February 17, 2019

Writing About Christianity More Than Islam

writing

I do not live in Europe or the U.K. In fact, I have never lived outside the United States. I do not know how I would be different or how my life might be different if I did live elsewhere. I suspect that if I lived in Europe or the U.K., I might write about somewhat different things. This is just a guess, but I suspect that I would write about evangelical fundamentalist Christianity and Christian extremism far less often than I do now. Why? I imagine they would seem far less relevant than they do now.

I also suspect that I might write about radical Islam and Muslim extremists far more than I do now. Again, this is only a guess, but I bet they would seem more relevant in at least some parts of Europe or the U.K. than they do now. I base this guess on the observation that many of the people I follow on Twitter who live in Europe or the U.K. seem to tweet about Islam as much if not more than they tweet about Christianity. It seems reasonable to me that they would do so.

Where we live has implications for our priorities and how we live our lives. Atheists are fond of pointing out that where people live tends to influence the religious beliefs they adopt, and this does seem to be the case. At the same time, it would be a mistake for atheists to think that we are somehow immune to the effects of our surroundings. Where we live might have little relevance to our answer to the question of gods, but it probably has something to do with which religions we perceive as being more or less relevant to us.

It would never occur to me to demand that an atheist living in Europe or the U.K. spend less time on Islam and more time on Christianity. Just because Christianity is far more relevant where I live does not mean this is the case for them. Islam is probably more relevant to them, and this may be why they choose to focus on it more. And so, I am often surprised to be told that I should focus less on Christianity and more on Islam. In fairness, I should note that most of these complaints have not come from people living in Europe or the U.K. but from people living in the U.S. Some are Christians likely seeking to defend their religious traditions by shifting the focus elsewhere; others are politically conservative atheists who seem to regard Islam as one of the primary threats facing the West.

Where I live in Mississippi, it is easy to go several months at a time without seeing anyone wearing the clothing I associate with Islam, without having someone knock on my door to talk about Allah, or without having my elected officials pass laws that adversely impact me based on their Islamic beliefs (actually, those last two have never happened). I wish I could say the same for evangelical fundamentalist Christianity! I don't go out of my way to avoid Islam because there is no need for me to do so. It does not intrude upon my daily life like evangelical fundamentalist Christianity does. That's why I spend more time on Christianity than I do on Islam.

If I lived in Utah, I bet I'd write about Mormons much more often than I do now. If I lived in certain parts of California or Florida, I bet I'd write about Scientology much more often than I do now. If I lived in Europe or the U.K., I'd almost certainly write about Islam much more than I do now. And if I lived in Saudi Arabia, well, I probably wouldn't write at all because I'd fear for my life as an atheist. You get the idea. Those who demand I devote as much or more time to Islam as I do to Christianity are asking me to focus on something that is far less relevant to my daily life. I do not see much of an upside to doing that.