Atheists and progressive Christians need each other as allies

nathan-dumlao-451103Ever 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

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6 thoughts on “Atheists and progressive Christians need each other as allies

  1. Jeff Cann says:

    Amen (says the atheist). But atheist is the wrong word for me. Non-Christian is a better fit. And that’s my only gripe with your essay. It jumps over that massive spiritual-but-not-Christian group that doesn’t wear the atheist tag. Except for the 2nd to last paragraph, you are talking about me and my ilk. I’m feeling left out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bobcabkings says:

    Between Progressive Christians (or, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. as well) and Atheists or Secular Humanists, the difference between “Good with God” and “Good without God” is just three letters, especially when confronted with the excesses of would be theocrats of whatever label they claim.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thalea says:

    This is excellent. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how strange it seems that even though I feel closer to God than I ever have, even though I love Jesus the most, my beliefs seem to line up more with my atheist friends than my Christian friends when it comes to loving people and treating them with dignity. I appreciate it when people can think critically and appreciate differences.

    What does this even say about the modern church? It breaks my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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