There’s a very conservative Jewish Christian Zionist student who occasionally shares some shallow thoughts at SFU’s The Peak where I have submitted a few articles to, and he has decided that “secular progressives” are not anti-religion, they’re merely anti-Christian.
His evidence? Progressives were apparently more respectful of aboriginal beliefs at a tar-sands debate than Judeo-Christian beliefs.
As someone who may at times be called a secular progressive, meaning I want to see a better future (progressive) where religion plays less of a role in society (secular), I feel like responding to this article, but my difficulty is deciding which is the appropriate course.
First, I could deny his premise entirely. As a secular progressive, I admit that aboriginal beliefs are as erroneous as Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Zoroastrian beliefs.
Another case in point is acclaimed lecturer and 2008 Humanist-of-the-Year Dr. Christopher diCarlo who found himself in hot water after challenging the creationist belief of a First Nations student with the statement (of fact) ‘We Are African.’
Atheist have no trouble saying that all religions are equally false and are human-constructed myths to understand an intimidating unknown.
Second, I could rephrase his thesis as: why isn’t the left as racist as the right?
In terms of shit ends of the stick, North American aboriginals have been given the foulest, while white European Christians have been holding the clean end for centuries. Picking on their (admittedly false) beliefs is a bit like making fun of the kid who just got beat up on the playground for crying.
Recognizing and respecting aboriginal spirituality is more about levelling the playing field then laying blanket criticisms across all religious people. Similar to many men’s rights groups and people who wonder why we don’t have straight pride parades, we don’t really need to emphasize how much better off the privileged majority is.
Finally, I could concede that we should spend a bit more time debunking Native beliefs. Many Canadians of European decent are tempted by holistic Native healing methods for similar irrational reasons that they see traditional Chinese medicine as somehow more worthwhile than evidenced/science-based medicine.
However, this is similar to the arguments about how atheists apparently tend to not criticize Muslims (we do), and very similarly, we spend most of our time on the biggest issues in our area – which tends to be Christianity. Note how our National Anthem references God (and Christianity explicitly in the French version) but not the aboriginal cultures.
I think there is a point to be made that erroneous postmodern cultural relativism has infected far too many people, and many stand up for aboriginal prayers at city councils and in universities. But in the same way that it is wrong that the Taliban destroy non-Muslim artefacts, it is wrong for us to continue to allow thousands of years of culture to die in North America.
Despite my disapproval of the Pope, the Roman Catholic Church, and all it stands for, I would not want to see the Vatican levelled and all Bibles burned and forgotten.
tl/dr: The best way to respond to people who think we don’t pick on Natives enough: Aboriginal beliefs are wrong too, you are not being persecuted, get over yourself.