Sunday, May 06, 2007
The O Project

This past year I've been pleasantly surprised to discover how much atheistic humanists and some Christians have in common. Despite our different metaphysical beliefs we share many of the same values and moral vision for making this world a better place. I've been encouraged in my online dialogue with atheists this past year to see how much potential there is for dialogue and cooperation between progressive Christians and moderate atheists (as opposed to militant atheists or fundamentalist Christians - neither of whom see any reason or value in cooperating with the other).

Now there is a project based in Britain aimed at bringing moderates from both sides together. The O Project "champions the contributions that humanists and other atheists make to wider society and encourages good relations between atheists and religious people." However, they aren't trying to convert people to atheism; rather, the project aims to increase good relations and respect between religious and non-religious people.

Their first set of goals is the 100 100 100 initiative. It aims to:
  • First gather the names of 100 SUPPORTERS of the aims of the O Project, both humanist and religious.
  • Then get 100 BELIEVERS AND HUMANISTS engaged in dialogue.
  • Finally get 100 humanist VOLUNTEERS - taking on new voluntary work.

This is the kind of thing I have been advocating for a while - Christians and atheists in conversation and working together for (what I would call) kingdom values. I have been the first "believer" to sign my support for this project, but I hope others of you will as well.

You can also show your support by joining their Facebook group.


posted by Mike Clawson at 7:49 PM | Permalink |


At 5/07/2007 06:43:00 AM, Anonymous joshua case

Wow Mike! Thanks so much for this! I was just wrestling with this some on my blog today. And some of us were discussing it last night at Shema!Thanks for the tip!


At 5/07/2007 10:09:00 AM, Blogger jazzycat

In my effort to learn about emergent thinking, I would like to ask if you think that "progessive Christians" and "fundamentalist Christains" (your terms) can work together to make the world a better place?


At 5/07/2007 10:17:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Sure, if the fundamentalists are willing. In my experience one of the hallmarks of fundamentalism is "separatism". (I'm sure you've heard of the "three degrees of separation" where some fundamentalists won't even associate with other fundamentalists who associate with evangelicals who associate with liberals.) A lot of us emerging types have actually come from evangelical backgrounds where we were kicked out for not being "conservative" enough (as was the case in my former situation). Until that happened I was content to stay within that evangelical context and work for positive change from within.

So yeah, we're happy to work together with anyone that is willing to work with us. For instance, our church has hosted several community-wide events this past year and personally invited all the other churches in the area (including the conservative and fundamentalist ones) to join us. Unfortunately only the mainline churches took us up on the offer.


At 5/07/2007 01:06:00 PM, Blogger jazzycat

These terms get blurred to me. I am a member of the PCA Presbyterian denomination. That is Presbyterian Chruch in America... D. James Kennedy, R.C. Sproul, etc.

Would you call that fundamentalist or do you have examples of fundamentalists that would clarify your thinking?



At 5/07/2007 01:32:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

I think most PCA churches would just be considered "evangelical" churches, not necessarily fundamentalist. The truly fundamentalist churches are ones like the GARB Baptists, or all the independent, KJV-only Baptist churches in the South. Other groups like some Churches of Christ, or the Missouri Synod Lutherans often have separatist fundamentalist tendencies as well.

Think of it in terms of schools. If your church endorses schools like Bob Jones University, Pensacola Bible College, or Word of Life Bible Institute then they're probably fundamentalist. If they endorse places like Wheaton, Calvin, Biola, Bethel, Gordon, etc. then they're probably evangelical. (And then there are those "borderline" places like Moody, Cedarville or Liberty that could go either way.)

Another way to tell if a church is fundamentalist: do they have Sword of the Lord newsletters or Chick Tracts in the lobby?

But as you said, the lines are blurry.


At 5/09/2007 12:24:00 PM, Anonymous Hamish

Mike, thanks for the post and for your support. I feel inspired everytime I find someone else who can see beyond the religious/non-religious divide. It's a divide that seems to preoccupy too many people on both 'sides' while, as far as I'm concerned, there's simply too much work to be done that we can afford to ever say 'we don't need your help'.

You'll be pleased to know I have a British Christian supporter now!
Ther O Project


At 5/09/2007 06:03:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey Hamish, thanks for stopping by. I totally agree. There is too much suffering and injustice in the world for people who are concerned about it to waste time fighting each other over differing metaphysical beliefs.

Good luck in your efforts. Let me know what else I can do.



At 5/10/2007 01:09:00 AM, Blogger Sacred Slut

There is too much suffering and injustice in the world for people who are concerned about it to waste time fighting each other over differing metaphysical beliefs.
Agreed. The problem is that the metaphysical beliefs tend to influence policies. I can't support an organization whose religious beliefs restrict access to birth control for poor women, for example.

I would be in favor of humanist endeavors that are religion-neutral. "Don't ask, don't tell, just do good" might be a good policy.


At 5/10/2007 04:40:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey SS,

I don't support those organizations either... but note that it's not "metaphysical beliefs" in general that are the problem, but what the specific beliefs are and what they lead us to do or not do in the world that is truly important.

For instance the metaphysical beliefs of my own faith community have led us to do kinds of things I listed here. You can decide for yourself whether you think they are good things or not. Likewise the metaphysical beliefs of many humanists/atheists (e.g. that this world is all there is and this life is all we get so we'd better make the best of it) very often leads them to the kind of humanitarian activities that Hamish is encouraging.


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