How I became an agnostic covering the religion beat

Stephen Bates of the Guardian, responding to the question: How did you lose, or find, your faith? :

The thing that astounded me was the vituperation directed not at other faiths (a degree of Islamophobia came later) but at those who happened to disagree within the same faith communities.

You get evangelical publications denouncing “liberals” within the Church of England and claiming they are not really Christian, there are reactionary Catholic publications sneering similarly at modernists and attacking those who do not wish for a return of the Latin mass as somehow lesser beings. Attitudes which might otherwise seem quaint, dated or toxic are given free rein: by and large churches have moved on from regarding black people as inferior (though I did come across one British theologian writing that conservative Anglicans might have to choose a black bishop “even if he does look like the janitor” over a gay-supporting white one) but as we know quite antidiluvian attitudes towards gay people and women still prevail, with an air of horrible self-righteousness and hypocrisy in some quarters.

What rankled most was the hypocrisy, the fact that the Bible’s scattered and random words on homosexuality were uncontestable for all time and yet, somehow, divorce – which Jesus himself appears from the Gospels to have condemned – was somehow only a minor and changeable transgression. The fact that some of the evangelicals, such as Andrew Carey, journalist son of the former archbishop of Canterbury and one of the loudest and most sanctimonious cheerleaders against gay people holding positions in the church, is himself divorced and remarried (by his father) just added to my distaste. The immortal words of former president Richard Nixon (and the Simpsons’ Reverend Lovejoy) come to mind: if the president says it’s legal, it’s not a crime.

Past Posts