Some people are confused about the accommodationist position. Here's a good example from Janice Taylor published in The Times (London) and reproduced on RichardDawkins.net. The standard accommodationist rhetoric comes from atheists (secularists) who direct a great deal of anger toward the vocal atheists but go out of their way to excuse their religious friends.
I never thought I could utter this sentence, but I agree with the Pope. Like him I feel distaste for “aggressive forms of secularism”, although maybe I’d term it differently. I’d call it macho atheism as preached by unholy warlords.
Dawkins, Hawking, Hitchens: these male (always male) demagogues, bashing their anti-Bibles on to bestseller lists, smugly uncloaking the magician to show his act is mere incense smoke and mirrors. As if the rest of us require professors of theoretical physics or evolutionary biology in order to ponder the big questions of human existence, any more than we need a priest.
At least Christopher Hitchens, a US citizen, must maintain his thunderous volume to be heard above the American Tea Party movement’s Creationist tumult. (Although I thought it inconceivable that the mighty Hitch could ever be boring until I read his book, God is Not Great, a monotone, unreadable harangue.) But the other two are here in Britain. How are their crass insults to decent, thinking Catholics adding to a sane and necessary discussion about religion’s place in our public life?
Like the majority of British people, I have little religious faith, but the peace I feel in, say, a spartan Suffolk church connects me with my northern chapel-going ancestry. While I may not believe, the peace and quietude, the sense of something transcendent that makes my life on Earth seem at once precious and utterly insignificant, gives me sympathy towards those who do. My devout Catholic neighbour, who worked unpaid delivering babies in an African clinic, the born-again Christians who befriended my lonely aunt, even the Jamaican ladies in church hats who bring me tracts depicting in colourful line drawings the very moment the dead will rise again — they don’t make me long to assert my moral superiority or slap them round the head with Darwin.
And I’d guess the majority of my fellow heathens, those who don’t have iconoclastic non-fiction to flog, would agree. Secularism needs to stand behind the progressive movements within the Catholic Church, already challenging its policies on women, contraception, homophobia and child abuse, not run ahead of them screaming. It might concede that the Pope has a point that secular values have struggled in the past decade when morality was wholly defined by the free market.