‘I maintain only that to speak of the evil of religion or to desire its abolition is, again, as simpleminded as condemning and wanting to abolish politics. [Daniel] Dennett, for example, on several occasion in Breaking the Spell proclaims his devotion to democracy, a devotion that one can assume remains largely undiminished by the knowledge that democratic governments – often in the name of protecting or promoting democracy – have waged unjust wars, incinerated villages or cities full of noncombatants, abridged civil liberties, tolerated corruption and racial inequality, lied to their citizens, aided despotic foreign regimes, or given power to evil men’.
– David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies, Yale University Press (2009), p. 13-14.
Through the rhetoric of the “New Atheists” in which distinctions are blurred and particularities made universal, Christians are called on to defend the purity of “religion” in the abstract. This, of course, is a trap. No one is loyal to “religion”, just as no one is loyal to “politics”.
The Christian is loyal to Christ, as Dennet is loyal to democracy. The former does not need to defend “religion” against the charge of violence, just as the latter isn’t require to do the same for “politics”. Furthermore, just as Dennet sees no inconsistency with remaining loyal to democracy despite the horrors it has produced; there is no inconsistency in the Christian remaining loyal to Christ while denouncing the Spanish Inquisition.
Of course, “if the analogy fails in any respect, it is only that Christianity expressly forbids the various evils that have been done by Christians, whereas democracy, in principle, forbids nothing (exception, of course, the defeat of the majorities will).”