Dear Christians, This is What Persecution Looks Like, From a Cradle Atheist

When I saw this article about non-religious parents pulling their children out of school due to bullying from Christians, I linked to it on Facebook, along with a description of the bullying I experienced in the third grade when I stupidly told my classmates I didn’t believe in God. I didn’t think it was something I would be harassed, bullied, and assaulted for, but itwas. It was so bad that over the summer my parents moved to a neighboring school district to get me away from the school.

Christians are told they will be hated and persecuted for their beliefs. You see this myth played out in the God’s Not Dead Films. And this myth is infuriating to me. Christians strutted their beliefs openly in the hallways and tormented anyone who didn’t conform to them or dared to challenge them. Hell, Christians had pissing contests over who was more godly. I was hated and persecuted for my beliefs at the hands of Christians. I felt like I had to hide who I was, which was agonizing for me. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance was a horrible exercise in cognitive dissonance every morning, because I didn’t want to say “under God” but I also didn’t want people to notice I wasn’t saying it and ask why. I also got very skilled at dodging questions about my religious beliefs. I quickly developed two personas, the boring bookworm so I could hide and hope people wouldn’t notice and talk to me at school and the more engaged and interesting person to those that I knew would accept me.

I learned that every friendship I made likely had a timer on it. As soon as the other person found out I was an atheist, they would refuse to be my friend or start proselytizing to the point that every encounter was a debate. Nothing about me changed, only what they knew about me, and within minutes I would no longer be friend material. I have learned to be very careful about making friends because I’d learned the hard way that as soon as people found out who I really was behind the boring bookworm, they’d disavow me.

I didn’t know anyone other atheists outside of my immediate family other than those I’d met in online sanctuaries back in the early days of the internet when they had chat rooms. I could talk with other atheists who weren’t family members, learned to debate because Christians would often break into our sanctuary to try to convert us, was exposed to different flavors of atheism, and just could talk to others feeling the same frustration I was with the overwhelming Christian culture we found ourselves stuck in.

My other source of safety was the fact that I live in an area with a large immigrant population. I went to school with people from Mexico, India, Vietnam, Iraq, and Pakistan. Among them were Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Jains, and Hindus. I was the only white person I knew who was invited to birthday parties for native Vietnamese girls (and the only one who didn’t speak Vietnamese, but I found examining the cultural differences in the ways birthdays were celebrated fascinating). These people didn’t care what I believed or didn’t believe, they cared about me as a person and how my actions defined me.

One of my dearest friends is a Muslim refugee. When she heard I wasn’t a Christian and didn’t believe there was a god she just shrugged and asked about our history assignment. We later laughed at the way Christians would make fools of themselves trying to convert us.

This is why I have positive feelings about Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Jains, Hindus, etc. And it’s why I have very negative views about Christians. I feel individual Christians can be good, but collectively, Christians are lying, manipulative, abusers who scream persecution when anyone calls them on their shit. But I’m sure in their minds they WISH their children were treated like I was in school on the basis of their beliefs. Because it will conform to their persecution complex. Considering one of my greatest fears is that my children will experience what I did, this makes me sick.

This last Christmas season when some dude lost his shit because the Starbucks cups weren’t Christmassy enough and declared it part of the War of Christmas, I wrote a FB post, addressing the Christians UPSET ABOUT THE STARBUCK’S CUP, pointing out that governments in other countries kill people for their religious beliefs and gave a few examples and that they need to gain some perspective for whining about a private companies’ cup. Several Christians got up in arms that I didn’t do enough to not include all Christians in the umbrella even though I specified those upset about the cup. The validity of my point didn’t matter. The fact that I feared being fired in the past year because I’m an atheist and was still reeling from that scare didn’t matter. The fact that I have been bullied and hurt over and over by Christians didn’t matter. I didn’t do enough to convince them that they weren’t the problem and convince them that Christianity is good.

Folks, if Christianity has a PR problem, IT’S NOT THE FAULT OF THE PEOPLE WHO AREN’T CHRISTIANS!

I have been vocal about the harassment and abuse I have suffered. I’ve never had a Christian apologize for what I went through, but I’ve had plenty get upset for calling them out on it.

