A recent blog post on Patheos caught my attention the other day. It concerns the well known anti-Christian speaker and author Richard Dawkins. Dawkins has made a name for himself largely by his popular books attacking Christianity.
Recently, his scheduled appearance at an event sponsored by a Berkeley radio station was cancelled–not because of a critical attitude to Christianity but because of his criticisms of Islam.
In this case, it was not the Christians who protested, but Dawkins himself. “Why,” he responded, “is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?”
That’s a good question, and the author of the blog suggests a couple of answers. I agree, in part, with the author’s suggestions, but I think he misses at least one important point, which is simply this: few of us, maybe none of us, are completely impartial when it comes to making judgments. That is, we either oppose certain things or support freedom of speech when our own perceptions or biases are not challenged. But it takes a special kind of person to be consistent, to graciously grant freedom of speech regardless of how it affects or disturbs us personally.
For example, if we are anti-Christian, we may congratulate ourselves for our high principles in allowing freedom of speech to criticise religion; but might we be quick to condemn Christians for criticising, say, homosexuals. Why is the one group bigoted and not the other? Or, Christians may be incensed at anti-Christians books and speeches, some of which may contain information that is actually false. But how quick are some Christians to criticise, say, Mormons, with little regards for determining the truth of their statements? One could multiply examples.
There will always be critics of everything. Let’s endeavour to be consistent and careful in whatever we choose to say.