So last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) I found myself in the unenviable position of having to deal with my Conservative Christian co-workers for a day without the advantage of the presence of my even MORE Conservative Christian boss who usually puts the kibosh on religious discussions in the office.
One of my co-workers decided it was his turn to take a shot at converting me from Atheism. After hearing him out, I told him that I had a few dozen reasons why I could never be a Christian again, but the easiest to discuss was my gay son.
This co-worker told me that he loved my son. My family went to church with his family before my de-conversion, so he knew my son before he came out. This co-worker told me that he doesn't love my son any less now that he's come out as being gay than he did before.
After much discussion, I asked this guy if he thought my son should have the same rights as every other American. To my surprise, he said, "yes." I'm still not sure how he could have admitted this.
In my next question I asked if he thought the U.S. government should give my son the same rights as everyone else. Then he said, "no." I'm not sure what the disconnect is there, but I decided to pursue this line of questioning and I asked him if he though that God was going to judge the United States of America for allowing people like my son to marry. After what was obviously a huge internal struggle, my co-worker admitted, "yes."
So my artist-son, the most beautiful and caring person I've ever known, is going to cause our country to be judged by God. Bingo. There's the bigoted religion that I grew up with!
I told him therein lies the problem: Religion allows this co-worker of mine to consider himself a good person, not because of what he does, but because of what he believes. Conversely, as Atheists, he considers me and my family bad people, because of what we don't believe, even though we do good and care for others unlike he does.
This caused quite a stir, but he eventually said that he doesn't consider me a bad person. This lead to me asking if he thought I was deserving of spending eternity in tormenting Hell. He said everyone is deserving of this, but he was going to Heaven instead, because of what he believed.
This really is the key for me, and I'll never go back to believing as I once did, that there is a real God who judges based on belief rather than actions. If my co-workers really believe that they have been given much grace by their God, they would feel free to give grace to others. Obviously this is not the case.
My co-workers are staunch Conservatives, always complaining about how the Government wants to take their money. I've decided that when I return to work on Monday, if the conversation comes up (and it undoubtedly will) I will say this:
Finish this question, "Because I've been given so much by the grace of God, I will take all my Worldly possessions and ______."
I can't imagine how they will respond.
I must say I am surprised no one has responded to this!
Being a young man whom was rejected by his religious father because of his homosexuality, I must first say that I applaud your ability to love your son no matter what. Being an atheist, you understand the science of it all, I am sure; but even if you didn't, your moral compass is not skewed by religious intolerance, which allows you to know what is right and what is wrong while still being nonjudgmental and quite loving. Thank you for your acceptance of your son. I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
On to the conservative Christian work-environment; what do you do there anyway? I am quite curious what sort of things you have to deal with on a daily basis. I would imagine that it is difficult working in an environment where you are surrounded by folks who are frustrating, not because of their lack of being like-minded, but because of their choice to be close-minded. Still, I applaud your not walking out on the job in order to still support your family.
Have a good day, sir!
Wow, I had completely forgotten about this post! I guess I was blowing off steam after a day of living in the dichotomy.
Astrophysics eh? My hat's off to you. Even the simple attempt at such a career is amazing.
I know it's painful and very little consolation, but I promise you, your father is missing out a whole lot more than you are, since he rejected you. My son is the most incredible person I know. When my Conservative co-workers complain about their sons not being able to maintain a job at the local supermarket, my son is independent and earning a good living as an artist, and when we get together, he pays for my meals. I can hardly imagine how incomplete my life would be if I had rejected my son in exchange for some contradictory, illogical religion.
As to my work-environment, I'm a programmer, mostly using Microsoft technologies. It's funny how programming is such a practice of logic, yet my programming coworkers insist they have an invisible friend who talks to them!
I've only been an Atheist for a few years, but I can tell you that Atheism holds the Good News that I've been waiting for all my life. (I'm now 47.) I sincerely hope you've found the same joy in a life free to love and be loved, regardless of religious dictates.
Good day to you, too, sir!
You are a great guy! You've not forgotten that. We don't have to deny ourselves and pick up a cross and follow Jesus. We just have to be good human beings, spreading love and showing equality to everyone. Haha! I hope that conditions at your workplace improve greatly!
Don't you know? A "good father" tries to get his children on what he deems to be the right path, and if they take a different path, out comes the eternal gasoline and a match.
Ha! You know, there is a verse in the Bible where Jesus asks, "If a son asks his father for bread, would a father give his son a stone?" yet my christian coworkers brag about giving their kids something different than what they ask for at Christmas and on their birthdays, in some kind of warped 'father knows best' exercise, and THEIR KIDS HATE THEM for it!
Being a member of TA has taught me something that I simply took so much for granted all my life but that I should treasure and that is that in my country people do not give the furry crack of a rat's butt if you believe in gods or not. I read accounts like yours Dataguy and struggle to fathom how folk in a deveopled country can be so, so, so...........Aaaaghhhhh! Words fail me, as you can see.
What i find mind bending is how some countries seem to have what i can only call "christian capitalism" the followers of which would answer your question................"Because I've been given so much by the grace of God, I will take all my Worldly possessions and lock them securely in a safe place, buy a bunch of guns and defend them because what is mine is mine and given by god. Poor folk are only poor because 1. They are sinners in some way. 2. Poor because they choose to be. 3.are lazy and have not pulled themselves out of poverty. 4. Blah, blah blah (insert yet more twisted christian bull here)"
Goodluck with your workplace people by the way.
Judith vd R.
You have nailed it on the head, Judith. You've got a great understanding of what it's like in America. Thanks for your encouragement!