I have friends who have a very strong faith, I have friends who are atheist – they’re all my friends.
In my work I deal with all students, whether they profess a faith or not. I don’t have a problem, and neither do they.
So, here’s my gripe. I see more and more articles from some atheists that don’t push a pro-atheist agenda, as they push an anti-religion one. Now, I’m not starting a debate on the merits or demerits of belief Vs atheism. I believe, others don’t. And I respect that deeply.
For example, on the Matt Cooper show (excellent, by the way) there was a guest on talking about his work in Humanist ceremonies. In the course of his discourse, he referred to religious ‘claptrap’. Why not talk about Humanist ceremonies in positive terms rather than denigrate religious ceremonies? He also referred to religious ceremonies marking points of life (Baptism, Marriage, Funerals) as having ‘hijacked’ these important points in peoples’ lives. Again, why the need to denigrate? Why is it that some atheists seem to have such a missionary zeal about how they spread their word?
My faith is important to me. It has helped me though some tough points in my life, and I’ll give an example of the most significant:
In 1995, my mother died from a brain tumor. I only saw mam cry once in that time: the day she came home from hospital (she was only in for a week or so) she said “God John, it’s a very hard cross to bear”. Shortly after, she rested and got on with what was left of her life as best as she could.
I believe that mam’s faith was a huge help to her in facing her illness. I believe a further grace was given to our family in July, I think, of that year. My dad, my mam and my sister Monica went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Obviously, there was no miracle cure of the cancer that killed her, but there was a cure of another sort.
Prior to their visit to Lourdes, the atmosphere in our house was all about fighting the disease, fighting the inevitable. This could only lead to a sense of defeat. Following the pilgrimage, the atmosphere in the house changed, and not in a subtle way.
Now the atmosphere became one of acceptance – a place where we worked to make sure that mam was comfortable, that her dignity was respected. It became a house of welcome for many, many people who came to offer their support.
So much for one example.
Owen Jones wrote in the Independent about how Richard Dawkins doesn’t speak for all atheists, it’s worth a read (Not in our name: Dawkins dresses up bigotry as non-belief – he cannot be left to represent atheists).
But I digress. I started writing about how some atheists push a particular anti-religion agenda. Here’s the thing – why not respect each other’s positions on faith?
Pope Francis (of whom I’m a fan) recently spoke to an atheist. I can’t recall the exchange exactly, but when the man said “But I’m an atheist” the Pope replied, “Just do good, and let us meet in the middle”
So, lets all try to do good, and meet in the middle.