I have absolutely no problem in celebrating Christmas. However, I’m not celebrating the birth of the son of God, instead I’m celebrating spending time with friends and family, and some well deserved time off work. In fact, Christmas as an event has become completely disjointed from the religious underpinnings. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
This year, I took a trip to New York City, Manhattan in fact. And walking around there wasn’t much in the way of Christian elements. It’s easy to argue that the whole Christmas thing is about Christianity, but for many people, an increasing number in fact, it’s simply not. So wondering round the streets, the spectacular window displays and the various attractions I felt Christmassy, but not Christian. To be honest, it came as a relief. This is New York City, I know, it’s not exactly known for it’s religiousness, but still.
The point I’m getting to is this, I browsed to th BBC News website this morning to find three religion related stories on the front page. The first, detailing Tony Blair changing his religion is of little interest to me. The other two, however, warranted more reading.
First up we’ve got The Archbishop of Wales warning against Fundamental Atheism, or “Atheistic fundamentalism” as he wrongly puts it. There are a couple of points worth picking up on. Firstly, he claims that Atheistic fundamentalism is a new concept. Sorry, “Doctor”, it’s not. It’s been a building, growing and evolving movement in many parts of the world for quite a while. France, especially, has a strong contingent of Fundamental Atheists. The point the good Doctor is sadly missing is this. Being a fundamental atheist means you treat all religions with the same contempt Christianity shows other religions. Except a Christian that dismisses Islam, for example, is not called a Fundamental Christian, just a Regular Christian. It’s commanded in the Bible. The more accepted definition of Fundamental Atheism is more along the lines of people who are happy to state they are an Atheist, along with logical reasons why, and engage in debates and discussions with those of a religion persuasion. Essentially a mirror of Christianity. In France, there are well known Atheist “Churches” and “Preachers” where logic is taught and debated, and fear is not used as a tool. The second point the Archbishop tries to make is that the political correctness currently sweeping across Britain is because of this “Atheistic fundamentalism”. Sorry, but that’s not the case. The drive away from religious affiliations in Schools, Hospitals and public institutions has come from the opposite of Atheists; the religious. Because of this deep fear of offending people, driven from the top by Tony Blair and the Labour party, people in public positions have become apologetic to all religions. The net result is a removal of religious affiliations. Of course, as I said in the opening paragraphs, I have no problem with celebrating Christmas, and if I received a Christian Christmas Card, I’d welcome it. As a “Fundamental Atheist”, I’d never want to prevent someone from following a religion through oppression. I’d rather do it through logic and reasoning.
The second story which caught my eye talks about the gradual, but noticeable, softening of America’s Christians. I’d completely agree with the opinion of the author, albeit based on circumstantial evidence (see my trip to NYC). I believe that hard-line Christianity is becoming unacceptable. After all, when the Bible says to love all of God’s creatures, how can you abuse Homosexuals? It doesn’t make sense. This poses a problem for Christianity, not just in America but around the world. There are movements in the US and the UK and parts of Europe for hard-line Islamic law to be adopted. At the moment these movements don’t get much press coverage and haven’t gathered many followers, but give it time. Recent surveys suggest that a growing number of Muslims want to see Sharia Law enforced. This represents a very hard-line view. So what happens when you’ve got Christianity going less hard-line and Islam going more hard-line?
Bring on the fundamentalists.