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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 04:14 AM
Original message
Confronting Right Wing Christians: Is it worth it or are we going about it the wrong way?
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 04:18 AM by Evoman
One of the conventional ideas I see from many of the atheists here, along with a heaping number of liberal christians, is the idea that we need to confront the fundies and right wing christians. Not only do we need to disagree with them, but we need to be active in "fighting" them or debating them.

The more I think about it, the more I am starting to come to terms with the fact that that is the wrong way to go about doing things. These realizations come less from conversations I have with people on DU or on the internet, but more with the realities of my life and experiences. It's something I have been spending considerable brain power on, for one reason or other.

As many of you know, I have several christian friends, including a couple that would actually classify as right wing christians. No lie, I am friends with christian fundamentalists. Good friends. Since elementary.

And if there is one thing I've noticed, is that I have been a supremely good influence on my fundie friends. I notice this influence when I compare my friends to the their fundie peers (many of which I have met through them) and even when I compare them with their family members. It is especially true for my closest fundie friend. For one thing, even though most of the people at his church either don't like atheists or seem them as conversion fodder, my friend can't deny my morality. He can't deny what he sees and feels with his eyes and heart. Similarly, I have had bad experiences at his church (I used to go with him to youth groups) because there are many racist views among those church folk. But he is friends with me despite the fact that I'm latino and when his sister started seeing a brazillian fellow despite the subtle protests of the family, guess who defended her (and the brazillian) the most?

So what am I trying to say here? As far as I've seen, there are three useful, effective ways to get fundies to change their world-view:
1)Introduce to them to people who don't believe as they do, and force them to confront their prejudices and stereotypes. If they hate gays, get them to meet gay people.
2)Subtly encourage them in any intellectual pursuit. I like to think that I encouraged my friend's interest in history, which led him to university to study history. Education, especially in the social sciences, correlates high with a reduction on religousity (so I've heard).
3)Encourage them to see fundamentalism as non-normal. If there is one common characteristic I see of fundies, is that they like being a majority, and like to conform. When they stay insulated in their christian communities, they don't get a chance to see that fundamentalism is really not as big a majority as they think it is.

The most important thing, I think, is that we all need to make these people our friends.

"You have to be fucking kidding me Evoman...I don't want to hang out with a religious-ass crazy person".

It ain't always fucking easy, thats for sure, but I'm serious. Fundies, despite all their bullshit, have some good chacteristics. Many of them can be loyal, hard-working people. They just have to broaden their damn horizons, and they can't do it unless we all give it shot. I think liberal christians have a better shot at this than we atheists do, but we can't just sit on the sidelines.

"But Evoman...we need to confront their evil. We need to argued them back into their holes"

On a higher level (society level), I agree. Don't think I'm getting soft, because I'm not. When fundies are trying to pass laws, change government, and oppress people, you got to keep them in fucking check with everything you have. You have to fight the fight. You can't give them a free pass, like we have been giving them for the past 30 years.

But on a personal level, fighting just isn't going to get you anywhere. The fundies have such compartmentalized mind, and are so immune to reason, that we aren't going to change minds by fighting. If you fight them, if you confuse them, if you out-logic them, they just run back to the isolation of their fundie communities, and you just lost your chance to do something important. Influence can be so fucking strong if you give it a chance.

The point is that we have to entice them away from their authority figures. We need to SHOW them, not TELL them that their authorities are wrong. Fuck, we need to show them that we are not the fucking evil they think we are.

And I know this because I've fucking done it. My friends are still christian. They may even still be fundies. But I'll be damned if they aren't a whole lot better than the rest of their fundie brethren. Hell, one of them migh *gasp* NOT VOTE CONSERVATIVE in the next election.

And you have no idea what a fucking miracle that is.


