Dear Bishop Welby
Congratulations on your being appointed the new Archbishop of Canterbury. I hope you run the Church of England with wisdom and tolerance. I understand that you favour the ordination of women bishops, are in favour of gay marriages, but also don’t want to ride roughshod over the feelings of the old guard. Tricky!
I have an odd request. Can you please consider the position of atheists like me? I guess your first response might be… why? Well, it seems you are a tolerance man, and presumably respect religious convictions of those who are not in the Church of England, where they don’t directly contradict the teachings of the C of E or the laws of the state. Can you do the same for those of us who have thought about believing in something for which there is no or little proof, and have decided that we can be good without a God. The UK is a secular state, although the Queen is the Head of the Church of England. I don’t mind that- but I am comfortable with where I am in my beliefs or lack of beliefs and do not want to be converted, or to have my life ruled by those who choose to believe in a supreme being and the teachings that fall from that.
I will continue to pay my taxes, I do not call for the disestablishment of the Church of England, and I will continue to love my friends and family, and allow them to decide what they want to believe in religion-wise. However I do not want to be continually treated as some kind of pariah because I do not believe that we are re-born, go to heaven, or whatever, after we die. I won’t even go anywhere near arguing with organised religion is a force for good or bad; totting up the many wonderful things churches have done against the many wars, genocide, torture and intolerances practiced in the name of religion.
All I ask is that you respect my view that I think you are wrong in your beliefs, and that I want to live my life with love, respect and tolerance, but outside of any religious beliefs. I am an atheist and will give my views if asked, without trying to convert anyone to my atheistic views.
Will you please confirm that you neither pity me nor wish to try to persuade me that you are right and that I am wrong? I just want to get on with my life. By all means tend to your flock, but I have no wish to be one of them.
We have many aspirations that I think are probably similar. Kindness, compassion, tolerance and the desire to do good being among them.
Best wishes for you and those in your religion.