Category Archives: Christianity

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.

Awkward Moments for Non-Believers

I’ve told you before about my daughter’s best friend and her very religious mother and the incident that happened at a sleepover. Well the girls ended up on the same soccer team this year and the mother and I had a chat at the end-of-season party. She asked me directly what faith my husband and I are, and I told her directly that we do not believe in gods. This surprised her, and she asked what led me to decide I no longer believe. She knows a bit of my history of growing up Southern Baptist, so this was shocking to her.

I explained my story of finding the truth. A few moments later, our girls ran up to us exclaiming that my daughter had gotten a bump on the head and her friend had prayed for her, resulting in my daughter’s head feeling better. I held my tongue, though we’ve explained to our daughter before that praying does not help anything. The mother then said, “[Daughter], why don’t you pray for [my daughter]’s Mom?”

Ok, no. What am I supposed to say to that? “No, little girl, don’t pray for me.” This happened right in front of my child. I chose to keep quiet, and then later explained to my child that mommy and daddy don’t believe in praying to solve problems. It was awkward, embarrassing, and uncalled for.

This is what we’re up against. *sigh*

The Election and the Church

It’s time for me to weigh in on the 2012 Presidential Election. Are you sick of hearing about it yet? I am, but only to a degree. Several well-written blog posts have popped up that discuss the churches’ role politics. One of the more interesting ones appeared on my Facebook feed this morning. It’s a Christian blogger, but you may want to head on over and read it. Then come back. Promise you will! I’ll wait. It opens in a new window. Also, you don’t have to read all the Jesus stuff at the bottom. I’m talking about her sections on the various groups of people. I know it’s hard for atheists and agnostics to read about Jesus stuff.

Grieving and Hope After the Election

What do you think about this post? Her statistics are the same ones I remember learning in my social issues class last spring. I believe she’s right. The church has been on a power trip and has aimed to oppress these groups, perhaps without even realizing it. The things she talks about in this post are the things that are driving people away from the church. I personally don’t think much will change. I think the right will go more right while the left goes more left.

One thing is for sure, though – as long as long as Republicans keep aligning themselves with religious extremists, they will continue to lose supporters. I was hoping for a Republican candidate that had good ideas and well-rounded values. Instead, I got Nutty McNutjob and Liar VanLiarson. I’m not given to calling names, but those sounded fun. :)

All that being said, I think Jen’s blog post is a good one and that all Christians should read it. I think it’s time for the church to wake up to the reality of the harm they’re doing. It may not happen across the board, but if even a few Christians can be a voice for reason and love in their churches, then maybe it will get better. Not that I’m advocating that the church needs to gain members. I’d love to see them lose people in droves. But there will always been people who stay, and families who stay. Maybe those people can learn to treat people with respect.

One more thought that I want to share publicly: I am so sorry for ever trying to force my beliefs upon someone. I was terrible to people. I chastised innocent people for listening to rock music, for saying curse words, and for watching pro wrestling. I was a terrible person, and I’m sorry.

The Bunk Stops Here

Geez, I hope that title hasn’t been used before. But it’s the truth, and I wanted to say it. The nonsense stops with me. My kids will not be raised to accept mythology as truth. Honestly, I’m exhausted by those around me (both virtually and IRL) who fill kids’ minds with nonsense.

“Say your prayers!” “Thank god for your good life!” “Get your heart right with god!” “God has a plan!” All lies. All harmful. It teaches kids that they don’t have to take responsibility for their choices, that god will work things out for them. It teaches kids that some people aren’t good enough to receive god’s blessings, like children whose parents are deadbeats or those who are starving in the streets. This nonsense teaches kids that death is more important than life. I can’t stand it. It stops with me.

It kills me to let them go on believing that the tooth fairy is real, that Santa is real. But the difference (and it’s a big one) is that Santa and the tooth fairy don’t send you to hell when you do something they say is wrong. They don’t bless some people while ignoring others. They don’t allow pain and suffering to go on in the world. That’s how I justify it anyway.

I like to think I’m helping to raise a new generation of freethinkers. I’m not afraid to raise my kids this way, and I won’t be afraid to stand up when I know their freedoms are being compromised. I’m sure you’ll hear more on this later because the public school in our district is said to basically be a Christian school.  Just wait. You won’t believe it. But, I digress. I know a lot of parents around my age who are raising their kids to be freethinkers. We’re saying the bunk stops here. The lies, the money-grubbing, fear-mongering,  denying of the real truth…it all ends with my childhood. I commit to never giving up or giving in, and to always fight for what is right and verifiably true. Let’s do it. Let’s raise a new generation of kids who value our planet, and scientific exploration, and discovery, and equal rights for all. Let’s raise a generation of kids who care about the greater good. I commit. Do you?

My little girl has a best friend…

…and her mom is very religious. We’re attending the new friend’s birthday party this weekend and I must admit, I’m a little nervous. I spoke with her mom today and we had a nice conversation and got to know each other, but it became evident very quickly that religion is important in their family. The sad thing about this is that it doesn’t matter one bit to me, but I know if they find out we are a freethinking family, my daughter’s new friendship will be in jeopardy. The woman asked how I was raised while we were on the phone, and I told her honestly about my religious upbringing, but left it at that. I didn’t mention that I’ve left that behind, and now I feel as if I’m betraying her and myself.

