More than once, I've seen a comment like the following:
When Bush talks about God, you liberals get all upset. But when x talks about God, you give him a pass.
Imagine "x" to be some liberal politician. Barack Obama is a good contemporary example, but it doesn't really matter who.
This comment, and the sentiments behind it, are an excellent example of how a simplistic view of people, boiled down to labels, is misleading. Although it isn't mentioned by name in the comment, the label "atheist" hang in the air because, presumably, liberal atheists don't like it when people talk about their gods.
And this is one of the reasons I'm not very fond of the term "atheist." It leads some people to some strange assumptions. I won't beat a dead horse about it, but you should already know that "atheist" is a negative term, which tells you next to nothing about what I do believe.
So let me explain, in very brief form, how this liberal atheist -- or, better, a liberal humanist -- processes incoming information. Since I don't believe in "God" I see the concept of God often acting like a megaphone. "God" is used to hammer a point home with believers. Whatever your message is, you put God behind it and some people take special notice.
If someone is telling me about how his god has given him the right to do this or that, or that God is smiling upon the destruction of this or that group of people, or gives him license to deny rights to some corner of our population, I see the underlying message. I disagree with it, often very strongly. I see that he's using religion to beat this idea into people. Not only does that make me wonder about what religion has taught this individual, it annoys me that he's trying to spread it.
If, on the other hand, someone is talking about how his god told him we have to treat each other better, or that his belief in God is leading him to pay attention to inequities in our own society, again I am filtering out the god to get to the underlying message.
I am a concerned that we get a president who reflects humanist values. I will prefer a Christian, Jewish or Muslim humanist to any sort of person who does not represent humanism, in my view. To deny that there is a large population of religious humanists to draw from would place an unacceptable limit on the chances of getting a humanist president.
So, if you've determined that liberals are hypocritical for taking some politicians to task when they reference God in speeches, you may have missed something. maybe you're talking to a humanist. When those speeches either use God cynically,as empty rhetoric or, to erode out society's humanism, some of us are disgusted. If you have a very limited idea of the motivation of a liberal humanist, you might find it unnecessarily confusing.Posted by James at March 19, 2008 9:47 AM