I have gotten hot and bothered over this "mosque" controversy in a way that, honestly, I find even surprising for myself. I've been down about anger in this blog, but I definitely found myself exclaiming "Fuck Staten Island!"
I had a surprise insight into why this issue is so important to me in an oblique way, thanks to President Obama's remarks at the White House Iftar dinner:
In my inaugural address, I said that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus--and non-believers.
Emphasis mine. One of the things that thrilled me about Obama during the Inauguration address was that statement (almost word-for-word). You'll notice us atheists at the end. And there's good reason. If you take a look at this poll, you'll see our place in American society:
America, apparently, is a little bit more comfortable electing a homosexual than a "non-believer," as Obama terms it. Muslim isn't on that list, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see them alongside us. "Godless", "Muslim", and "Socialist" are basically Fox's three favorite slurs. Beyond that, you get to "Nazi" and "Fascist."
It would be nice if Obama could call us atheist, rather than non-believers. I don't consider non-believer to be a slur per se, but I do consider it a pretty insensitive reduction of what it means to believe that there is no God.
I find myself in the most non of the nonbeliever crowd. I don't have the faint residual mysticism that some atheists have, nor do I have the dogmatic, rigorous atheism that Sam Harris (who, by the way, decided to be a dick about this "mosque" thing).
But I do look into the world with wonder, and I do have strong beliefs about where it came from and where it's going. I do have strong philosophical and moral beliefs (Pragmatism).
Atheists are as different from each other as they are are different from theists. It would be good to display a little more sensitivity to the broad range of beliefs that we hold.
If I had to answer the question "What do you believe in?" maybe I'll answer with this: