Once in a while, some liberal blogger decides to speak contrarianism to power and complain about how atheists are badmouthing religious people and hurting liberal causes in general, and how the American left ought to embrace religious progressives. Olvlzl has just joined that dubious group’s ranks:
Reading leftist blogs you have certainly seen comments hostile to religion. The sometimes witty slurs against people who believe in one or more gods are certainly well known to you. If not, just wait around, one more is on its way. While sometimes quite funny, they tend to be repetitive. They could be intended as a fairly harmless indulgence for those hostile to religion but it isn’t politically innocuous.
I am bringing this up because I suspect there is an effort to stir up these questions just now. Articles in MSNBC-Newsweek and elsewhere might indicate an attempt to kick up a religious fight before the fall election. My interest in this is entirely in its effect on practical politics, I want the left to win this election, winning is the most important thing for the next two months. We can live with a certain level of atheist-religionist animosity, we cannot win an election with leftists falling for the bait the Republican right puts out for it. Leftists can be counted on to come to the defense of atheists who are targeted for discrimination. If atheists are in danger of life and limb, we must do that. But this all too timely row has nothing to do with life and limb. It is not pressing.
If winning elections is all Olvlzl wants, he doesn’t need to worry about this. The Democratic Party is no more secular than the Republican one; when Howard Dean goes on the 700 Club and explains that the Democratic Party completely opposes single-sex marriage and civil unions, talking about Democratic hostility to religion makes no sense.
Even liberals, including atheist ones, are nowhere near as hostile to religion as Olvlzl thinks. PZ Myers brims with anti-religious zeal on his blog, but when he gets out and talks about politics to people outside the echo chamber, his tone is one of conciliation and cooperation. And even on his blog, he generally segregates religion and politics, attacking religion when the subject is whether God exists or whether religion is necessary for morality, and attacking religious fundamentalism’s authoritarianism when the subject is politics.
There is a significant contingent of left-wing fundamentalists like Jim Wallis and Amy Sullivan, who think it’s their inalienable right to make every American liberal speak using religious language, and who think any insistence on separation of church and state is a travesty. There is no similar group of anti-religious atheists; PZ, who is about as extreme as an atheist can get, isn’t saying that religious people should shut up.
Edit: for some reason, I’m an idiot who can’t distinguish Amy Sullivan, a class-A fundie, with Amy Goodman, a human rights lawyer.