As a devout agnostic, I have to say that one of the most annoying types of devout peoples are the evangelicals. Their confidence — some might say arrogance — in the absolute rightness of their beliefs chafes at me, especially when they are so absolutely in-your-face about it as they try to convince you that theirs is the One True Way.
I’ve gotten through life with a laissez-faire attitude towards religion. I don’t ascribe to any system of belief, but I have no trouble with those that do. The only time I am openly hostile to them is when they make a point of trying to proselytize to me, to preach to me. That’s when I show that my agnosticism is not based on ignorance; I have a sizable arsenal of very uncomfortable truths and facts about most religions that I normally keep to myself. But that courtesy goes right out the window when push comes to shove.
That’s why I found this article about the Archbishop of Canterbury — the head of the Anglican Church — quite comforting. He is reaching out to Muslims by acknowledging that large portions of Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims, and is trying to downplay them. He’s also trying to minimize his church’s political influence, as well as apologizing for past transgressions.
Now that’s the kind of religious leader I like: he has his beliefs, but if I don’t like them, that’s OK with him. In fact, if I don’t like them, he’ll go to great lengths to keep me from even being exposed to his beliefs, just on the off chance that I might be offended.
OK, all sarcasm aside, I have a question for Archbishop Williams: if you don’t believe that your Church is the best way for Man to come closer to God, then why the hell are you a member of it, let alone its head?
I’ve said before that I have major problems with the Catholic Church. Its history has a healthy portion of shameful deeds and disgraceful behavior. I have major problems with much of its present doctrine. And I thought that its conduct during the pedophile priest scandal should have led to some RICO investigations and indictments.
But all that aside, I have a gread deal of respect for the current Pope. He has never shown anything but respect for other faiths, but his core beliefs — that his Church is the One True Faith, at least equal to all others — are reflected in his deeds. He practices tolerance, in the truest sense of the word, but there is never any question that he believes that his faith is at least equal and most likely superior to all others, and he makes no compromises with its tenets.
And that is how it should be. If anyone should expected to be a bit of a zealot, a religious supremacist, a fearless advocate of a religion, it should be the head of that church. How can you expect a rank-and-file member of a faith to be stronger in their beliefs than the guy in charge?
What Archbishop Williams is exemplifying is not tolerance. It is not love. It is not faith.
It is cowardice. Cowardice disguised as courage, gussied up as “respect.”
And precisely the last thing a Church needs in its chief Defender Of The Faith.