The enclosed letter to the editor by Rev. Rick Mason puts forth an interesting idea. I’m personally unsure that the rise of fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. has caused more people to become atheists, but I do think that the rise of fundamentalism, especially in politics, has caused many of us to be much more vocal than we were before. Nonetheless, kudos to Mason for pointing out the hypocrisy that many of these radicals exhibit in their lives.
I always read, and usually agree with, Jim Evans’ column. However, his recent column on the growth of atheism in this country did not reach the core reason for atheism’s rise.
I believe the Christian band dc Talk stated it well in a tag line on their song “Jesus Freak”: “The leading cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who confess Jesus with their mouths but deny him with their lives. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
It is not Islamic fundamentalism that is expanding the ranks of atheism in this country so much as it is Christian fundamentalism. The world finds it unbelievable that some followers of the Prince of Peace seem so often to be dedicated to violence (war and the death penalty) and hatred (racism, sexism, homophobia). They wonder at a Christian nation that is preoccupied with greed and materialism, while the Bible speaks more about God’s love for the poor than about any other subject.
And speaking of the Bible, the world laughs a the lunacy of Christian leaders who claim that Scripture is an inerrant book of science, when the Bible itself never claims to be either inerrant or a science text.
I dare say that Islamic fundamentalism is likely driving many people in Arab lands into the camp of the atheists as well. But here in America, Christian fundamentalists are padding the ranks of atheism and secular humanism alike.
In the famous words of Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Rev. Rick Mason