I’m one of the most religion-friendly atheists you’ll ever know. Because I don’t believe in disparaging people’s beliefs for being different than my own. On the contrary, those around us who believe different things than we do, they hold these beliefs for some very good and interesting reasons, and this makes me curious.
This is why I am grateful, atheist that I am, to be able to relate to the message of Jesus Christ. :-)
I probably should be clear: this does not make me a Christian in atheist clothing, or anything like that. I do not believe in “God,” and I do not believe in Jesus as God, anymore than I believe in Gandhi as God or Madonna as God. But the fact that I don’t worship Jesus as “God” doesn’t mean that what Jesus spoke of isn’t a good, powerful message to relate to, among others. And given that the story of Jesus Christ is one of the most widely known stories throughout the world, a reference point from which so many people base their value system, it’s often quite valuable to be able to say to these Christians “yes. I understand.” From there, we can communicate on a deeper, more appreciative, less patronizing level to each other.
I also find this topic important specifically because it is important to those people who do have a religious faith. These folks are out there, and I am going to be interacting with them. And when interacting with religious folks, ignoring their belief or worse, mocking and shaming it, is bigoted. When an atheist’s (or anybody else’s) beliefs are mocked and shamed, or made invisible through ignorance of them, this is bigoted too. Well, it works both ways.
Now, I’m not excusing those religious fanatic leaders who mobilize people and resources in order to deprive or cause harm to others. Those folks can go chew on some scrap-metal – they really do cause pain and distress, to many people that are supposed to share their beliefs as well as those that don’t. I often think that the biggest problems in many belief movements (non-religious as well as religious) are the leaders; the folks who are “just believers” are often quite different from these leaders, even when they may not “look like it” at first. When you can communicate compassionately across these walls on a humanity-to-humanity level, you break down myths and learn about the real person, and the experience can often be rewarding on both sides.
So … about Jesus Christ. Let’s begin.