Category Archives: Atheist/agnostic Community

They’re worried about my soul…

Apparently I embarrassed my dad on Facebook a few days ago because I stated publicly that I’m a “non-believer.” This led to a belligerent phone call during which I asked him to stop embarrassing me. But he said he was embarrassed of me, and told me I shouldn’t say I’m a non-believer on Facebook. He didn’t say, “where all my friends can see it,” but I know he was thinking that.

He told me he worries for my soul. I know he’s not proud of me and it really hurts. I don’t understand why he isn’t proud of me, though. I work hard, got my degree, and I’m raising two sweet, polite, and kind little girls. I have a great marriage and a happy life. What’s not to be proud of? I don’t believe in his imaginary dude in the sky…that’s all.

To that, I say, “so, what!?” If there is a god (and that’s a big if for me), I don’t believe it’s the god of the Bible. I believe the god will be proud of my life and my actions. I believe this god will not demand to be worshipped, condemn gay people, oppress women, and favor war. If there is a god, he probably won’t care whether or not people believe in him because he’s given us no evidence he exists!

 

We are ok!

If you’re wondering, the recent tornado outbreak that occurred in Oklahoma completely missed my area. Our family and our loved ones are fine. Others, however, were not so fortunate. The devastation is terrible. There are still several children missing.

It’s always hard for atheists in Oklahoma to be a part of social media during times of crisis. Everyone is praying, but I’m not. I’m taking action – donating, doing. Please, if you can help, donate to Atheists Giving Aid’s Oklahoma relief effort. It’s difficult to live here sometimes, but I still love this state. Let’s take action!

Go check out this post about an outspoken atheist child…

This is such a great post over on the Friendly Atheist blog about raising a polite but confident atheist child. Check it out here!

Not my normal post style, but I wanted to share. :)

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

Tolerance is defined by Dictionary.com as

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Acceptance is defined as

2. favorable reception; approval; favor.

I don’t like the word tolerance. There’s something about it that makes me think “putting up with” or “dealing with.” Saying, “I’m tolerant of Islam,” is like saying, “I put up with Muslims.” I know that this is probably not what most people mean when they say they’re tolerant of religious people, but that’s what it sounds like to me. We tolerate the heat here in Oklahoma. We tolerate our neighbors who like to fight in the street every weekend. We tolerate things that are irksome, but that we must suffer through because we live on this planet.

And, acceptance, while a bit more favorable, is still a fine line. I don’t agree with Christians, but I accept them as human beings and I realize they have a valid opinion. I don’t accept when they try to force their beliefs on me or force their arcane laws into government, but I understand why they want to live their own lives the way they do. I don’t accept (or approve of) their religion. But I do accept them as people, and there are many Christians I love. I teach my children that religious people have a set of beliefs by which they live their lives, and that ours are different, but I make sure my kids know that loving people is the most important thing they can do in this world to show acceptance.

Tolerance, with it’s inclusion of permissive, says “I’m allowing this to occur.” Acceptance, with its inclusion of approval, says “I approve of this.” So, am I tolerating Christianity or accepting it? I’m tolerating the religion while accepting the person as equal. That’s the only definition that makes sense to me. I would never treat a Christian as lower than myself. I would never try to take away their basic rights (to marry whomever they please, to pray where and when they want, to worship). But because their beliefs pretty much require them to force their religion upon other people, I cannot approve of it. I believe it’s dangerous to do so and it goes against the reason and logic I’ve used to get to where I am now.

Christians, on the other hand, don’t tolerate or accept. Now, there are some exceptions in Christians who believe in equal rights, but many in my neck of the woods believe other religions (or lack thereof) are Satan’s way of stealing god’s flock. They believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice that bad people make. They refuse to tolerate it, and many refuse to accept them as equal people. This, to me, is where Christianity is failing.

Webster’s online also defines acceptance as: “to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable […]” This is the definition I like. Christianity is inevitable, and atheists tend to treat it as such. However, we watch out for our freedoms. We watch out for those whose lot in life is not as easy as others. We stand up for the basic rights of those who are being oppressed by particular groups. We don’t accept Christianity in terms of approving of it, but we know it’s not going away. We know we must keep a watchful eye.

Christians – homosexuality and other religions are inevitable. Not everyone believes as you do, and thinking everyone eventually will is silly. You can be a watchdog, but you can’t force people to live by your beliefs. Attempting to do so makes you a bigot. You think you’re not a bigot, but you are, no matter what your motivation.

