You'll have to bear with me here, while I set this up.

A few weeks ago, my cousin (not Doug from Atheist Nexus, another cousin), emailed to ask if she and her son could stay at our house overnight, as they had to attend a wedding nearby.

"Sure!" I said, despite the fact that we don't know them all that well and it would mean me having to give up my bed and make a two hour round trip to my nephew's house to pick up an inflatable bed for me to sleep in.

Last week, I get another email saying, "Oh, we've decided to come for two nights."

"Sure!" I said, and went out to buy enough food and wine and nibblies to feed them for the extra time.

After they arrived, I offered to pick them up from the reception if they'd drunk too much to drive home.

11.40pm last night the phone rings, "Can you pick us up?"

"Sure!" so out I go out and make a 50 minute round trip in the rain to pick them up in the middle of the night.

So, this morning, we're watching a panel discussion on television on the subject of religion and politics. During the weekend it had been made very clear to my cousin that my Mum and I are both atheists. Nevertheless, every time something was said about Christianity she spoke out in agreement, saying, "Yes! That's right! Absolutely!"

I bit my tongue until someone on the television raised the question of morality and ethics.
"Absolutely!" said my cousin, "Love, and caring and morality and ethics and compassion - they all come from God. They're all Christian attributes. If people don't believe in God, there wouldn't be any morality."

At this point my eyes bugged out of my head. Who the FUCK had given up their bed, toiled all day in the heat to make up nice clean rooms, fresh beds and bathroom for them, cooked their meals, bought wine, and chauffeured them around at midnight? Oh, yes! That's right! The non-caring compassionless immoral ATHEIST!

Still, I maintained my temper until she started on about homosexuality.
"God made men and women," she said, "And sex is only supposed to be for procreation."
"So," I said, "You never took the pill?"
She looked at me, puzzled.
"You only ever had sex so you could get pregnant?" I said.
She still looked at me blankly, but then said, "Well the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong."
"Yes," I said, "and the same Bible says that you should stone your disobedient children. Did you abide by that too?"
Another blank look, then, "Oh, well, it depends what part of the Bible it's from."

Then I lost it. I remember being in her face and saying something along the lines of, "Nasty, nasty, narrow-minded, mean-spirited, misinformed garbage!" before I said, "That's it! I'm outta here!" and stormed off to calm down. I was so angry I was white and shaking and my heart was pounding out of my chest.

I did calm down, somewhat, and returned to the lounge room. She came over and apologised for upsetting me. I told her that, as an atheist, I found it unbelievably offensive that she would suggest I had no love, compassion or morality because I did not believe in God.

She said, "Oh, I'm sorry if you took my comments that way!"

I said I was prepared to leave it at that, and things settled down. But I'm still bloody fuming. If it hadn't been for Mum, I think I would have thrown her out. How RUDE! Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

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Those are the kind of people I really get annoyed with. The nerve! But you handled it well.
You did indeed...Excellent response.
Awww thanks Tess and Goz. I did get a nice reply from her too. I'll put it up when I get home. I'm just away on a little mini-vacation at the moment.
At least she realized that her words did hurt you. Nice ending! Hope you enjoy your mini-vacation!
You should never keep things bottled up. If they are bothering you, speak up at once. Don't let it fester to only end up in a shouting match. I understand why you were angry and I would have been too.

This would have been a good time to educate her about Atheism and her religion. Especially if it was at your house. You have all of the information at hand to back up what you say.

I might have handled something like this.

Nevertheless, every time something was said about Christianity she spoke out in agreement, saying, "Yes! That's right! Absolutely!" I don't know what she was agreeing with, but I would have known at that moment she was getting ready to challenge me! :) Yeah! Bring it!

I bit my tongue until someone on the television raised the question of morality and ethics.
"Absolutely!" said my cousin, "Love, and caring and morality and ethics and compassion - they all come from God. They're all Christian attributes. If people don't believe in God, there wouldn't be any morality." Let the games begin! Whoopeee! You should have at once, said outloud, exactly what you were thinking. I would have done this in a calm, cool, and collected way. Just stating the plain facts.

I think you handled the homosexual part of it brilliantly with the exception of getting into her face.

