Many happy returns of the season to you, too

Nice. We cop the religious people (well, one privileged subset of them) insisting on our public holidays being set when they’d like, and this is how they repay us?

Christian leaders use Easter to attack atheism

…Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen told his congregation atheism is not the rational philosophy that it claims to be. Dr Jensen told the congregation that atheism is as much of a religion as Christianity.

“It’s about our determination as human beings to have our own way, to make our own rules, to live our own lives, unfettered by the rule of God and the right of God to rule over us,” he said. “What we’re really seeing, once more [is] an example of the contest between human beings and God over who rules the world.”

Hold on there, Pete – nobody’s offering that choice. There aren’t any systems on offer that don’t involve humans ruling the world, it’s just that with democracy you’ve got humans ruling themselves, and with theocracy you’ve got a small group of humans claiming to be the agents of an invisible sky man who demands that we put them in charge and do what they tell us he says to do instead. Don’t ask questions! Take it on faith!

Seriously, Jensen – if this God of yours wants to rule over us, is it too much to ask that He appear and make that demand Himself? (Doing some magic tricks to easily-impressed humans 2000 years ago where the surviving evidence is dubious at best doesn’t count.)

Anyway, that’s just the snide passive-aggressive bitching one expects from the Anglicans. In contrast check out the Catholic Archbishop of Parramatta’s uplifting address:

“Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating: Nazism, Stalinism, Pol Pot-ery, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships – all promoted by state-imposed atheism,” he said.

“[It’s] the illusion that we can build a better life without God.”

Interesting selection of evils.

Funny, I left child abuse off my list. Ah well, why “dwell on old wounds”?

First, you’ve got to admire the moral compass of a man who can compare broken relationships with Nazism, or put abortion on the same stage as mass murder (what rational person could see a difference?). There were plenty of good non-religious people who vigorously opposed the Nazis, as well as plenty of supposedly good religious people who didn’t (like the Pope). Second… Andrew, blind obedience to an authority figure who demands his rule be followed without question is precisely the thing that atheists and agnostics are criticising.

And atheists and agnostics are not demanding that the state “impose” atheism – they’re advocating that it does not “impose” anything. That it remain strictly neutral on the subject of religion.

You’ve got to admire the narcissism of a group of people who believe that the only fair position for the state to take is privileging them above all others – but you’d hope that on their special weekend the Christians could deliver a more positive message about what they offer, not spend it trying to slam the competition.

Smacks of desperation, guys.

AND TELL ME: If God made the universe, and God set the rules, then why couldn’t he apply mercy to his creation without appearing in human form and being brutally executed? Why exactly was that necessary? And why exactly is the test for salvation not “trying to do right by others” or at least seeking forgiveness for having done the wrong thing, but fluking the selection of the right religion where there’s by definition no evidence on which to rationally make that choice?

If God is real, how hard would it be to appear to us indisputably and say look, I am real, and these here are my rules, follow them? Does God just like making otherwise good human beings devote their lives to vigorously fighting with each other in the genuine belief they’re doing it in his name?

ELSEWHERE: Ewwww. Religious hysteria can make you do really gross things.

ELSEWHERE #2: Fred Clark at Slacktivist on the significance of Easter Saturday (the Americans are a day behind):

Seriously, just look around. Does it look like the meek are inheriting the earth? Does it look like those who hunger and thirst for justice are being filled? Does it look like the merciful are being shown mercy?

Jesus was meek and merciful and hungry for justice and look where that got him. They killed him. We killed him. Power won.

That’s what this everyday Saturday shows us — power always wins. “If you want a picture of the future,” George Orwell wrote, “imagine a boot stomping on a human face — forever.”

“But in fact,” St. Paul says, the game changes on Sunday. Come Sunday power loses. Come Sunday, love wins, the meek shall inherit, the merciful will receive mercy and no one will ever go hungry for justice again. Come Sunday, everything changes.

If there ever is a Sunday.

And but so, this is why we hope for Sunday and why we live for the hope of Sunday. Even though we can’t know for sure that Sunday will ever come and even if Saturday is all we ever get to see.

Now that is a Christian message for Easter.

5 responses to “Many happy returns of the season to you, too

  1. Aussie Unionist

    I like what the Atheist Foundation of Australia’s president David Nicholls has reportedly said in response:

    He seeks out a scapegoat and attacks atheism without any understanding of what he is saying…to state we hate his god or are attacking his god is nonsense.

    How does one hate or attack that which does not exist?

    Have a look at this video for your Easter chuckles:

  2. confessions

    One of the most appalling things I’ve seen in the lead up to easter is the defence of the Catholic Church by its apologists for the child abuse claims. One person declared the victims “gold diggers”, while another said it was the fault of the gays.

  3. If Stalinism has any lesson regarding faith, it’s that religious schools are a bad idea.

    If the Archbishop wants to blame the 20th century on atheism, I hope that means he blames all the horrors from time immemorial through 1900 on religion.

  4. As an atheist who has several christian friends, I constantly find myself facing similar misconceptions, christians, no matter how nice or friendly, seem incapable of an unbiased opinion.

    I apologize to any christians who don’t have a bias. It’s a shame there aren’t more..

  5. Jensen is happy to let God rule the world, as long as He runs His ideas past Jensen first. And as long as He doesn’t get any funny ideas about talking to Catholics or Hindus or High Church Anglicans or women priests behind Jensen’s back.

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