It is one of the major problems with fundamentalism that it recognizes no other form of its religious tradition as authentic than its own narrow version. And so it perceives as an attack on religion what is in fact an attack on narrowness, on unjustified dogmatism, on sloppy thinking, and many other things that deserve to be criticized not out of dislike for religion in general or Christianity in particular, but first and foremost by those who love Christianity and want to see it flourish rather than be stifled by the oppressive forces of fundamentalism. It is fundamentalism which is an attack on religion. Criticism of fundamentalism, on the other hand, is the best support to religion that anyone can offer.
See further Ehrman’s recent blog post reflecting on the recent Pew survey, in which he wrote:
Some of my former friends among the evangelicals get upset with me for “leading people astray.” It’s people like me – or those damn neo-atheists – who are at fault for these shifts from Christianity to “unaffiliated.” I don’t see it that way. In my view, no one has been led astray. People instead have been encouraged and persuaded to think for themselves, based on knowledge that is widely available to anyone willing to look, see, and think. (Knowledge of science; knowledge of world religions, each with distinctive views; knowledge of the Bible or the history of early Christianity; and so on).
For my part, I have long insisted and continue to insist that in fact I personally don’t care at all – not in the least – if people agree with me in my religious views. I really don’t care. My evangelical friends don’t believe me. They really don’t believe me. They can’t believe me. They can’t believe that someone like me would have hard fought views and not want everyone to agree with him. I suppose that’s why they’re evangelicals. (!)
I on the other hand don’t feel that way. My view is that everyone should be what they, on the basis of hard thought and consideration of all the information, should decide what they really think or believe. They should not think or believe what they were told by someone — their parents, their teachers, their pastors or priests or rabbis, their Sunday school teachers, their school teachers, their friends, their lovers, or anyone else. They should think through everything carefully themselves, and make an informed decision.
If people do that and remain or become evangelical, I’m OK with that. So long as they don’t hurt and exploit others, especially the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. If they remain or become Catholic, AOK. If they remain or become Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, pagan, agnostic, atheist, or anything else, I really don’t care. I care only that (a) they think about it and (b) they actively love others and do good to others and help others in need.