Sunday, January 29, 2012


I imagine there has been some form of discrimination and prejudice since time began. Perhaps even the earliest humans looked at the strange one with curly hair or the one whose skin was a different shade or who was taller, shorter, smaller, bigger, funnier, meaner than the rest and made assumptions about that person based on their observations and biases.
Discrimination or prejudice is one tradition/habit/trait/instinct that has apparently followed humans throughout their development from cave dwellers to city dwellers, from stone clubs to night clubs, from the thrill of the hunt to the exhaustion of the race. Anyone different or strange or just not LIKE us is still viewed with suspicion, often fueled by misconceptions, stereotypes, personal issues and yes, perhaps a nugget of truth. We try, as EVOLVED human beings, to get past it and judge each person based on merit, not on issues like skin color, gender, age, ethnicity, social class--or religious belief.
Unless, of course, that person stands up and says, "I'm an atheist."
Then, unlike with other biases, it is okay to kick that person out of your house, refuse to speak to them, ostracize them in public, terrify your children, spread false rumors about you and your family, end decades long friendships, and even threaten their safety.
I am sure that is what your God wants you to do to us evil non-believers, right?
My family moved out to Oregon ten years ago for a number of reasons and one of the most important was the freedom to choose our beliefs--or non-beliefs--in privacy and respect. Everything listed above isn't an exaggeration--they are things that happened to us in the name of "Christian" kindness.
To this day, my kids are hesitant to use the "A" word simply because of the cruelty they have been shown by many religious people. Out here, that fear is slowly dissipating, but I don't know that it will ever disappear completely, because of the assumptions and discrimination that go hand in hand with the atheist title. Suddenly, this nice, fun, pleasant, loving family that we were 60 seconds ago, transformed into immoral, deluded, hurry-away-because-they-might-invoke-evil, don't-get-too-close-because-they-might-be-contagious-and-threaten-our-personal-beliefs people. POOF. Must be magic. A minute ago we were friends--now we're not. You don't follow the same God I do, so I don't wanna play with you anymore . . . .
I do NOT get it. The Christian God is supposed to be a loving one. Did I miss somewhere in the Bible where it encourages all followers to be critical, condemning and even vicious to those who follow a different path? If you want people to share your beliefs, don't you think a role model of tolerance, kindness, and love is the better approach?
Shocking as it may be to hear, atheists can be moral, kind, compassionate, beautiful people--or not. So can Christians--or not. That's because we are all human beings with choices to make. I don't give you any flack about yours even if I think it is utterly incomprehensible to me. Please--can I have the same respect?


Ami said...

I don't get it either. And for the record, I have spent a great deal of time with both Christians and Atheists. I've personally found the Atheists to be far less judgmental and kinder.

I don't know what that means, if anything.

Aimee said...

It confuses me, too. I had a woman, another homeschooling woman, out of the blue, tell me she was sad for us, that we're going to hell because we don't believe. It was about the most ridiculous thing anyone has ever said to me! Thankfully (knock wood), my daughter hasn't had any bad experiences like that.

Confessions of a Closet Hoarder but you can call me Judy said...


I'm sorry you were treated that way. :(

Julie said...

You said it! though I don't want a label of any sort really. I know it's human nature to classify things and I certainly enjoy naming things like birds or flowers or trees but people are just people and I like them just the way they are.

I read a book once on why people form these religious beliefs and needs but I can't for the life of me remember the title. I know you would enjoy it. It make so much sense when I read it and I find I feel differently towards these intolerant folks. I still don't think they are right but I have a better understanding of why they think/feel the way they do and why I do not.

Markell said...

For years, I would call myself "agnostic" since that seemed less controversial than "atheist," which is really what I am. When I watched a TV show by Morgan Spurlock in which he had people switch lives for a certain amount of time. The atheist was a role model for me, in a way--I've never not used the word since then.

Jacki said...

Bravo! Brilliant essay! I was raised in the Catholic religion, and it's safe to say that I no longer follow any church. When I was a little girl, and the priest told us that 'God is Love', I innocently asked, "What else is God?" For that, I received a slap.

I am a spiritual person and I believe that something's out there. Not an old guy sitting on a throne, that's for sure. Just...something. I'd call it 'cosmic consciousness'.