Being constructive

Chris Stedman is patting himself on the back again for being more “constructive” and bridge-building and worried about marginalized communities than everyone else. He patted himself on the back on Facebook this morning for a blog post about Draw Mo Day.

In my work for the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) I’ve labored alongside Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. My biggest takeaway has been the notion that people of different religious and philosophical identities have a lot more in common than we instinctually imagine. Sure, my Muslim collaborators think Muhammad was the prophet of a God that I don’t even think exists. But, I don’t care much about that difference between us. Our deeper convictions—that all people have the right to dignity, that we need to find a way to achieve a more peaceful world—are the same and, frankly, they matter more.

That’s lovely – as long as their deeper convictions are in fact that all people have the right to dignity (with all that that entails). It’s not safe to assume that with theists, though – theists always have the potential for believing the opposite – that not all people do have the right to dignity. Religions play a very large part in rejecting that very conviction and assertion.

The theists (and Buddhists) Chris Stedman knows nevertheless hold that conviction, according to him. Good; excellent. But he doesn’t get to extrapolate from that that all theists do. He doesn’t get to assume that all theists put human dignity (and thus equality) first and belief in their god or their god’s prophet second.

The significant disagreement among secular folks around EDMD isn’t a new phenomenon. Our community is an oft divided bunch. This diversity can be an asset as often as it is a weakness. But the only way this will be a source for strength is if we can come to a consensus on some ground rules. The first of these must be respect for our ideological differences, a respect we must extend to communities beyond our own.

No it must not. That’s why I refuse to join Stedman’s parade, and why I keep raining on it. (Well, that plus the relentless way he keeps saying how swell he is for saying things like that.) I’m not going to sign up for any ridiculous blanket respect for ideological differences; I’m not going to respect the Catholic church’s ideology about women, for one example, and there are plenty more where that came from.

I guess that means I’m not “constructive.” Well, too bad.

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