Hi, my name is Kat and I've been an atheist since I was 18 and a doubter since I was about 9.
I was raised Catholic in the Bible Belt and, in religion class one day, I asked the nun if babies who died before they were baptised still went to heaven. She said no, because everyone is born with original sin and you had to be baptised to get rid of it. I had a brother who died during birth, I couldn't bear to think of him in hell for no other reason than he couldn't live long enough to be baptised. I started thinking, what sort of god does that? It took some years, as I had been very faithful and I was surrounded by the whole catholic culture. My family was catholic, my school was catholic, my friends were catholic. I didn't know any other way of thinking.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion there was no god, but it stayed a secret until I met my manager at a new job I had. We became best friends and he helped me be braver about my convictions. However, I still didn't tell my family until I moved out of the country at 28 years old!
I moved to the UK, which as many of you know, is much less infested with religion, to marry my lovely husband who comes from a family of atheists.
My family are sad about my lack of faith. They worry about me and my brother this year tried very hard to convert me. Two nights ago we had a bit of an argument and I felt terrible about it. I don't want to step on his faith, he has a right to believe what he wants and it does make him very happy. But I want him to respect my beliefs in return and that isn't happening. Any advice on that would be greatly appreciated, as I'm sure most of you have been in this position before.
It was especially difficult when I was diagnosed with cancer in Januray 2009. They Kept on about praying for me and getting their church to hold a group prayer and all sorts.I know they meant well, but it seriously got me down at times. I knew that, when I recovered, they were praising god instead of the doctors who cared for me. And I know, if the cancer returns, they will blame my godlessness.
Anyhoo, that's my story. Thanks for letting me share it.
My family don't beleive my brother went to hell. These days, it's not nice for people to think that little babies suffer, so there's some sort of get out of hell free card. Personally, what bugs me so much is that they pick and choose which parts of the bible to believe and ignore the rest. The believe I'm going to hell because I'm not their kind of christian, but their adopted daughter isn't even though she was born out of wedlock. Now, the bible clearly states that anyone born out of wedlock shall not enter the kingdom of heaven, nor shall their descendants for ten generations. Pretty clear stuff. But they don't believe that bit. Whatever.
Well, here is what I think about that whole respect thing.....
Respect Really?? I have been an atheist or about a year now, and have described myself as a born again evangelical atheist, by which I mean that I am one of those in your face atheists. I do not generally bring up the subject, but when people say unfounded often stupid things about gods, I typically jump down their throats. Often, the only card or at least the final card that they play is to demand that I respect their beliefs, usually accompanied by whining that I have hurt their feelings. I have a real problem with this and find that it is really only a “get out of jail free card” I would like to propose that theists do not actually respect each other’s religious beliefs, therefore why should I respect any of them. To them it is kind of like saying “I won’t ask you to rationalize your beliefs if you don’t ask me to rationalize mine.”
I mean come on, let’s face it, Christians in general think everybody else is going to hell. In fact there are so many different flavors of Christianity out there that many of them believe all the others are going to hell. Clearly they do not really respect the beliefs of people they think are going to hell. Then there are the Muslims who pretty much hate everybody. Even the so called “peaceful” Muslims think the rest of us are all going to hell. The Jews think they have the inside scoop on god, but everybody has been picking on them for thousands of years. Then we have the Mormons, I am pretty sure everyone thinks they are whacko, Does anyone respect Jehovah’s Witnesses’ or Seventh Day Adventists? Most of these religions openly mock each other, condemn each other to hell, and often try to kill each other. They only pretend respect when they confront each other face to face and realize that they can no more rationalize their belief than can the other guy. So they pull out the “respect” card and avoid the discussion entirely. It is really more of a standoff than anything remotely resembling respect. The reality of the situation is that nobody really does anything of the sort, and the only ones to admit it are typically the atheists.
For instance I have some sisters and two of them are quite religious. One of them is a devout Catholic, and the other is a fundamental born again Christian. They disagree on some very basic things. For instance, the Fundie actually thinks that evolution did not happen, at which, needless to say, the Catholic scoffs, although not to her face that I know of. I know for a fact that the Catholic does not respect this, and I know for a fact that the Fundie does not respect the Catholic’s beliefs. They simply do not talk about it, but I really wish they would. Yet both of them get offended when I bring them to task for some of their beliefs.
So I propose that since theists do not in fact respect beliefs that vary even in the slightest from their own, that they stop pretending to do so, and stop being allowed to play that card. As an atheist I refuse to pretend to respect people’s fairytales. If everyone did this, including theists, religion might start to crumble under its own silliness.
If I refuse to respect people’s beliefs, they pretend to be offended, and throw out there that I should respect their belief whatever it is which is really just a smoke screen that allows them to believe things for which they have no logical explanation. This goes way beyond my sisters of course, and applies to every theist who has confronted me since I announced my atheism. Why do they demand that I respect their fairy tales when they do not in fact respect other people’s fairy tales? Why can’t they see that it is just a card they play to deflect any actual scrutiny of their own beliefs. I mean, really, shall we bring some people from one of the cargo cults to the discussion and insist that everybody respect their beliefs as well?
I think it is high time that everyone stop pretending. I have no problem leading the way with this. We need to not back down when religious people say ridiculous things (which they tend to do on a fairly regular basis) I would also propose that we encourage our religious friends to stop extending this supposed courtesy to each other. It would make for some interesting discussions I am sure, but maybe they would all begin to see how silly the whole thing is.
I'm sort of torn apart by the whole respect thing. I've been friends with folks who had one religion or another and got on just fine with them. We respected each other's differences, religious and otherwise.
If someone doesn't respect my beliefs, I generally just blow them off and who cares. But this is family and I love them. And I will love them even if they do believe I'm going to hell in a handbasket.