The religious process has gone on so long that the questioning of it has flown out the window. Those who read this and feel that faith and religion deserve some kind of respect are deluding themselves. I know I'm sounding like I contradict myself with the above statement of "so be it", but "so be it" only applies in the sense that personal beliefs are kept as just that---personal. When we venture out into the public sphere and seek to impose personal beliefs onto the public at large then we have a problem.
Oh! Isn't that what atheists/secularists have been doing for so many years? Imposing their ideas into the public square? This is actually a tough question, but not that tough. If we define secularist and/or atheist ideals as the free-flow of information and ideas then yes. If we define secularist and/or atheist ideals as being contradictory to the belief systems of so many faithful...yes again.
Why is this a problem? Because in my opinion secularism is very easy to understand. Don't fucking push your fucking religious agenda onto the rest of us! The rest of us who don't particularly subscribe to said agenda. Be you Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever all secularists invariably respect and are inclusive of ALL religions (just not in the public sphere and policy making aspects of government). Secularists are not against religion (atheists on the other hand....probably).
That said. What, after so much civil progress in the last two or three centuries do these radical Christians have to bitch about? Seriously!?!?
Let's start with the abolition of slavery. How often have I heard the chest-pounding and righteous platitudes of the faithful in the role that religious moralists had played in this movement? Too many times. The secularist and the atheist is left out in the history books altogether. I never even knew what atheism was until I became old enough to even think about it on my own.
We think that Christian fundamentalism is rearing it's ugly head? It's been snarling at society and public policy since I don't know when. Long before the founding of this fine country. Why didn't I know about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her position on slavery and the Womens Suffrage movement? To know that she preceded Susan B. Anthony and was indeed Anthony's muse. History gets re-written as Stanton was an atheist and a true feminist. That's why she was relegated to the dust-bin of history. Why are atheists pissed off again? Society (US) at large is controlled by a Christian elite (however innocuously) to uphold their "good" book as a standard by which to live by (even unto those who don't believe it). True, most people of faith and most people of inquiry may not know or even grasp the notion that our society has been MOLDED into a frame-work that supports the status-quo of centuries. Christians bitch and complain about how things are getting out of hand and we need to go back to the good-ole-days. What "good-ole-days"? Were the good-ole-days all that good?
Personally I say, "Fuck no!"
Anybody who thinks (outside of any ideology) that women and blacks should not have been allowed to vote. That slavery was okay. That your run-of-the-mill atheists were (and are) communist, unpatriotic faith-haters (the Red Scare), that women should be considered property, ascribed roles in the household and have no legal rights, then you are really fucked in the head, because this is what religion has propagated for centuries.
And don't tell me that the Christian mind-set is different now that it is more liberalized. It might be in some circles, but to the best of my knowledge these liberalized Christians are the ones who take their faith "personally" and see no reason to infuse their own beliefs upon those who do not wish it. These Christians probably understand and have a true respect for secularism and how it benefits them personally. Those Christians who think they can revert and destroy the progress that secularism has made in this country (and the world, however marginally) only seek to roll-back the rights (real rights) of humanity. To think for oneself. To have choices. To enable and empower all of us to believe what we want to believe and HOW we want to believe it.
This very concept goes against the grain of organized religion. And I know it is an uphill battle to have such claims, but it's there. I truly think the modern Christian is really confused about the role humanity really plays in the grand scheme of things and by ascribing the guiding hand of a god can only circumvent free-will. This is at the heart of what worries people of faith about the nature of their beliefs and about the role their beliefs play in the future that humanity is moving forward into.
Am I being optimistic? Right now I am. Sometimes I'm not so optimistic, in that I think we will destroy ourselves because so very many people are looking for the end of the world that it just may come to pass.
What are the faithful worried about? Faith. Plain and simple. If less people believe then it's a sure sign that what they believe is incompatible with what society bases its foundation upon. That little by little the notion that religion and it's tenants are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Implying that they are wrong in what they believe. It's a scary thought and it's not so hard to wrap my brain around. This is what gets true-believers freaked out and up in arms. It's essentially what gets me up in arms as well. Yet there is a difference in beliefs. What is right and wrong about either one? I'd say that society as a whole dictates what particular belief system shall benefit the whole of society; what, in essence, shall help progress humanity into its future identity. To me the religious mind embodies stagnation of a sort (particularly the religious mind that shrugs off modernity). Change is needed to move humanity forward into the future in perpetuity. Yet with the mindset that the apocalypse is forever upon us and a Second Coming is inevitable; how can we as a human species look beyond such calamitous revelation and truly think beyond such "foretold" endings? We must simply shrug off these ingrained, preconceived notions of nihilism on earth and "think outside the box". Personally I don't believe in an after-life, I don't think that I will go to a heaven where I can forever forget about this dust mote we live on. I'd prefer to think about the future generations that I know will be present beyond whatever Armageddon is foretold.