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lligrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 04:23 AM
Response to Original message
1. Religious Freedom Is What America Was About
Seems many have forgotten that. Believe or don't but don't attempt to FORCE your beliefs on others. Why is that so hard for some?
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 04:25 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. You can't ever FORCE someone to change their beliefs.
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 04:27 AM by Evoman
But influence...influence is a powerful force.

On edit: I'm Canadian....so there is no religious freedom here. There is just what Evoman wants you to be. Bow before me.
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lligrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 04:38 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Influence Stops When Politicians Endorse A Belief
and promise to act upon it. I believe we have had quite a bit of that going on not to mention churches advocating it.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #1
15. You seem to be forgetting
That the Pilgrims/Puritans came to America to establish religious dominance, not religious freedom.

In the Puritan/Pilgrim settlements only one religion was allowed and strict adherence to that religion was brutally enforced.

The religious freedom myth is just pro-American propaganda. And the facts starkly contrast with that myth.
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uberllama42 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 05:55 AM
Response to Original message
4. I'll give this a try, if I get the chance
I'm not currently acquainted with any fundamentalists. The only fundamentalist I can think of from when I was a kid went to the Catholic high school (I know, WTF, right? I wonder how the Catholics felt about it). I'm now at a Catholic university, and there's one guy who friended me on Facebook whom I've never actually met. His status right now reads "is about to sacrifice his wants and desires for what Yahweh wants me to do." If I ever make his acquaintance, I'll try your method.

There's also this hard-core Republican kid who wears a "WWJD?" bracelet. I don't know if that indicates that he's a fundamentalist, an evangelical, or just a massive tool. I'm pretty much done with him though, since he accused another guy (who had taken a year off to train an Iraqi Army unit with the Marines, then joined Iraq Veterans Against the War when he got home) of stabbing his fellow servicemembers in the back. I'm all for reaching out to fundamentalists, but some people are too odious to deal with. I don't suffer chickenhawks easily.
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zeos3 Donating Member (912 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 05:56 AM
Response to Original message
5. I think you're on the right track with this
Having an open dialog with people is always best. If you can get them to see we are not that different in our beliefs about certain rights and wrongs and that we are not persecuting them then we are off to a good start.

Having said that, I've been annoyed by these people so much that I'm not now in a position to have this open dialog. I've been told "How can you call yourself a christian and be a democrat?"

An ex girlfriend of mine told me she was a republican because "They are the party of God". She didn't follow politics at all but knew this because her Bible thumping sister told her so.

I've been told "That's why your going to Hell and I'm not" because I didn't go to church.

I could go on and on but it annoys me and, right now, I enjoy verbally abusing them. When we are in polite company and I hold my tongue, I've noticed it is possible to get them to think about things differently. On this quest I wish you luck. As for me, I still have some stuff to get out of my system before I join you.

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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:32 AM
Response to Reply #5
24. Yeah, it ain't easy. And maybe I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about.
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 11:33 AM by Evoman
Hell, maybe I'm even wrong about trying to befriend them. Maybe my relationships were an exception.

But what else can you do but befriend them (especially before they have their ideas cemented as adults)? Ignore them? Beat them?

It's very, very tempting to ignore them, especially if they are very toxic people. I don't blame you one bit.

Maybe it's a lot more important to hit them with the friend stick when they are children and young adults in college, rather than when they are adults. Maybe they are lost by then.
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Meshuga Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:14 AM
Response to Original message
6. I don't think the "in you face" approach works really well
A co-worker (and also hockey buddy of mine) is a Christian fundy. Although we try to avoid religious topics we do get into it once in a while and I try to show him my point of view even when he refuses to accept it. My group at work is pretty diverse and we all give him shit (in a playfull manner and also serious) but in the 11 years that I have known him he never changed one bit.

So, with people like him, the nice approach doesn't work either. He will vote for McCain because he is pro-life and in his opinion Obama is a dangerous unpatriotic Muslim. He is not explicit with what he thinks about Obama but we can come to the conclusion based on his criticism.

