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Three Things that Make THIS Atheist Angry:

Updated on June 13, 2014

Introduction

I’ve seen a disturbing and growing trend lately on social media and writing sites. These things are not new, and they’re not overly prevalent now than in the previous decades, but as I see them growing in my news feed and in articles, they’re starting to seriously weigh on my chest and cause continual frustration.

Your turn

Is it Privilege or Persecution?

See results

1. Persecution and Attack vs. dissent of traditional Christian Privilege.

I see more and more Christians on a daily basis claiming that Christianity is being persecuted in the United States, and they need to fight back to keep it from being taken over by an immoral secular system. News flash, Christians – this is a secular country. It is NOT a theocracy, although I acknowledge that many of you would like to make it one. This country was founded on principles of religious freedom – and if religious freedom is to exist at all, it HAS to include freedom from religion as well. The freedom to not have any religion at all is essential to being free to have any religion that you’d like. Christians nation-wide are claiming in growing numbers that they’re being attacked. They cite the fact that mandatory school prayer has been removed from public schools, and spin it to say that Christian children are prohibited from praying in school. They even have the gall to say that marriage equality is persecution of Christian values and morals, while they simultaneously try to restrict and rescind the rights of others. They cite a growing number of atheist and humanist bloggers, who criticize Christianity, Islam and every other religion as ‘attacks’ against them.

Let me explain something. Criticism and even open mocking is not an attack against you. Being beaten to a bloody pulp and being tied to a fence post in the middle of nowhere and left to die – THAT is being attacked. Unless, somehow, that person is gay – in which case it isn’t exactly justified, but they can understand the reaction of two young straight guys who claimed that the gay guy hit on them which prompted them to that drastic course of action.

If you want prayer back in public school, take a moment to think of the ramifications. If blanket prayer is once again mandatory in public schools, it’s not just going to be Christian prayers that are being mandated. Would you like your Protestant, Catholic or Jewish child coming home and sharing the story about how they had to pray to Mecca several times throughout the school day – and that it was mandatory? No? But you wanted prayer back in public schools, right? Did you think that would ONLY apply to Christian prayer? Not only Christian prayer, but your particular DENOMINATION of Christian prayer? No, sorry. If you want mandatory prayer back in public school, it opens the door to all prayers of all religions, and if you try to bar Islamic prayers, you’re claiming special privilege, which is not allowed under the Constitution.


Christians will say that Christian prayer was “traditional” so that should be the only type of prayer allowed. Really? According to “tradition” ‘In God We Trust’ was not on our money until the Red scare in the middle of the 1900’s. If we’re going by tradition, it should absolutely be removed, right? No? Once again, Christian privilege rears its ugly head. The problem is that Christians have been getting away with so much throughout the country that they’ve gotten the mistaken impression that it’s their right, and it lends validation to their particular religious beliefs. Now that Christian privilege is being challenged more and more often, Christians see it as persecution rather than a challenge on the grounds of the separation of church and state.

Tolerance and Respect

2. Marriage Equality is just that. Equality. It is NOT special privileges for homosexuals.

Unbeknownst to many Christians, gay marriage was never illegal until recently. Once upon a time, a gay couple went into a courthouse, looking to get a marriage certificate. They went before a judge, who happened to be a Christian, who refused to grant them a marriage license because it conflicted with his religious beliefs. Thus the fight for marriage equality began. States began passing laws against marriage for same-sex couples. Gradually, those laws are being overturned at the state level, and the Defense of Marriage act has already been overturned federally. Christians can fight this tooth and nail, and cry “abomination” and “destroying the sanctity of marriage” all they want. But we’re still winning. Your beliefs about homosexuality based on your religious book don’t matter. Let me repeat. They DON’T MATTER. Laws are not based on religious ideologies – at least they’re not supposed to be in THIS country. The fact that they have been in the past does not make them right. Marriage is a legally binding contract between two consenting adults. Homosexuals are not demanding that we be allowed to get married in your church. In fact, we wouldn’t want to. What we want is to be treated equally to everyone else. That means that you cannot legally discriminate against gay couples without consequences. If you don’t like homosexuality, don’t participate in a homosexual relationship. Claiming that giving gay people the right to get married is somehow cheapening or destroying your marriage probably means that it wasn’t that strong to begin with. Your marriage does not affect me. My marriage does not affect you. It really is that simple.

