Want to Share What It's Like

I grew up in the midwest in one of the most right-wing towns on the planet.  A suburb that grew from 4500 people to over 100,000 in my lifetime, I'm 47 now.  At high school, I questioned the legality of the national honor society christmas candlelighting ceremony...sure, it was silent, but there was a NATIVITY SCENE on the stage when you entered the gym.  Needless to say, my popularity dropped dramatically, while that was okay, the death threats, threats of violence, religious literature stuffed in my locker, etc. weren't so okay.  Hey, I've always had a sense of humor about it, but I'm getting tired of we atheists having the "live and let live" attitude.  I want to speak out...but not to my friends who are just doesn't seem worth losing friends over.  I'd love some wisdom from others on this topic.

kubygirl kubygirl 46-50 11 Responses Sep 4, 2008

Your Response


it's a happy, happy, joy, joy... :)

CC, its nothing new for me to tell you I agree with you, but I do want to add that this conversation is a joy.

Not meaning to jump into the middle of a debate here, and no offense meant.. But two wrongs don't make a right. Sure, some (not all) religious people attack others for their believes, but attacking them back won't solve anything.

I was religious at one point in my life. But I changed and I became more open minded and accepting of other beliefs. I wouldn't have if everyone came and started beating me up because of what I was taught. I never religiously attacked anyone, but I always avoided those who didn't share the same beliefs. I was ignorant. But the one thing I've learned is that you can't fight ignorance with the same ignorance.

I respect other people's beliefs as long as they respect mine. Now, if someone started attacking what I believed in, I might feel obligated to say something mean in return. But I wouldn't be as bad as they were because I don't want to become like the person I hate.

Anyways.. kubygirl. If your friends can't accept your beliefs then they aren't really friends. Also, if people are threatening you and harassing you, they need to go back and read whatever religious literature they keep placing in your locker! I'm sorry, but some (not all) religious people can be so hypocritcal. As far as I know, they aren't supposed to have hatred and murderous intent towards anyone. If they think you're so wrong, they are 100 times as wrong.


"I'm simply not that patient."

It's as patient as I'm willing to be...I'll gladly listen to what they have to say once, and I'll make my decision based on what they said...but if they begin to tell me those same things in any regular or repeated manner it's not only annoying it's disrespectful and I don't really have any issue letting them know it. I think that's pretty patient...if I jumped down their throat the first time they said anything about it, that would be lacking patience from my perspective.

"Now, it could be argued that I should learn to be more tolerant of others - and I do strive to be. However, my patience runs out very, very quickly when others try to impose their beliefs on me.

Even if, as Charos points out, they are doing it for my benefit.

The arrogance attached to that notion astounds me."

People are arrogant...they tend to believe that what they think is right is right. Besides, I'd draw quite a line between someone telling me about the beauty of their religion and outrightly "imposing" their beliefs on me...

"And tolerance has it's limits, obviously. It has to, or I would condone anyone's right to do anything at all. Now I'm sure none of us agree that makes sense, so I suppose it's a question of where we as individuals choose to draw our lines.

For me, believe what you believe, be vocal about it if you want to be and allow me to do the same."

Being vocal is great, I'm vocal and open about my beliefs as well...being condescending, mean-spirited or arrogant in being vocal however doesn't accomplish anything positive, it only increases hatred, anger and distrust between groups. I'm glad you like the thread... :) and good afternoon to you...

Charos you have a very mature perspective.

"I think beliefs like that SHOULD be disrespeted. The should be shown no more reverence than any other form of hatred inciting biggotry. Should a white supremasists insistance that black people are fools, vile and evil be respected. Should we lend false respect to those beliefs simply for better relations?"

That depends...if the belief is to wantonly kill or rape or whatever then of course I lack respect for it, but does anyone here actually believe the majority of Christians are looking to rape and kill? Perhaps some of the fanatical nutjobs like the Phelps clan down south, but the VAST majority would never, EVER agree with something despicable like that...most of the Christians I've met have been fully accepting and respectful of myself and my beliefs...some aren't, but generally I can change that by disarming them with respect on my end. It's hard to disrespect someone who's treating you kindly and respectfully...point being, I'll disrespect someone's views if I've been shown those views are in direct opposition to my moral beliefs, I have little respect for murderers for example...but to just generally "oh, you're christian? I don't respect you"...that in itself is definitive prejudice, and that would make me no better than they were. Frankly, so long as a person doesn't harm others, they can believe what they want and I'll support their right to believe it... "I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it" if it gets into them KILLING other people or raping them that's a whole other story, and it's definitely not something most or even a significant number of modern day Christians support.

"oh bummer, I'm so new, I replied instead of sharing my comment. Respect is a good thing, but, I guess I don't respect those who kill, murder, rape, pillage, torture...ummmm...let's see, so, you respect the views of the terrorists of 9-1-1?"

They went far, FAR beyond simply "believing something", they committed mass murder...I don't HAVE to disrespect their beliefs, their acts are despicable enough. And again, I can't even describe how many Muslims I've talked to who will readily call them the scum they are along with everyone else. They were nuts, their beliefs were just a justification for the psychological problems they obviously had from the get-go.

"Also, I've rarely met a christian who didn't find my opinion not only insulting, but also felt very angry and threatened by it."

