Okay, I need a short vent time. I woke up this morning to more than one or two Facebook statuses and other social media postings that really irked me. Normally, I see maybe one a week, and I’m fine with that, but the influx of them today his kind of pissed me off. The first that got my attention was a status from a good friend about her roommate and how she and her friends always disucss religion and social issues when they’ve been drinking, and then implied that one of them wasn’t a true Christian because of some of his other beliefs. The second was someone on Facebook talking about how persecuted Christians have been and are, and basically how hard their life was as one. The third was someone on Pinterest posting this picture with this caption:
I’ve seen this last picture many times before, but this was the first time that it was repinned by a friend, and throw it on top of the other couple. There were one or two more than those that I’ve listed, but these are the three that caught my attention and really pissed me off.
As some of you might have guessed, Jane Wynters is not my real name. I will never reveal who I actually am on here. That’s not because of the medical stuff — I’m not embarrassed by any of that, no matter how gross or uncomfortable to talk about, since talking about it might help others. And it’s not because I’m embarrassed by any of the things that I think about or post. It’s because I am an atheist, and I cannot let some of my extended family or friends know that by being vocal about it where they may see. The only people who know are my immediate family, an aunt or uncle or two, and my close friends. And the people in charge at the church I went to, but that wasn’t my choice and it’s caused a ton of problems, as previous posts have illustrated. If my extended family were two find out, there would be two different reactions: from my mother’s side and some friends, sadness and disappointment and efforts to gently correct me (which isn’t too bad, nothing I wouldn’t be able to handle); from my father’s side and a lot of others I know, more than likely the reaction would be full-blown disownment and/or aggressive attempts to convert me back to Christianity (which would really divide the family, and it’s definitely not something I would ever want to deal with).
I’m tired of having to sit passive and not voice my opinions with those who are my friends and family — I’m tired of having to hide. And I am sick to death of hearing Christians talk about how hard their lives are because of their beliefs, and about how persecuted they are. You want to talk about hard? Try having people attempt to embarrass and humiliate you into becoming a Christian when you let it slip that you’re an atheist. Try having to keep your beliefs hidden from everyone whom you are not intimate with, for fear of attempts to convert, outright rejection, and even violence. Try having to bite your tongue when the majority of the world is calling you a fool and an idiot, and describing you and your fellow non-believers are “devils” and “heathens” and saying that you are not fit to walk this earth (let alone live in this supposedly “Christian nation”). Try living in fear of the very real repercussions of anyone finding out that you do not believe in their God.
That’s pretty much the definition of hard.
I would argue that, today, there are only a very, very limited number of groups who live in a kind of state like that — atheists and homosexuals are the only two that come to mind. And even today, the world is becoming more and more accepting of gays. Not so with atheists. There’s a great study out there that I’ve used for many research papers: “Atheists as ‘other’: Moral boundaries and cultural membership in an American society,” a study by Edgell, Gerteis, and Hartmann (2006). The results of the study basically show that atheists are the most distrusted and stigmatized groups in American society, over even homosexuals and Muslims. People think that atheists are most contrary to their vision of American society and they would be most disappointed if their child married an atheist. And those numbers haven’t changed that much in the past fifty years, especially when compared to other stigmatized groups such as homosexuals, which have improved.
The point of my bringing up that study is this: atheists are basically the most hated minority in our society. They are the least trusted and most disliked, and those numbers aren’t really changing. While life has certainly gotten easier for most other stigmatized groups, the same does not hold true for non-believers. And while Conservative Christians were a category that some reported they disliked, those reactions weren’t anywhere near the level that reactions to atheists were at, and Christians in the more general sense weren’t even listed. Hence, they’re not persecuted, and the lives of Christians certainly aren’t hard because of their beliefs — not in this country.
The friend who posted about another in her apartment not being a “true” Christian really irked me as well. It all just goes back to the True Scotsman fallacy — people think that just because someone doesn’t have the exact same beliefs or likes or thoughts as them, then they’re not really a true “X” because of it. This kind of thinking really infuriates me. First off, it’s so arrogant, especially when Christians (and other religious individuals — it’s not just Christians) use it. How dare you try to tell someone that they’re not a “true” Christians because their beliefs vary slightly from yours? Who are you to judge that — do you make all of the rules and criteria for what makes someone a member of your religion? And how dare you say that you’re open and accepting of all people when you cannot even accept those who are your own?
But it was the last post that really got me annoyed. This was the first time that a friend had repinned it, which is what I think made it worse for me. First, whoever wrote that has no understanding of basic science or evolution — that’s not how the Big Bang Theory or evolution works. And second, that’s not a belief of atheism, even if it were true. The only real uniting factor in atheism is the lack of belief in any gods — that’s it. From there, atheists diverge into all sorts of beliefs about life and the universe. What that picture would be describing, were it accurate, would be “Evolutionists” or “Scientists” — not atheists. And what pisses me off even more is that, if you respond to it and tell the person that they’re actually wrong (like I did), then you are attacking their beliefs. Ha!
Ugh. Sorry, guys. I just was super annoyed this morning with all this, and these types of thoughts are the ones that I’m always having to keep in check and hidden. It’s nice to be able to just let some of it out in a quick vent session. I couldn’t help myself — I responded to the picture, but I ignored everything else, no matter how tempting it was to reply. I guess we’ll see how that last person reacts — expect another post with an update if it’s a good or interesting reaction. Maybe I’ll get a debate going! Until then, cheers and thanks for reading my little rant. There will certainly be more in the future!