And further, if lies, manipulation and abuse are the method Christians use to convert people, how the hell can that religion really have anything going for it? Suppose there was a God backing a certain religion. You’d think it would be plain as day obvious that this religion had more going for it than the millions of others that people wouldn’t need a whole lot of convincing. But if you have to take a little girl’s juice and threaten not to give it back until she agrees to believe in Jesus, really, what does your religion have going for it?

And maybe it’s coincidence, or maybe my suspicions are correct, but after I posted that a very religious former colleague PMed me with an update on how she’s been and asking if I was going to be in her city anytime soon.

I want to believe she genuinely wants to see me. I want to believe that people can really like me. But I suspect she wants to preach Jesus’ love to me and tell me that the people I’ve known growing up weren’t true Christians. As if these aren’t things I’ve heard over and over again. And you know, it hurts when this happens. It’s hard for me to believe that people really want to be my friend when they spend all of their time trying to change my beliefs. I feel like they want me to be a notch in their belt.

Perhaps I’m judging her unfairly. I don’t know. I’m scared to find out.

This cuts into everything. It is so hard for me to socialize and meet friends. I stopped going to the autism support group when, after I had posted something on Facebook about how Buddy’s autism was not caused by vaccines and how the autism movement is causing harm by perpetuating the myth, the leader of the group ranted about how she didn’t judge people for not being Christians and how dare people judge her for not vaccinating her son. She took it down, but I’ve just not felt welcome if I’m supposed to feel grateful for not being judged by my beliefs as opposed to my actions.

And to this day I still believe my potential friendship with people has a timer on it until they find out who I really am.

Christians, until you’re terrified you’ll lose your job for stating you are a Christian rather than losing it because you preached Christianity in a public school classroom, until you’re scared you’ll be harassed or beaten if you’re open about being a Christian rather than being the aggressor, then you need to STFU about being persecuted in the US. And while you’re at it, stop glorify the idea of being persecuted. And finally, look into the mirror and fix your damn PR problem. Start by taking a clue from my Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Jainist and Hindu friends about learning to co-exist.

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27 thoughts on “Dear Christians, This is What Persecution Looks Like, From a Cradle Atheist

  1. *Rae

    Do you mean all Christians or are you referring to arrogant people who happen to be Christian? I get what you’re saying, but sounds like the people you describe would behave that way regardless of their “professed” faith. I’m sorry about your experiences. Most Christians I know are more than aware of their shortcomings and know they’re in no position to go around throwing stones.

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    1. roianna Post author

      It sounds like you’re more concerned about defending Christianity and shrugging off responsibility. For the record, the “not a real Christian” excuse is BS. They believe they are Christians and acting in the name of Christianity and answering the call to convert people, via any means possible.

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  2. *Rae

    I didn’t say they weren’t real Christians. By definition, they very well could be. It sounds to me like you want to condemn all Christians. You wrote a post addressed to Christians. Not arrogant Christians. Not Christian bullies. Not rude, ignorant, conceited Christians. All Christians. I’m a Christian and I don’t believe in answering the call to convert people. Hell, I admit it on my About Page. I’m sure you’ve been attacked because the human race is a petty, narcissistic one. There are mean Christians. There are mean, thoughtless people in every major religion. I’ve been attacked by a few atheists with a vendetta against my irrational faith. But I don’t think every atheist means to insult or belittle me. Just like I’m sure those who do only do so because they’re acting on past negative experiences with Christians. You’ve been hurt by people who are Christian so it makes sense you’re letting your past emotions/current emotions taint your outlook on millions of people you never met. Because of the few mean ones you have.

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    1. roianna Post author

      You know, you Christians are the majority here. You make the laws. You have people represent you.in government. When people hear Christian, they think good. When people hear atheist, they think evil. Are you familiar with the concept of privilege with race and gender? Well, Christians have privilege as far as religion goes. For reference I am in the Bible Belt. I am surrounded by Christians who are hostile to me while claiming to be persecuted. I am sick of the hypocrisy and I am past the point of caring how Christians feel because they have never cared about how I feel. You are also minimizing and discounting my experiences and avoiding responsibility. I am hearing from you it’s not that bad, it’s just a few people, when that is not my experience. You do not get to dictate my experience to save your conscious.

