December 9, 2012

Responding to Christian Email

After I joined several other atheist bloggers in encouraging people not to buy holiday trees from the Boy Scouts this year, I noticed several of these bloggers talking about how their posts on this subject brought out some interesting responses from proponents of the Scouts. I did not receive any emails like this, but I did get one that I thought was going to be similar and then turned out to be something else entirely. I'd like to share it and offer my response because it raised some good questions.

The author of this one identified himself as an Eagle Scout and "part of the Catholic Church." This was what led me to believe that he was going to defend either of these institutions. He did not. Here is his email (unedited except for the removal of his name and the paragraph breaks I've inserted for the purpose of addressing specific questions) and my response:
I'm __________ Eagle Scout and part of the Catholic Church. Now I understand that in our great country we have the right to believe in what ever we want with the understanding of not getting Judge. I honestly don't give to shits that you are a atheist and I respect you for having your on thoughts. What i do like to know is are you doing this for the right reasons.
At this point, I was certain that he was asking about my reasons for asking people not to buy their trees from the Boy Scouts. But that does not seem to be the case. He went on to say:
Now correct if im wrong and I hope i am but are you starting this movement because you believe that people believe in god get treated better than atheist or our you upset because someone that says they believe in god calls you names and say because you don't believe you are going to hell.
It sounds like the "movement" to which he is referring here is not the tree boycott but the blog in general. Yes, I do believe that Christians are often treated better in the United States than atheists. Christian privilege is an issue here. And yes, I also believe that atheists often face bigotry and discrimination at the hands of some Christians in the U.S. These are certainly not the only reasons I am an atheist or that I blog about atheism, but they are relevant.

His message continues:
Because I want to make it clear that not all believers in god believe that. I have many friends that are just like you and i never once have ever thought about that. what I'm trying to say is I think you are lumping us all in one big group which is not right. Hell your doing the same thing that many other people do atheist and I don't think thats right either.
Yes, I too know Christians who do not believe in any sort of hell. This is why I focus on Christian extremists. However, a great many nice, intelligent, friendly Christians who are not aligned with any sort of fundamentalist denominations have told me that although they like me and think I am a good person, I am destined to suffer forever in their god's hell because I find the whole Jesus thing quite silly. I fully realize that there are Christians out there who do not believe this - or who are at least capable of keeping it to themselves - and I strive not to lump them all together. This is why I qualify most of my statements about certain groups of Christians with words like "some."
I would suggest instead of trying to start a revolution you make this site more on informing people of atheist and what it's really about. Because I will say this much by starting a revolution that so many people are against is going to make it hard for your cause to be heard and also hurt your cause and make you seem like the bad guy. Just think it over hell you don't have to listen to me but I believe that if people just talk to each other that are different we can find common ground. Thank you for your time and take care.
Here I think the author may be getting unnecessarily distracted by the name of this blog. I have made it quite clear that the only revolution I seek is a revolution of the mind in which reason gradually replaces faith. Anyone who spends some time here will discover that the suggestion about informing people about atheism is a big part of what I've been doing. I also recognize that there is much common ground. Most of the religious believers I know are perfectly willing to apply reason, critical thinking, and skepticism to matters other than religion. We atheists just extend these tools to religious belief too.

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