Greta Christina and Bishop Robinson aren’t a “we” here
Atheist Greta Christina is critical of gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson’s book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage. She says religious arguments have no place in public discourse because they’re unfounded, unverifiable, and dangerously immune to factual correction.
If Gene Robinson were a politician, I’d agree! But he’s not a politician governing a secular republic, he’s a Christian trying to persuade other Christians. Hell, even Christina reports that it’s mostly a secular case for same-sex marriage with a half-assed religious veneer. In her blog’s comments Christina writes:
jamessweet @ #1, and others: I agree that the purpose of this sort of argument, whether consciously or unconsciously, is to give believers a religious rationalization for a position that they know, for secular reasons, is probably right. But… well, actually, that’s sort of my point. I don’t want religious rationalizations to be part of political discourse. You can provide religious rationalizations for anything.
But it’s not general political discourse. It’s intra-Christian discourse, so of course God and the Bible will be involved. There is no alternative except to demand Christians stop talking about God with each other, and dropping everything until we’re all atheists is a bad strategy. When Christina says things like,
When we base our decisions on what we think God wants…why should we even pay attention to the Bible in the first place?…But when we make a religious case for same-sex marriage — heck, when we make a religious case for any matter of public policy — we’re conceding that public policy should be based on religion.
I think she’s misunderstanding or misrepresenting Bishop Robinson’s position. Robinson isn’t in Christina’s “we” here. No one’s suggesting that atheists make religious arguments–that would indeed be dishonest and counterproductive. But I see little harm in Christians couching equality in religious terms to persuade other Christians.