      Right now I am hearing that defending your faith is more important than hearing about the pain I have suffered at the hands of Christians.Generally, I do disclaimers, but as I wrote in this blog, EVEN WHEN I SPECIFY A CERTAIN GROUP OF CHRISTIANS IT IS NEVER ENOUGH! Even when I try to protect your feelings I get raked over the coals for daring to suggest that Christians aren’t perfect. So why the hell shouldn’t I go full out? If this makes you uncomfortable, I’m glad, and I hope you think about why this makes you so uncomfortable. Once again, your PR problem is not my fault.

      And when you are the minority, having someone in the majority scolding you for calling them out rankles. I make it a point to listen to the experiences of people who are black, brown, gay, etc, even when it hurts, because I don’t want to be part of the problem.

      Once again, even if I put disclaimers up, I am still beaten down. Because the problem isn’t that I’m not specifying, the problem is you’re looking for a way to avoid responsibility. Especially because I realized if I do this NOT ALL CHRISTIANS, well, then the person reading that has an out. You can say I’m talking about everyone else but you, rather than asking yourself, is this me?

      The people who got their panties in a knot over my post that gave Christians an out were the ones complaining about the war on Christmas and how horrible it is that people want to take the pledge out of school. They were part of the problem.

      And honestly, since you can’t see the pain I am in and are more concerned about defending your faith then asking how you can help, I am lumping you with every other arrogant Christian out there. Do not comment again if you are going to defend Christians. I am surrounded by defenders who are not even aware of the ways they are hurting me because they are too busy defending their faith to listen. You are part of the problem.

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      1. *Rae

        So I can attack Christianity, but not defend it. And I am a part of the problem because…? I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m not even really disagreeing with you. I grew up in the Bible belt and experimented with various religions in High School. Believe me, I know. In certain towns, not being a Christian makes a person feel alienate and excluded. I’m sorry that you think I’m part of the problem for…whatever reason. I was just commenting to let you know that there’s nothing wrong with feeling the way that you feel. Just don’t let it cloud your judgment. That’s dangerous. It’s what I did and I regret it. This will be my last comment since you’re starting to ALL CAPS. Which is my cue to stop lol

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      2. roianna Post author

        Go back and read what I said. Go back and read what you said. You are part of the problem because you are more focused on saying not all Christians rather than how can I help.

        And you know, my judgment is very unclouded. When I have been hurt over and over by a group of people, shouldn’t I have every right to treat that group with caution? I have to to survive here.

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      3. *Rae

        True. You seem like a very intelligent person, when you titled a post, “Dear Christians…” and left the comment option open… what were you looking for? For Christians to read and say, “That’s right! Show us what persecution looks like because we have never experienced persecution. We are Christians. Not women who have been wrong by patriarchal societies. Not racial minorities who are persecuted by others. Not poor who scrape and scrounge because we were born into the wrong family. Nope. We’re Christians. We don’t suffer.”? Everyone gets persecuted at times during their lives. To look at one’s own pain and validate prejudices with “me, me, me” rationalizes ie. right to survive, is what’s wrong with the world. People who think only their pain and problems matter, Christian or otherwise, are what makes the world the place it is today. I won’t place blame on a general group of people. You can delete or ignore my comments at this point, I don’t care. Christians aren’t the problem. Selfish individuals blinded by their own emotions are.

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      4. roianna Post author

        What I am hearing from you now is that I don’t have a right to talk about my experiences being persecuted for being an atheist because there are other ways people suffer. I specified I was tired of Christians in the US saying they are being persecuted for being Christians, not the myriad of other ways that you can be persecuted. I am still hearing from you that I need to be silent to make you feel comfortable. Change never happens that way.

        And further, read my blog before you accuse me of being self absorbed. Read about my work with impoverished drug addicts, women and children who have been raped and abused, advocating for my disabled child and calls for racial equality and roles for people who are differently abled in Hollywood before you accuse me of being selfish. Read about my attempts to make an interfaith relationship with a Catholic work before you accuse me of being blind by my prejudices.

        And look at yourself. YOU ARE STILL TAKING NO RESPONSIBILITY. This is why I wrote this post. Because I am wanting to hold Christians responsible for their crap.