I’ve promised myself that I will not lie to her, and if she asks, I will be honest. It’s the best I can do. If she is willing to forbid her daughter to be friends with mine because of my beliefs, then perhaps they aren’t a family we need to be associated with anyway. Right? Right?

Sigh. I’m so nervous…

Hate Mail from Christians, Richard Dawkins Video

I’d never seen this video until I came across it today on Rock Beyond Belief’s post about the threats to atheists on the Fox News Facebook page. Yeah, wow.

Anyway, I love this video. It’s awesome to know that even the great Richard Dawkins, who is one of my all time heroes, receives hate mail from Christians. I love the way he reads the statements.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Wants Us to Pray for Rain

That’s right, our lovely right-wing governor is requesting that Oklahomans of “all faiths” stand together in prayer with her to end the drought.

One lovely Tulsa resident was quoted to say, “It’s the bible belt that’s what we do, we pray.” Right, because everyone in Oklahoma is a Christian. Geez, people, have you no sense of what’s around you? Beyond this being a blatant intermingling of church and state, and beyond the fact that rain is controlled by weather patterns and many physically measurable scientific factors, the thing that truly gets me is how oblivious these people are to the fact that not everyone believes the same way they do. As an atheist in Oklahoma, I find this disturbing and frustrating. We cannot control the rain. There are more important things to be concerned about that we can control.

Staying Strong in the (Lack of) Faith

As far as my (lack of) faith goes, I’m fairly new to atheism. This means I must learn news ways of dealing with stress and life situations that does not involve prayer. I still find myself wanting to cry out to “god” when I’m frightened or worried. I catch myself before I do and try to remember that these physical responses are all part of my natural instinct to survive. I suppose when I comes down to it,  I’m technically agnostic. I just lean more toward the belief that there is no god. I think if there is a higher power, it is most certainly not any of the gods that man has created here on Earth.

I also still find myself buying into spiritual crap. For example, there’s a local radio station with a morning show I listen to out of sheer morbid curiosity. It’s so ridiculous that I can’t believe I listen to it, but still…I do. Every couple of weeks they feature a famous psychic – Gary Spivey. This man is able to help people with their problems and can “guess” remarkable information about people. I find myself buying into it and often have to change the radio station because of the doubt it places in my mind. As a Christian, I was taught that psychics were “of the devil.” They were false prophets who did more harm than good. Now I see them differently – they are counselors of sorts. They have the gift of reading people, and that’s what I have to keep in mind. Even though I still believe that psychics do more harm than good with their talk of angels and the afterlife, they seem to do more good than many pastors I knew growing up.

Every day is a struggle to keep my feet planted solidly on the ground. I learn more about myself every time I tap into that natural instinct to calm myself without reaching out to a higher power that doesn’t exist. It’s funny, I still feel more free than I ever did as a Christian. I grow and learn every day, and no one tells me what to believe. I decide that for myself. I love life even more now that I know we truly are beings with a free will.

So, I attended a Christian Funeral Today…

And it was awful. The grandmother of a girl I grew up with passed away last week. I remember her most from church as a kid. She was always nice to me and she hoped I’d be a good role model for my friend.

I decided go to support this friend because I know she has had a rough time lately. The service was being held at the church where I grew up, and I knew there would be a lot of people there that knew me in my evangelical Christian days. It was the worst funeral I’ve ever been to (not that I’ve been to that many, maybe five in my whole life). It was also the first organized Christian event I’ve attended since I realized that my doubts about god were more than just fleeting feelings.

The woman was a Christian, and I’m sure it was the type of funeral she would have wanted. It had old-fashioned hymns, prayers, and lots of talk about following Jesus. In fact, it had too much Jesus talk. The woman’s life was turned into a sermon, the pastor rehashing the requirements for salvation over and over again. I would think a funeral should be used to honor someone’s life, not try to persuade someone to follow a religion. Perhaps that’s what this woman wanted her funeral to be? Near the end, the pastor stated that the family had asked him to explain to people exactly how to become a Christian. Which he did. For ten minutes.

Most of the rest of the service was repetition of the fact that this woman had met her maker and that all should be happy for her because of that. Be happy that she died? Really? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Beyond the fact that almost a quarter of the ceremony time was spent asking people to subscribe to bullshit, I was asked at least six times by different people when I was coming back to church. I suddenly saw myself, 17 years old and pious as the Pope, himself, begging my friends to go to church. I saw myself judging others based on their lifestyles and condemning anyone who didn’t believe what I did. I realized, as they asked me sweetly where I go to church these days, that as a Christian, I had no concept of people believing differently than me. I had no idea I was making people feel so uncomfortable. It was one of the worst experiences of social interaction I’ve ever had.

I had to hold my tongue. I was with my own grandmother, who is a dedicated Christian woman and a respected elder in the church. I knew that opening my mouth would only break her heart, so I sang To God Be the Glory and The Old Rugged Cross with the same vibrating, church-music voice I used as a teenager. Only this time, I didn’t mean a word of it.

When the service was over, and after being asked a few more times when I was coming back to church, I was dying to get out the front door. The second I stepped into the sunshine, I felt like I could breathe again.

I was reminded today that even though my path might be rockier, there’s a reason I chose it. I am more free and liberated from my sins than those people will ever be.