I woke up this morning with a sinking feeling, wondering “Did I go too far?” See, I have my posts here set up so that they feed up to my Facebook page, and the discussion on my FB page concerning my post yesterday got pretty animated. I have a few friends who are hardcore Christian, and they bravely took a stand in defense of their faith in response to my post yesterday. And I am completely fine with that, I really am. I am all for open discussion. We do not have to agree on everything to get along, right? Still, I am always very conscious of the fact that my friendships with people whose Christian faith is such an ingrained part of their identity are a little tenuous. I always feel like one wrong move on my part, and I’m out. Maybe I’m wrong about that – maybe that’s just me projecting my own bullshit. Maybe my Christian friends really do accept me unconditionally.
Still, even though I feel it’s very risky of me to vocalize my position on matters of faith, I do it anyway. Because I believe that I should be afforded the same courtesy to be vocal about my beliefs/nonbeliefs as the Faithful are afforded.
But of course, before it was all over, the discussion turned unpleasant. I was told that “It would be nice if you could show some respect this weekend of all weekends.” (Being that it’s Easter, a religious holiday that holds absolutely no religious or spiritual meaning for me, but I’m supposed to refrain from vocalizing my own beliefs, from raising valid questions, in honor of those who do find religious meaning in this weekend?) I was ominously told that one day I will “stand before Him . . .” I was accused of “indoctrinating” my children into Atheism. And comments have come in directly to my blog today expressing pity for my children and the fact that they’re being raised without God.
I open myself up to this stuff merely by virtue of openly discussing my beliefs. I do it knowingly, but it still rankles me every time. I get the strong feeling that people can accept/tolerate that I’m atheist so long as I’m quiet about it. Christians get to be as vocal about their beliefs as they want. They get to post on their blogs and their Facebook pages praising the lord, asking for prayers for this and that, quoting bible verses, etc., etc. And it’s all very socially acceptable. But the moment I, an atheist, vocalize something publicly about where I stand on matters of god and faith, I can expect a firestorm in response.
I have faced A LOT of adversity in my life – less than some people and more than others. I think of myself as a pretty resilient person. I get through the hard times, sometimes falling apart, but always getting back up and recognizing everything I have to be grateful for. That’s grace – being able to recognize and appreciate the good even in the midst of adversity and hardship. I’ve faced some adversity as a Christian during my life, and some as an atheist, and I’m here to tell you that there’s been no difference in my ability to deal with things. When I was a believer, I didn’t have any more or less strength or resilience than I do as a nonbeliever.
How arrogant it is of you Christians who think you have better tools of coping at your disposal than I do merely by virtue of your faith. How arrogant of you to think that your life has more meaning than mine, more fulfillment. Believers face the same rates of depression, divorce, financial difficulty, and crime that non-believers do (did you know that the vast majority of prison inmates consider themselves Christian? Very few are atheist). In fact, probably higher rates just because there are more believers than nonbelievers per capita. How arrogant of you to think that your children are being raised better than mine are because you are teaching your children to believe in god, and I am teaching my children to think for themselves. You cannot possibly demonstrate that your life is any better than mine, or that your children are any better off than mine are. So it all boils down to the afterlife. My poor children are being deprived of eternal life in Paradise because I’m not indoctrinating – yes, indoctrinating – them into YOUR belief system.
What a crock. It makes me mad.
I feel for children who are taught that there is only ONE path to salvation, and that if they don’t follow that path . . . well, we all know the supposed alternative.
Don’t feel sorry for me or my children. I have a wonderful life. Yes, I have faced tremendous ordeals at times, but I experience love – giving and receiving – to the fullest. I have a solid marriage to a devoted husband and wonderful father to my six beautiful children – who are all well-loved and cared for. I have a nice roof over my head and plenty of nourishing food to eat and clothes to protect me from the elements. I want for nothing. I am raising my children to be honest and loving and compassionate. Why would anyone be so arrogant as to presume they are in a position to feel sorry for any of us?
Get over yourselves already.