But the New Atheists will have none of this. They are sick and tired of feeling obligated to acknowledge the contributions of religion and the benevolences of religious people. Dawkins has called for a new militant atheism, encouraging his followers to go beyond intellectual challenge and “ridicule and show contempt” for the Catholic Eucharist and other emblems of the Christian faith.
Christopher Hitchens, before he died, insisted on using the word “anti-theist,” instead of “atheist,” to make this new emphasis plain. And now, Dawkins is seeking “victim” status for his cohorts, claiming that they are another important minority that endures routine discrimination, especially in evangelical enclaves like the United States.
I recall my gregarious grandfather having friendly conversations with agnostics and atheists and people of other faiths. Although steadfast in his point of view, he was always respectful of them and, to my knowledge, they were respectful of him.
I can only pray that if I attend next year’s “Reason Rally,” these libertine lions will show this Christian some of the same respect that they so passionately crave.
Timothy Philen is an author and songwriter. He is currently at work on a latter-day “Walden,” a tightly knit collection of essays on modern American culture that uses his own horticultural experiences as both a backdrop and a wellspring of inspiration.