What are your thoughts on tolerance vs. acceptance? Are they different? What are your feelings toward religion? Do you accept it, or tolerate it, or a combination of both?

Generation Atheist, by Dan Riley – Book Review

21pppQJKrbL._SL500_As you may or may not know, I denounced Christianity in adulthood. I was raised as a Southern Baptist and this is what I always knew. It took courage and time to break the ties I had with Christianity, and even though it’s been years, it still isn’t easy. In fact, the thing I struggle with the most is finding people to whom I can relate. In Oklahoma, this is very difficult, but the Internet has made it possible to read the stories of people who, like me, came to realize the truth. In these stories, I find comfort. I find advice. I find common ground.

Generation Atheist, by Dan Riley, is a collection of stories about how and why 25 young people came to be atheists.

Two of the stories in the book are those of people I consider personal heroes in the atheist community. The first is Jessica Ahlquist. I first read about Jessica at The Friendly Atheist (who is my other hero mentioned in Generation Atheist, but we’ll get to that in a bit!). Her story is one of bravery and strength, and there were details revealed in Dan Riley’s book that I had not read on the interwebs. As a parent, her journey gives me hope that there are young people who see the danger of bringing religion into schools. Her story gives me courage and makes me want to speak out. I only hope my children are as brave and strong as she is. Living where we do, they’re going to nee all the courage they can muster!

My second atheist hero whose story is in Generation Atheist is Hemant Mehta, speaker, atheist blogger at The Friendly Atheist, and author of I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist’s Eyes. Hemant is outspoken and comfortable in his lack of faith. His blog was one of the first resources I found as a new atheist, and his advice was always helpful and comforting in a time of such confusion.

Riley’s book is a great read for anyone who wants to know why and how people become atheists. If you need to relate to other atheists, if you need to read about their struggles and victories, Generation Atheist is for you. For more information on Dan Riley, and to read excerpts of the book, visit his website. Or if you’re already intrigued, head over to Amazon and buy it now.

Note: This is a non-paid book review.

An Atheist Parent’s Thoughts on Tragedy

Well I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve seen enough anti-atheist status updates on Facebook to last a lifetime. It’s so bad, in fact, that I’ve decided to clean up my friends list a bit and weed out the bigoted, offensive people who are claiming that godlessness is the reason for the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary.

What we really should be discussing is the early detection of mental illness and access to health care, not gun control or religious affiliation. While I do think gun control does need to be discussed, that is not the issue here. The issue here is that a deranged person committed a horrendous act, and no one knew he was that mentally ill. Or if they did, they did not help him get help. But the religious folk I’ve known for years and have tried to stay friends with via social networking have decided to make ill-informed and ignorant remarks about how they think not allowing prayer and religious worship in schools is the cause of school shootings. I’ve had enough, and I publicly and politely asked my friends to refrain from insulting me. Basically they’re saying that because I don’t believe in their god (or any god), I am capable of murder. They are saying that I’m evil…yes, one “friend” actually said I’m evil.

And Christians wonder why we get so angry! They wonder why we see religion as harmful. It’s harmful because it excludes. I’ve never told my Christian friends that they’re stupid or ignorant for believing what they do. I’ve never tried to convert them to my way of thinking. I’ve never told them they don’t matter to me because they believe differently from me. Christians, this is why we’re angry. You are so blinded in your faith that you fail to see that other people do not, and will not ever, believe they way you do. You fail to understand that we are still people, and good ones. We love, we give, and we help. But because we don’t believe mythology is reality, you call us evil sinners and say we are going to burn in hell.

These tragedies are only going to drive the two sides farther apart. I didn’t even have time to grieve for the loss of lives because I was too consumed by the hatred and ignorance being spouted by Christians online, but I felt morally obligated to try to combat it. I’m just shocked that people don’t understand the real issue and are so quick to place the blame on something completely unrelated.

Atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers, we have to stand together. We need to do good things as a unit. We must fight for freedom of religion, and the lack of it. We must speak out for reason and logic. I am tired of being quiet. The world needs good examples of freethinkers doing good things and making a difference in the world, and I will no longer stay silent, even if it means losing friends.

