For a long time, I've been an advocate of trying to find common ground with fellow theists. Mormons, jews, hindus, certainly protestants... really, anyone of sincere (mono)theistic faith. I have also been, despite being at times argument-prone, a big believer in trying to make common cause with liberal Christians in particular - especially where secularism and atheism are concerned. I've denounced the habit of, say... conservative protestants opening rhetorical fire on conservative Catholics and vice versa, and I've likewise rejected conservative Christians casting off liberal Christians as non-believers, as heretics, or worse - as enemies. I have liberal Christians on my small blogroll, and I have for years been a regular at Victor Reppert's website, despite Victor trending rather left-wing (at least in terms of economics.)
In short, I have generally and consciously tried to be fair-minded with fellow, sincere theists. I've had political disagreements, but in order to get me to out and out be hostile towards a theist, I either have to get the sense that they are loyal to their political party/wing first and foremost (which is a great way to get shitlisted with me, even if you're conservative), or that they ultimately regard me - and by extension, socially and/or politically conservative Christians - as an enemy. While I've gotten that feeling at times, there have been other times where I did not - such complexities are inevitable. But the point is, I always tried to give self-described liberal Christians the benefit of the doubt. We were, after all, ultimately on the same side - weren't we? Surely we could respect each other, and work out our differences when we paid attention to them, and put them aside otherwise - right?
I can no longer maintain that belief.
This has been bothering me for a long time, and I wish I could find the quote I'm about to tell you about - but for now, I'll have to be vague. I recall Richard Dawkins being asked why he was so hard on religion, period, when there were all these liberal Christians out there who basically was on his side with regards to so many things - social issues, etc. What Dawkins said in reply was that, while that was true, he saw religious belief, period, as the problem - and that by regarding liberal Christians as somehow rational and acceptable in their beliefs, he would be at the same time lending support to the beliefs that ultimately sustained the wicked and terrible conservative Christians. So, he was no longer going to differentiate between the liberal Christian and the conservative on that front - better to strike at the source and do the most damage to the conservative ones.
What's key there - what you really have to pay attention to, though obviously this is being reported to you second-hand - is that Dawkins was actually explaining a kind of schism. Liberal Christians and atheists were, up until the rise of the New Atheists, actually *allies*. They both tended to be social and political liberals. They both saw conservative Christians as their enemies. And they both covered each other's backs - the atheists would talk about how the liberal Christians were 'the good ones', and the liberals would denounce any conservative criticism of non-belief and insist that atheists were quite morally upstanding and righteous. But the atheists have broken that pact, leading liberal Christians to be cast out as favored exceptions to religious criticism.
You can actually see this if you look at liberal religious believers in their interactions with the Cult of Gnu leadership. There's usually this sense of... 'But look at me, Richard/Sam/Christopher! I don't believe in all that hokey stuff. I attack the creationists too! I support gay marriage!' at one point or another in the interview, and it always comes with this subtext - "See? Aren't I one of the *good* ones?"
And then they wait for the pat on the head, that token of acknowledgement, that scrap that at the very least they're not AS BAD as the conservative Christians. But that's thin gruel. They don't want to merely be 'not as bad'. They want to be good - they want to be told that they are smart, and nice, and kind, and progressive, and their ideas aren't a complete load of shit. That, unfortunately for them, is less on offer nowadays.
So, now we're starting to see more and more liberal Christians get a bit fiery towards the Cult of Gnu. I've welcomed that because, hey - the Gnus deserve all the criticism they can get. But lately, whenever I see these criticisms, I am forced to ask where they're springing from. And I can't help but think what motivates a good chunk of liberal Christians isn't a dislike of militant atheism - but a feeling of betrayal. Gnu Atheism is unacceptable because the Cult of Gnu wouldn't give them a place at the table. If the gnus were to turn around and say that liberal Christian belief was just dandy, but it was those evil conservative Christians who were the rotten ones? They'd change their tune, collectively, in a heartbeat.
I think some - perhaps most - of them still hold out hope for a change of tune. And I have little desire to find common cause with someone who is, let me be frank, only holding back from spitting in my and others' faces as much as they used to for purely pragmatic reasons.
I am tired of playing down the fact that liberal Christians, moment for moment, seem vastly more concerned with seeking out and finding any church that dares not promote women to the position of clergy and pastors, and - while their own churches rot and decline - talking openly about how they plan and agitate to pressure and force change on those fronts.
I am tired of seeing people shit on because they're young earthers or even ID proponents. I am tired of seeing atheists treated as great and decent people, but mormons are mocked and belittled because there is a sense that mormon culture is collectively on the wrong side of the political divide.
I am tired of watching one liberal Christian after another bend over backwards to defend not only forcing Christian small businesses to serve at gay weddings, but doing so even with full knowledge that LGBT activists at times target these businesses purely out of spite.
I am, in short, tired of pretending that the person who wishes cultural genocide on me, and who is shamelessly willing to turn to force of law to accomplish exactly this, is anything but an intellectual enemy.
This isn't to say I now think every liberal Christian is some kind of enemy. That's not true. But I'm not completely fucking blind to political and cultural realities. The fact is, for many - perhaps most - liberal Christians, it's better to have a conservative Christian become an atheist than retain their faith in God or Christ, and thus retain their dreaded belief that same-sex sexual behavior is wrong, that women cannot be priests, or that aborting your child is a moral 'don't'.
Whatever God demands that kind of devotion is not a God I recognize.