Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I need a bumper sticker that says "would rather be pillaging"

I was raised with very little religion. I was baptized. I went through confirmation when I was 13. I went to church on Christmas Eve and Easter and that is about it. I still go on Christmas Eve with my father. 

I do not believe in God. I do not believe that he or she exists. That is my own personal belief and I do not expect a single one of you to share in my beliefs. I do believe respecting them would be nice. I believe that organized religion does a lot of good and a lot of bad. I feed the homeless through my father's church. I cook and do events for the church because I believe in what they are doing and why they are doing it. I don't have to agree with their religious views to do good things in my community.

I get asked this all the time...why do you participate in charitable events through something you don't believe in? Because I believe in helping people and being a good person. I believe in paying it forward. I don't think I have to share anyone's beliefs on God or religion to do good, to be good. 

When I first started exploring my beliefs and trying to understand what I felt, rather than what I was raised to feel, I found a blog from an atheist father. The blog hasn't been updated in years and I am almost positive that it is no longer even up. It was the first blog that I ever read, my gateway drug if you will. He started the blog to talk about something nobody was talking about, to give a voice to parenting without God. 

He was well spoken and intelligent and level headed. The comments did not always reflect the same amount of respect he gave, but what is the internet without the trolls?

Today I read this article. On CNN. We have come a long way from the days of me sitting in my living room drinking in this man's blog like it was my life force. As I read this article, I found myself longing for his words because he was much more intelligent and articulate. He did not make the same tired statements about God being absent because there is war and famine and crime and so on. I am upset that this blog post even made mainstream media. 

It also got me thinking...the boy and I disagree on a lot of things when it comes to our lifestyle. Differences make people interesting, right? (MORE GUN CONTROL. Don't tell the boy.) We adamantly agree on this issue. And her blog post made me would I handle the questions about heaven and hell. I pictured myself with my adorable imaginary child and them asking me where people go when they die and would I lie to them? Would I tell them heaven and hope they didn't later bust me on my lie? 

I wasn't forced to believe something I didn't want to. I went through many phases. I was a devout Christian for a while. I dabbled in Buddhism. I have a basic understanding of almost all major religions in the world and none of them seem to fit what I feel. Taoism is somewhat close, I suppose. I would want my children to have the same freedom of choice. 

So...I would probably explain all the beliefs and let them choose, much like the education I gave myself in my early twenties that lead me to my beliefs today. Because whether this woman is writing an article on raising her kids Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, or Wiccan, the point is education and choices. Preferably well written ones, but choices none the less. That is the entire platform for this country, right? And yet we spend so much time trying to shove our own beliefs down everyone else's throat instead of respecting that we have a right to agree to disagree and we are extremely lucky to have that right.

Yes, I will feed the homeless standing next to a devout Christian and when asked whether I attend church, I will politely say that I do not believe in God. And she will politely clear her throat and look away. At which point I will then add on that I don't need to believe in God to help. I will say that I want to do what is right and my beliefs don't really affect that. And she will smile and apologize for her reaction. In a perfect world.

In the real world I simply say that I work a lot of Sundays and immediately change the subject. Because regardless of this poor written letter, the word atheist is still immediately associated with evil. Bad. Heathen. Sinner. It means I have no morals or standards. That I run around murdering and raping and pillaging and coveting my neighbor. When in reality, I am standing right next to you with a fundamental need to help people and to make this world a better place.

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