I wonder how to alleviate intolerance and antagonism such as this. If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at Russesl Brand’s interview of Steve Drain and Timothy Phelps from Westboro Baptist Church.
Remember, I totally acknowledge that Mr. Drain and Mr. Phelps are no more responsible for their beliefs and actions than I am. With so many people in the world, we’re bound to see bigotry and moral certitude expressed by some folks, simply based on probability. These people haven’t invented something new. Human beings have been carrying out inquisitions and witch-hunts since time immemorial. (See Cullen Murhpy’s book, “God’s Jury; the Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World,”)
Admittedly, the threat of a make-believe punishment (Hell) is far sweeter than the real tortures carried out by the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition. In other words, it’s not horribly difficult to withstand the vitriol of an angry pastor when compared to the interrogations of the Inquisition. Instead of burning people at the stake, now they appear as guests on a liberal talk show and spout Bible passages. That’s progress.
Nevertheless, I have to ask: What’s the antidote to their homophobic, absolutist approach, an approach that vilifies human beings for the circumstances of their lives and minds? I’m not looking to vilify Mr. Drain and Mr. Phelps. I simply wonder if there’s a way to make sense of and mitigate their destructive influence.
For a while, I didn’t make the connection.
Then, lying in bed this morning, I realized the antidote to ridiculous religious behavior and thinking is – of course – atheism.