Criticizing the religious inaction of unbelievers

December 31, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

Here we go again. Those of us who don’t acknowledge invisible sentient beings–OK, I’ll say it–imaginary beings, are being accused of having causal responsibility for the Sandy Hook massacre. Mike Huckabee is one of the loudest advocates of this insanity The Friendly Atheist is not accepting any such responsibility (nor am I).

A lot of [Huckabee’s] critics — many Christians included — cringed at those statements because they suggested that church/state separation and not forcing God down everybody’s throats were to blame for the crime. There’s obviously no evidence suggesting that.

Even if one acknowledges that non-believers (except for those of us who have advocated wacky NRA policies) aren’t any more responsible for Sandy Hook than any other American, we non-believers do look a bit awkward following tragedies. Believers put great energy into their public prayer services. They comfort the mourning families by dogmatically announcing that the dead are now alive in “heaven.” Many of us non-believers would like to say things like this to comfort others, but we generally choose to honest instead. That means that religious folks get lots of credit for helping the families of the dead, and we non-believers are seen as inactive bystanders. Or according to this article in the NYT, that’s how it looks.

This illustration of religious belief in action, of faith expressed in extremis, an example at once so heart-rending and so affirming, has left behind one prickly question: Where were the humanists? At a time when the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation is growing rapidly, why did the “nones,” as they are colloquially known, seem so absent?

To raise these queries is not to play gotcha, or to be judgmental in a dire time. In fact, some leaders within the humanist movement — an umbrella term for those who call themselves atheists, agnostics, secularists and freethinkers, among other terms — are ruefully and self-critically saying the same thing themselves.


Category: Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Ben says:

    “Personally, I find atheists just as annoying as fundamentalist Christians”

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