This really doesn't have much to do with politics, but it did get me thinking. Earlier today I was perusing the City Pages' Letters to the Editor
section, and found a response to the article they did on Michelle Bachman a couple of weeks ago. It's the letter that says "Interesting, the Christian bashing. I don't ever seem to read an article by you liberals discussing the extreme pagan lifestyle of someone. Oh, that's right, those extreme pagan views are yours, too."
Now, I'm probably one of those "extreme pagans" the letter writer is referring to, since I am one of those agnostic non-believers. Hearing this kind of sentiment is pretty common, and it always puzzles me.
I can understand where it comes from: a lot of self-described religious people have huge issues with our modern culture. The materialism, the sexualization, the violence, the appeals to the lowest common denominator...they don't like it and they feel that they are fighting a battle to keep it out of their lives, especially the lives of their children. The problem, however, stems from their belief that people with opposite views from them ("pagans", us atheists, etc.) must logically have the opposite view of culture too: the heathens must love this culture.
For the most part, that just isn't true. I also detest the materialism, sexualization, violence, and shallowness of culture. I tend to ignore it and live what I consider to be a pretty stand-up life, even for an atheist: I don't lie, I don't cheat, I don't diddle interns or pages, I don't abuse anybody, I don't drink and drive and hurt or kill people, I don't swindle, and I try to be humble. If I get too much change back at a store I give it back. I help out people whenever I can. True, I have some "crazy" ideas like thinking that homosexuals are perfectly okay people and should be allowed some legal benefits with their long-term partners, for example. But that stuff really doesn't matter; my thoughts on gay marriage have almost zero impact on my daily life and how I interact with others. If your car gets stuck in the snow in front of my house, do you care what I think about legalizing drugs or do you care that I will get out and push your car?
The flip side of this is that even if heathens were full-blow supporters of our American culture, there are too few of us to be able to support it. Atheists make up what? Three, four percent of the population? Do you think that TV shows and movies and clothing designers and stores cater to the wallets of less than one twentieth of the population? Of course not. Our culture is one of capitalism, and that means that we will get the culture we pay for. Since the majority of this country is Christian, it is only logical that this means a large chunk of Christians, perhaps even a majority, in some way support our culture through the purchasing decisions they make.
So perhaps people like Gail should take a closer look. Maybe the people who hate things like "Wife Swap" are liberal pagans like myself, while the religious watchers of those shows are just that: religious Christians. There are lots of atheists and heathens out there who lead saintly lives, and lots of self-described "Christians" who have no problems lying and cheating to get what they want. Nobody has a monopoly on morality, and even people who don't believe in the New Testament Christian God can tell right from wrong.