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17 August, 2012

Lay off of r/atheism already.

People complain about /r/atheism on reddit being too demeaning toward religion, and sometimes they have a point, but for the most part I'm of the mind that r/atheism is the place for this. Hear me out.

I've been posting a lot on Facebook about LGBT equality and the religious leaders who oppose it. I've posted about Mitt Romney and his church's poor history on civil rights.

Nothing of what I posted called Christianity or belief in a higher power wrong, stupid, or demeaned it in any way. Some posts point out the malicious actions of religious leaders, but still, I tread lightly on facebook.

I don't post memes I find on reddit unless they are directly related to the LGBT issue. I no longer question the existence of gods in status updates. A year ago, my own sister refused to come to my wedding because I posted a positive status update about how much more free I feel now that I don't wonder all the time if I pissed God off.

I even tread lightly when posting about philosophy. I've taken the Sagan, Adams and Dawkins quotes from my profile and removed my religious affiliation from Facebook altogether. I've completely censored myself because I know that merely saying that I do not believe is offensive to those who take a god's existence for granted as something obvious.

I'm generally quiet about challenging the theology itself. When I want to vent and feel like I'm not alone in a sea of people who would discriminate me or think less of me for my lack of belief, I go to /r/atheism. It is the one place in the world and online that I do not have to censor myself. People say, "Can't r/atheism just be nicer about it?" I'm telling you, it doesn't matter how nice you are, a theist will find a way to be offended by anything you post. The only way to keep r/atheism a place where people are safe from accusations of bigotry and hatred is to keep it the one place where atheists can say whatever they want.

This is the end of your regularly scheduled, relevant blog post. For my take on a recent, petty facebook fight between me and a family member, continue.

Now, for those who care, here is the story of what happened between my mom and I, as an example of how far someone will go to be offended.

This was the post that did it for her, apparently. http://i.imgur.com/OQYgV.jpg Her first comment was "Ole JFS eh? He is a descendant of Joseph Smith the Prophet of Mormonism. I think some of them are wacky." Her cousin then posted something about the underwear Mormons wear and she lost her shit after that. She compared making fun of religious clothing to Nazism. When I pointed out how ridiculous an analogy that was, she posted this comment, which I've edited and put on imgur, http://i.imgur.com/nCx8G.jpg

This isn't about my attitude or anything I've done. Even what her cousin said was just a joke. What happened here is that a theist sees something fundamentally flawed with my character because I no longer believe. It doesn't matter what I say, it will still be "less" because I've lost something in losing belief.

My mom and I finally made up, but I finally had to tell her I don't care that she believes that God puts a special light or love in people's hearts. I told her that she's wrong to think that and obviously doesn't spend enough time around me to make a judgement like that based on a facebook post. I usually don't tell her she's wrong about something in her belief system, but this was too much. To be viewed as lacking something or less of a person because she believes that God is a requirement for a "soft heart" is too offensive not to combat with reason and argument.

I feel good about standing up for myself, but in the end, I feel like I am a little angrier, a little less soft-hearted, but it's not because I lost something by becoming an atheist; it's because I constantly have to deal with being worried about how I will be viewed by theists, including my own family. No wonder people who have been atheist longer than me are "militant;" they're just fed up with the bullshit.

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