People need to have a lot of patience, time, and good health in order to be willing to deal with irrational people. And be able to deal with frustration because nothing is accomplished in the end.
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AlinPA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:27 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Yep, but I'd prefer just to ignore them and not associate with them. Life is too
precious to try to do maintenance on irrational people. Patience is maintenance.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:36 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. The problem with ignoring them is that they have a significant
amount of political clout which is resulting in some disastrous outcomes. Their subjective philosophical conclusion are dragging the rest of us down.

The double bind is that they can't be "reached" due to closed minds. But, unless they are reached, they are going to "kill" us all. We are all passengers on the "Loony Tune Express".
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AlinPA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 08:50 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. I know it sounds bad, but sometimes I see them as barking dogs. You just can't
quiet them. Other times I see them as being mostly an old breed, being replaced by a more enlightened society. The best we can do is to keep their assholes front and center (Robertson, Haggard, Hagee, et al) so everyone can see their leaders.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #6
23. What would be interesting, however, would be to gauge his prejudice before and after the 11 years.
What did he think of Jewish people, for example, before he met you? What sort of opinions would he have shown in his surveys? What would he say now if he was questioned about it.

Don't just assume you've had no influence.
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Meshuga Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #23
28. Believe me
I had a frustrating conversation with him about the nature of Judaism that shows that I have had no influence. I almost bought him a copy of Judaism for Dummies to show him but it would be a waste of $20 bucks since it is comfortable for him to believe that Judaism = Christianity without Jesus. And I have had conversation about biblical criticism that he brushes off as me being a person who lacks faith and who is blind to the truth.

We all have given up and we resort to playing with him. He is our Ned Flanders, the nice guy who catches a lot of flak with a smile (and it is funny how his kids are like Rod and Todd). But he is sure he is going to have the last laugh when we are all burning in hell for eternity. There is no way to convince a person who believes that there is a celestial war for people's souls (happening as we speak) that this stuff is bullshit.

All I can do is teach my kids not to fall for that or for the ultra-orthodox stuff in our own community.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. Hehe...maybe your kids need to make friends with his kids.
No?
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Meshuga Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #31
35. There is no way to connect
We are too liberal for the parents to allow interaction. Their older kid is in Junior High and he wasn't even allowed to go out to watch "Simpsons the Movie."

And even if there was interaction, it could backfire.

Christian youth groups know how to attract followers. Once they become teenagers the kids fall for the cute Christian girls who flirt them into joining the group.

Back when I was a freshman in high school a friend and I infiltrated a youth group because of the girls, and as Beavis and Butthead would say, "hoping to score." We would go to the events and be up to no good. Until one day they decided to make a mass conversion. They put me with the girl I was interested in and she went through the whole spiel. I wanted to laugh the whole time but went with the flow. The next day someone overheard me bragging and making fun of it. So the girl found out and my friend and I were black listed.

But the kids who are not taught by their parents from an early age might fall prey to this kind of youth group. So early training is essential.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #35
43. Man.....that rings true. I liked youth group because of the girls.
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 03:02 PM by Evoman
Back then I didn't even let the bullshit or even racism dissuade me from the girlies. Shit, I have some stories of some fundi girls you wouldn't even believe.

Even now I don't think I'd let fundi-ness stop me from approaching the fine christian ladies. I'd never marry one...and believe me, you don't have to marry em. ;)
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Meshuga Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #43
49. Some fundi girls are no prude! :-) n/t
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 10:56 PM by MrWiggles
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AlinPA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:25 AM
Response to Original message
7. In the same way that I don't want them trying to change me, I am not going to
try to change them. I just ignore their evangelizing and holier-than-thou atitudes. I would prefer to "out vote" them and get people with realistic views in office. I don't have much patience with people who interpret the Bible literally, especially Genesis.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
32. Completely understandable eom.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:31 AM
Response to Original message
9. It is nearly impossible to reach the minds of right wing Christians
or of any other fundamentalist religions due to the fact that their most basic thought process is to
block out all ideas foreign to their dogma. Their "microphones" to the outside world are "off".
They are sure that their "path" is the one and only.
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notfullofit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 09:44 AM
Response to Reply #9
14. You are correct.
No-one will ever be able to change the fundamentalist.
God is first and foremost, before family, before country and certainly before friends.

