Your Best Life Now

Your Best Life Now

Would You Want to Marry into a Family of Atheists? Hell No!

posted by smcswain
Would You Want to Marry into a Family of Atheists? Hell No!

Would You Want to Marry into a Family of Atheists? Hell No!

I’ve been in a writing mode for the last few days. I’m preparing for a keynote in a few weeks at a banquet for several hundred aviators at Aviation Association’s annual gathering, this year at Belterra Casino and Resort. And, of course, I’ve been writing a book on happiness, too.

Yesterday, however, my writing was temporarily interrupted by a call from one of the producers of HuffPost Live – it’s their live television/internet version of the news. It seems the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life had recently released a report that a “huge number of Americans do not want atheist in-laws.” They were going to have a live discussion on the subject and they wanted me and a couple of other “experts” – as they called us – I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing when she said that. I’ve never been an “expert” at anything, except perhaps at “nothing.” Anyway, I agreed and enjoyed the conversation. If you’d like to listen to the archived version, go here: “Why Most Americans Don’t Want Atheists In-Laws.”

I actually read the Pew report, too. If you’ve read it, you know there is really nothing new or earth-shattering in it. In fact, it’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from fundamentalist versions of any faith but, in this case, Christianity. Nearly two-thirds of “conservative” Christians would be upset to have “atheist” in-laws.

Would I be upset to have “atheist” in-laws?

Not at all. No more so, in fact, than I am about having very conservative Christian in-laws. Which, of course, I do. What I would find disconcerting, however, is whether my son or daughter or my future in-laws were narrow-minded or, worse, closed-minded, whether atheists or theists.

In Buddhism, there is something known as “wrong view,” which basically means we view reality – any reality – through distorted, narrow lens. This is an affliction that affects everyone.  And, the spiritual goal is, to cultivate “right view.”  Which does not mean, cultivate your view of things as “the right view” and everyone else’s view of things as “the wrong view.”

This is the core error in fundamentalism, whether radical Christian fundamentalism or radical atheism.

The middle way is the better way.  Respecting all persons for their own faith journey, or lack of it, is the healthiest position.

It is, in fact, the only position wherein peace may prevail.

Between Christians and atheists.

Between Israel and Palestine.

Between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

Between Republicans and Democrats.

Between couples of the same faith, opposite faiths or no faith.

Between couples of the opposite sex or the same sex.

The middle way is the only way.

If you enjoy the things I write, visit my blog where you’ll find much more. Go to

  • GordonHide

    By “order of the day” I meant to convey “more orderly and rational” or “appropriate position”. I used the word “order” in the sense of order/disorder although I admit that “order of the day” is either a military expression or is related to “dish of the day” in a restaurant. Both these I admit clearly refer to “order” as a synonym for “command”. So your interpretation was entirely reasonable.

  • Wendy Thomas Russell

    I see what you’re saying, Gordon, but I think Steve was just trying to get across a message of mutual courtesy and kindness, regardless of faith. I think the problem is in the word “respect.” It’s impossible to ask people to respect all beliefs, or all people for that matter. Respect is earned; and it’s complicated. I might respect someone on a whole but not respect their faith. I might respect someone’s faith/lack of faith but disrespect them for 100 other reasons. “Downgrading one’s respect for people because of the silly things they believe” may be something that you do, consciously or unconsciously, but it’s not the order of the day. Because respect is not something you, or anyone else, can “order.”

  • Wendy Thomas Russell

    Good piece, Steve. Thanks.

  • MarilynLaCourt

    This view would be fine if in fact it involved just getting along with your next door neighbors. However, enter politics and it’s a very different conflict.
    The separation of church and state is an issue that even religious people can agree with.
    Christians don’t want Muslims, Scientologists, Wilkins, or even Mormons to dictate the laws of our land.
    Unfortunately the Supreme Court now rules us.
    Witness two recent decisions: The safe zone around women’s health clinics, and of course the recent decision in favor of Hobby Lobby.

  • GordonHide

    “Respecting all persons for their own faith journey, or lack of it, is the healthiest position”.
    — I don’t think so. Giving everybody a certain amount of consideration as fellow human beings and being prepared to stand up for their freedom of conscience is reasonable. Respecting people for what they believe is just too much to ask. Downgrading one’s respect for people because of the silly things they believe is the order of the day.

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