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      5. roianna Post author

        Not learning about how you are part of the problem. Defending Christianity first, acknowledging my pain second and NEVER asking how you can help.

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  3. ofhisgloryblog

    Friend, God loves you more than you think. You may be persecuted by so called Christians who are not actually Christians, for I know that if you cannot imitate Jesus Christ, His Love, His Humility, and His Forgiveness, you are just a sham in the face of Christianity.
    Saying that I would love to welcome you to God’s blog in my hands, where I hope may questions of your heart might get answered.
    And I again want to reassure you that Jesus Christ loves you, beyond imagination and this is coming from a Hating atheist, who was raised as a Catholic, but left because of a similar reason, and became a follower of Adolf Hitler, yet Christ died for me, and chose to love me, to forgive me and to give me peace, and to live in me.
    https://ofhisgloryblog.wordpress.com/
    God Bless you friend.
    Hallelujah
    Amen
    Praise the Lord forever Oh My soul Praise His Holy Name. Amen

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    1. roianna Post author

      Your response tells me you are part of the problem. You are more interested in defending your religion with the same arguments I have heard ad nauseum than you are taking responsibility for the harm caused by Christianity. Your response shows you do not care that I was harmed by Christians (and no, you do not get to say they weren’t real Christians. They believed they were real Christians and they talk just like you do), and that you do not care that Christians are falsely claiming to be persecuted and using that to deprive other groups of their civil liberties.

      Further, I am not a “hating atheist.” Just because I’m not a Christian and just because I want to hold Christians accountable for their actions does not mean I hate, but it does means you don’t know a thing about me and aren’t interested in learning. Read my blog, and you might find some things about me that surprise you.

      Finally, I have said plenty of time, I have been proselytized to all of my life and I am sick of it. You are not telling me anything I haven’t heard before, thought over, and rejected. I have good reasons for not being a Christian, most of them not tied to how I’ve been treated by Christians.

      EVERYTHING about your response typifies what is wrong with Christians and why people are so frustrated with them. Remember that if you respond again before you give your cause a bigger black eye.

      If you really want to do better, than you can start with this. “I’m sorry that happened to you. How can I help?” And then really listen. And leave out all of the glory of God stuff. Learn to say, “I may not agree with you, but I respect your right to disagree and respect you have valid reasons for your beliefs.” Otherwise, you can continue to be part of the problem.

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  4. ofhisgloryblog

    Friend, I am sorry, sorry that I could not understood how much hurt your are, and I’m also sorry for speaking to you before listening. So I know that you deserve an apology from me. And I’m sorry.
    I can share with you one thing that actually differentiates between a true Christian and a Fake one, that is not worshiping God, that is loving one another as Jesus Christ has loved us.
    I know that this start of our friendship did not go quite as good, mostly because of me, but I want to mend it, and I was listen to every word you have to say, friend, If the sin of one man or women, have hurt you, I want to love you more than that.
    If you accept me as your friend, and open to me what happened I’ll know that you have forgiven me, and given me another chance.
    God Bless you friend.
    I’ll pray for you do not worry all will be fine. If not will try our best to make it fine.
    I know a broken mirror cannot be fixed, but yes at lest we can give it a try and leave the miracle to the miracle worker?
    Now there is a verse in the Bible which I want to share with you and the Spirit of God, direct you, as you go over it.
    “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” – 1 John 4:18
    Being said that I’ll read your blog, do not worry friend, I believe God sent me to you, so that I can do all in my ability, and God can do all in his, to be with you, and to love you, that’s all.

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    1. roianna Post author

      The message I get from responses like this is that you are only interested in being my friend if I listen to you talk about Christianity with the goal of eventually becoming a Christian. I have no interest in learning about Christianity. I have been well schooled in it and once again, you are not telling me one thing I haven’t heard a million times before. And I’m simply not interested in friendship with someone who intends to proselytize and believes I need to convert. I want to be accepted for who I am. And I want Christians to learn to agree to disagree. Because frankly the inability of Christians to do so is what is causing a lot of problems in the world.