Do Christian people really want to see laws based on religious beliefs? Possibly – if they are laws based on their own religion. I doubt they would feel the same way if, say, Sharia law was enacted in the United States, making it legal to perform “honor killings” by stoning of a sexually active daughter or a homosexual. I doubt they would like to see the punishment for theft be chopping off a hand. This is again a perception of Christian privilege. They want THEIR religious beliefs transformed into legal precedents, but no one else’s.

If gay people were getting special rights, they would be asking to be exempt from taxes – as Ricky Gervais pointed out – like churches do. All we’re asking for is the same rights that everyone has – the ability to marry the people that we love, whether you like it or not. Might I also mention that until relatively recently, interracial couples were not allowed to get married and could be imprisoned for simply being together. That changed, despite “tradition”, and we’re a better society for it. Marriage equality is going to happen, and it’s happening sooner rather than later. You’re free to think that it’s disgusting. You’re free to decline any invitation that you may miraculously receive for a homosexual wedding – and we’re probably glad that you decide not to show up. You can disagree with it to your heart’s content, and decide that we’re going to burn in hell – but legally your opinion and your holy book have no standing. There are a lot of laws that I disagree with, but they exist anyway. Slap a smile on your face, deal with it, and go about your day.

3. Blatant disregard for the separation of church and state:

Recent legal challenges have come to light from atheist and humanist groups against Christian symbols on public lands, and in many of these cases, the atheists have won. Why? Because the separation of church and state exists. The ten commandments do not belong in a public courthouse, any more than the laws of Islam or Mormonism belong in them. Counties and cities cannot legally erect a nativity scene on public/government owned property to the exclusion of all other religious or secular displays. If an atheist, or a Jew or a Muslim applies to be given a spot alongside the nativity set and their application is DENIED, it is not equal – it is favoring one religious expression over another, which is exactly what the 1st amendment was designed to avoid. I’ve heard it argued that it only applies to various Christian denominations, and not to other religions, but that’s absurd. Either all beliefs get equal treatment, or none of them do. Would Christians like to see a Muslim display on government lands? They violently opposed the construction of a community center and a Mosque blocks away from Ground Zero. I doubt they would be pleased. Because of this hypocrisy being challenged, a Satanic monument is going up in Oklahoma beside a display of the ten commandments. If it’s okay for one, it’s okay for all, and while I don’t care for Satanism any more than I care for any other religion, I understand the point that is being made by erecting it, and I agree with the premise behind it. Personally, I would like to see no religious iconography on public lands, but if it’s going to exist, it has to be given equal treatment under the law – regardless of whether people agree with it, appreciate it or not.

Conclusion

I don’t hate religious people. I do hate some of the mentality that religions help to create and foster – and have done for centuries. Religion is divisive and exclusive, and it drives more people apart than it ever brings together. For Christianity specifically, it has been like that since its inception. In order for society to evolve, the Christian church had to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the dark ages, and it was faced with a choice. Evolve or die. It chose to evolve. Practices once mandated by the church are now condemned. A new spirit of the Church was born – but it’s still divisive. I see Christians of varying denominations going at each others throats far more than I see Christians or atheists going after each other. It’s once again time for religion to evolve if it’s going to survive. I understand that religion gives comfort and peace to many people. I don’t want to force people away from it. I would never advocate legal prohibition against religious beliefs, but I do believe that something is pervasive and divisive poses a danger for continued growth as a species – and as a society at large.

© 2014 Julie McFarland

Your Turn

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  • jlpark profile image

    Jacqui 3 years ago from New Zealand

    Well put. The unfortunate part of it all is that you have to write this in the first place - because people just don't understand anything about atheism, religious freedom, freedom FROM religion, and equal rights. Those things you'd think people would make sure they were clued up about before they start shouting "persecution".

    Thanks for writing it though!

