Christian retailer, Hobby Lobby, which is owned by the Green family, got into some rather expensive hot water for stealing antiquities from the Middle East. One of the best books I have read so far this year was Three Stones Make a Wall. Written by an archaeologist named Eric Cline, it was not only a fascinating look at different archaeological sites through time in history, but a plea against the type of black market looting and stealing of artifacts that the Green family engaged in.
The Friendly Atheist posted about how a Christian wrote to an atheist, Nadja, who had been murdered, over Facebook, asking if she was sorry now that she was meeting her maker. The Christian, Michelle, has since apologized, which you can read here. And I have a few things I want to say. First, comments like Michelle’s contribute to the toxic atmosphere that many atheists find themselves living in. Second, I don’t find Michelle’s apology sufficient, because I see no attempt from her to reach out to the people she has hurt to learn the reasons why what she said was so harmful. Further, she got a platform to air her version of events, but Nadja does not get a similar platform, and as for the millions of atheists living with such hostility that Michelle displayed to Nadja, well, Michelle decided to ignore them rather than listen to us.
Recently I had two unsolicited attempts at conversion, on two platforms that I don’t deal with religion. One is a Facebook page I run to advocate for children with special needs in my state. The other was a “review” on a fanfic I wrote. Whoever left the review hadn’t read my story, rather, they were spamming writers by leaving a message about the end of days and Jesus on fics, and several other people reported having the same message left on their fics. Frankly, stuff like this is unwanted and aggravating, just like spam for penis enlargement, and here is why.
Facebook reminded me of something that happened a few years ago when a person going door to door to preach in my neighborhood knocked on my door. He asked me if I died today would I have amassed enough good deeds to earn a reward in Heaven. I sighed and said, “You shouldn’t do good things because you’ll be rewarded. You should do good things because they are the right things to do. Merry Christmas.” I then shut the door in his stunned face.
I know a lot of evangelicals who voted for Trump even though they despised him. Why? So he would protect Christian values. So essentially they voted for a man who has been twice divorced, had affairs during all three of his marriages, dragged his first wife through the tabloids, was set to go on trial for the rape of a teenager, bragged about grabbing women by the “pussy”, etc, to protect their moral values.
Whether religious or non-religious, stories are important to our humanity. Before we were watching stories on tv and movie screens, we were reading stories in books and papers. And before we were reading stories, we were telling stories through an oral tradition. Stories help us find a way to relate to our world, to understand it. Sometimes we recognize our struggles in the struggles of fictional characters. Sometimes a story helps us make sense of something tragic that happened to us and helps us to move forward.
One criticism I see lobbed at atheists is that we spend a lot of time calling attention to Christians who do immoral things, such as Catholic priests who sexually molest children. Why can’t we ever point out the good things that Christians are doing? Well, in the United States, we live in a country that equates Christianity with goodness. Christian and good morals are synonymous. It’s one of those things that goes without saying. Further, atheism is equated with being evil and is extremely disliked. As an atheist who grew up with a very ethical, atheistic family, it was painful to hear people calling atheists “immoral” and “evil” and to use the word “atheist” as a slur, all while beefing up their own moral creds.