This is an interview I did with Alex Doherty. I’ll publish the whole article at the end of the week. The link is found below.
5. Your Church took the unusual step of accepting a confirmed atheist – the writer and activist Robert Jensen – as a member of your congregation. Why did you accept him as a part of your Church? How was his acceptance viewed within and outside St. Andrews?
Robert Jensen was an example of someone who had rejected religion for all the right reasons. When I heard his speeches I felt prophetic principles beneath his distain for religion. He hated religion for the same reason that the prophets hated the religion of their day.
When Dr. Jensen joined our church, people inside our church were delighted, but many outside the church we quite upset. It was a bit strange. I received hate mail from theists and he received hate mail from atheists. We were ordered to take him off the roles by next higher level of the church but we refused. Bob has been a tremendous addition to our church and has allowed people to feel much freer in rejecting supernaturalism and challenging the dominant religion of our nation which is, of course. capitalism.
6. What is your opinion of the so-called New Atheists? – in particular Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.
I have great affinity for atheists like Robert Ingersoll, but some of the people writing bestselling books are like the televangelists of atheism. They completely misunderstand what intelligent religious people are saying. If you assume that the worst of religion represents the rest, then laughing at us is easy. It is easy to refute Pat Robertson, but I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument that the world was poorer because Martin Luther King and Gandhi were religious. Who can’t refute flat earth religion? I’m sure they are good people, but reading their books feels like getting lynched by people who don’t know how to tie a knot.
When I read an atheist like Bertrand Russell I get a very different feeling. His indignation against religion came straight out of his concern for humankind so he knew where to put the scalpel. I also love Monty Python’s attacks on bad religion. The New Atheist’s feel more like high school bullies making fun of the slow and weak. I agree with most of what they say, but their cruelty toward their frightened and superstitious brothers and sisters is counterproductive. When confronted with ignorance a fool ridicules and a sage teaches.
original article can be found at the New Left Project found here