They will never, ever vote for a Democrat, abortion is the most evil thing man can do and as long as we are pro choice it will stay that way.

I find it better just not to discuss religion period.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #9
22. But I have.
Didn't say it wasn't hard though. Their mikes might be of, but sometimes if you yell loud enough, they can hear it through their wall.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #22
37. I'm glad to hear that it is possible to "reach" the right wing Christian.
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #9
42. Well, but many people have been on that path and left it
So I think it IS possible. But people don't usually change their minds when confronted with angry disagreement. It's the kindness and openess and demonstration that good people can go other ways that usually does the trick.

The more flies with honey than vinegar thing, you know?
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #42
44. I hope that you are correct in this matter.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
11. Very wise words, Evoman
I think you have it right on the money. I would add that the best teacher is example. You have been a great example to your friends, showing them that an atheist has morals and lives by them. That you are an honorable person. And you are right--to be around those who are "other"--be it atheists, people of other colors, or sexual orientation--helps broaden a person's view of things. Where I live in Arkansas, there are few minorities--but many hate groups--many more than I ever heard of when I lived in areas where the races were fairly evenly mixed. Hatred thrives on ignorance, and ignorance is enhanced by lack of opportunity to mix and mingle with others.

One thing from the Bible (which does have some words of wisdom) is "resist not evil". I take that to mean a wise person does not confront ignorance and hatred head on--it leads only to confrontation and an actual settling into one's own viewpoint--but rather does what you have done.

One thing Abraham Lincoln once said (some Republicans have said wise things) is that he destroyed his enemies by making them his friends. To persistently refuse to look on someone with a different viewpoint as an enemy and to treat them in a friendly manner will, eventually, I believe, change their viewpoint.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #11
25. Do you have any fundie friends?
Just curious.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. Yes, I've had fundie friends since I was little
I still recall being able to convince one of them that drinking couldn't be a sin since Jesus's first miracle was to turn water into wine. This was when we turned 21 (and had known each other for over 11 years), and if I recall, she started drinking socially then. Funny thing was I tried alcohol and didn't like the taste, so I don't indulge!

On a note nearer to the present--my brother's father in law is a Southern Baptist minister. We've had some rather interesting discussions. I have been open with him in talking about his good works and how I feel that that is the core teaching--and that he is following it. He doesn't say anything to contradict me--maybe he knows I'm a "lost cause". :)

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Zebedeo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #29
38. Alcohol in the Muslim religion
Ayesha - Sorry to but in, but something you said about drinking alcohol has me curious. You say you do not indulge because you don't like the taste. I had been under the impression that Islam forbids drinking alcohol. If you don't mind my asking, do you and Mr. Haqquiqa abstain from alcohol consumption for religious reasons? Do other Muslims that you know do this? Is this a mainstream Muslim practice?

I had an Indonesian landlady once, who officially abstained from alcohol consumption due to her Muslim religion, but she made an exception for port.
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Meshuga Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. I have a muslim co-worker who will not eat food or desert that has alcoholic beverage in the recipe
And he won't do it for religious reasons. Here I am butting in as well.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #38
40. I was referring to a time in my life
when I was a Methodist. I had not yet reverted to Islam. As Sufis, no one asks us what we do or do not do as far as following practices. The idea is that it is between you and God and no one else has a right to say anything. I've known mureeds (students) who have gotten mad and insulted their teachers and gone off in a huff only to be welcomed back later on. We're not mainstream Islam by any means, but Sufis have been around for a long time--at least since the time of The Beloved Prophet (and probably before that).

