in that direction. My only interest is to discuss and dispel misconceptions, stereotypes, and prejudice that theists have about atheists. I want only to expose believers to the reality that nonbelievers are decent, intelligent, sane people who deserve the same baseline level of respectful treatment that believers expect for themselves.
    I value your opinion. Does what I’m planning fall within the kind of interaction with theists that you disapprove of? If yes or no, can you tell me why? Thank you in advance.

    • Pete

      I suspect it will devolve into a discussion of objective morality, something from nothing, and the purpose of life. Honestly, arguing against a delusion is a losing proposition. Of course, if you don’t show up, it might be opined that the atheist was afraid.

      It’s a lose-lose proposition.

  • Nox

    Monotheism kind of needs a devil. The most effective way to keep people in the bubble is to make the outside of the bubble as scary as possible.

    At times when he seemed more believable they’ve used the Devil. In some places they still do. But any devil will do. Occasional surrogates have included jews, muslims, women, gays, deists, waldensians and “witches”. And most recently atheists. Being the minions of Satan is a proud tradition. They’ve said it of everyone who scares them.

    Still, if our presence as an outside enemy inspires the major religions to focus on what they have in common and merge the bubbles a little bit, I would consider that a mostly positive result of atheism.

    In addition to cutting down on religiously based violence, it would be a significant step toward a secular world. Humanity needs to figure out religious pluralism before we can get our head around the benefits of secularism.

    So let’s make everyone play in the same fucking sandbox. The differences will be harder to ignore, and they will have to learn to leave sectarianism out of some things.

  • Jasper

    “…push all religious beliefs out of public life…”

    How does keeping government neutral on the question of religion translate into banning religion anywhere that’s not a private residence?

  • Brad1990

    So when this interfaith coalition has defeated the evil secularists and made Government Godly again, whose rules are thy planning on implementing?

    Oh dear, flaw in plan. Cue civil war.