  • profile image

    graceinus 3 years ago from those of the Ekklesia

    I have been a christian for most on my adult life. I have many hours of study in the christian bible. At the same time I make no claim to have a full understanding of everything in it, but I do know this. There is NOTHING in the bible that teaches on the subject of tolerance. As a matter of fact you will not find the word tolerance ANYWHERE in the christian bible. You will not find any teaching in the bible that we as christians must or should tolerate other religions, gay marriaged or any life style that is decadent to moral values. I will never like , respect or tolerate a gay life style. This is the problem with many people like you. You think if a christian is not tolerant towards things that are "different" then he/she is a hypocrite when it comes to being "christian". As a christian I am NOT required, by my faith, to be tolerant towards things that are flat out wrong. And if you don't like it then it's your problem.

    To my understanding, no one that I have heard of is asking for prayer to be MANDATORY in public schools. They are asking for prayer to be, once again, ALLOWED in public schools. So you have a remarkable way of twisting things here.

    One final point, you might not like the 10 Commandments on public display, the same rule applies that I don't like seening to men walking hand in hand and kissing each other on public sidewalk.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    Grace:

    Firstly, you have told me point blank on more than one occasion to not visit your hubs, and any comment I leave would be deleted on the spot. Your Hypocrisy is showing.

    Secondly, you don't have to be tolerant. You do, however, have to deal with it. We're winning. You're losing. We're finally catching up to the majority of the civilized world, and I'm sorry that you don't like it, but whether or not you like it is not my problem. I don't like seeing people with their underwear hanging out in public, but I have no right to go over to then and tell them that I want them to pull their pants up and expect them to comply. If you see two men kissing, look the other way. It really is that simple.

    Thirdly, if you think prayer is outlawed in public school, you're going to have to prove it from a non biased, non Christian source. If you think kids are not posting before their math final, you're wrong. If you think the good news Club is not infiltrating public school, you're wrong again. Good day.

  • profile image

    mbuggieh 3 years ago

    Grace: Was not your Jesus tolerant by example and deed?

    And Grace, who exactly are "people like you" when you refer to those tolerant or accepting of difference?

    And Grace, your comment brings me to something my father used to say to people who were just getting way to full of themselves---particularly in matters of religion:

    "Who died and left you God?"

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    correction: Pray, not posting, before their math finals.

    Secondly, where in this hub, other than the title of the cartoon, did I say ANYTHING about having to be tolerant? Therefore the entire first paragraph of your reply, Grace, is simply a straw man argument about something I never actually said.

  • Righteous Atheist profile image

    Righteous Atheist 3 years ago

    I agree with Grace - Christians are not tolerant of anything at all. And anyone who does not follow their ridiculous belief system is flat out wrong. Hence the 2,000 years of wars and murder by them. :(

  • ChristinS profile image

    Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

    Excellent hub. Atheist or not, many reasonable people understand that keeping religion (all of it) out of public schools, property etc. is an essential part of personal freedom. If you let one in, you have to open the doors to all of it. There are private schools for those who want kids to pray in school. People like Grace seem to feel they have the right to dictate to other people how to live their lives - but, they don't like it when others refuse to accept their version of morality. The truth is - freedom from religion protects ALL of us. Great hub, eloquently stated.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Truly awesomely said. I wish all the Christians would read this hub! They might, but they won't leave an intelligent comment, unfortunately. They just hate when they have to think about stuff instead of rubber stamping "intolerant" to everything that doesn't allow them to do what they want.

  • profile image

    sheilamyers 3 years ago

    I'm still waiting to post a response to one of your hubs and have my fellow Christians hunt me down and beat me up. Why would they? Because I agree with much of what you say. For this hub, I agree with all of it.

    1. Prayer is allowed in schools. Kids can pray silently any time they want to and no one that I know - atheist or otherwise - has a problem with kids gathering and praying together. I don't think they need to incorporate prayer over the intercom, at assemblies, etc.

    2. As a Christian, I don't believe we're to try to legislate our morality. If someone asks me what I think about the homosexual lifestyle, I'm going to tell them. Even though I believe it's sinful, it's not my place (or any Christian) to enact laws against it. I can look up the verses if anyone wants them, but for now I'll just state that Christians are to rebuke other Christians and not go around telling people outside of the religion what they can and can't do.

