I have no desire to disbelieve God, partly because doing so might drive me bonkers. And I agree with those who call attention to the dangers of authoritarianism and want to encourage people to resist relying on religious authorities or ever changing science for their answers to life.
Nonetheless, I have come to believe that we should depolarize the stigmas attached to our views on God.
The debate we need is not between the existence of a God, or not, but between stigmatizing and destigmatizing.
Nick Wing posted on Huffington Post: 11 Things Atheists Couldn’t Do Because They Didn’t Believe in God.
“While the Establishment Clause of the Constitution is supposed to ensure a clear separation of church and state, the two frequently intermix, much to the disapproval of nonbelievers.
“This manifests itself in a variety of ways, from the inclusion of the word “God” in various mandatory pledges and on the face of U.S. currency, to compulsory religious-based sessions that atheists have been unconstitutionally forced to take part in.”
Granted this is a tough situation for atheists, living in a country where God is woven into the fabric of laws and pledges. Court cases never really solve the issue. But, I’ve seen hints of progress in my own Town where officials say the Pledge of Allegiance while granting respect to those who sit quietly or repeat the pledge and become silent during the “under God,” portion. There is nothing wrong with getting along.
The point is not to stigmatize one another.
Even when reading more of Nick Wing’s post, we find stigmatization in the reverse—nonbelievers pigeonholing believers. We read:
“Atheists in 13 countries face execution under the law if they openly express their beliefs or reject the official state religion — Islam in all of these cases.
“This one’s pretty straightforward. The Boy Scouts of America still prohibits atheists from joining its ranks. Scouts must pledge to “do my duty to God and my country,” and the BSA has resisted calls to remove religion from the oath.”
Muslims and Boy Scouts are being stigmatized as cruel and intolerant. Instead, let’s let public sentiment move toward change. Let’s reframe the issue.
Steer away from stigmatizing atheists as untrustworthy, but also steer away from stigmatizing believers as provincial or delusional.
Arguing over whether God is real or not is not worth the effort. It brings diminishing returns to society.
Again we read Nick Wing’s post an area that can be corrected:
“Groups of atheists have regularly been denied the opportunity to form recognized clubs at public schools around the nation.”
Our society and government is designed to allow atheists the opportunity to form recognized clubs and organizations. Let’s not deter this.
Reframing our debates, to ensure stigmatization is held at bay, ironically reveals that stigmatization is found within supposedly similar veins. Within the realm of God believers, we even stigmatize one another.
It’s not a matter of everyone being buddy/buddy however the spiritual law of respecting one another opens the door to brighter promises.