The "live and let live" attitude, coupled with curiosity and respect for other's viewpoints, is what I love about Sufism. Only wish all faiths could have this attitude.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 08:05 AM
Response to Original message
12. Yes you are going about it the wrong way
And since there has been so much confusion about pronouns and rhetorical questions, I don't mean "you" personally, but "you" plural. Unfortunately, standard American English does not have a second person plural pronoun, although regional dialects do -- youse (Brooklyn), yall (the South), you guys (California). So the "you" is in response to your "we" ("are we going about it the wrong way"), which is actually the wrong pronoun because you point out that you personally have discovered a better way, so the question must refer to atheists in general. So I interpret the question to actually be "Are atheists (or is it liberals and progressives?) other than me going about it the wrong way?"

The answer is that some atheists are going about it the wrong way. I have no idea what each of you do in your personal lives, but if your method of changing the views of others in your real lives is reflected by the way you go about trying to discuss or change the views of others in this forum -- the only evidence I would have of your rhetorical strategies -- than I would say it's quite clear that they are going about it in a very ineffective way.

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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #12
21. Dude, really...
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 11:18 AM by Evoman
You gotta realize that 99 percent of us are not the people we are on-line. That goes for you too. I seriously doubt you would say to my face many of the things you've said to me here. I doubt if we met offline, and I disagreed with you, you would call me a person of low intellectual calibre.

Here, we have come to debate. Here we have come to argue. Here we have come to express our opinions. So that's what we do. Most of use probably don't expect to, or even care, if we don't change minds or make friends. It's just a discussion forum.

However, I am not a fundamentalist for expressing my opinion. I am not close-minded, narrow-minded, or authoritarian at all. And neither are the large majority of the people you call names. What you think about the people on this forum are wrong.


So I interpret the question to actually be "Are atheists (or is it liberals and progressives?) other than me going about it the wrong way?"

I'm not talking to atheists. I'm talking to progressives (atheists, christian, hindu, agnostic, whatever), who hate fundies and don't want to take the time get to change them. The we is not meant "we atheists", "we Duer" or "we RT people". I mean we progressives.

Anyhow, I'd rather you not derail my thread like I know your trying to do. Please stop using my thread to challenge "groups" here.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:22 PM
Response to Reply #21
27. Bravo!
Well said.
:applause:
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #21
33. The question was somewhat unclear, thanks for clarifying it
As you could see from the parenthetical in my post, I wasn't sure whether you meant atheists or progressives. So now I know who "we" is, it's easier to answer the question.

Frankly, I don't see much effort by progressives to change the minds of right wing fundamentalist Christians. But then again, I live in New York and there aren't that many of them here. There are many fundamentalist Christians, but not of the kind that you might find going to John Hagee's Church, or taking marching orders from Pat Robertson.

The two most conservative religious political blocks in New York politics are probably the Catholic Church hierarcy and a small "movement" of hispanic pentacostals in the Bronx. Both express their conservativism mainly through opposition to abortion and gay rights. Neither seems particularly conservative on economic issues, however, and both get along with the Democratic Party.

From what I read and see in the national press, it seems to me that progressives have written off Christian fundamentalists as unreachable. What you seem to be saying is that in areas of the country where Christian fundamentalists are more prevalent, you have face to face conversations with them in which you debate and try to change each other's opinions. But on an organizational level, I don't see that happening.

On an organizational level, however, progressive religious groups have tried to provide an alternative to people of faith so that, unlike the image that predominates in the national media, which is that religious people have no alternative but to be part of politically conservative congregations, there actually are progressive alternatives.

Examples include Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikun, Air America's "State of Belief," and NPR's "Speaking of Faith." Politically, I suppose that the religious outreach through "god talk" of Democratic politicians is also a way for the progressive movement to say, if you change your mind, we're an alternative. But I don't see it as active reaching out to the religious right.

Perhaps it's working, because the news media seems full of articles lately saying that rw Christian fundamentalists are reassessing whether being fundamentalist is inconsistent with being concerned with the environment, global warming and poverty.