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      1. ofhisgloryblog

        Friend, you are married to a Roman Catholic, and your better half is doing nothing. I mean how on earth, he’s a living a Christ centered life, when God said to openly evangelize and love each other. I believe I should your better half, maybe we can work things out. You know there’s a reason Christianity is followed by 2.5 Billion people. I mean how do you expect all to be fools, and you only to be true? I mean your better half is Christian for Christs sake. I cannot help you, not even God can if you do not let him in. You believe in this Myth that God does not exist. When you look around the universe, whom do you think built it? Friend, God loves you in-spite of the fact that you reject him. You know, I can only pray for you, that’s all I can do to help you. I do have question for you, What do you think is life? You answer me this and I promise I will listen to all the things that you have to say about God does not exist. You are accepted who you are, I do want you to convert? When on earth did I say that? Its better to be an aethist than a fake christian, for If I was not born again, I would have been practicing something I do not know. But thank God that he made me born again.
        Yes the problem of the world is not Christianity, merely its the solution. The problem of the world is this that we do not know WHO WE ARE? Do you know really who you are? You want to be accepted fine, I will do all in my power, and would pray to God, that if he wills it, let it happen, I can give you my word. But do you know who you are? Or who you wanna be in the next say 5 years from now? Never ever point a finger at Jesus Christ friend, for I can forgive you if you do, But what will happen if the Holy Spirit does not? Can you imagine that friend. I wont force you, its your life, your decision, I mean what can I do to help when you do not want to take help, other than pray?

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      2. roianna Post author

        My husband, who would be the first to say that I am the moral center of the relationship and that he became a better person when he met me, not the other way around, is smart enough to respect that we can agree to disagree. If he tried to convert me, I would see it as the ultimate betrayal and I would leave. We have a lot of things in common, love for our children, love of science fiction and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and we just work well together. Subsequently, If I tried to convert him, it would be a betrayal of our relationship. We are smart enough to know that there is more that unites us than divides us.
        And you have stated several times you want me to become a Christian, and you continue to proselytize and preach. Once again, you are not telling me anything I haven’t heard a million times before, considered and rejected. Further, you are contributing to the problem, which is intolerance. If you can’t see the wisdom of saying different people find different ways to bring meaning to their life and agree to disagree, then that is a big problem.
        And I know who I am. And I certainly know a good deal more about who I am than you do. I have to live with myself every day, and I’m rather happy with myself. To assume that I don’t is condescending.

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      3. ofhisgloryblog

        Its your choice buddy May God bless and yoi family. May one day you experience the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. I do want to convert you friend. Who am I to do so. Christianity is more than a religion friend its one’s personal relationship to God. And I cannot establish what only you can do in your own life. I accept the fact that you are good and I want you to stay happy with your family as you are or better. Christian or no Christian who am I to judge. Tc friend. And I’m sorry that I made you feel rejected. Well let’s just we both have a different perspective. May God protect you in the very name of Jesus May you guys be in Peace forever, doing just as you are. Amen Hallelujah.

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      4. roianna Post author

        I have a question. If a Muslim told you “May you experience the love and joy of Allah”, knowing you are a Christian, would you feel that they are being respectful? Or that they hope that you will have a personal relationship with Allah one day, or come to appreciate Mohammed, would you feel accepted? Think about it. This is why it is hard for me to believe that you accept me. You are more interested in praising Christianity than you are in accepting and understanding me.

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      5. ofhisgloryblog

        Yes I would. No I wont go there to start changing my region. My way of life. But I’ll know that this person is giving me his or her best. By praying for me. I dont care if you do not think the same. I just one day when your hatered has burned us all. What will you do then? You do want an apology. Nah you are way past that. Truth is you want to kill us beat us humiliate us like you have gone through. And I can see that between you beautiful words. Yes I would still say God Bless you . And May He forgive you.

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      6. roianna Post author

        Where have I said I want to kill you? Find the quote, or apologize, and start respecting that I don’t want to be preached to. You may not mind, but we are different people. I mind.

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    1. roianna Post author

      I believe forgiveness has to be earned. Your whole response tells me you think your beliefs are more important and carry more weight than mine. If you really respected my beliefs, then you wouldn’t try to comfort me by using Christian motifs I do not subscribe to and that I find threatening. The message I got from your response was that this was to make you feel better about your faith and not to understand where I am coming from and how to help.

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