I’ve been moved to write this after viewing the Netflix documentary series, The Family, about a religious-political organization which seeks major influence in government affairs both nationally and internationally.
I, as nonbeliever, am angered by this injustice of 1st Amendment violations. Christians should be more upset. This group, these men, claim to speak authoritatively for us all. Not just me, but for all of you as well.
How many of you believe in a god who is merciful and understanding? If believers and non-believers debate in good faith wouldn’t your god smile and be glad? Sometimes I feel awkward, for it seems, as a non-believer, I still can imagine a god that is bigger than what the mainstream faiths have imagined. If there is a benevolent deity, why would that deity demand piety from me? Why would it demand obedience and worship? Would it not be content in the care and concern I have for my fellow creatures? I am a non-believer. But I feel strange that the creator I can imagine, but do not believe exists, is so much grander than the deity piously worshiped by so many.
Many non-believers, myself included, do not want to outlaw the right to believe. It’s just the opposite. How could I ever attempt to present my view in a debate if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in civil discourse? Please, try to persuade me that I am wrong, but grant me the same right to attempt to persuade you. And can we not find common ethical ground in this life, in this world, to alleviate suffering and aid the least among us? Let us not be enemies, but friends. Wouldn’t the god you believe in smile down on each of us for that cause?
Yet there are those who claim false prophecy and a uniquely ordained relationship with “Jesus” who say they know the best. And the rich and powerful are ordained by “Jesus” and your god to rule over the rest of us. Is this not an affront to your own sensibilities and to your own faith? Isn’t a benevolent and loving god one that doesn’t choose favorites? Isn’t your god, isn’t your Jesus, the one who forgives and sees into the hearts of men? If we all are the children of your god, is that not what it means to be a family?
I will defend the 1st Amendment right to all citizens of our great country. I proclaim this, moreover, not to be a uniquely American legal right, but a human right, as it is a fundamental moral right of thinking and feeling beings.
Please, let us not be enemies, but friends. Our bonds of affection need not be broken, though they have been strained. Let us unite peacefully, and in mutual respect, for our right to appeal to each other’s hearts and minds, and persuade one another with civility. In such a world as that, we all are saved.