Friday, 15 October 2010

Interfaith dialogue for atheists?

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Keith Kahn-Harris, who writes for us from time to time, has a piece on Comment is Free in which he argues that humanists and atheists should play a more active role in interfaith dialogue, with plenty to be gained for all sides. He takes the example of the recent Papal Visit, and wonders how it might have different against backdrop of greater dialogue between believers and non-believers:
"If there were more established relations between prominent atheists and Catholic leaders, who knows how the papal visit might have gone? If there were established channels to communicate how disturbing many non-Catholics find, for example, the church's attitude to Aids in Africa, then there would be less need to shout them from the rooftops. In fact, if there was a more civil conversation then the many Catholics who are opposed to the church's teachings on contraception could be heard more prominently. Embattled religious groups tend to turn in on themselves, strengthening fundamentalist forces. Maybe a Catholic church that didn't see itself as at war with atheism would be a Catholic church within which liberal forces could rise."
 What do you make of this? Is Kahn-Harris right, or is interfaith dialogue the last thing atheists should be getting involved with?
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