Ever since I dropped out of seminary four years ago, I’ve been undergoing a period of “spiritual deconstruction.” I still consider myself a Christian, albeit one with questions and significant doubts. For atheists who used to be Christian, it’s no surprise that many Christian groups seem to be allergic to questions. Consequently, I find myself relating better to self-described skeptics than a lot of people within my own tribe.
Lately, it’s occurred to me that progressive-leaning Christians like myself have more in common with atheists right now than with fundamentalist evangelicals: the ones who will stop at nothing to see the United States turn into a theocracy, using Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale as a handbook rather than as a cautionary tale.
Religious beliefs aside, atheists and progressive Christians need each other during these uncertain times. Our politics, if nothing else, are more alike than they are different. You don’t need to share spirituality to understand the consequences of enforcing so-called “bathroom safety” laws, prohibiting gay marriage, denying climate change, allowing businesses to deny women’s healthcare coverage, or allowing creationism to replace the teaching of evolution in public schools.
As citizens of the United States, we all have common adversaries: religion-based ignorance and bigotry. As human beings, we have common causes worth uniting for: freedom and education.
Many fundamentalist Christians refuse to budge when it comes to their politics, even when facts disprove their beliefs – many of which go unmentioned by Jesus Christ. Progressive Christians and atheists both recognize the danger of this.
Despite the toxicity within American Christianity, spirituality is complex and deeply personal. It doesn’t have to make sense to the non-religious; often, it doesn’t make complete sense to individual believers themselves. But dwelling on how intelligent, rational adults can still believe in God is unproductive. Asking how intelligent adults can not believe in God is unproductive. Why nitpick over differences in spiritual beliefs, if the person holding them isn’t forcing them on you?
So long as no one is attempting to use the law to enforce their beliefs onto others, there is no reason why atheists and progressive Christians can’t set aside their differences and unite together for the cause of preserving religious liberty.
This piece originally appeared on Huffington Post
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash