Daniel Fickne, an atheism blogger at Patheos, has written a hearty criticism of extreme elements within the atheist community who have opposed the creation of a Holocaust memorial in Ohio on account that it includes the Star of David. Hard to believe that such a defense is necessary, it is good to see atheists policing one of their own, so to speak, in the interest of, well, let’s listen to Fickne’s own words:
But I am aghast, livid, embarrassed, ashamed, and offended to report to you that Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation has written a letter opposing this memorial under the false charge that it is exclusionary and violates the principle of the Separation of Church and State simply because it features the Star of David on government property and (only allegedly but not actually) omits other victims of the Holocaust…. n doing so they show an outright offensive inability to understand the multivalence of symbols and their different meanings in different contexts….
This monument is not an endorsement of the Jewish religion. It is an endorsement of the right to exist and thrive and prosper of one of the groups of people most heinously and relentlessly demonized and abused in all the world. That Star of David in this context is a symbol of the longest fighters for religious freedom, the people who endured in defiance of Christian theocracy (both formal and informal), the people who represent defiance against unbearable efforts towards marginalization like no one else in the European mind.
Assuredly a Holocaust memorial ought not be opposed on “separation of church and state” grounds; there are many legitimate state interests in publicly opposing genocide and reminding the public that such atrocities must never happen again. And it surely is good to oppose an Orange-hued (i.e., modernist) atheism which hews to overly reductionist readings of religious symbolism. But it is notable that Fickne cites the “multivalence of symbols”, a perennial Green observation, without noticing the fact that Teal gets so readily: symbols are not merely multivalent in a way that means all symbols are almost arbitrarily assessed, but symbols are perceived differently across a spectrum of levels of consciousness.
The real news here is not that a Green-speaking atheist opposes Orange-speaking atheists, but that the clash of levels of consciousness in the public sphere continues day after day without nigh a mention by the media. Atheists need more thinkers who not only see the multivalence of symbols, allowing them to respect differences of opinion with religionists, but thinkers who understand that symbols are embedded in evolutionary contexts of emerging wholeness and reconciliation. In this way, atheists might just move beyond not only beyond the theism but beyond the a-; beyond the antithesis which rejects the thesis of theism into a synthesis which understands things just a bit more holistically.
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