The British scientist Richard Dawkins has gotten famous by bashing religion as benighted superstition.
In this week’s audio commentary, Chris Satullo takes Dawkins and his ilk to task by telling them they’re the ignorant bigots.
Listen: [audio: satullo20100221.mp3]
It was too perfect. There I was, sitting at a light in the People’s Republic of Mount Airy, looking at a bumper sticker. On a green Volvo, no less.
The sticker read: “The last time we mixed religion and politics, they burned people at the stake.” How could I not take that as a sign from God?
You see, I’d been mulling a commentary on secular liberals, and how annoyed I get at the arrogant, wrong-headed take they seek to impose on all discussions of church and state.
I’d just read a piece about Harvard University, where some faculty fought to banish all study of religion, as unworthy of such a great temple to Reason.
You want to know where that Tea Party anger comes from? It comes in part from decades of listening to ill-informed secular snobs lecture the rest of us about what benighted superstition our religious faith is.
Back to that clueless bumper sticker. Let me rewrite it in ways that have a greater basis in American history:
“The last time we mixed religion and politics, we got Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Or: “One time when we mixed religion and politics, we got Abraham Lincoln.”
Or Harriet Beecher Stowe. Or Dorothy Day. Or Sister Mary Scullion.
Religion has done just as much to bring moral courage and a passion for social justice to a nasty, selfish public square as it has to screw things up.
Haters love to cherry-pick from history. How many wars really were caused by religion, vs. being mayhem where good ol’ human bloodlust merely used religion as a cover?
Human reason gets held up as the enlightened counterweight to superstitious, intolerant faith. Did you happen to notice that when reason got its chance to run the show in the 20th century, the results were less than spectacular?
“The last time we mixed faith in reason and politics, we got Pol Pot. And the Cultural Revolution. And the Gulag.”
Sound harsh? No worse than the glib, faith-bashing gibes about the 30 Years War that believers such as myself have had to endure for years.
Ignorant? At Harvard, some people apparently think that one can be an educated person without having read St. Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal John Henry Newman, or theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
Now, THAT is ignorance. And I, for one, am sick of tolerating such highly degreed bigotry in silence.