    3. I don't care if laws get passed saying religious symbols can't be displayed in government buildings. I will put up a fight if they try to pass laws saying they can't be displayed on my private property even if someone else can see it from the road etc. I don't see that happening any time soon.

    What it comes down to is we (Christians) need to clean up our own act and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    Thank you, Sheila, for your thoughtful and intelligent response on an issue that seems to have rustled a few feathers. If Christians do hunt you down as a result, it does prove my point in the conclusion. From my perspective, Christianity is divisive against itself far more than it is concerned with going after non believers.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    @sheilamyers - Holy Moley! An intelligent Christian! Thank you for you well elucidated response. I am glad to hear that at least someone on the religious side can understand what is going on.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    Austin, they're a very rare breed, but they do exist. I think the fundamentalist sit on them to keep them quiet a lot of the time.

  • M. T. Dremer profile image

    M. T. Dremer 3 years ago from United States

    There are a lot of groups that are unaware of the privilege they've had throughout history. Heterosexuals, males, white people and Christians have all occupied space at the top of the social food chain. And, unfortunately, many on the top fail to see anything happening outside their bubble. This is how certain white people can think racism is 'over'. It doesn't directly affect them, so they can forget about it.

    It's the same with Christianity. In the United States, they haven't experienced real religious persecution so they misinterpret resistance to overreach as an attack. That isn't to say that people haven't been persecuted for being Christian in this country, but those real instances are not the basis for the outrage of the majority. They're just google searched when ever the arguing theist needs justification for saying prayer should be in schools.

  • profile image

    sheilamyers 3 years ago

    JMcFarland: Being divisive is one of the main reasons I myself have problems with some of my fellow Christians. I really believe the core beliefs should bind us together and the differences shouldn't cause so much friction. While I don't agree with all of the practices and beliefs of other denominations, I'd never claim those people are any less of a Christian than I am.

    Austin: I try my best to actually read and listen to what atheists and people from other religions are saying. As I've told JMcFarland before, I may not always agree with things he says, but I do understand the basis for his opinions. What I can't understand is how some Christians ignore the rules such as "Do unto others", "Love thy neighbor", and on and on when it suits them. Or worse, they think those rules only apply to their interaction with other Christians who believe exactly as they do. Jesus - who is to be our model of behavior - mixed and mingled with people who were, in many ways, against him. Christians today should do the same thing. We don't have to agree with everything or condone particular behaviors, but we can all still be friends and live in peace with one another.

  • Say Yes To Life profile image

    Yoleen Lucas 3 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

    Issue #1 - you can disagree, even debate, an issue without attacking. Each person is entitled to his or her beliefs. If someone points out what you believe makes no sense, you can respond with, "I don't know". Lashing out in defense, which many fundamentalist Christians do, only makes that person look foolish.

    Issue #2 - Anyone who vehemently protests gay marriage should ask themselves how they'd feel if the person they married turned out to be gay. Why would a homosexual marry the opposite sex? To hide their identity from a prejudiced world - perhaps even as an attempt to change their orientation, which they did not choose. Judy Garland's father was a homosexual. Joan Baez was a lesbian who married and had a son.

    That is why we have Issue #3, which is separation of church and state. Given the previous 2 issues, I think it's an excellent idea. Students can silently pray any way they wish, at any time; no one will have an issue with that!

  • Austinstar profile image

    Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    I keep responding to theists who tell me that, "Atheists want to abolish all religions" with, "NO, you are free to practice your religion as you wish." Atheists should have the same freedom to practice non-religion if they so choose. Why and How this is misunderstood is beyond me.

    Sheila Myers says it wonderfully, "We don't have to agree with everything or condone particular behaviors, but we can all still be friends and live in peace with one another."

    That is all I aim for as an atheist - to still be friends and live in peace.

  • bethperry profile image

    Beth Perry 2 years ago from Tennesee

    Wow. What a very well written, respectful Hub on the subject.

    I am neither an atheist, nor a Christian, and am shocked by the refreshing way you addressed your points (even if I don't 100% with all of them). You have joined the circle of Christian writers that have earned my respect on their take of this subject. Good job!

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