August 28, 2005

Tactics of the Atheist

We atheists need Christians far more than they need us. We are a tiny minority in the United States with minimal political power. In fact, it seems that any politician with a chance of being elected has to distance him/herself from us.

Most Christians in the United States do not consider themselves to be fundamentalists. Many oppose theocracy as much as we do (for admittedly different reasons) and vote for democratic candidates. Many believe that religion should be an important part of one's private life but should not be permitted to intrude into public (or at least political) life. These Christians could be powerful political allies, and they are allies that we cannot afford to lose.

It is time to examine our tactics and make some tough decisions. By continuing to voice our opposition to religious belief, we run the risk of alienating potential support from liberal Christians. Without their support, we are nothing but a group of fanatics that will be easily dismissed by Christian extremists and moderates alike. In fact, our very presence may provide a bridge between the extremist and moderate camps. We must give some attention to how our behavior is influencing how we are perceived and how these perceptions restrict our power.

I will continue to believe that religious belief, even in moderate forms, is dangerous. I will continue to be convinced that the plight of humanity would be improved by a gradual abandonment of religious belief. I will continue to oppose Christian extremism at every opportunity. However, I will be more careful about characterizing all Christians as unintelligent. I will be more careful about lumping all Christians in with the Christian extremists currently running America. Most of all, I will recognize that I have more in common with liberal Christians than they do with extremists. In order to beat the Christian right, we must build connections with progressive Christians. We must emphasize our common ground over our differences.

For some good ideas about improving our tactics, check out Active Atheism.