My daughter is going to college next year and I am anxious, not because I think she can be swayed from her faith or that she might imbibe ideas that are detrimental to her moral upbringing, she won’t. What makes me anxious is the experience I have had with atheists on-line. There are a growing number of twenty-somethings who are militantly atheistic. Not the kind I wanted to be when I was in high school or early college where professing this nonsense stemmed out of some desire to be cool and to dare-to-be-different. Those things fade as with any trend or fad but not the ones I have been encountering on-line. These people are more organized, more purposeful and also more vulgar and vicious. The kind of militancy we used to see from leftist student activists taking to the streets against social injustice is now used in advocating anti-religious sentiments and in particular, that Catholicism is bad, mean, cruel and a myth. These college-aged, philosophy greenhorns make no reservations to lie, fabricate and use vulgar language in their arguments and they are found in many of our Catholic universities.
The reason for my anxiety is therefor this; that these people, whom my daughter will eventually meet, lack the decency, civility and reasonableness that one might expect from privileged and educated individuals. How can you teach your child to do what 1Peter 3:15-16 says; “being ready always to satisfy every one that asks you a reason of that hope which is in you. But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” when there is no decency nor reasonableness in their demeanor? My daughter is equipped to argue and discuss her faith but only with those who sincerely and honestly want an intelligent and civil exchange.
I engaged one of these types in a forum about a piece he wrote last October 31. The CBCP (Philippine Bishops Conference) came out with a statement exhorting Catholics to celebrate the eve of All Saints Day within a Christian perspective and not in the usual way of revering ghouls, witches and monsters which they said was anti-Christian. The Monsignor had a point and while most people dress up for fun, there are those who go overboard and completely forget what the eve of all-saints is really all about. It was a succinct and short exhortation directed to Catholics and yet this fellow found it “offensive” enough to write a satire on it. He calls the Bishop a hypocrite for believing, what he says are the myths and lore of miracles. His article poked fun at martyred saints and suggested that Catholics dress up like them as way of celebrating hallows eve. The discussion can be found here.
I said I didn’t mind his poking some fun at what he perceives to be myths and lore in the lives of martyred saints, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What I did mind was his erroneous attack on the Monsignor by calling him a hypocrite. A hypocrite, I said, is someone who acts in a way contrary what he believes in or advocates. I mentioned that the bishop believes in miracles and miraculous cures and actually exhorts Catholics to act like Catholics therefor he is in fact sincere and not a hypocrite. All hell broke loose from two of their members who started attacking the church bringing up things like the Vatican-German concordat of 1933 …(really he did) and one actually started verbally abusing me.
Long story short, I didn’t wish to continue with the exchange but not before I told them that they should re-think calling themselves Free-Thinkers because of their dogmatic and intolerance to people who disagree with them. My daughter read most of the exchange and nonchalantly told me that she had been in a few arguments in a forum she joined and that the pattern of verbal abuse by atheists who attack Christianity are all the same …and they say that Christianity is bad, mean and cruel …go figure!