|God reportedly loves gays.|
When an atheist on Twitter promotes a religious billboard, I take notice. So it was that a tweet from @Godless_Mom alerted me to a billboard project in Topeka, Kansas. Topeka is home to Westboro Baptist Church, the infamous organization that for years has pursued a campaign of hatred against gays. In response to WBC, Dustin Lake of California will be erecting a gay-friendly billboard in Topeka. Lake has already raised over $50,000, enough to fund the project. With 45 days to go, he’s going to raise enough money for additional publicity and good works. In the spirit of cooperation, I pitched in with my pledge, tweeted a tweet of my own and am now pitching this project to you on my blog.
Here’s the link to the God Loves Gays Indiegogo campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/god-loves-gays-billboard-project
Atheists are split as to whether they should partner with religious groups to do good in the world. In Faitheist, Chris Stedman encourages his fellow atheists to find common ground with liberal religious groups to work for important causes, such as religious liberty. In Breaking the Spell, however, Daniel Dennett suggests that any positive involvement with religion might implicitly strengthen the position of religious extremists. He proposes that we work for a better world strictly through secular organizations. For my part, I’d like atheists to be at least as reasonable and open-minded as religious people are, and if religious people can work together across the barriers of dogma and creed, then maybe those of use with nor dogma or creed can find it in our hearts to do the same.
As an atheist, how can I justify donating money to support a religious billboard? If I think the statement is false, how can I endorse it? My answer is that the statement “God loves gays” is true, just not literally true. It’s figuratively true or poetically true. It’s an emphatic way of saying, “Gays are natural” or “Homosexuality is the result of evolution, as is heterosexuality.” Some of my fellow atheists will hasten to differ, but as for me I’d rather think up reasons to support this effort than think up reasons to oppose it. The haters of Westboro Baptist Church say that heterosexuality came from one entity (God) and homosexuality from a different one (Satan). I say that both heterosexuality and homosexuality came from the same creator: evolution.
For me, the fundamental divide between worldviews today is not about faith versus science but about parochialism versus universalism. You could call it provincialism versus cosmopolitanism, or local versus global, or One True Way versus diversity. By default, people take the parochial view, that their way of doing things is the right way. Each of us seems to be at the center of our world, and it seems natural to each of us to judge the rest of the world by our own measures. The great promise of the modern world, however, is that we can each rise above our particular perspectives to achieve an inclusive, global worldview. I’m happy to work with people who are trying to make the world more inclusive, even if they don’t answer certain metaphysical questions the same way I do.