Sally Quinn's Condescending Suggestion to the Faithful

In his December 19 blog post, "You too can be a spiritual dilettante," Get Religion contributor Douglas LeBlanc shared his bemusement with self-admitted atheist Sally Quinn's helpful suggestions to Newsweek/Washington Post's "On Faith" readers about interfaith dialogue. LeBlanc noted that Quinn gave her readers this assignment:

Try a new faith (or non-faith) for one day. That exploration can include attending a different place of worship or an event hosted by another faith tradition, discussing faith with someone whose views differ from your own, or inviting someone of a different faith to experience yours.

Then come back to the site and tell us about your experience. What did you learn? What surprised you? What bothered you? What would you like to know more about? How did you experience with another faith impact your understanding of or appreciation for that faith or for your own? Take a picture and share that too.

That's when LeBlanc turned on the snark, lambasting Quinn as out of touch with religious Americans who most certainly are politely engaged in theological conversations with friends, family and neighbors on a regular basis (emphasis mine):

Asking questions about another person’s spiritual experience for one whole day? Such boldness!

On Faith’s venture is, in some ways, a creative effort at reader participation, and some valuable insights may somehow emerge from the experiment. What’s so off-putting about the venture, however, is the editors’ assumption that readers are not already engaged in civil and frequent conversations with people of other faiths (or non-faiths, to use On Faith’s pedantic formula).

That may be true of editors who inveigh against people to their political and theological right, but for many others of us in daily American life, such interaction is not only inevitable but something in which we rejoice.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.