Thursday, December 28, 2006

 

What about the Liturgical Left?

The Washington Post Online has an ongoing series called On Faith. Today’s entry is particularly tiresome as it is such a cliché: On Faith: Susan Jacoby: No Atheists (Still) Need Apply

Ms. Jacoby opens with a whine:

"In nearly every interview about my book, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism,I am asked whether I am an atheist or an agnostic. The bias--a profoundly American bias--implicit in this question is that only an "unbeliever" would want to write a historical work about the secular influences on the founding and development of our nation.

"This question reflects the 25-year ascendancy of right-wing religiosity, which has fostered a general ignorance about and lack of respect for the Enlightenment rationalist side of the nation's heritage."

Right-wing religiosity? Democratic Party Icon Jimmy Carter is a Christian-preaching author. A staple of the Democratic primaries is the weekly parade of liberal pols showing their bona-fides with trips to predominantly-black churches. The REVEREND Jesse Jackson and the REVEREND Al Sharpton aren’t getting their asses continually kissed by practitioners of Right-wing Religiosity. And it’s not the right wing that’s openly sucking up to another God-fearing, hard-line religious group the Muslims.

But Ms. Jacoby points derisively only to the Right. And after whining about the unfairness of the atheist/agnostic question, she concludes:

“As an atheist, I believe…”

…and she never does name any of the prominent “unbelievers” who also wrote an “historical work about the secular influences on the founding and development of our nation”.

Comments:
Asking whether an author adheres to the religious/philosophical approach about which she writes is not an "American" bias or bias at all. It is reasonable to suspect - if not "expect" - that an author of a detailed work on a subject might choose to write about that subject because she finds it meaningful to do so.

Furthermore, the term "Freethinkers", unlike "Atheists", enjoys little or no pejorative connotation, suggesting a positive outlook on the topic.

Jacoby needs to get out of the victim mentality or rid her writing thereof. Acting like a victim rewards bullies and bigots, like those slanderers who say no atheists exist in foxholes (today, few theists are there, though the better device would be "the Baghdad Airport Road" than "foxhole) or that atheists cannot be good citizens (my least favorite quote of Richard John Neuhaus.)
 
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