Until recently, I have not thought much about how pervasive religion is in today's society, and in my own life.

Every moment we are inundated with religious symbols, words and ideas.. and most of us never even notice. I think of how many times I refer to a religious symbol or deity during a day without thinking about it.

A week ago, I finally saw a coworkers new baby. This is the general gist of what we said to each other.

Me: Oh Jamie, your little girl is so cute! How old is she now?
Jamie: She is just three months, she sleeps through the night already!
Me: Thank goodness for that! - (not a direct reference, but still!)
Jamie: Yeah, I keep praying she will stay this sweet and easygoing.
Me: She looks like a little angel sleeping there.

Me: Oh hell.. I have to get going, I have an appointment I need to get to.. take care and see you later!
Between the two of us.. 4 religious references in less than a minute!

Then I began to realize that there are many things I have done that are quite hypocritical.. for example: I was a witness in a court case. When I was called to the stand to be questioned, the bailiff had me place my hand on a bible and swear to tell the truth! How can I possibly swear to tell the truth when I don't believe in God and I think the Bible is a huge book of fiction/fairy tales? It would have meant more to swear on a Thesaurus!

When I began my nursing career, we all had to recite the Florence Nightingale oath which makes a religious reference.

I often say is "Jesus H Christ in a choir gown!" when I am frustrated.. I always thought it sounded better than "For Fuck's sake!", but now I'm not sure.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for me, and I know it.

So, what do you think.. am I a hypocrite? Does anyone else here feel this way?
How hard do you think I should try to keep this in check?

Views: 37

Comment by Dave G on July 2, 2009 at 3:56pm
No, I don't think you are a hypocrite. We are all products of our culture, and Christian references are pervasive in it. Not only the obvious ones, such as the ones you pointed out above, but also more subtle ones. For example, the fact that stores have shorter hours on Sundays is directly attributable to Sunday being the Christian holy day. Or, as George has been avidly pointing out, the calendar we use is heavily influenced by the Church. The days of the week are named for various gods.

It has been said that you cannot understand western culture without a knowledge of the bible, and this is true. There are far too many references and allusions to it in our culture. Prodigal sons, lost sheep, and more. There's nothing wrong with acknowledging the influence of Christian mythology, any more than it is wrong to acknowledge the heavy influence the Greek mythologies have had on our culture. (Echos, for example).
Comment by baddy on July 2, 2009 at 4:38pm
Maybe next time you should request to swear on Webster's. ;)

I don't find it hypocritical. Although they're culturally ingrained in our society, it doesn't mean you follow them or abide by the figures of speech you are using. Just keep in mind, they're just WORDS! They mean nothing to us other than to express emotion or feeling, but we are not bound to them by faith or religion.

My dad always says to me "You're not allowed to take the Lord's name in vain because you don't believe in Him!" If anything, I have more of a right to use these blasphemous sayings because of that! I follow no commandments. My life isn't ruled by any religion. So if I want to say "Jesus Fucking Titty Christ!" when I stub my toe then I have every right to.
Comment by James on July 2, 2009 at 5:02pm
I don't think you're being a hypocrite at all. All these things are cultural references, as all the rest have said. In America we have a lot of Christian references, but not exclusively so. We reference other cultures, history, etc and never think twice about it (Rome wasn't built in a day, aren't you a regular Einstein, rebel, yank, strong as Hercules, siren song, etc. The fact of a long history of Christians culture existing in America is a fact of life. Whether you agree with the religion or not. As an Atheist, I don't necessarily mind these, as they are nothing more than words to me, and I don't take them seriously like the believers. I'm very guilty of uttering 'bloody hell' when aggravated, among others. But it's just out culture. Who knows, perhaps in the future we will have a completely different phrases.

As for swearing in court, you can ask for a secular swearing in where you promise to tell the truth without a bible or reference to a god.
Comment by Dave G on July 2, 2009 at 6:35pm
'Affirm and attest to tell the truth' I think is how the non-religious oath goes.
Comment by Reggie on July 2, 2009 at 9:34pm
I was going to chime in, but I think anything I would say has been covered already. This is the problem with this site; if you are not among the first few to comment then all the good points have already been made!
Comment by CJoe on July 2, 2009 at 9:40pm
I say... pick your battles and don't sweat the small stuff! (how's that for ready-made cliche answers?) Seriously though... it's part of our culture whether we like it or not. We still use terms like "threshold" when there hasn't been any "thresh" on our floors to be "held" in place by a plank for hundreds of years.

If there are issues you feel passionately enough about to change, focus on those and try to make a difference in a significant way. I wouldn't bother getting upset, though, if you slip up and say "bless you" when someone sneezes (like I still do out of habit).
Comment by Reggie on July 2, 2009 at 9:54pm
I still say "bless you". I can't think of anything else to say. "Gesundheit" can be a awkward. I could just say "to your health" but have not been able to implement that one yet.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 3, 2009 at 7:22am
Language is a tool for communication. No religious group has a copyright on any phrase. You can say what you want. I use a lot of religious phrases, mostly out of habit or because I like the sound of them.
Unless you are actually vexing a person or putting a curse upon his house, "Goddamn that little bastard" isn't hypocritical.. it's a figure of speech illustrating frustration or anger at an individual.
Comment by Jen on July 3, 2009 at 11:48am
Thanks for the perspectives. I have this tendency to overthink things, so it always good to hear what others have to say.
I will try to let some of this go as being cultural as opposed to religious.
Comment by Reggie on July 3, 2009 at 6:30pm
I have this tendency to overthink things

Most likely the reason you are an atheist, methinks?


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