Whereas non-belief is portrayed as a weak and limp position. Belief in... well anything... is better than belief in nothing. Here are two quotes from one of those conversations:
"It takes a whole lot of guts to have faith in something. All it takes to believe in nothing is...well...nothing. I'll take faith, thank you."and
"When something is a proven fact, then it's not believing, it's knowing. Knowing, in my opinion, doesn't take as much balls as believing."As I have stated in times past, these assertions are very disingenuous. Faith and Belief are only stated in such universal terms when the believer is confronting an atheist. When the believer is speaking to someone of another faith, the "other" faith is usually of little value, if not downright dangerous.
As many of you know, I was a Christian for nearly 30 years. For the past 10 years I have lived in Salt Lake City - the heart of Mormon country. If faith is of value, then Mormons must be getting a lot of respect and admiration from their fellow believers of different traditions because they are a VERY faithful people.
But no... When I traveled in Christian circles, I rarely heard Mormons spoken of in positive terms. In bible studies the Mormon scriptures were laughed at. From the pulpit, pastors would warn their congregations of Mormon practices. Classes would be given about how to confront Mormon doctrine. Parents would worry about their children being surrounded by so many Mormons.
My wife and I sat through a bible study once as one woman told the group how she was witnessing to a Mormon neighbor about Jesus. "Her husband is not happy about her questioning her faith, but she is slowly coming around!" When my wife and I questioned whether her efforts were causing harm to the marriage and the children, she looked taken aback. She explained that if the friend had to choose between her family and Jesus... the choice was clear. So much for faith being a good thing - the folks of my faith were willing to destroy a family to "rescue" this woman from her faith.
Billy Graham's website had to be scrubbed last year when Franklin put his support behind Mitt Romney for president. It seems their ministry had plenty of disparaging things to say about Mormons prior to having need of one politically. Faith's value is negotiable.
In truth, most believers have no more respect for faith than I do. They find the faith of the "other" to be problematic, wrong, harmful, or silly. Faith is only ballsy and gutsy when it is their own.
Unless, like Franklin Graham, they have a temporary need of that other... then they will scrub their language and attitudes for the moment. When they speak to me, they will speak of faith as if it were one big happy monolith that I unfortunately am not taking part in. When I leave, things go back to normal. They will stand against - or roll their eyes at - the Catholic, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Mormon.
- while being offended that I will not give their faith the respect they believe it deserves.