Until recently, I believed I could quietly live my life as an example of what a Secular Humanist is and have that combat negative stereotypes people have about atheists, and that eventually it would lead to tolerance and acceptance. Because in a lot of ways, I am not so different from a lot of people. I take care of my family, I work, I enjoy my hobbies. My life is meaningful. I have a drive to improve the world, so I went into counseling and worked for several years with people who are impoverished. Now my focus is shifting to reforming schools so they will be friendlier to children who have disabilities.
Two things changed recently that led me to conclude I can no longer be a silent example. One being the realization that just by being a moral atheist, I am a threat to Christians. I know one Christian attempted to dismiss the harassment I experienced by Christians in a previous post by saying they would have harassed me regardless of their religious beliefs. The thing is, Christianity teaches that only Christians are saved and people who don’t believe are condemned to hell.
So these Christians tend to believe atheists must be either immoral people or ignorant to justify having a god who is A. good and B. willing to condemn people to eternal torture.
But then they find out that I am not ignorant, and very, very moral, and this tends to send Christians into a crisis, because how could their good old God send an otherwise good person to hell? By being who I am, I threaten their beliefs. And once they realize it, they tend to take it out by harassing me for not conforming to their view of the evil atheist.
This is a problem intrinsic to Christianity and other faiths that preach that salvation comes only through following their faith. And I have had to contend with more than my fair share of Christians who feel that the ends justify the means, and anything goes with regard to saving my soul. Today I got quite a few new Christians commenting on my blog, and all they are doing is regurgitating that same stuff I’ve heard a million times before. And I know where the road to debating them ends.
The other thing that happened to change my approach was initially a good thing. It was gay marriage becoming legal in the US. I was real happy for my friends in the LGBT community when this happened. However, the backlash from the Christian community against this has been horrible, because now Christians are claiming they are discriminated against, which in the US is laughable, and they are introducing legislation to deprive members of the LGBT community their civil rights while enshrining their “right” as Christians to discriminate against that group, while under the galling name of “religious freedom.”
I have been harassed by Christians all my life. I have been threatened, blackmailed, assaulted, and doxxed by Christians. Christians are privileged in the US, especially in the Bible Belt. They have representatives in the house, senate, and the White House. They are the majority. Despite films such as “God’s Not Dead” I have never had a school teacher try to force atheism on me, but I’ve had plenty of teachers shove Christianity down my throat. I have worried about losing my job because of my religious beliefs, something my Christian husband (yes, I am married to a Christian, we’ve been together 15 years, chew on that) has never had to worry about.
So, keeping this in mind, just imagine how that must feel. I have been persecuted by Christians all my life, and now they are claiming to fight for religious freedom and using it as a front to legalize their ability to discriminate against others. This is infuriating and rage inducing. This is why I am angry right now. And this is why I can’t keep silent.
I am now going to be very vocal about all of the suffering and discrimination I have endured at the hands of Christians. I want Christians to be aware of the pain they are causing. I want Christians to own it, and then I want them to stop being jerks to people who have different ways of thinking and believing. I want them to grow up and learn that they have to share this world with people who have different beliefs.
And, I know the odds are not in my favor. It is very hard to get a privileged group of people to wake up to the harm they are doing. I know black people have a hard time getting white people to own it. Gay people have a hard time getting straight people to own it. Women have a hard time getting men to own it. I know Christians aren’t going to like what I have to say, because it doesn’t help them to feel good about themselves. And I want that. I want Christians to think about what they are doing.
I am not writing for Christians to proselytize or attempt to convert me, but they will. I want Christians to respect that I see things differently and think that that is okay. This is a rather tall goal, because of what I discussed earlier. Thing is, Christians, it’s a skill you’re going to have to learn. The world is getting smaller, and more diverse, and just because people do not subscribe to your belief systems, it does not mean they are immoral, suffering, and in need of saving. Plenty of people live meaningful and moral lives without Christianity. I am one of them, and frankly, it is condescending to suggest otherwise.
I also want Christians to be aware of the harm they are causing, so may be they will think before they condemn groups of people or pass laws to deprive them of their rights. Once again, I know this is a tall order. I am taking the long view.
If you are a Christian and you really want to help, here’s what to do.
- Say, “I’m sorry to hear you went through that. There was no excuse for it.”
- “How can I help?”
Any other response, and I will give you an education in how you are contributing to a culture that is oppressive for people who aren’t Christians and how you are part of the problem. I have no interest in being a Christian. My life is wondrous and meaningful and the way I see it, a Christian worldview would detract from what I find to be wondrous and meaningful. But if you do comment otherwise, it will be you who will be educated.