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
16. We must make a distinction between conservative and right wing
I have no problem with people who believe in and practice conservative Christianity; as you stated, many of them are good people. And even when they are not, it is no skin off my nose as long as they keep their personal beliefs personal.

The danger is from right wing Christians, ie those Christians who believe in and practice conservative Christianity and insist on imposing their religious views on others by force of law. With them, it is important to fight them only insofar as they use initiatives, legislatures and the judiciary to implement their utopian theocracy and not on the grounds of their religious beliefs.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #16
20. But you can fight them on two different levels.
I'm not arguing that we need to stop them from imposing their religious views. But once your done fending them off, what are you gonna do?

You gotta go on the offensive, and the best way to get these people to change is one on one. The fundies dwindle...they are constantly losing members...we just need to increase the hemmorahage.

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:17 PM
Response to Reply #20
26. I disagree with "You gotta go on the offensive"
Right wing religious people are, by and large, fanatics, regardless of which religion they follow. As with any fanatic, direct attacks only strengthen their conviction that they are right and the Enemy Of Truth is out to destroy them. All too often, even polite discussion is impossible: any rebuttal of a doctrinal point or religious conclusion will only "prove" that you are hopelessly drowned in sin, which puts you right back as an enemy of truth out to destroy them. Goodness knows, I've had plenty of conversations along those lines. :eyes:

I think the most effective way to deal with such people in the long run is to A) work to maintain the First Amendment separation of Church and State, thereby preventing the right wingers from moving our country towards a theocracy, B) maintain a constant public education program of basic civics, such as the United States having been founded as a secular nation by Deists who made no mention of God or Jesus in the Consitution, and C) either treat them with respect or generally leave them alone to the extend that points A and B allow that to happen.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #26
30. Fair enough, Techbear.
Although by "go on the offensive", I didn't really mean any aggressive action. In fact, with these people, your better not even discussing religion. And maybe when they are adults, they are beyond help anyways. For the most part, I had my friends pretty early on.
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heidler1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #26
36. I agree. I've been married for 57 years to a Christian Lady and we just ignore the whole subject.
We did run into a slight problem a few years ago when a relative who thought our problem was that we had no bible in our home so she gave us two new leather bound copies. My wife thought this was a personal affront and mailed them back to her. I was inclined to want to sell them for a laugh, but this would of been an over reaction to my wife. So we did it the wife's way and the conversion notion of the relative went away permanently.

I have many good religious friends and one Atheist friend. I live near Phoenix and it has a Atheist Group who's web page views are just like mine, but I have no desire to go to their meetings. Reinforcing my views seems uncalled for to me. However, I belong to the VFW, who I seldom agree with, and never go to their meetings either.

What I see with religious people is they believe that they are licensed to spread their views and Atheist's are not. DU is the perfect place to unload these feelings. I doubt if it does much short or long term good though.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
17. Fundies are already masters at compartmentalizing and dealing with cognitive dissonance.
That they know a moral atheist may or may not have any influence whatsoever on their general view of atheists.

Perfect real-world example: the Cheneys can (evidently) love and accept their gay daughter but still fight against gay rights and marriage.
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. Yeah, but you can't do anything but try, right?
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 11:01 AM by Evoman
Even fundies can have their world view changed. That's why so many of them go to "Christian Universities". Parents know that their children change their views when they are among people not unlike them.

Yes, fundies have huge amount of cognitive dissonance, but they are also extremely fond of conforming to a group. What you gotta do is put them in a better group for them to conform too.

And I don't think Cheney is a real good example of a fundie. While he is christian, I don't think he is one of the people I'm talking about. If he is fighting against gay rights, it more to gain influence over fundies so that he can get more/remain in power. I'm not convinced Cheney even gives a shit about any "moral" issue, let alone the fundie moral issues. He is nothing but a social dominator.
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 05:32 PM
Response to Reply #17
45. Well, but (and watch out, this may be flame-inducing, lol)
that's part of the bigger problem - the categorizing a group of people and treating them as a category and not as individuals.