But do you think that acting disrespectfully towards them will act in the interests of peace and harmonious relations? So long as they aren't out there raping and murdering people in almost EVERY case such a perception was drawn more from the fact that THEY have been disrespected by every atheist they've met, they simply assume we're all hostile and once they see that we're not, that many of us respect their beliefs they do a literal 180, many of my closest friends have come to me in this way.

"I know there are enlightened souls out there, maybe the people you met, educated, I suspect?"

So educate them :) don't tell them their beliefs are stupid and they need to change them, show them that WE can be respectful, that WE can be caring people as well, otherwise all they're going to see is disrespectful, hateful people insulting them so of COURSE they'll respond with hostility...

"This is interesting to me as an atheist. I don't find it necessary to be combative for the sake of provoking anger, but at the same time I agree with CC2008 that I have no moral obligation to respect a person's beliefs."

Yeah, you're right...we have no real "obligation" to do so, but that's not really the point...if we DON'T nothing is going to change. No one is going to act respectfully towards a group who has shown themselves to have no respect for them, why would they?

"One last point that has always annoyed me:

I've never tried to 'de-convert' a believer, but the amount of times that people have tried to help me become 'saved'..."

This is a sort of tricky have someone badger you, over and over and over and each time you see them they try to "save" you is disrespectful of THEM...usually I stop them after the 3rd or 4th time and say "listen, I understand what you're trying to do, but you have to understand that I have my own beliefs and you telling me these things isn't going to change that. I would ask that you please respect my right to believe what I wish, you've made your case and I've heard it and I don't need it brought up every time we meet, that's simply rude"...say it like that and not once have I had someone continue trying to convert me. If they do it ONCE however, I'll generally listen, and thank them for their concern but explain that I believe what I believe.

You have to view it from their perspective, look at it this way, if you knew in your heart for absolute certain. I mean you believed with every ounce of your heart, soul and mind that if someone you loved and cared about didn't change the way they were living they would end up in a place of unimaginable torment for all of eternity, would you NOT tell them? To be honest, to be told that one time is more of a compliment than anything, they're trying to do what's right...they don't want you to wind up in hell, and so they let you know what they believe. Now once they've told me, they've done their part...if they continue I tell them what I said above, but just the one time I completely understand, in fact I think I would be more disturbed if I thought they "knew" in their hearts I was going to eternal anguish and DIDN'T say anything to me, that would be indicative of their not really caring about me...the fact that they did tell me shows me they care...if they didn't, they wouldn't bother right? :) Again though, it's just respect...being told about the bible and God doesn't hurt anyone...I'd hope you guys are secure enough in your beliefs it doesn't offend or threaten you, so just listen...thank them for caring enough to tell you and let it go that one time. If they keep badgering you then let them know "listen, you told me once and I appreciate you caring, but you've made your pitch and this is beginning to get rude, please stop" virtually every case they will, and if they don't they're not someone I'd care to associate with anyway.

oh bummer, I'm so new, I replied instead of sharing my comment. Respect is a good thing, but, I guess I don't respect those who kill, murder, rape, pillage, torture...ummmm...let's see, so, you respect the views of the terrorists of 9-1-1? I don't, and had they told me what they were, I'd have had to disagree, and probably not very respectfully. Also, I've rarely met a christian who didn't find my opinion not only insulting, but also felt very angry and threatened by it. I know there are enlightened souls out there, maybe the people you met, educated, I suspect? In fact, I think all of my closest friends are christian. It's not necessary to argue with them...unless of course, THEY bring it up.

You guys seem so healthy. I respect that you can be open about your atheism. I wish so much that I could, but alas I am a closet atheist.

"Char, I have to disagree with you a little here. I agree that being been overly combatative is unlikely to anyone anywhere."

It gets them SOMEWHERE...problem is it tends to simply be a place of even more hatred, anger, hostility and lack of ability to listen to the other side...

"The religious hold atheists in ectreme disregard and regularly insult us."

Some do, many don't...I've, as an open atheist, performed musically for church congregations, I've engaged in healthy debate with religious groups and had them shake my hand afterwards and complement my clarity in what I believe...I've even had a long-lasting, rewarding relationship with a Christian Missionary...SOME religious people do regularly insult us, but they're generally the ones I don't bother associating with...many however respect our views, particularly I've found when I show respect towards theirs.

"I see no reason to sit back and take it. The bible itself describes us as fools, vile and evil. Why should I allow anyone to believe that and why indeed should I respect such a stupid point of view?"

Because the only alternative is to disrespect it, and like you said earlier, that doesn't achieve literally anything except to elicit more anger, hatred and an incapacity or unwillingness to listen to someone who would disrespect their beliefs. Really those are the only options, the former is the only one that seems the least bit constructive to me.

There's nothing wrong with speaking out about your beliefs by any means, the thing I've found many seem to gloss over is the need to do so respectfully..."speaking out" doesn't mean going and telling friends their "imaginary friends don't mean **** to me", that's condescending and it's disrespectful and all it will accomplish is causing MORE hostility and MORE anger and hate. Speak out, but make sure you do it from a position of "this is my beliefs and these are yours, now lets see what we can take from each others views of value...let's see how you can make me a better person and I can try to offer the same to you."...I've had far more success with that honey than with vinegar...