September 18, 2010
"Please don't upset me by saying there is no god"
In her regular column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on September 15, 2010, Connie Schultz demonstrated once again the curious sense of entitlement that religious people have. She began as follows: "Years ago, I criticized atheists who wanted to dissuade believers of their faith. My argument was always the same: Why don't you just leave us alone?"
In response, I wrote her a personal email:
Dear Ms. Schultz,
I read with interest your column today that started by saying that years ago you criticized atheists who did not leave you alone but wanted to dissuade you from your faith.
What exactly were these atheists doing to bother you? Were they coming to your door? Were they stopping you on the street to hand out their literature? Do they have TV and radio shows that preach their viewpoint and warn of dire consequences if you do not convert to their point of view?
As an atheist myself, it doesn't bother me when people express their ideas in the public sphere, or even in the private sphere. Those people think they have the truth and want to convince me and that's their right. Similarly atheists think that they are right and seek to convince others of it. These kinds of exchanges are no different from debates over politics or anything else, where the goal is to win hearts and minds.
It also does not bother me that your newspaper provides almost saturation coverage of religious matters, especially concerning the recent closing of Catholic churches or religious festivals and parades in Little Italy. In fact, after an initial swipe at a few religious people, your entire column today was a paean to the virtues of religion. Despite the cutbacks in the size of the paper, it still has a Saturday page devoted to religious matters, with a column dedicated to advancing religious views. Do you think atheist views get anywhere near that level of coverage? Would they even consider allowing an atheist regular use of that Saturday column space?
So I find it a little odd that when atheists speak out about their disbelief, religious people feel as if they are being imposed upon, as if they have the right to be shielded from opposing views. Are they so insecure of what they believe that they need to be surrounded only by affirming views?
There is no reason why religious beliefs should be privileged and shielded from criticism. Surely we all benefit from a full airing of a wide diversity of views on issues?
No response yet.