I agree too Steph!
It's true that I'm making a poor representation of Mr. Harris's point in his book. Let me clarify.
Our goal of being Moderate in this country, being tolerant of ANY and ALL religious beliefs, makes it impossible to say anything about anyone. Which in turn allows the fundamentalist to run rampant. Which in turn allows extremist to exist and proliferate. That in itself is PERFECTLY FINE, religious freedom is fine. ...except now they have the power to kill a whooole lot of people.
There is no better time than THIS SECOND to push back, to say "you're crazy, you're not thinking, and your going to hurt someone". I don't think we need another 20 or so clinics blown up, or a city for that matter before we pull back on the reigns and say Whooooa!
An Extremist IS a Fundamentalist (with a plan).
I agree with religious freedom. The book makes the argument pretty plain. The audio book version is pretty nice too.
I don't think that a militant attitude toward religion is the right strategy. Attacking someones beliefs rarely wins you any points, and it definitely won't convince somebody to your point. In fact it probably strengthens their religious outlook, and they become convinced that it was some cosmic spiritual test. And honestly it's kind of offensive to attack a persons privately held beliefs with your privately held beliefs. It's kind of similar to the type of oppression that religious extremists try to force on the US. I support religious freedom because it places value on an ideal common to all people; the right not to believe the crazy shit that other people believe. When you attack someone's beliefs you are also attacking that ideal. If you don't stand for tolerance, what's to stop an extremist from arguing for a state religion, and being right? Reason? Knowledge? Nope.
The question shouldn't be how can I convince others to unbelieve the existence of a supreme being? That's a waste of time. Why even bother with the struggle of denying God? Our society works based on the rights we grant others in exchange for the rights granted to us. Human law. and if we neglect our system of rule to destroy a religion, then we are inviting tyranny to run amok. But if we grant freedom of religion on the condition that it can't interfere with established law, then we have a nice little position to call out religion when it overreaches.
I think that these extremists are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to advocate a national religion. Just like the demographics in the US are changing, so too might the religious make up. And the national religion they advocated for might not be the one they had in mind.
So, the point I'm making is that attacking religion is tyrannous at a certain point, it serves no purpose but to impose a set of beliefs on others, and to oppress them. But defending against religious tyranny is a virtue.
I awoke this morning with a clearer head about the subject.
In the military we all learn the same phrase by heart: "I can not confirm or deny the blah blah blah" -it's a set statement that shuts people up -because it's the end of the story from the person saying it.
So when asked, "My official stance is, I choose NOT follow ANY FAIRY-TALES... And I'm perfectly fine with others conducting themselves that way -As long as they're not passing any laws based on them or hurting people (period)."
Now I have to practice it, and wait for someone to ask me :).
I don't see why we should be gentle and mild, esp. on the religious lunatics that think they have the right to use their fairy stories to control the lives of other people. It's not as if religion has become something private in society. Even today, in most parts of the world, religious organisations have deep political control and influence and the religious cause and promote high levels of violence and other inhumanity. I think that if we really want religion to finally go away and society to start to get better we need to stop being passive and mild and intellectual. We ought to be doing everything (non-violent of course) we can to combat religion. I think culture jamming is very effective at this and protest, for a start.