The arguments about the current pope's interpretations of Jesus' true teachings is convincing me that an atheist has a better chance of hearing him with clarity.
The question is why. Why do I come to this conclusion?
I think it's because when I apply this pope's words, most of the atheists I know are better Christians than many of the Christians I know.
Being that an atheist can follow Jesus' teachings without worshipping him as a deity, maybe I should become an atheist. No one, including me, can prove me right or wrong.
My first reason is by dispensing with the current perverted form of "Christianity in America," I can see right from wrong with a great deal more clarity. My innate human ability for compassion and empathy are not clouded by moral distortions from the iron age. For instance, I wouldn't think of stoning my neighbor to death if he worked on the Sabbath.
Second, contrary to fundamentalist Christian theology, I don't accept the "proofs" of God's existence offered in the Bible. I think the Bible is an inspiring, human document, but not the literal "word of God." It is so inconsistent, it can't even prove its own morality.
Third, I don't believe humankind is condemned by the doctrine of original sin but in need of and inherently capable of improvement, placing full responsibility on us and not our sinful origins.
Fourth, I believe the development of character is more important than accepting of religious creeds, placing the responsibility for same squarely on each person's shoulders and not in an ancient book.
Fifth, I believe the purpose of religion is to help us live our lives well, rather than to emphasize the preparation for an afterlife. In other words, live this life well and the afterlife will take care of itself.
By the way, the above 5 reasons are all Unitarian Universalist principles.
To be clear, I'm not anti-religious, I believe they are our tiny pen lights of consciousness trying to illuminate an auditorium full of wonders. And contrary to Oprah's pronouncements, atheists can be in awe of the universe's wonders without believing in God.
But most importantly, I find the current state of extreme right American Christianity (about 30 percent of Christians) to be so perfunctory and destructive in public life as to make me want to distance myself from it as much as possible: Perfunctory because it is practiced by people who automatically accept it without questioning. Destructive because unconscious acceptance allows it to be harmful to so many other human beings.
And even though atheists are their current target of choice, we're all being affected by the Christian right's incursion into our politics and consequently our government. From their attempts to replace science with religion to their condemnation of anyone who doesn't agree with their exclusionary form of Pauline Christianity.
Now as Pope Francis tries to make real Christians out of fake Christians, those who object the loudest, have the most to lose. I mean, those who are the furthest away from the messages Jesus taught his followers, i.e., the extreme right fundamentalist Christians whose goal it is to establish dominion in America are being thwarted by his message.
It's fascinating to me how these people, for instance, Justice Scalia can believe atheism "favors the devils desires" apparently ignoring how the actions of the fundamentalist Christian right cause so much pain and suffering to whole segments of our society.