How can liberals and educated people fight back against religious extremism without seeming intolerant?
Right wing religious folk are interfering in the political process with their superstitious, regressive, dangerous views.
Their support for Republicans is destroying the country and possibly our environment, causing disastrous wars, corruption, torture, economic injustice, climate-change denial, attacks on science, attacks on women’s rights, etc, etc.
Reasonable people need to fight back.
One way to fight back is to go on the offensive and ridicule them by stating the truth:
Saying that religion is nonsense is akin to saying the emperor has no clothes: most (educated) people know it’s the truth, but people are afraid to say it.
But is ridicule the best way to deal with the religious right? I’m not sure. Maybe it will just antagonize them and drive them to further extremism.
Yet in the long run, I think their superstitious views must be suppressed. Yes, in the short term, you sometimes have to appease bullies and fools. But in the long run it’s best to put them in their place and promote wiser viewpoints. They will fight back, charging their opponents with intolerance or even hate crimes. So, the campaign to stop religious extremism must be waged skillfully.
By the way, I have nothing against moderate religion. Even within the Catholic Church (which certainly has many reactionary elements), there are many liberal believers who support social justice. It’s the conservative believers, who often follow literalist interpretations of religious stories, that are aiding the forces of regression.
Along with the long-term strategy of educating people about alternatives to superstition and dogmatism, there are less oppositional approaches, such as the approach of the lefty religious advocacy group called Faithful America. It aims to reclaim ground from the Religious Right, who want you to believe they have a monopoly on piety. Faithful America’s latest campaign is to oppose Cardinal Nolan’s apparent endorsement of Romney and Ryan:
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is listed prominently among the invited speakers being used to promote the Values Voters Summit, at which Ryan and a host of other Republican politicians and far-right figures will appear.
The bishops have condemned the Ryan budget as inconsistent with Catholic teaching, because of its “unacceptable cuts” to “essential programs that serve poor and vulnerable people.” So why would Cardinal Dolan even consider appearing with Ryan during the campaign season?
It’s not too late for Cardinal Dolan, who recently called Ryan a “great public servant,” to publicly refuse this invitation and make it clear that he is not in the business of partisan politics. But he needs to hear from thousands of Catholics and other people of faith immediately.
The left should naturally be the allies of Christians and other people of faith. After all, according to the Bible, Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24.