Try to remember, the religious folk are pretty ignorate about Atheism and their own religion. It is our job to educate them on it when the opportunity arises. Sometimes we need to put our emotions in check, and I know from experiance, that is a difficult thing to do. But something that needs to be done if we are to be taken seriously.

Remember, hate the religion, not the person. They are brainwashed it is like a mental illness.
"Oh, I'm sorry if you took my comments that way!"

A conditional apology... grrr I dispise those. How else were you to take those comments?

I adore you... you say all the things I would love to say, but for some reason I usually don't.

/Hugs
Aww, thanks Carleen. This happened so long ago, I had to look back to see what I did say! I remember I had steam coming out of my ears, that day, that's for sure!
"Oh, I'm sorry if you took my comments that way!" im sorry but it takes the cake ROFL
i have similar problems too cause in the subject of faith im a lost sheep.
Hi Joel - nice to see you posting. Seems we all have similar experiences!
Thanks Jean Marie. This happened some time ago. I must say our relationship is just a tad frostier since this incident though.
Kristy,
Excuse me if this takes the discussion off in a new direction (or if someone has already made this point :-) but I see a far darker side to the common christian declaration that their god is the source of morality.

It is dehumanization. It allows them to think of others as less than human and justifies oppressing non-christians and even to kill them, because after all, isn't this "god given" morality what separates us from the "lower animals?"

Similar dehumanizing themes abound in christianity. I had a discussion on line with a Rastafarian who claimed that "true experience" required his religion. As if what you and I experience is a mere shadow. You can see how those without "true experience" might be less worthy, perhaps even expendable. We need to call theists on these insults at every turn.
I think you make a good point Gold Guy. In fact, we made a similar point in the Freedom of Relgion and Belief submission that our Atheist Nexus Aussie, Kiwi and South Pacific atheists group put to the Australian Human Rights commission earlier this year. Here's the pertinent section:

"Regardless of the moderate or liberal interpretations that might be put on these texts, there will always be some who will consider these ancient prejudices as a ‘call to arms’. This has been most spectacularly exhibited in the case of Islamic suicide bombers. But, violent attitudes towards atheists are also common on Christian websites. Threats that we will spend eternity burning in the fiery pits of Hell are ubiquitous and some posts about atheists become outright bizarre!

For example, Jason, a member of Theology Web (2003) writes the following:

Should we kill atheists for there body parts?
What do the other human persons here think?

No doubt someone will object, saying something obviously ridiculous like, but atheists are persons.

But clearly this is mistaken because anybody without a well developed belief in God is obviously not a full human person.

What could be more obvious than that?

How many full human persons do you know without a well developed belief in God. Obviously none, because if they were full human person they would have a well developed belief in God.

Now some people might object to killing atheists for there (and obviously it is there and not thier as they are not whos but whats) organs but think of all the full human persons that would benifit from the organs and the medical research that could be done on these non-persons.

How could anybody object, they are not human persons and if you think we should not kill them then that is just because of out dated ideas and because they must really just want people to suffer. For shame on you!

So what do people think?


Should we kill these atheist human non-persons for the benifit of fully human persons?

[original spelling preserved]

While Jason explains later that his post was ‘in jest’, another poster, ‘Archimedes’, takes the proposition seriously:

I think Jason's reasoning is ironclad. If one agrees that fully developed relationship with God is a requisite for personhood, then atheists and agnostics are not persons, and harvesting their bodies for organs is not morally any more suspect than (here it comes) abortion. Of course, the atheists will not consider a relationship with an imaginary being as a necessary component for personhood, but this question wasn't directed to the cattle at all but rather to theists who agree with Jason's premise...

Another Christian internet poster, David (Deep Thoughts, 2008), says:

I think it's time for another holocaust. This time, instead of Jews, how about atheists. We urgently need to round up all atheists in the world and lead them to the chambers. Our world would be such a better place.

Of course we are not suggesting that all or even most religious people either hold or endorse these attitudes. But anyone who has spent time canvassing the ‘Christian versus atheists’ debates on the internet will know that this kind of invective is commonplace . Our point is that these attitudes exist, and they are reinforced by a literal reading of the Abrahamic texts and, in some cases, by the rhetoric of over-zealous clergy."

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