Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone? blog by Seth Andrews

 

 

Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?

Seth    Jan 28, 2011 2:00:54 PM | Date Modified: Sep 5, 2012 4:13:14 AM

The protests come every day from the religious, and they go something like this:

* “Why spend your time disproving God?”

* “Why not just let people believe what they want to believe?”

* “Why can’t you leave religion alone?”

As one YouTube commenter said recently, “No one can explain to me why it is so important to convince theists to abandon their beliefs.”

The answer is simple. Pages like this one exist because religion exists.

Religion permeates our culture, shows up on our doorsteps with literature, scriptures and threats of eternal damnation, influences our science books, contaminates our political systems, indoctrinates our children and postulates that its doctrine must be followed, lest we be destroyed in body, in soul, or both.

Non-believers are simply responding to the avalanche of religious messages that bears down upon us daily.

Religion gets carte blanche to be as vocal as it wants, to knock on our doors and accost us in our homes, in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives. Believers are charged with a life mission to preach, teach, disciple, shout it from the mountaintops and to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Religion…is everywhere.

Ask yourself. When’s the last time an atheist rang your doorbell with the Good News of Humanism? How often do you find Richard Dawkins books in the dresser drawers of your hotel rooms? When was the last atheist temple erected in your neighborhood? Have you ever attended an atheist revival? Has atheism demanded 10% of your household income? How many dedicated atheist television channels come through your satellite dish? How many atheist verses were you instructed to memorize as a child? When’s the last time someone thanked a FARMER (or even the cook) at the dinner table instead of God?

On a more radical front, what’s the name of the last atheist who sawed the head off of an “infidel?” Or sentenced a shrouded woman to death for displeasing an oppressive husband? Or strapped explosives to his belt in order to kill hundreds in a public square? Or publicly hung a gay person for his lifestyle?

It’s everywhere. Religion is a pounding drum that has gone mostly unanswered for a long, long time. And religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful. Its very nature compels the believer to proselytize, preach, promote, convince, convert and prevail. If you play on the team of the religious, your game plan is to stay, always, on offense.

Throughout our history, those who raise a simple hand of protest against these advances have been portrayed as the real problem. Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost and alone.

And when skepticism challenges wildly improbable (or impossible) stories found in the bible, the Qur’an and other holy books, the religious wail, “Why can’t you just leave us alone?”

The irony is thick.

And religion impedes curiosity and inhibits learning, as the much-maligned Creation Museum proves. It stymies critical thinking. It stretches us to believe the unbelievable. And it poisons the foundational teachings we are using to train up the generations of tomorrow.

Pages like mine exist as a response… a counter-argument to ensure that the cacophony of superstition does not go unchallenged. And if your belief system is so undeniable, so factual, so provable, so real and so true, certainly it can withstand the opposing viewpoints presented here and elsewhere. Certainly, it can survive the acid tests.

Just remember. Religion began the argument. It amplifies itself before the world. And it threatens all mankind with punishment upon its rejection.

We are atheists. We are moral. We are reasonable. We are thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, happy, fulfilled and well-informed.

And as long as religion insists on fixing human beings who are not broken, we will respond with the evidence that we are not the problem.

-Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist, written 01/28/11

Why Are Atheists “The Enemy?”

I was just reading/listening to Teresa Macbain’s story–

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151681248/from-minister-to-atheist-a-story-of-losing-faith

Religion so often does the opposite of what believers think.  It makes people intolerant.  Why does Teresa’s community that she gave guidance and counseling and encouragement and support to, turn on her this way and treat her like an enemy?  Do Christians view Jews as the enemy?  Or Buddhists?  Or anyone who happens to have faith in something else?   Then why are atheists the enemy?  And especially atheists who were previously Christians?

Tell you what, listening to Teresa’s story…struck a chord with me.  I haven’t become an enemy like she has.  I am not seen as a betrayer of the faith as she is.  But I have lost friends since I made it clear I can’t believe anymore.   I also find myself suddenly having to walk on eggshells worrying how much should I exult in this new feeling of freedom?  How much singing out and speaking out and shouting out with joy can I do before I am admonished for offending someone?

Really, all it takes to offend a Christian is to say the words “there’s no such thing as god.”  Say those words and they are offended, personally and deeply offended.

It’s not meant to be an offense.  If I went 40 years of my life thinking I have a horrible singing voice and always being ashamed to sing, afraid to sing…and then one day I’m told by a voice teacher I have a really great range and wonderful potential as a singer, I’m going to want to tell people.    The same is true if I go my whole life believing in something that makes me feel I can’t ever be good enough, that I was born corrupt and I need to do this and this and this to be good or to be loved…and then one day I find out it’s all a lie and I was born into this world exactly right and exactly as nature meant me to be–I would want to sing that news from the rooftops!  I’d want to  tell my friends, my family, people I care about whom I still see struggling in the dark.   And yet…it offends people.

