Bad News and Good News

I’m quite aware that atheists are often despised, but recently I was disturbed to read that “in at least seven nations [atheists] can be executed if their beliefs become known …”

This statement was made in an article published last December by Robert Evans: “Atheists around World Suffer Persecution, Discrimination.” But I can also report good news. The April edition of an excellent on-line periodical called The Interfaith Observer just published ten articles under the general heading of “Welcoming Atheists & Humanists into the Interfaith Community.”

Some non-theists will not want to accept this welcome, perhaps because they are uncomfortable with the word “interfaith.” I hope we will respect the way people prefer to use theological language, and not try to impose our favored terminology on others. But some humanists/atheists/agnostics will appreciate The Interfaith Observer for recognizing non-theism as a valid lifestance.

For more, see:

http://theinterfaithobserver.org/journal-articles/2013/4/15/offering-an-overdue-welcome-to-the-atheist-community.html

Roger Christan Schriner

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Is Atheism a Faith?

I was involved in interfaith work for quite some time, and I’ve quoted atheist Chris Stedman who has been very active in interfaith groups and wrote a book called Faithiest. One question that often comes up is whether atheism is a “faith,” and I’ve recently read some wise words about this issue from the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist blogger James Ford.

Ford mentioned an interfaith meeting at which “a colleague I really like offered how she told a mutual friend who is a prominent local Humanist that he has a “faith” as well. … Her description of faith was something I was familiar with from seminary. Faith is a verb, it speaks to an active engagement with one’s experience. … I offered that she had re-defined that word faith in that very attractive way, but also one that ignored ordinary use. And by ordinary use, … our mutual friend is not a “person of faith.”

Rev. Ford concludes that pinning the “faith” label on someone who doesn’t want it blocks “any hope of genuine understanding …”

James’ post includes a lot of other ideas which are well worth reading. See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind/2013/04/faith-of-a-liberal-buddhist.html.

So what do you think? Should we redefine faith more broadly? My main comment is that whenever we use incredibly vague terms from religion and philosophy, it’s important to clarify what we mean with a brief elaboration or a helpful example.

Yes, this takes more time. But it saves SO much wasted breath by lessening the chance that people will experience the illusion of communication when actually they’re talking right past each other!

Roger Christan Schriner

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