Basically, you've got a Fox News talking head addressing the issue of how those who consider themselves "religiously unaffiliated" is rising. And to discuss this, she brings on two very-much-affiliated guests - a Baptist Pastor and a Rabbi. (I almost wrote Jewish Rabbi...heh. As opposed to the Hindu Rabbis.) The Rabbi bemoans the current state of affairs, saying that our values are "Judeo-Christian" and that it's being replaced by "liberalism" and "moral relativism." The Pastor claims that his church is growing because people from "all different religious backgrounds" are joining. Of course, he's not talking Muslims, Shintoists, and Zoroastrians - he's referring to different denominations of Christianity. The rabbi then goes on about how there's "more to life than being a good person" and you need a "relationship with God". The Pastor then claims that there's "no evolutionary explanation" for evil, and the fact that we call things evil proves God. (Insert me rolling my eyes here.)
I don't want to get all bent out of shape over these two guys because I've never even heard of them before this. I'm not sure how influential either one of them is in the first place. Also, I don't want to get into the standard atheist talking points, mainly because I've probably already gone over them in other posts and anybody who hasn't heard them yet obviously doesn't care to hear them. Instead, I want to address some of the points that I've heard made before and maybe point out the one thing that I find particularly silly about these kinds of conversations in general.
First off though, I just want to say that I find it hilarious when people of any religion go off about how atheists follow a sort of "moral relativism" (and I realize that not all of the "unaffiliated" are atheists - that category can mean all sorts of things from atheists to agnostics to agnostic theists with Christian leanings). I've gotten into this with some Christians before about how supposedly whatever I determine to be good or evil is based on my own subjective feelings, and I don't have any kind of objective way of determining that. Well, my response is that a Christian or any other theist is in no position to criticize me for that. Considering the sheer fact that you can't get two people of the same religion to even agree 100% of the time on exactly what their God thinks is good and what is evil, they're doing the SAME THING.
Look at all the divisions in the major religions of the world. They're practicing subjective morality just as much as anybody else, only they like to pretend that they aren't. At least I can honestly say that I'm the one trying to figure out what's good and what's evil, although I can gladly say that most of my fellow human beings tend to agree on a lot of those issues - this probably has much to do with the fact that we're from the same species.
Anyway, I also find the Rabbi to be ridiculous when he points out how we get our values from "Judeo-Christian" principles, and then he goes on to cite the New Testament along with the Old Testament. Now, I'm not Jewish, but I think if I was - religiously, culturally, or both - I would be doing a spit-take when he said that. Is he not aware that Judaism flat-out rejects the primary claim of the New Testament? Sure, your average Jew, just like any other person, can find bits and pieces in Christian scripture where he or she can agree. However, the basic premise - that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God who came to redeem humanity of our sins - is one that simply does not jive with the Jewish faith.
Now, if this was simply a polite difference of opinion for the past 2000 years, then I wouldn't make anything of it. However, it's this basic difference that has been the linchpin of Anti-Semitism ever since Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Jews were seen as "Christ Killers". Shoot, in the New Testament, the Gospel of John has a very clear bone to pick with the Jews, which has been used to make them out to be the boogeymen for centuries now. In other words, a lot of Jews have died over this issue.
So yes, there's a definite connection between Judaism and Christianity, but there are also some completely irreconcilable differences. Of course, the Fox News narrative is "atheists are baaaaaaad" so this would never happen, but I would have loved to ask the pastor to tell the audience, while the rabbi was listening, exactly what he believes will happen to that rabbi when he dies if he does not accept Jesus Christ before shuffling off the mortal coil. And while I don't necessarily want to assume exactly what this Pastor thinks, I know what the vast majority of Christians think will happen to him and every non-Christian out there - and it ain't a trip to Valhalla - it's straight to HELL.
Of course, the Pastor is funny when he talks about all these denominations of Christianity being welcome at his church. I bet his church is growing, and he's smart to try and tie together Baptists with Catholics, Lutherans, etc. If anything, it shows the lengths that he has to go to in order to bring up his numbers. Christianity has to evolve a bigger umbrella, as it's going to die out if it keeps being segmented into different denominations.
But hey, it's not like there has ever been any kind of violence and/or oppression among different Christian denominations though...what's that? There has been? Christians killing other Christians over differences of belief about what amounts to the same religion? Well, I never!
Still, it's amazing what you can accomplish when you ignore history and your followers are ignorant about it. Just look at how some Christians have embraced the Mormons - even Billy Graham took them off of his list of "cults" when Romney ran for President. That's okay though, Mormons are Christians and basically believe the same thing as the rest of the Christians do - you know, how Jesus came to America and Yahweh is an alien from the planet Kolob. They all believe that, right?
I guess I shouldn't complain too much. It's good to see people getting along, even if guys like the Pastor and the Rabbi are doing it to point out the nonbelievers as the enemy d'jour. Also, if anything is a sign of religion's waning influence, it's this - where various believers are ignoring their differences that have existed for centuries. If we keep this up, they're going to start including the Muslims, then the Hindus, and even the agnostics, 'cause hey, at least those Hamlets of religious commitment aren't telling you that God isn't real, right? Shoot, by the time I'm an old man, they'll include the atheists, 'cause when we get mad, we still tend to say things like "Goddammit".
For a similarly-themed article, check out what Penn Jillette has to say.