David S. T.'s Reviews > Letter to a Christian Nation

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
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's review
Mar 25, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: religion, read-in-2011
Read on March 22, 2011

There have been several points in my life where I might have been labeled a fundamentalist christian, so I've occasionally been the person this book was directed at. As I've grown older and have gotten to know people of different religious beliefs and lifestyles, I've changed and would label myself as the moderate christian this book occasionally mentions. Of course this book also singles people like me out as being enablers, I guess if someone doesn't agree with Mr. Harris's opinions then they're part of the problem. I can understand his frustration, there are some extreme religious people who think that everyone has to follow their views and will do whatever it takes to achieve it, but obviously this book takes the exact same no tolerance stance.

I guess some of my problems with the book are that the arguments are extremely one sided and are obviously there for rhetoric than actually discussions. Take for example the HPV vaccine controversy he mentions, he labels conservative Christians as the ones who prevent this from being a complete HPV eradicator because Christians are afraid that without the effects of an STI, more teenagers will have premarital intercourse. So here we are with a vaccine which can prevent the spread of these warts and the cancer it causes but the bad Christians won't allow them to continue a mass vaccination. Of course this isn't the entire story, just attempt to look at it from the Christian viewpoint, the vaccine is fairly new, there are complaints from some girls of side effects, and according to ABC news there are around 34 unconfirmed deaths from it. Now I realize (assuming that its true and not more sensationalist media garbage) that in the grand scheme of things the 34 deaths is far less than the quarter million cases of cervical cancer, but if I'm planning to be abstinent for personal or religious beliefs and don't want to get a vaccine shouldn't it be my choice? This isn't small pox, its spread by intercourse, furthermore there are risks all the time of other vaccinations such as the flu vaccine and I can make my own choice of if I get a shot or not.

Then he's mad that some Christians won't hand out condoms to Africans, should a Christian who is helping the African also be obliged to give out condoms? With the exception of the Roman Catholic Church most Christians aren't against the use of condoms, but at the same time if the Christian has a moral stance against premarital sex, then should they be required to condone it by giving out condoms? Couldn't the secularist do it instead? Or going onto Embryonic Stem Cell research, here I think you have a moral question which should be addressed regardless of religion, I mean you're fertilizing an egg and then 5 days later destroying the life. I think there are moral questions we have to discuss on this regardless of Christianity, it all goes back to the when is a human a life argument.

I could go on but I'll stop here, one thing books like this don't mention are the good qualities of Christianity, I mean do we assume that all Atheists are hateful, intolerant and arrogant because of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris? I guess growing up in the south seeing all of the programs done by Christian groups and acceptance they often give to outsiders, I see a different more loving side. All of religion isn't bad, although the extreme forms can be, we should all work towards being more tolerant and loving of our fellow man regardless of religion or lack there of. To fellow Christians we should work more towards love, 'now these three remain, faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love'.

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