No Christian, especially not the ones who live for Jesus and give their whole life’s work to serving Jesus like Ms. Macbain, want or ask to lose their faith.   It’s not a road believers take intentionally.  It’s a path they stumble on.

We’re not supposed to ask questions.  I know a friend who was kicked out of her church for asking too many questions.  Why is that?  If Christianity is true–if any religion is true–it should be able to withstand any questions put to it.  It should  not shy away from the new discoveries of science either, but rather welcome those discoveries as further proof of its unshakable truth.

Instead when I asked questions, the kind of questions that put parts of the bible or god’s actions or Jesus’ actions, into doubt, I was given the same pat answers: “we are finite beings; how can we possibly understand god?”  Or, “god works in mysterious ways.”  Or, “have faith.  God will reveal this to you in time.”

And then that time never comes.

I look at the bible and I wonder, how can this loving god that the Christians believe in order little children dashed to pieces or pregnant mother’s bellies cut open with swords?   How can this just and merciful god order a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or…allow his followers to teach that women are worth only half as much as men and should be silent, should not wear jewelry or braided hair or… speak aloud in church, and daughters can be sold into slavery.

These are the questions that catch us unaware.  We are like everyone else, Christians going along with what we’re told, assuming someone bothered to do the research and confirm it’s all true.  We nod our heads and sing our songs and high-light the appropriate verses in the bible.   But then one day someone points out something in the bible we didn’t know was there.  Or maybe one day it suddenly dawns on us that it makes no sense that Satan would hate the people who deny god, his enemy, and would want to punish them.    Or that god would punish Adam and Eve so severely for simply being ignorant, for making a mistake, and not just them but all of humanity.

Atheists are not the enemy of anyone.  Atheists simply do not believe in the supernatural–and have lately been brought to the point that we aren’t so silent about it anymore after having to hear politicians who should know better declare our country a “Christian nation” when it’s not, or for that matter have  Christianity shoved in our face wherever we turn.  How does this make us bad people worthy of hate?  How does this make someone like Teresa Macbain worthy of being shunned by the very community she served and helped for years?

Once upon a time God created himself an enemy.  I’m not sure why.  A lot of pain and suffering would have been avoided if he hadn’t.   But he made Satan and then punished Satan for being made.  Sometimes I feel like Christians want to have an enemy too.  So they hunt down people who dare to not agree, and attack them, call them ignorant or evil–arrogantly tell them they’re going to hell–basically punish them for daring to be, just like gays, true to who and what they are.

Cyndal’s Road To Freedom

I have posted on Facebook a request for former Christians or religious folk to share (anonymously if they wish) their stories re. what impact Christianity had in their life and what led them to give up this path and find another.

Cyndal is a  real person.  I got to know her on Facebook.  Her husband David is a real person.  Nice normal people, who just happen to be in rock/live music culture.  These people live in a very small red-neck town in Tennessee, and going to church and hungering after the Lord wasn’t enough apparently for them to fit in.  Asking questions, wanting to understand, requesting that a pastor do his job…between that and daring to dress differently and wear their hair perhaps, differently…

Well, I have my own story, and it’s nothing so bad as this.  But mine also has something to do with what happens when mental illness and religion comes together.  So do I believe this happened to Cyndal?  You bet.   This is not the first time I have heard a story like this.

Small sidenote.  This is a real person’s story, unedited by myself, and I will not post any replies I get to this that are offensive to Cyndal in any way.

Cyndal’s hard road to become a PROUD Atheist

When I was a small child I went to church with my family every Sunday. It was very scary to me because I was so young I just saw a man up there yelling and other people crying. I was very confused because no one explained what was going on but I was comforted as long as my parents were there. Then when I was about 5 years old we just stopped going. I don’t know why. It was just not a routine any more.

We moved around a lot and never went to church anywhere we lived until we moved to this very small, very religious, red neck town. It’s so small it has a small Walmart and about 5 gas stations but a church every quarter of a mile. Unfortunately I still live here with my husband (David) , my two babies (2&4), and my 17year old brother I adopted due to terrible family situations.

