The case in question is the Secular Students’ Association website, which was subject to denial-of-service attacks and has incurred web security upgrade costs of $200 per month.
Adam points out that at another atheist blog, The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta has raised funds to remove pro-atheism graffiti from churches, making the point that law-breaking is never an acceptable way to express a viewpoint. Adam suggests that perhaps Christians should step forward to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of free expression and lawful dialogue and dissent, and donate to the SSA’s hosting costs.
Although there’s a fine roundup of unpleasant commenters on Adam’s post, I don’t happen to think atheism does a lick of harm to Christianity. It helps.
Christianity in North America needs vigorous intellectual challenge. Its most prominent representatives may be the better for some task-taking on little matters like logic, consistency, and a large infectious rash of pontifical soundbites put forth for fun and profit by pop theologians and cult theologians alike.
Can Christians do that for themselves? Yes. And some of us do. And I enjoy being part of that.
But we’re also the better for outside critique. It adds valuable dimensions to the discussion and is unquestionably worthy of consideration. It can be a game-changer when a community gets stalled by blindness to its own presuppositions. We need that.
But it’s not a comfortable cause. A number of the commenters made a farce of the value of civil and lawful dialogue and dissent. Obviously, I distinguish that from illegal expressions and actions, but I’d fully understand if most of my friends considered this good-faith venture a pointless exercise on that basis alone.
However, before we leap to that, it helps to understand the other side. Via Peter Hurford at GreatPlay.net:
We can’t really build bridges till we understand the perceptions involved.
I’m glad that the SSA has had Adam teaching young people to be better thinkers and to develop grounded principles.
An atheist spent a lot of time doing that for me when I was young.
If you’ve appreciated ScitaScienda’s cultural analyses, or the reasoning underpinning the expressions of faith–well, it’s worth mentioning that I learned to think like that from someone like Adam.
That person is my grandmother.
Bridges lead places. I am here, and better for it, because I have such bridges in my life. If something I’ve written has been useful to you, then you’ve felt the benefit of those bridges as well.
Adam is someone whose writing and thinking I respect. Right now I have multiple friends and acquaintances struggling with underemployment, unexpected family deaths and major health crises. That takes priority for me. But this, too, has a place in the picture.
So, my money’s on the table, to the extent I can at the moment.
“Not much” can add up. So if you can spare some and want to, I encourage you to go for it. I would appreciate the gesture.
–If you can’t donate right now, or if you disagree with giving money but feel that others should have the chance to make up their own minds, there’s also blogging, tweeting or Facebooking about it. Should make for an interesting conversation, at least.
–In my experience, most Christian giving is on a personal, grassroots basis. However, Adam specifically mentioned interest in hearing from institutions–churches or organizations willing to make a public gesture. I can’t say whether your church or Bible study or homeschool group (or blogging crowd, etc etc) would be such an organization, but I leave that in your hands also.
As always, thanks for reading and considering these things with me.