I was raised without religion.
My husband was raised Mormon, but it didn’t stick. He’s an atheist. The contact I have with his family, combined with my experience in EMS (first as an EMT, now dispatching) and the fact that I live in the United States of America, has exposed me to many different views on religion.
I have noticed an alarming pattern, one which I don’t fully understand: the need for some atheists to openly show hate and intolerance toward religion.
I’ll start with a fairly minor example. Dispatcher Ms. W was telling Important Guy Mr. K (I don’t know his real title, all I know is that he’s the guy who prevents mutiny and he’s kind of my boss) about how a touching sermon had helped her make it through the day. She was going through a very hard time in her life. Dispatcher Ms. A piped up, “I don’t go to church, organized religion is some scary shit!”
Sure it is, Ms. A. It’s responsible for quite a few of the world’s problems. But not only was that a totally inappropriate thing to say, you just missed a HUGE point. Religion had just helped poor Ms. W through a situation that would have left her lost and despondent if not for the pastor’s words.
That’s just ignorance. The real hate comes when a person turns on the computer. The most recent flame I saw on a message board, the one that inspired me to start ranting, was this: Christian love — burn in hell. Have you seen Passion of the Christ — all that blood will inspire your hateful little Christian heart. You are the closed minded ones. … … You have ignored all the facts that we have presented, but have given none yourself — because you have NO FACTS to support your hateful, god and hell beliefs. … … There are no miracles, and there is no god, heaven or hell. Get over it, and get a real life sucker.
Yes, those words piss me off. No, I don’t believe in God. I’m not a Christian. I just don’t see why a person would feel entitled to make such vitriolic comments about another’s beliefs. Beliefs are part of one’s being.
A common argument is that “Christians try to push their beliefs on others.” By bashing Christianity, by saying that a person’s faith or a person’s church is wrong, the intolerant person is doing the exact same thing.
Whether or not there is a god is a moot point. Faith is a higher power in and of itself. It guides people who would otherwise be lost. It comforts people who desperately need comfort. And when a person is teetering on the line between life and death, prayer can save them. Do these things happen because God makes them happen, or because human will is just that strong? It doesn’t matter. Religion is NOT something to be discounted or belittled.
When someone prays, I respectfully bow my head. When someone talks (or posts) about how his or her faith changed things for the better, I am happy. When someone tells me, “God bless you,” I thank that person and take it as a compliment.
And when someone knocks on my door and asks me to join their church, I say, “No thank you, this is a secular household,” and leave it at that. When I see picketers who tell me that God hates homosexuality/reproductive choice/members of other religions/single mothers/etc., I turn the other cheek. Arguing would do no good; neither of our beliefs will change.
Spreading hate and intolerance will make anyone look like an asshole, be they Christian, Muslim, atheist, pagan, pastafarian, whatever.