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I Am an Atheist

“No Religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

I’m an Atheist. I hear a lot about how I oppress Christian. I hear a lot about what I believe (most of it wrong), what I should believe (which is none of your business), and how I war on everything from Christmas to straight people, to freedom of religion. I’m constantly told I will go to hell, am destroying the country’s morals, and that I’m Satan trying to trick the righteous into perversion. And I hear this nearly every day from the roughly 75% of the nation that identifies as Christian.

Cross Me Off the List

The quote above is from the Texas Constitution. It still appears 53 years after the U.S. Constitution declared it illegal. Six other states still have similar “laws”. Even if these laws didn’t exist, it would be very unlikely I could be elected, regardless of my qualifications. Fifty-four percent of you would cross me off the list, sight unseen because of my Beliefs.

I am always aware this inequality exists and that there are many seemingly rational people who seem OK with that. And I am very disappointed by my real inability to be elected to fight for what I believe in.

This is an example of oppression. I don’t know anyone who would refuse to vote for a Christian simply because they are Christian, even Atheists. Yet, I do not “feel” oppressed by it. It is a fact of my life. But I’ve been lucky. My family never disowned me for not believing in their loving God. I’ve never been fired from a job or had health care refused by my employer. But I’m not a typical atheist.

When attacked, I hold my own. I have an excessively Thick Skin. I’m well-equipped to make my own way in life without God’s alleged help, but I could really do without the constant suggestion that something I don’t believe exists is the source of that help. Because I have a thick skin, I rarely chastise the dozens of well-meaning people who pray for me (against my express wishes) because, you know, “It can’t hurt.” No more than telling a theist they shouldn’t pray because, “God is silly and isn’t going to help you anyway.”

The majority of atheists were raised in religious households. Many read the Bible extensively (in my case, three times cover-to-cover). Statistically, we know it better than Christians. Almost all of us have made some sort of spiritual journey. We just chose a different path based on the quantifiable and not faith.

The nature of the atheist\theist debate makes it totally unsolvable. I cannot prove there is no God and freely admit that. I don’t feel so bad about that because philosophers centuries ago established the inability to “prove” any negative. All I can offer are quantifiable facts to the degree that technology and limits of human knowledge can find. I can present a huge body of evidence that makes the existence of God statistically unlikely. Some of that data, given the complexity and limits of what we know, will be wrong or evolve over time. It is not as static as the Bible, though it has changed dozens of times too. To me that is the power of science not its weakness.

By the same token, you cannot prove there is a God. You can say you believe the Bible is the literal word of God or, if not the word of God, at least a general outline of what He wants. But to do that you have to square all the verse contradictions, contrary historical data, or that sometimes an omnipotent being produces consistent or even desirable results. 

Despite the belief of some, atheists don’t get up in the morning, rub their hands like a maniacal Simon Legree, and set about trying to bring Christendom to an end. I like to think Christians don’t either. However, sometimes it feels that way.

Disagreement is Not an Insult

We all lost sight of the notion that a disagreement is not the same as stealing rights or an insult. Neither is it an attempt to silence your free Speech. You may think my disbelief in a God is an insult, but is that any less insulting than suggesting atheist Pat Tillman abandoned his sincerely held beliefs in his last moments as though they never mattered in the first place? According to his atheist brother who was also in the firefight, it’s not…it’s worse.

As far as I can recall, there is nothing in the Bible that forces people to be nonsensical.  If atheists, or anyone for that matter, believes consenting adults who love each other want to marry, there is a simple way to work it out.

Allow your church to marry anyone they want with any restriction they want. Fight for as much deference to your beliefs as the situation allows without depriving someone else of theirs. Remember this does not change your life one iota. It does not change your belief at all. It does not change your religious practices at all. You can still pray. You can still reject anyone you want from your church. You still enjoy the preferential treatment you get. You do not have to like people who do not share your beliefs or stop proselytizing (though I’d be relieved if you would). All you have to do is allow others to have the same right to live as you and understand that when you say negative or hateful things to someone else they are likely to be upset by it.

For my atheists friend, let Christians live. Most of them are nice people regardless of their belief. There s no reason to ride them out of town on a rail. Fight for those things that are right and insist they follow the secular law. Don’t try to restrict their right to do what they want within their church. Stop trying to fight everything you don’t agree with as hate speech, even though I may agree with you. Accept the notion that you can’t legislate hate. You can only legislate how that hate may affect the nation. If you don’t believe in hate speech, you can’t exempt your own.

Theist vs. atheist cannot be a zero-sum game or we will never get past the squabbling. That takes sucking up some things you may not agree with and accept that all people are different and always will be. Twisting their arms or bashing them will only make the situation worse.

Can’t we all get along?

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This post first appeared on The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks, please read the originial post: here

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I Am an Atheist


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