I have been observing the ex-Christian movement with interest. These folks are atheists and proud of it.
A popular religious blog is Ex-Christian.Net that encourages ex-Christians. I found there The Gospel Story Quiz. Take it and see how smart you are!
Sam Harris is one of the current intellectual figures of this movement. He wrote The End of Faith and then Letter to a Christian Nation to respond to the letters he received regarding The End of Faith from angry God believers. Here is an excerpt from Letter to a Christian Nation:
Forty-four percent of the American population is convinced that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years. According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry here on earth. It is, therefore, not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were suddenly replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that
is ever going to happen was about to happen—the return of Christ. It should be blindingly obvious that beliefs of this sort will do little to help us create a durable future for ourselves—socially, economically, environmentally, or geopolitically. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government actually believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this, purely on the basis of religious dogma, should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.The book you are about to read is my response to this emergency...(link)
Having done my own share of dealing with fundamentalists in my ministry and on this blog, I have considered becoming an ex-Christian myself. Harris does not think that religious liberals or moderates have a better answer than the fundamentalists. This passage from the opening pages of The End of Faith puts us liberals in our place:
This is a good book for liberals, progressives, moderates, post-modernists, emergents, or whatever else we might call ourselves. I have been calling on my colleagues to tell the truth about religion for some time now. This is why I have affiliated with the Jesus Seminar. Tell the truth: is the virgin birth history or myth? Is Resurrection history or myth? Are the Gospels fiction or history? Is the Bible written by human beings or God? Was Jesus some supernatural figure or a human being? Is "God" in the Bible a literary fiction or an actual being?
While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence. From the perspective of those seeking to live by the letter of the texts, the religious moderate is nothing more than a failed fundamentalist. He is, in all likelihood, going to wind up in hell with the rest of the unbelievers. The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism. We cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief; we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don’t like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-too-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God. Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance—and it has no bona fides, in religious terms, to put it on a par with fundamentalism. The texts themselves are unequivocal: they are perfect in all their parts. By their light, religious moderation appears to be nothing more than an unwillingness to fully submit to God’s law. By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally. Unless the core dogmas of faith are called into question—i.e., that we know there is a God, and that we know what he wants from us—religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out of the wilderness. (link)
I think the reason fundamentalists have hijacked our nation and the church is because liberal and moderate ministers have been too wimpy to tell the truth to their congregants. We have become a nation of religious illiterates. What you don't know about religion can and will be used against you. I understand why moderate and liberal clergy are afraid to say what they really think. It is no picnic to deal with fundamentalist wrath. But somebody has to deal with it or we could be headed for a theocracy.
I disagree with Sam Harris in regards to many things in his book. I consider myself a Christian and I think there is a place for the liberal or moderate voice in Christianity. But that voice needs to be honest with itself about what it believes and what it no longer can believe. Perhaps Harris and the ex-Christian movement can wake us up.