I recently had an experience which reminded me that being an Atheist does not hold you in the neutral category. We are seen instead as ‘the enemy’ and as much as you try to exclude yourself from fanaticism, the very act of exclusion enrages believers who would declare non-belief to be a far more sinister threat than belief in something, even if that something is in direct opposition to their worldview.

Study 1 (at my current place of employment) : A group of my colleagues and I travelling together in a car, in a country foreign to us all. Passenger 1 declares his intent to find a local church to visit over the weekend in order to participate in worship. Passenger 2 thinks this is a brilliant idea and asks to join. Passenger 3 says he would prefer to pray in his room and skip the service as he is not fond of churches which are not his own. Passenger 4 remains quiet (me). Passenger 4 is grilled relentlessly by the other passengers for a preference or a verdict and responds with “I would prefer not to go”. This does not satisfy and eventually someone demands to know “what god do you believe in”, to which I respond “I do not believe in a god”. The atmosphere turns chilly and much commentary is tossed about “oh.. you believe in NOTHING” etc. I did not argue and asked to be excluded from the conversation, which had been my hope all along. The very next day I was excluded from a lunch invitation to which everyone else was invited and face chicken butt faces from this group whenever we are alone together.

Study 2 (at my previous place of employment) : A fellow atheist and I are having a private conversation in the lunch room, during our lunch break. He tells me about an episode of South Park with anti-religious themes and we have a giggle between ourselves about it. I note my interest in viewing the episode. We continue our lunch, aware of a few others in the lunch room, but none of these people were at or even adjacent to our table at the time the conversation took place. The next day I am called into a meeting with my supervisor and told that he had received a complaint that my friend and I were making intolerant and hateful anti-religious comments in the lunch room and that I ought to be more respectful. The very next day a colleague says “the bible teaches us… “ (goes on to give a preachy rant about how we should be patient with clients) in a group business meeting in front of the same supervisor, who does not bat an eye-lid. Aside from me, there was a Jew and a Muslim in the business meeting, it was far from a meeting of Christians only.

Study 3 (about 2 years ago) : My home is burgled by an opportunistic criminal during a power failure. I am distressed to arrive home to find my living room ransacked and many electronics stolen. I call the police. When they arrive to check the scene of the crime, they begin by inspecting my living room and when they get to the well-stocked book shelf, one of them says to the other.. “Look at this book! “God is not Great”. Who would have a book like this?” (pulls it out my bookshelf and shakes it at me). I say nothing. The other policeman says “with that sort of reading material, no wonder certain things get invited into a home”. The first policeman again : “So you think God is not Great hey? Are you a wiccan or something?” “I am an atheist, and you would be impressed by that book if you took the time to read it” says I. They make scoffing noises and leave MY home.

I have so many more examples. How I cannot ever watch the movie or have the conversation of my choosing when I go out with my fundamentalist mother because she has a list the length of her arm of things which offend her (sex, blasphemy, bad language, anything about science, anything that disses Jesus – in her view). She never compromises for me. EVER. Are we just doormats? Everyone else feels more strongly, rages more loudly, pushes more aggressively. If I spend my life stepping out of the way of these people, when will anyone ever learn to step out of my way when it comes to what I find important.

Views: 134

Tags: doormats, frustration, my, rights

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Comment by Shakir Saifee on March 27, 2014 at 12:54am
hey do not try to justify things... keep going on if they believe in God so that is their true, and you believe in nothing that is your true
Comment by Michael Penn on March 18, 2014 at 3:17pm
Jay Stride was talking about making up a bizarre religious belief. The more bizarre the better. Here's one from many years ago heard on the old Hudson and Harrigan radio program. They were claiming to belong to the Church of the Holy Frisbee. They said that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down.
Comment by Loren Miller on March 18, 2014 at 2:01pm

Suzanne, I'm gonna tell you this once:

Wade on in; the water ain't deep!!!  [big grin!]

Seriously, this is an open forum.  Please speak your mind.  As regards your comment about hurt feelings, this is a common complaint heard from christians and muslims both.  If you look around here much, you'll discover that I have a common response, one I learned from Everyone Draw Mohammed Day:

No one has the right not to be offended.

And they don't, even including us.  Difference is, we don't threaten to blow someone up if they disagree with us.  As for the "two sides to every argument," that statement, virtually without exception, refreshes me of the words of a famous American journalist of half a century ago:

I've searched my conscience, and I can't for the life of me find any justification for this, and I simply cannot accept that there are on every story two equal and logical sides to an argument.
-- Edward R. Murrow

Sure, there may be two sides - the right side and the wrong one.  Problem is, the PC dimwits either haven't figured that one out yet or aren't willing to acknowledge it.


Comment by Jay Stride on March 18, 2014 at 1:32pm

I usually say to the religious "I just don't share your beliefs." & leave at that. There's very little point in arguing unless you really enjoy that sort of thing. It's really none of their business anyway.

That being said, if you must have a "belief" it can be fun to make one up. The weirder the better. If your gonna play a part my improv coach says go big or go home. Mind you he also says know your audience. No point in getting burned at the stake just for having a bit of harmless fun at another's expense.

Comment by Suzanne Patterson on March 18, 2014 at 8:13am

Thank you for your comments everyone.  I am new here and decided to jump right in, but I still feel a little insecure about the protocol involved.  Every community has its rituals and hierarchy...

How PC I sound.  I am noticing so many things about myself and trying to decide what to keep and what to discard.  Perhaps I should stop apologizing.  That is a good enough place as any, to start.

When I do raise my voice, the liberal community (here and perhaps elsewhere?) tells me that I should live and let live and all opinions are valid.  Non opinions however, the category Atheism is seen to fall into, are not considered valid.  If I feel strongly about something, no one has the right to offend me.  If I do not feel strongly about something, then it is everyone's right.  

Fundies have hurt feelings I am told. I am a bully for speaking out about hurtful things and smug because I have no sensitive areas of my own to defend.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 18, 2014 at 7:37am

Jay, that's a point I've thought about time and again, and it's worthy not just of consideration, but bringing up to those who believe.

A LOT of the strength of believers' faith comes from group reinforcement.  One-on-one, I suspect that strength is nowhere near so much in evidence.  Turns out, standing on their own and defending their belief system becomes a very different matter.  Then too, most believers aren't practiced apologists, either.

Comment by Jay Stride on March 18, 2014 at 7:31am

We're here to talk.

On another note, if people flip out because you politely disagree with their belief just how secure are they in that belief?

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on March 17, 2014 at 10:51am

Your blog is interesting, well written and gives good insight.

I was vaguely aware of the status of religion in South African society because I have a long-time friend in Pietermaritzburg and we keep in touch. She is very attached to her country, a poet with one entitled 'Motherland'.

Are we just doormats ? Well, I'm not because I have lived in atheistic, more secular societies all my life. Have you lived in another country like Britain or Australia for a time or considered doing so ?

I feel that many Atheists are too passive and can reasonably be described as sycophants and wimps but at the same time there are brave Atheists who have expressed themselves publicly in oppressive societies like  Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and other Islamic countries despite imprisonment.

Thanks for your blog and I hope to read you more.

Comment by Randall Smith on March 17, 2014 at 8:36am

It isn't easy being an atheist--never was, never will be (although it is improving). Stick to your principles. You look to be a happy person on the outside, according to your avatar. Good luck.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 17, 2014 at 8:28am

@Suzanne - Well, PLEASE unmuzzle yourself here and feel free to speak your mind!  Ain't nobody here but us nasty-terrible-awful infidels! [giggle!]

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