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Faith Off... (rant) - Unbeliever's Land
...The continuing chronicles...
Faith Off... (rant)
Religious tolerance is all the rage in America these days.  No matter who the speaker is, no matter what religion, sect or denomination, you can be assured that he/she believes (or at least asserts) that all religions are equally valid; all are merely different ways of striving for the same universal truth. The only thing that really matters, everyone nods sagely and agrees, is that you have Faith.

Are they talking about faith in yourself?  Faith in your friends?  Faith that the sun will rise tomorrow?

No.  Of course not.  That's silly.

We're talking RELIGIOUS faith, of course!  THAT'S what's important!

So... the one thing that EVERYONE agrees on, be they Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew, is that the IMPORTANT thing, the MAIN thing, is that you're not one of THEM (i.e. one of ME -- an atheist).  Christians and Muslims and have fought for centuries -- but in this country, they can hold hands and smile prettily at each other, secure in the knowledge that at least they BELIEVE.  (Well, OK -- except for those Christians who still blame all Muslims for 9/11.  But still...)

There's only two groups in 21st century America that are OK to explicitly discriminate against -- gays and atheists.  The Boy Scouts discriminate against both.  (The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, reject all discrimination and are better for it.)  Slowly, painfully, gays are at least making progress.  We can at least imagine a not-too-distant time when the gender of the person you love truly no longer matters.  But when that day comes, discrimination against atheists will still be going strong.

Mind you, I'm not feeling sorry for myself -- I'm a white male, and atheism is a voluntary trait that is
comparatively simple to hide or deny.  I don't think I've ever been discriminated against, which makes me very lucky.  But that's only because atheism *IS* invisible.  How many stores do you think might refuse to do business with me, if atheists were forced to wear their own scarlet "A"?  Flip through a Yellow Pages someday and look for all the little Christian fish next to everyday businesses, for an idea.

It is frustrating beyond words to be surrounded by all these smug people, soooo convinced of how liberal, tolerant, and open-minded they are, going on and on about "all that REALLY matters is that you have Faith" -- casually assuming that, well, EVERYONE has Faith in SOMETHING!

No.  We don't.

To ME, Faith is a dirty word, meaning "I really want to believe in something, despite there not being a shred of evidence for it".  If a person claims to to hear Napolean speaking to them, they get locked up in a padded cell.  If they claim to hear Jesus speaking to them, everyone nods their heads as if this were perfectly reasonable.

I uinderstand other people have different opinions about Faith and religious belief, and that's fine.  I don't want to preach atheism in the schools or the courts -- I just want the same respect and not have the schools and courts preach religiousity at me.  And... it would be nice if society at large didn't insist, so loudly and frequently, that Faith was the Ultimate Virtue...

OK, rant mode off...

Tags: ,
Current Emotional State: aggravated aggravated

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amaebi From: amaebi Date: May 2nd, 2006 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, actually, no, not everyone.

Speaking as someone Christian and indeed shortly to be commissioned as a pastor (in theory)*, I care a lot about the (comparative)** autonomy and rights of atheists and agnostics, and therefore strongly favour legal-rights separation of church and state.

* Ordination takes three more years (at the minimum). Clock doesn't start unless I'm assigned a church.
** Absolute autonomy is a myth, though not a particularly beautiful one.
unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: May 2nd, 2006 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew you'd respond to that one. ;)

I'd heard about your imminent pastorhood from kightp. Congratulations!

I wholeheartedly agree with your remark about absolute autonomy. Believe me, "comparative" is all I ask for...

I know that there are pro-church-state-separation Christians such as yourself out there, and I apologize if, in my rants, I tend to lump all Christians together. It's just that, in our culture, we don't hear much from your sort of Christian. And frankly, it's people like you -- Christians who DON'T want to impose their religion on everyone else -- that we desperately need to hear more from right now.

The powers that be will ignore atheists all day long. But if Christians were to stand up and say, "Ya know what, Pat Robertson doesn't speak for me!" -- THAT would mean something.

Take care...
amaebi From: amaebi Date: May 2nd, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, one of the damned things is that we do speak-- and that we don't get given the Media Megaphone! Among many problems with news media today, one is that they amplify the bigots and represent them as speaking for all Xtians.
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