As a group, people who wish to impose their view of morality on the rest of us do need to be met with opposition in the political sphere. No doubt.

But assuming that one on one, no one who might meet that definition would be able to step outside it just amounts to throwing up one's hands and walking away. Sometimes that's maybe the sane response. But always? And everyone? Not a one is susceptible to reason in the least?

I underlying that may be the idea that what they believe is entirely unreasonable, so therefore *they* must be entirely unreasonable. But I don't think that equation really works.
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charlie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #45
46. I'll admit to be surprised occasionally
It's rare, but it does happen. For example, Jim and Tammy seem to have raised a really decent kid (though his Dad is still the same asshat he ever was).

Probably the most boggling turnabout of late has been David Kuo's. That guy was neck deep in politico-fundie organizations for years and his softening from Christian Right radicalism appears to be genuine. He had to run at 100mph slambang into the wall of Bushco's cynicism to get there though, not the sort of experience you can expect many fundies to have.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 06:52 PM
Response to Reply #45
47. If someone can still sincerely hold to the belief that the earth is 6000 years old,
as I consider one of the main characteristics of a fundie to be, then yes, they are masters of managing (or just ignoring) cognitive dissonance. If you meet the basic requirements of being a fundie (believing in a fixed literal interpretation of a holy text, etc.) then by extension you are good at the two things I mentioned. This isn't labeling a group of people, it's noting that certain beliefs, if sincerely held, REQUIRE one to compartmentalize and ignore dissonance. Does that clarify?
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 08:56 PM
Response to Reply #47
48. Yes, that helps. Thanks nt
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-06-08 09:12 AM
Response to Reply #17
51. That's about power and politics, though, not faith.
I think the Cheneys have made pretty clear that they're pandering to the religious right on that issue and would stop if they thought they could and still hang onto power.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 10:23 AM
Response to Original message
18. Another flashback
Edited on Thu Jun-05-08 10:24 AM by cosmik debris
You reminded me of the 50's and 60's when we had to actively address the issue of Red China and the Communist Bloc countries.

The right wing nut cases like McCarthy said we had to kill all commies. But the more progressive voices said that we should make customers out of them.

In hindsight, it is easy to see which was the better idea--the one that worked!

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Gato Moteado Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 01:05 PM
Response to Original message
34. down here we feed them to the crocs....
the crocs are hungry....send more fundies!
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
41. I agree with you
And I think the difference might be found in the terminology. This isn't something you "fight" in the conventional sense.

You walk the walk, you talk to people like they're people, not ideologies, you show them what you think and why, and you show them kindness in action. Just as you've said.

It's a matter of hearts and minds. And I think you've got exactly the right idea.

It works both ways, of course. To really have an open conversation with friends who disagree, you have to be respectful enough of their thoughts and ideas to listen, even if you disagree.

So yay, Evoman!
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-06-08 09:11 AM
Response to Original message
50. Or you can marry them.
;)

Hubby and I met at our evangelical Christian college. He was very right-wing, and I was one of the few "liberals" there (I'm a feminist, and there weren't many of us). He had grown up in a super-conservative family (so Republican they got the GOP catalog, which I hid when I found it at their house), and he was Republican all the way. It was his one flaw, really. In the course of dating, he started seeing how the Republican party really didn't reflect his faith, and then med school killed his conservatism entirely (when you see the logical extension of their political beliefs and have to fix them up . . . ). He's quite liberal now.

His parents are still too conservative, but they're coming around on national health care and other issues, and I know they don't like McCain at all. I don't know if they can vote for a black man (they are sooo freakin' racist), but he's more their kind of Christian than McCain is, and they like that.

You're right: get them to know people who question their beliefs. That's a huge first step.
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