One of the interesting things about living in Canada is that we are a secular state in spite of having God in our constitution. There are a lot of churches and apparently our Prime Minister is a church goer. I say apparently because he doesn't talk a lot about his private life. In any case, we really we have more of a Christian culture than burgeoning Christ based theocracy. Sometimes reading about religion in the US is like reading about a different world and because they are such a h-u-g-e influence on Canadian culture I fear religion in Canada becoming radicalized.
I think about this because of a few themes in the blogosphere that I follow; accomodation vs atheism, Phil Plait's don't be a dick talk at TAM8 and Park 51 There is so much disingenuity when discussing these topics that are really linked by religious in grouping.
First a little about atheism. It means one doesn't believe god(s) exist. Any of them. Ever. Most atheists are honest enough to admit that if a god actually showed up they would have to renounce atheism. That doesn't mean they would have to worship that god, just accede that it is one. Atheist probably don't have any more in common than any group that is defined by one characteristic. One hopes that atheism is a decision based on examining facts but it could just be the way you were brought up. Many atheists are secular humanist and passionate about human rights and justice. Some aren't. Some are outspoken, some soft spoken and some non-spoken.
So first the Accomodation vs Atheism thing. Why do accomodationists (and my main exposure is Chris Mooney) like to demonize passionate atheists writers and bloggers? Why frequently joining with the religious in totally missing the point of a gnu atheist demonstration then expect respect from them? PZ Myers/Crackergate is a really good example. Accomodationist and religious alike focus on the stake through the host while ignoring the back story. PZ stepped up when a student was assaulted in a church for handling a host that a friend brought back to show, then expelled. Assault and expel a student for looking at a host - pick on an adult staking a host. Immature is marauding into a church service; victim-less crime is a picture of a host, page from a Qua'an and the God Delusion with a spike through them. And I have to say, I have gone to RCC church many times and NEVER seen bizarre behaviour of people watching to see if the host is eaten or prevented someone from showing it to another - things must be very different in Florida.
Then there's the don't be a dick thing. I can't see how people say they don't get it. Again PZ is a good example. Pharyngula is a great unmoderated blog; there is a lot of swearing, aggression and dismissal of religion there. If someone tries to evangelize there, that person must be able to logically argue with new points to be respected. Critics like to point at PZ as an angry "dick" atheist. I suppose he is if you are insulted by the idea that people don't believe gods exist. On the other hand, I can recognize dick commenters on his site. If you are an isolate atheist, you may think you have to be this outspoken to be included in the gnu atheist "club" and *talk* to people like this. The internet confers anonymity and it's pretty easy to be much more abrasive on line than you are in real life. Be aware, not everyone reads the same sites as you.
And Park 51. I'm not Muslim but I am horrified by the moronic things the protesters are saying so I can well believe that radical Muslim groups are happy to have recruiting help courtesy of the Teabaggers. And this idiot rhertoric has leaked into Canada. When I mentioned the center and said what about the Muslims that died by 9/11 my Dad actually asked if I meant the hijackers. Really!?!?! I didn't know Muslims were prevented from having jobs in the WTC or being emergency responders.
Sometimes I have to step back from the internet.