The Church of Atheism – Family

I’ve heard fundies say that atheism is a religion, which is complete bullshit on many levels, but it is a (lack of) belief that brings like-minded people together. I’ve found that group of people on the Internet. The problem with atheism is that it can get lonely. There is no church family to support a freethinking family when times get tough, when someone dies, or when the kids need social interaction. Church families are truly tight-knit, and there’s a support network for church members when something unexpected or bad happens. There is no church of atheism, except for what exists virtually. I used to think that wouldn’t be enough, but I’ve since changed my tune.

It was suggested that my husband and I join a local Unitarian church so that we would have the support of the church family. But we decided two things:

1) Going to  church and hearing all about a god we don’t believe in is uncomfortable for us, even if the faith accepts all people of any creed. It feels like a waste of our time. And…

2) We really enjoy spending Sunday mornings together as a family.

Reason number 2 for not joining the church is really the most important. We’ve come to love our Sunday mornings together. We cook breakfast together, we run errands (while others are at church and therefore places are less busy!), and we spend time just hanging out as a family. Our family has become our church, and we are tight-knit. We are lucky to have other family members who love us and help us when we need it, and we do the same for them. We may lack the community of a church family, but our family unit is close, happy, and rich in love because of the time we spend together.

The point of the story? It may feel lonely at times, but raising freethinkers is rewarding. Honestly, I could never go to church just for the fellowship. I’d rather put my time and energy into raising my girls and nurturing my marriage.

Released Time for Religious Studies in Public Schools

My child has yet to reach this age, but upon talking with a neighbor, I learned that Berryhill Public Schools, the school that my child will attend this fall, participates in a released time program for religious studies. I do not yet know in what grade released time begins, but I know that my children will not participate, no matter how “Constitutional” released time is.

If you are not familiar with release time, check out the Wiki. According to Wiki: “Released Time is a concept used in the United States public school system wherein pupils enrolled in the public schools are permitted by law to receive religious instruction. The principle is based on the constitutional right of parents to direct the religious education of their children.”

Everything I know so far about Berryhill’s released time program tells me it falls under the Constitutional guidelines in the Wiki. However, the neighbor informed me that kids who do not attend are ostracized. They are seen as outcasts and are bullied, and, according to the neighbor, the administration looks the other way at bullying in general. Scary stuff. The neighbor also says the “religious education” is held at a Baptist church. Always. There is no teaching of Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, or anything other religion. The question for my readers – do you think it’s still Constitutional since only one religion is promoted? Based on the Wiki, it’s hard to say. I do believe it’s ethically wrong.

I also read some reviews of the school online, and one states that having their children in Berryhill is like having them “in a Christian school.” Great. Before we moved here, we asked everyone about the district. All said it was a great school. Now I know why. They do have good test scores, but their ethnic diversity is low, and obviously their religious makeup is mostly Christian.

My hopes for this school are not high. And if you’re wondering why I called the school by name, it is to serve as a way for researching parents in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas to be able to fund this information. I wish I’d known before we moved here.

Guest Post on Parents Beyond Belief

I am honored to be a guest blogger on Parents Beyond Belief! Check out my post, Death and Secular Parenting: Overcoming the Fears. Enjoy!

I Can’t Hold My Tongue

But I should. Or should I? I don’t know. Saying what’s on my mind in a public way seems only to lead to frustration, rapid heartbeat, and outbursts of anger all around. I feel very passionately about some things and my opinions are usually rooted in personal experience, beliefs and research. So when something comes up that makes me feel that warm rise of anger in my gut, I am compelled to share my thoughts. I found out this week that even in a “safe” place with people who supposedly believe similarly to me, it’s not exactly safe to share opinion. People will jump on any flaw in order to discredit a person, even if it’s not really a flaw.

It’s necessary to comment on blogs to join the conversation and build links back to my blog, but I’m not so sure I’m comfortable putting myself out there like that just yet. I mean, I’m barely comfortable sharing my new belief system with people I know or with someone face-to-face. Why should I give a stranger the opportunity to make fun of me for putting a word in italics?

I’ll tell you why – because even in the freethinking world there are assholes, and assholes aren’t worth stifling my voice. So, there you have it. Make fun of me, world, for feeling passionately about the need to educate my freethinking children about the religions they will be around as they grow up. Make fun of me for believing that the atheist/agnostic community should stop bashing religion and instead, act with the intelligence and open-mindedness we claim to have. I will continue to share my opinions, both online and off, and will refuse to let pettiness get the best of me. Arguing online is pointless. In the end, someone always ends up looking stupid. It’s not going to be me.