Two items hit the headlines this week in America. The first was a message from the new Pope Francis:
Basically, the Pope is saying that it matters not whether one is Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or whatever. All that matters is we do good towards others – without distinction. That is the only way to ever achieve peace on this planet.
Only the moronic among us could find any argument against that philosophy. Full marks to Pope Francis.
The second item was the horrific tornado that flattened the town of Moore, Oklahoma. In these days of man-made climate change (albeit, its existence still argued by the flat-earth society and oil-friendly politicians) even a tornado as bad as this one, (and it was the worst ever according to meteorologists), is only just newsworthy compared with Boston bombers and the IRS targeting of innocent right-wing friendly societies. Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s resident plonker, managed to stir up sentiment by assuming everyone in the state of Oklahoma (an area of the US with the affliction of not only being part of Tornado Alley, but also the Bible Belt) was an out-and-out religious nutter.
In fairness to Blitzer, he probably found the only atheist within two hundred miles to ask: “Did you thank the Lord for saving you?”
It’s easy to drop a gaffe in the heat of the moment, and today’s internet is merciless in sending such faux pas viral in an instant. The reaction was not uniquely American.
One of the great criticisms of US Protestantism is its cliquishness. Belong to a small church somewhere and you’ll be looked after during hard times. Don’t belong, and you won’t. Many of these churches verge on the Masonic.
This is exactly what Pope Francis was preaching about in his homily this week, or rather, it was the opposite of his message. Francis said we needed to do good to everyone, whatever their belief system, and not confine our charity to those within our small group.
When Rebecca Vitsmun told Wolf Blitzer she was an atheist and it went viral on the internet, the next thing we heard was that ‘Atheists Unite’ had set up an appeal and $7,000 had already been raised to help rebuild her house!
According to their spokesperson:
It’s important that our community shows that we have your back when you come out publicly as an atheist. Let’s show the world that you don’t need to believe in a god to have human compassion nor does all charity fall under the banner of religion. Let’s get this courageous woman and her family back in their own home.”
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
What is the matter with these people? They’re more concerned with getting one over on the Christian community than helping this woman and her family. What about all the other families needing to rebuild their homes?
This is exactly what’s wrong with the world today. We’re all too busy trying to prove our case is the right one, and everyone else’s is wrong, that we’ll only help those who advance our cause. The result is mistrust and condemnation of others, and a fear of reprisals that inflames hatred and violence.
This writer refuses to be pigeon-holed. He’s not religious, neither so arrogant as to describe himself as an atheist. He prefers to live in this life because he’s highly dubious of the existence of any other, and considers ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ as childhood fairy tales. He has, on many occasions, called the Roman Catholic church to task for its inhumane doctrines, and criticized previous popes for their pomposity and lack of basic humanity.
On this occasion, Pope Francis is right, and Atheists Unite is dead wrong. Appeal for funds, by all means, but for all the victims of Moore, Oklahoma, not just one because she happens to hold the same beliefs as you.
Atheists Unite’s appeal is not about doing good. It’s no more than an inglorious attempt to further a cause.