Distasteful Concessions

In many places, Christians live as a minority and are threatened. In America, however, Christianity is in a privileged majority position. Last night, Christmas Eve, my 9-year-old daughter lamented, “I think I am the only Atheist in our school. I get tired of people teasing me.”  Our family huddled on our big bed and tried to strategize ways for her to avoid the teasings.

In order to minimize abuse, minorities develop strategies. In America, as studies have shown, Atheist are envisioned as immoral, untrustworthy and unclean.  To fend off such inaccurate, cruel stereotypes, Atheists have developed ways to signal to Christians that they are safe and Christian-friendly.   Here are two such agreement-methods where Atheists try to establish common ground with believers. (in parenthesis I offer links to further posts describing these):

(1) I believe Jesus was a great teacher! (see this post)
(2) I believe the Bible is a brilliant piece of literature! (see this post)

Are these concessionary appeasements actually true?
Do these appeasements work?

I will write more on this later. Meanwhile, can you think of other concessions that Atheists make in a Christian nation?

Let me add, however, that I know this works both ways.  I know Christians also make concessions which they may also find distasteful. For instance, certainly 6-day Creationists, being a minority, feel like they must hide at times. Perhaps even liberal Christians make concessions they later regret when they are surrounded by Evangelicals or Fundamentalists.

Let us know your experiences!


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

8 responses to “Distasteful Concessions

  1. In regards to the two concessionary statements – I do believe Jesus was a great teacher and further believe that he thought of himself as more than just a teacher, although I do not think he saw himself as the messiah. Nor do I believe him to be perfect or to be the son of God (obviously).

    As for the Bible, parts of it are brilliant pieces of literature and religious thought. Other parts are very boring and basically not worth reading except as a study into social practices and beliefs of the time. Still other parts are horrific and immoral.

    However, I very rarely use theses statements myself, at least as a lead off to a discussion about atheists being “like you guys and not as bad as you think.”

    Usually if this question comes up I ask them why they think that atheists are immoral and then address the issue on the basis of their answer.

    I also will use some examples from both my and my family’s lives as well as some examples of atheists acting morally. Not to mention using statistics about prison population, marriage, the fact that the least religious nations often have lower crime rates, etc.

    Just a bit of a quibble about the use of concessionary in this context. To me this implies that we are relunctantly admitting that something might be true whereas I have no problem at all admitting to what I think about Jesus and the Bible. We should never be relunctant to admit the truth, to do so gives the impression that our beliefs cannot withstand such truths – something that is far from true.

  2. @ befuddled2
    I think your points are important. Here are my thoughts:

    (1) Was Jesus a Great Teacher
    I have not posted on that but hope to get to it. It is obvious that Jesus (if he existed) was a teacher. The questions are: (a) What did he really teach? (b) Were those teaching “great”? (c) What qualifies as “great” teachings?
    Then we have a discuss about what qualifies as great. Important questions, I think.

    (2) Brilliant Pieces of Literature
    I will be posting on this soon. But again, we have to decide “What counts as “brilliant”? And compared to what? More later.

    (3) Types of Atheists
    Your approach to believers sounds excellent. But then, you are very informed. Most atheists I know are securely in the closet. Though I can tell they are atheists, I hear them making the concessions often with believers. I would agree with you that the concessions are not made so often by informed atheists.

    (4) “Concession” or “Agreement”
    You make another good point here. My choice of words was for effect. Some people like you may not feel you are making a “concession” at all because you truly believe both of those statement. In future posts I hope to take a little wind out of those sails. I contend that the wind sneaks slyly into our sails (subconsciously) via our Christian culture — thus my choice of “concession” may be inaccurate because “concession” implies intention.

    (5) Your Site
    BTW, your site has tons of great info, I am looking forward to reading more. May I suggest you add a photo at the top of each post. Right now, scrolling down your blog, it is just big blur of black-and-white type (yawn) — a pic or diagram on each post would break up the monotony and help separate the posts from each other. I would have written you this in an e-mail, but I don’t see a contact page on your site. See my contact page — you have a WordPress blog and so could do something similar if you’d like.

    Thanks for stopping in. Great comments.

  3. I would have agreed with Jesus being a great teacher until I started to study the Gospels for myself. :-/

    I think the best, and perhaps most honest concession is this:
    There is a lot of wisdom in the Bible.

    Not all of the Bible is bad or untrue, so I think the above statement is suitable recognition of the more positive and useful aspects of some of its passages. From there, you can open discussions about how you agree with certain aspects, like loving your neighbor, while disagreeing with other aspects, like slavery is acceptable.

  4. @ The Wise Fool
    I agree!

  5. Sabio Lantz – I appreciate your comments, especially about my blog site. I have been looking to do a slight make over on it to improve it and your suggestion of pictures is a good one. I am working on another blog about abortion based on a Ray Comfort (wonderful man – so easy to poke at) video that is supposedly converting pro – choice people into anti-choice people in just 30 minutes. I will use your suggestion for this and also add a contact section.

    As for your specific comments, I will wait for you to post on those questions to respond. I suspect we may not be in as great a disagreement there as it may seem.

  6. While I think there is some wisdom in the Bible, and even think some of it is quite valuable, I think the Bible is overall out-classed by writings too numerous to count. Were it not so significant to three or four religions, I believe it would be widely thought a minor collection of ancient books.

    I do suspect a case might be made that the Biblical concern with social justice has been a positive and important influence on our culture.

    Just my 2 cents.

  7. Earnest

    I feel that the low-christology Jesus I have crafted for myself was an inspiring teacher. But that does not answer the “greatness” question.

  8. Earnest

    Sabio I feel sad for your daughter but I hope you will tell her the story about how the Cub Scouts (who we agree have something of a Christian leaning) elected your athiest son to be their leader.

    Being a leader among peers can be a lonely business. It’s far easier to be a shameless chameleon like myself.

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