Christians often complain of a prejudicial hostility toward their views. Often the perception is borne of an unjustified martyr complex. Consider, for example, the so-called “War on Christmas.” But at other times, Christians are indeed subject of an unjust hostility and prejudice.
Consider, for example, the notion of communal boundaries. In most any context it is a truism that paid representatives of a formal institution are obliged to accept and certainly not to vocally denigrate the core commitments of the institution. This is simply what we call a no-brainer.
Let’s consider a couple examples. To begin with, if you are a representative of the American Humanist Association you cannot believe that human beings are only of value because they are made in God’s image. Consequently, if you begin to promote that theological account of human value, the organization will be wholly within their rights to remove you from your office. Indeed, they will not be merely within their rights to do so. They will be required to do so because you will be actively promoting views contrary to the organization.
And if you are a representative of American Atheists you cannot believe that atheists should be deprived of their civil rights qua atheism. Thus, if you begin to promote the idea that commercial establishments ought to be free to refuse service to atheists simply because of their atheism, the organization will be wholly within their rights to remove you from your office. Indeed, once again, they will be required to do so.
And this brings me to the United Church of Canada. The most recent centering theological statement of this denomination is found in the 2006 declaration “A Song of Faith“. It begins, “Grateful for God’s loving action, we cannot keep from singing…” and then it proceeds to describe God who is “one and triune”:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We also speak of God as
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer
God, Christ, and Spirit
Mother, Friend, and Comforter
Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love,
The text also attributes several actions of creation and redemption to God. The entire document is not only theocentric, it is saturated in language of God and his/her/their action in the world.
This brings me to Gretta Vosper who is adamant that no such being as is described in the 2006 “Song of Life” exists. Vosper’s rejection of the core doctrinal commitments of the United Church of Canada is exactly as bald and affrontive as the secular humanist who attributes human value to God or the American atheist who denies civil rights to atheists.
Despite all this, in his comments in response to my article “Is the Christian minister Gretta Vosper being persecuted just because she’s an atheist?” logical question (aka Ed Babinski) directly challenged me for siding with the theists in the United Church over Gretta Vosper. For example, he wrote:
“For a tentative apologist you quickly come to some very clear cut decisions with people’s jobs and lives based on what they believe or don’t believe.”
Ed also received the support of The Atheist Missionary, and no doubt others as well.
Well Ed, some issues are clear cut, and yes, paid representatives of formal institutions actually do need to adhere to particular beliefs. The American Humanist Association and American Atheists are allowed to define their own core commitments and to censure representatives who deny those core commitments. Indeed, they are obliged to do so.
I will charitably assume that Ed recognizes that much is a no-brainer. So the fact that he refuses to extend the same privilege to the United Church of Canada looks like nothing more than bald anti-Christian bias.