I just watched the 30 Days episode "Christian/Atheist," and it seemed clear to me why the two have so many problems. In America, we should adopt and revere a "tolerance model" when it comes to faith. Instead of fighting to maintain "In God We Trust," rather we should think more about "In humans we trust." You might think I am saying that because I am a humanist or atheist … wrong. I am a Christian, and I feel most Christians in the media represent me and the faith I ascribe to.
When people say "Christian" on TV, the connotation often follows of slapping people on foreheads and proclaiming "You're healed." Even more likely is the judgemental person with a rifle on a Jeep and wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood riding in the back. Even these aren't the only types of negative Christian stereotypes out there. There are twisted cults like that of Jim Jones in the 1970s. There are also the David Koresh images that run through the television of the American mind. It was hard for the woman on the show I watched to get beyond these pigeon-holes where atheists usually dismiss Christians. She did listen though, and luckily this non-denominational church was not as bad as some. I still thought the people were too much on the illogical side. I for one believe that Christianity is a logical stance despite the hundreds of people who have argued with me about that fact. The fact is that some of them have become Christians in varied ways.
Faith is a freedom we need to revere again. At the time of the American revolution, we fought to worship God apart from the King's "slant" on things. Perhaps we all need to remember that. The atheists should not attack the Christians for believing the way they do, and the Christians should respect the atheists for believing that when they die, they simply cease to be. I have thought for many years that stance takes more faith than Christianity. The point of this article is to show we need to stop judging one who says she/he is a Christian and/or an atheist. When we declare the USA to be a "Christian" nation, we are forgetting there are a plethora of sects in Christianity. One sect might be a healthy, well-balanced church where people are built up and live productive lives as a result. Another may be one where you are dis-fellowshipped when you show interest in dating someone outside the church walls. "Christian" is not a monolith and I might venture to say neither is atheist.
So what's my point? People … can't we all just get along? Those words of Rodney King ring out with regards to religious tolerance. I think Atheists should respect what religion has done throughout history. At the same time, Christians need to step away from their convictions and recognize that, while we are alive, we gain much more through tolerance of other faiths than we gain through supremacy and intolerance. Would tolerance require one to stop believing what one believes? Of course not, so how about we start having some more of it … in America today … across the board.