It seems that the 40th annual convention of American Atheists is coming to town next spring, and its organizers sound like they’re looking to pick a fight with Utah’s Latter-day Saint population.
A spokesman for the atheists tells the Deseret News,
It is our perception that the Mormon Church is interfering with freedom of religion and freedom of speech in Utah by intimidating people. … We’d love to be proven wrong on that, but everything we see and hear about how the Mormon Church controls things in Utah seems to be a prime example of religious oppression. They are pushing Mormon values on people. I consider that to be un-American.
The Deseret News makes sure to mention how Mormons believe in religious tolerance, loving one another and doing the work of the Lord in kindness. But I’m pretty sure that’s not a big worry for atheists. The big problem for them isn’t anyone loving their neighbors. The big problem for them is anyone’s belief in God. Atheists despise citizens of faith as irrational and, with no small sense of irony, atheists claim higher authority to run the affairs of men and seek to disenfranchise citizens who actually believe in real Higher Authority.
LDS apostle D. Todd Christofferson remarked in the most recent General Conference, “Without [Jesus Christ’s] redemption from death and from sin, we have only a gospel of social justice.” A gospel without God is exactly atheism.
I’m not too worried about Mormons not loving their neighbors. It is our second great commandment. I’d be much more concerned about atheists loving their neighbors, especially their Mormon neighbors. I know atheists argue that man can be ethical and moral without God. My reply is to look and see how unethical and immoral man is even with God. I can’t imagine peace, love, tolerance and happiness in a godless world.
But for that sentiment, apparently, I’m un-American.
Not too long ago, the words “atheistic communism” were spoken more like one word – and there’s a reason for that. Atheism was at the heart of communism. In one Sino-Soviet bloc nation after another, all faiths (except official state religions) were banned. And not just banned – people of faith were put to death. It’s no surprise that with atheism comes a culture of death, be it Soviet-style death camps or American-style abortion. A culture of death isn’t very American.
Every person is welcome in Utah to exercise any faith or no faith. When it comes to personal choices practiced in privacy or privately in public, Utahns believe in “live and let live.” But “free to choose” isn’t a sufficient or satisfying standard for an atheistic sense of tolerance or fairness. The atheist standard for any American value centers on an equality of ideas – they demand kind of a philosophical dignity and respect. For instance, they see in their anti-faith an inherent goodness to be valued equally with my own faith. What they miss is that they don’t get to determine that value for me or anyone else. While there are no second-class citizens, there are second-class ideas and atheism is a proven second-class idea.
Atheists get little to no respect because atheism is valueless. Offering me nothing adds nothing to my life. Atheists offer me nothing. But even in America, you can offer society nothing and still have rights of speech and association. So, welcome to Utah!
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.
The above post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.
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