I hate religion.
Okay, that’s not true. And I should probably rephrase that before an angry mob of Christians armed with torches and pitchforks shows up at my door. I don’t hate religion. I hate organized religion. And hate is probably too strong a word for how I feel about it.
But hey, it got your attention didn’t it? Ruffled a few feathers? Sparked some fires? I’ll admit to being inflammatory, but that was kind of the point. In a country that’s supposedly about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, saying something like that is generally considered taboo. Which is funny, because some of the same people who would consider that off-limits to say are also the ones who flocked to the defense of a Minnesota restaurant owner after he posted a “Muslims get out” sign.
A little over two years ago, I wrote a post about growing up as a non-religious person. In it, I talked a little about how frustrating it was to always run into that “you have to believe in God” sentiment from kids my age. I also mentioned how atheists are almost always seen as antagonistic and angry people, which in a self-fulfilling way made me a little antagonistic and angry toward religion during my high school years. And the stigma against atheists is no joke. Eight states in our country have laws on the books which state that non-believers can’t hold public office, although the laws are thankfully unenforceable now due to a 1960’s Supreme Court decision.
But regardless, the stigma persists. I remember seeing a video a long time ago about a billboard espousing atheist views that said something similar to “take the myth out of Christmas” with a picture of Jesus on it. I couldn’t find that video again, but I remember it had the format of someone walking up and asking people what they thought of it. One woman stuck out to me in particular, because she said something to the effect of “they shouldn’t be allowed to post stuff like that”. And I remember wondering why. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to post things like that? Isn’t that what freedom of speech is about?
That restaurant owner who posted the “Muslims get out” sign? Totally tactless. Totally idiotic. And even if his excuse of “well I couldn’t fit the word ‘extremists’ on the sign” is true…he apparently never considered not posting the sign. Because somehow it never popped into his head that maybe…just maybe…people might construe it to mean all Muslims. In the end though, it was totally his right to post it. That I do not deny.
But I digress. I make the drive from Duluth to my parent’s home around once every month or two. And every time I see the same anti-abortion billboards, over half a dozen in all. And almost every single one has some kind of Christian theme to it.
“God knew my soul before I was even born,” one proudly reads with a picture of a smiling baby. Yeah…he knew you were going to be a peeing, pooping, screaming nightmare for the first few years of your life. Anyways, I see these kind of signs all the time.
Now, I will admit, their tactic isn’t exactly the nicest thing in the world. That is kind of their point, to ruffle a few feathers. But it does speak to a certain stigma against atheist viewpoints. A shocking amount of people in the world think that a belief in God is necessary to be moral. It’s ridiculous, really. A decent number of those very same, “moral” Christians also want to keep Muslims out of this country. A decent number of those very same Christians won’t lift a finger to help refugees. A decent number of those people also have an almost fetishistic love of firearms.
And that’s the thing that bothers me about organized religion. It’s full of people constantly complaining about their religious freedom, yet those same people never stop to think about the religious freedoms of others. For all their haughty outrage about Christianity being called a “myth”, they never stop to think about the face that to them, every other religious system that exists, has existed, or will exist is basically a myth to them.
The Greeks? The Egyptians? The Romans? All myths. Even Hinduism could be called a myth from the Christian perspective.
But somehow, that doesn’t track with a lot of people. Because for them, of course other belief systems are a myth because theirs is the only right one. Their god is the only real god. And very few of them ever stop to think that “hey…maybe that other guy from that other religion thinks the same way.” Because, to them, it doesn’t matter. They’ve been told from the very beginning that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.
See, I’ve always felt that religion is a personal thing. It’s why I don’t shout “I’m an atheist” in someone’s face immediately upon meeting them. Because it shouldn’t matter. But a lot of people out there seem to think that they have the right to run roughshod over other people’s beliefs while not allowing their own to be questioned. Whenever I have a debate with a religious person over the origin of the universe, the conversation usually goes like this:
“The Big Bang theory is so stupid! Something can’t come from nothing!”
“Well then where did God come from?”
“God always was. He was always there.”
“What? But you just said that something can’t come from noth-”
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
It’s frustrating, because it just doesn’t make sense to me. They believe in an omnipotent god who was always there and can do anything he wants at any time. And yet, something coming from nothing is just “impossible”.
I’ll stop here, because I could go on forever about this. For all the pandering and complaining about Christians being “victimized”, most of them truly don’t understand the meaning of the word. I don’t either. I’ve never lived under a totalitarian religious state, so I can’t even conceive of what that must be like. But if you’re a Christian, next time you start complaining out loud or to yourself about how underrepresented or oppressed you are, take a step back for a second and reevaluate the situation. You’re in the majority. Not just in the United States, but in the world at large.
Remember that next time you want to whine about being “so oppressed”. There are plenty of people who can hardly get a word in edgewise.
Thanks for reading! Check back next Wednesday for a new post, and as always, have a wonderful week.