When I was 13 my parents all of a sudden started demanding we go to church again. It was a very small, very laid back church where the preacher wore his pjs and cut church off early when his favorite football team was to play that Sunday! At 13 I thought that was awesome! I was very into church and learning everything I possibly could. At one point I even got to teach Sunday school to the smaller children when their teacher was not there! I love kids so I loved that! As I got older I started wanting more. The things I didn’t understand I would question. I just wanted help understanding what was being taught. After a couple of weeks of constant questioning things and begging the preacher for answers he would simply tell me ” i shouldn’t question because that was doubt and as a Christian I should just have faith!” that just wasn’t enough for me! I would TRY to ask more questions but I would be ignored and dodged by the preacher so he wouldn’t have to bother with me. I was 15 then and that’s when the wheels started turning in my head. About the preacher but I still continued being a Christian. I even got the “teen bible” to help me try to learn. At 16 the preacher talked with my parents and all of a sudden I was the “trouble child”. That turned into a lot of arguing with my parents, me pleading my case as why I’m bad, then mental and emotional abuse started to try to “control” me, to prove they were over me. That ultimately ended with me getting kicked out but my grandmother took me in. (for the record I didn’t do drugs, drink, curse, I did smoke cigarettes behind my parents back but that was the only thing I could figure out as to what made me bad) Believe it or not I continued to go to that church. Drive myself and all!

I have always had the punk/rock/goth look even though that made me stick out in this town which labeled me as a “freak”. I didn’t care though, and don’t care to this day. At 17 I met my now husband. He also is a “freak”. Long red hair, lots of black band shirts, big earrings… He was a Christian too then and started coming to church with me when he didn’t have to work. You could feel the tension in the air but we held our heads high and ignored it. It happened quick but about 6 months of dating (after I turned 18) I moved in with him. That’s when the shit started. They didn’t like that at all. I told them even though we were living together we had bible study on our couch some nights in our pjs and he was finally answering my questions! But they labeled him as a devil worshipper!

One Sunday he had to work so I went to church by myself. I was sick that Sunday so of course I was called up for prayer. Everyone came up, laid their hands on me and started pray out loud. As they were doing that the preacher put his hands on my cheeks and whispered into my ear ” you are living with the devil! He is brain washing you! If you don’t move out you will be damned to hell!” Prayer was done so he let go and smiled at me. I was shocked! that night when David got home I told him what happened. He was shocked and mad! We discussed it and decided it was probably our looks and the way he could answer the questions I had that the preacher couldn’t.

The next Sunday after service we confronted the preacher. I think he was really shocked we had the guts to actually bring that to him! You could tell he was nervous because he was stumbling over his words and quickly ended the conversation with “oh..church needs to start!” and ran off. I skipped the next Sunday because I was still hurt. Then I had planned on going the next service but I was really sick. That’s when we had a knock at the door. It was the preacher and my parents! I’m assuming the preacher talked with my parents and told them what had happened and that David was the devil. We talked with them at first but when it became an argument that made me cry, David said that’s enough and closed and locked the door. They became so mad they were beating on the door demanding to get out and they were saving me! We had to actually call the cops to get them off our property! That’s when the doubt on Christianity really started!

I stopped going for a few weeks until I got a call from my 10 year old brother saying our mother and her new boyfriend had whipped him with a belt and made marks! That infuriated me! It was mid day wednesday so I knew exactly where to find our mother! Church! So I drove down to the church parking lot and waited for them to pull in. No one was there yet and they got there first. I got out demanding my mother to get out and talk with me! She wouldn’t do anything but crack her window but her boyfriend got out and came to my car very angry! I got out not backing down! He was getting up in my face yelling, screaming and telling me I wasn’t nothing but shit for a daughter causing pain in my mothers heart. He pissed me off so bad I grabbed a tire iron out of my car and yelled back “do something…let’s go!” Then they jumped into their van and took off! So…I took off chasing them! I wasn’t done! I guess they called the preacher from their cell because after a minute of round and round they pulled over and the preacher and his wife blocked their car between mine and my mothers. They calmly told them to go back to the church, go in, and lock the doors. Then the attention was turned to me! Yelling and screaming! How dare I go on church grounds acting that way, it didn’t matter what the situation was! I could barely get any words out between their screaming! Well, it ended with the PREACHER, exact words, yelling ” You have been nothing but FUCKING trouble for the past 3 years! I have never been able to stand your ASS! You and the devil (David) are never to step foot in my GOD DAMN church ever again! FUCK YOU YOU LITTLE BITCH!!!” I had to drive by there to get home and as I passed by about 15 church members were outside all of them holding up their middle finger at me and someone yelled something but I couldn’t hear what! And did anyone notice that none of me getting kicked out of the church and why I did this had nothing to do with the whipping of my brother? That was what started it but that act I did was like the preachers perfect opportunity to get me and David out of his church…which was his plan all along!

Now, I know this sounds unbelievable but honest it all true!

