In my experience, Christian fundamentalists view themselves as more moral than those who are not religious. In fact, in many cases, it seems that Christian fundamentalists believe that they have adopted a high moral standard and that non-religious people live by no moral standards at all (hence their frequent references to terms such as "anarchy" and "moral relativism"). But here's where it gets interesting -- it seems to me that not only do Christian fundamentalists believe this about themselves -- they believe that other people (i.e. non-religious people) also share this same view (that Christian fundamentalists live by a higher standard and that non-religious people have no moral standards).
I'm here to dissuade them of their smug self-assurance.
In fact, as I showed in my earlier post, "Why Secular Society Makes Better Moral Decisions than Organized Religion" not only does secular society have a moral code, on the three biggest moral issues over the last 200 years -- slavery, equal rights for women, and equal rights for people who are LGBT -- secular society has displayed a HIGHER moral code than traditional fundamentalist religious society. What is more, in my experience when people in secular society look at Christian fundamentalists -- they don't see people adhering to a higher moral code -- rather they see people loudly practicing bigotry, intolerance, and hatred in the name of religion.
To put this in perspective, perhaps it's best to use an analogy from the world of sports. Let's take golf. By analogy if you will, Christian fundamentalists think they are the greatest golfers in the world. And not only that, they think that no one else even plays golf and that the rest of the world admires their golf prowess. This self perception is fueled by the fact that they only read Christian Fundamentalist Golf Digest, only watch the Christian Fundamentalist Golf Channel, and only play against other Christian Fundamentalist golfers. Meanwhile, in reality the world is filled with really great (secular) golfers. Millions and millions of people play it, there is a highly competitive televised pro tour, and the rules of golf are understood well and widely. And when the rest of the world looks at the way Christian fundamentalists play golf they see a bunch of hacks who repeatedly call mulligans, fail to replace their divots, cheat on their scorecard, are boorish in the clubhouse, and are exclusionary in their membership. That's the gap we face as a society.
While it is true that are some truly amoral people in society -- I believe they are a tiny fraction of the population (and represent a pathology rather than the natural state of humanity). Indeed, recent evidence from the world of the animal sciences shows that morality and ethics are likely hardwired into our DNA (see for example Primates & Philosophers by Frans de Waal, The Moral Animal by Robert Wright, and The Evolution of Morality by Richard Joyce). Adherence to some sort of moral code is nearly universal -- atheists, agnostics, soldiers, teachers, hit men, and religious followers of all varieties all operate according to a moral code. The question is not (as Christian fundamentalists would have you believe) moral code or no moral code. Rather, the question is which moral code is truly best for society.
I think it's all well and good that the Democratic Party and the progressive movement in general have made efforts to reach out to evangelicals and other religious conservatives in recent years. But I have a different proposal. Let's not reach out to religious communities simply for the sake of diversity. Rather, I suggest we have a battle of ideas and that we start a conversation about what exactly constitutes a higher moral code and why. I will gladly put my 21st century secular moral code -- developed through thousands of years of religious and philosophical debate, scientific discovery, and social efforts to overcome intolerance and hatred -- up for comparison against a moral code developed by an ancient tribe that was always calling for god to rain genocide down upon neighboring tribes.