Good old interfaith atheism

Chris Stedman is (understandably) tired of my questions about his faithy status updates at Facebook, so I’d better stop asking them there. There is such a thing as being a pain in the ass, after all.

I’ll make a couple of remarks here, instead. If I’m going to be a pain in the ass I should be it here rather than on someone else’s updates.

The update in question was to say he’s joining the board of directors of something called World Faith. I found it, and it’s what you would expect from the name – it’s an interfaith thingy. It may be very benevolent and all, but it’s an interfaith thingy. It’s pro-faith. It valorizes faith. It thinks faith is a good thing – such a good thing that it’s the way to organize one’s commitments and projects and activities. It makes faith central. It doesn’t problematize “faith.”

The way I see it, joining its board of directors is an endorsement of “faith” as such. I think it’s incoherent to claim otherwise. The name is what it is; it means what it means; it’s no good pretending it means its own opposite. If you join the board of directors of a body called World Socialism, you’re endorsing and undertaking to work for socialism. The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for World Libertarianism, World Scientology, World Trekkies, World Wiccans.

Chris thinks I’m wrong and obstinate and uncomprehending to keep thinking this no matter how often he explains it to me – but I think he’s wrong to go on thinking he can define “interfaith” and “world faith” in some special way so that they mean their own opposites anywhere outside his own head.

He’s got a speaking tour starting up in a few days. I’m sorry to say this but it looks to me like just another “I’m the good, pro-faith kind of atheist, not like those bad anti-faith atheists” speaking tour. It looks to me as if Chris, with the Harvard humanist “chaplaincy” in the background, is again making a big point of ostracizing gnu atheists in order to replace them with some weird entity that is pro-faith chaplain-endowed churchy Humanism that doesn’t believe in god but nevertheless loves goddy people much more than it loves atheism.

Check out the poster. Faith faith religion faith chaplain faith religious faith dialogue. It’s sponsored by the Interfaith Council and…the Secular Student Alliance. Go figure.

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