That was the beginning of my search. If knew I definitely not a Christian but what was I? I went years just in a non existent daze, half the time not thinking about it until church was brought up then the wondering came back. Around 22 I had enough! I went started the googling, then I went to Books A Million. I sat in the floor for about an hour and came home with 5 books. Not all Atheist books. Agnostic, Atheist, even Wiccan! The Wiccan one was just because I had no clue what Wiccan was! I read and read. I thought and thought. I kept it all secret from everyone. Even David. (Oh I forgot to mention he’s my husband now for 6 years! ) After a while it hit me! I AM ATHEIST! I know I am! No doubt! And I felt free!

Now that I was 100% positive I was Atheist there was the next part….tell David and explain what made me decide this and why… I was soo nervous. He’s my husband. What would he think? What if he got mad? What if it cause arguments? Well, one night we pulled into our drive way. The babies were sound asleep so we took the chance to sit and enjoy a quiet moment talking. Some how religion was the topic that quiet moment. So I took this chance. Basically said ” hunny I have to tell you something about how I feel about religion and if you have any questions or …” then he stopped me. (I have a problem when I’m nervous to talk too much before I just get to the point) He gives me the “come on spit it out look” so I took a deep breathe.” ok well, remember I’ll explain everything…” he says “come on Cyndal” and I just blurt out “I’m atheist and I know that 100%and it feels so good! I have peace now, I feel free, I don’t have near as much anxiety about every move I make any more!” I cringed waiting for shock, questions, maybe even frustrating talking. But to my surprise he just grinned and started laughing! “umm ok…what’s going on ” is all I could say! He said ” stop talking and it’s ok..I’m not mad..I’m happy you found yourself by yourself and you are now happy and not secretly stressing!” He smiled, leaned over and hugged me tight, kissed me and said ” Cyndal I have been Atheist for over a year now, I just never told you so you could figure it out yourself! And even if it were different other than Atheist it would still be ok! I love you!” I can’t explain the relief that was lifted off of my chest! Then we sat there for quite a while talking about how and when he became Atheist and how. And the same for me! He kept telling me how proud he was of me for finding myself by myself! All me! No influences at all! And we talked about that a lot for days! Then he started showing me different things on the Internet to help me further research and his books he had and the wonderful “The Thinking Atheist” site and Seth’s pod casts. That is now one of our pass time things to do is pod casts and “hey look at this video..look at this joke..” I’ve also figured out how to (with his help) teach our children better as far as science and things. I truly feel like as both of us being Atheist has benefited me, benefited David, benefited our family life style…just a lot of things.

This is my story of all my struggles through life but in the end I finally feel my life is the best it’s ever been. And it continues to be better and better. Me and David are on the same page so that helps the whole family in many ways! I feel like my whole life until I became Atheist was a dark blur and now I feel it’s free and happy. Like I’ve finally seen the light! (not in a Christian way though…lol) All of this combined, my whole journey to become myself now, being able to speak out and tell my story has helped me to become out of my shell.

That is why I can honestly say ….

I AM A PROUD ATHEIST!!!

( I really from my heart hope that my story can help hundreds of the quiet Atheist out there that feel like they should stay quiet! Learn from my story that you can uplift yourself and be a free thinker and most of all …a PROUD Atheist!!!)

My Letter To President Barack Obama

(An email I sent him actually, via Facebook, that I already know he’ll never read)

I am writing you here, Mr. President, because I write you from the White House website…I get form letters back. I know you don’t read those letters,

PLEASE help us! This is supposed to be America! Isn’t it??? Then WHY is this being allowed? Why are women having to lose their say over their own bodies? A baby considered to be started two weeks before a man and women perhaps even meet??? How is this possible? In a badly overpopulated world suffering environmental crisis on a global scale…WE are sitting around debating whether to allow birth control or abortion?

And now Romney wants to make it a policy apparently, that women get paid less than men for the same work?

Meanwhile up in Alaska Alan Dick wants to claim a fetus is a man’s property and a woman should need a man’s PERMISSION to get an abortion????

Help!

Since I was a little girl I have watched as, election after election my society puts women’s human rights under a microscope and has asked “should we let women have these rights for another four years?” like OUR rights are some kind of special favor they are granting us and not our natural right for just being humans.

I am so tired of men (and religious brain-washed women) THREATENING my rights. We should get paid the same. We should have the right to choose if we want a baby once we find that we are pregnant. There is no GOD and I’m tired of these santimonious people trying to shove their interpretation of the bible down our throats whether we believe or not.

The bible is very clear that life begins when a baby first draws breath so they cannot blame GOD for their insisting on forcing women back into the dark ages!

What next, Sir? Women…not being allowed to drink, to play sports, to own property, to vote? What next???

I am tired of living in FEAR all the time wondering what NEXT!!!

(hoping you will read!)

-Diane Fadden