I don’t often hear from atheists who are politically/socially conservative. I know they’re out there, albeit probably much fewer than their more liberal counterparts. I’ve heard at least one atheist say that he’s a truck driver, voted for Bush twice, etc., and no one would guess that he’s an atheist. True, I wouldn’t have.
I’m a liberal myself, although it does disconcert me to a degree that I agree with conservatives on a few issues. (Affirmative action, for example. What’s up with that?!) There are many different kinds of conservatives out there– not all of them the bible-thumping, abstinence-only sex ed promoting, NASCAR-loving, Franklin Mint buying, Republican rednecks I’ve grown to know and loathe. Emphasis on the bible-thumping here.
My guess is that conservative atheists being more prominent would counter the dislike many religiosi have of atheists as elitist, ivory-tower, Ivy League eggheads, since conservatives, even when they’re Ivy educated, are rarely disparaged like that. I’m a little skeptical of the term “elitist.” In the case of Obama’s campaign, for example, “elitist” was simply a disparaging way of saying “smart and educated.” To quote Homer Simpson, “Phthth, eggheads, what do they know?”
Let me hear from you conservatives. Probably, you’re mostly libertarians, but maybe a lot of you are rednecks (and proud of it!), and I don’t mean that in a way that’s necessarily degrading. I’m a comedian and a huge fan of my colleague Jeff Foxworthy and his like. Point is, libertarian atheists are already prominent– but what about the latter: the social conservatives?
I found this site, The Atheist Conservative, which had little to say about atheism and was more a rant on Obama. It made relevant points, but its endorsement of Ann Coulter made me say, “Done!”
There are other sites for conservative atheists. The socially conservative ones had a negative stance on abortion, for example. I personally think abortion should be safe and legal, but the point is I’m particularly interested in the atheists who oppose it and similar platforms.
I want to hear from you, guys! Tell me about yourselves a little. I promise not to be a stereotypical latte-slurping, laptop-toting, Obama-hugging, Prius-driving, NPR-listening (uh, I’m not sure where to stop with this)– well, just write in and say hi.
I have missed this blog! Between winter holidays, Andy getting badly injured, planning a wedding and miscellaneous happenstances, I haven’t posted in a while, though I religiously (heh, heh) have posted every Thursday.
It’s no secret that I have big love for the HBO series Big Love, which I discussed in my posts about Mormonism. The opening credits end with Bill, the husband, meeting each of his three wives in heaven. (Do they get every third night with him in heaven, too, or how does that work?) Maybe it’s because I’m getting married, but recently I paid attention to that part and it choked me up a little.
All right, so Andy and I won’t meet in heaven. That may not really be a loss for me, as I don’t remember ever believing in heaven. Jewish theology doesn’t discuss the afterlife much, and in any case, there is no hell in Judaism. (Hell is other Jewish people.) This is another point in favor of Judaism: no hell. Thanks, guys!
Many atheists tell me that atheism is a positive thing– they don’t need to feel “watched” and judged all the time. They won’t be punished in the hereafter. Still, there are quite a few who tell me that they lament the loss of a loving god and not going to heaven. They are sad that this life is all they will get and that they won’t get to join their loved ones after they die. It is indeed a rude shock to think that you’ll spend an eternity in paradise only to conclude that such a place doesn’t exist.
Skeptic extraordinaire Michael Shermer’s stock response to his feelings on life after death is “I’m for it.” Many people may want an afterlife, but I suspect these people haven’t really thought it through. I would rather die tomorrow than be forced to live forever. Would you really want to go on forever and ever (and ever and ever) after the earth ends, the universe ends, and you’re just floating in nothingness, with nothing to occupy you but your thoughts?
What do you think? Do you miss the idea of an afterlife, including an eternity in the Celestial Kingdom with your spouse (or spouses)? Are you glad you’re not going to hell? Are you glad you’re not going to heaven? Did Christians ever portray a really compelling heaven, for that matter?
Happy Blasphemy Day, everyone! Why celebrate blasphemy, you ask? It’s important to put into to practice the concept that we shouldn’t respect religion just because it’s religion. It is not exempt from criticism the way so many people seem to think it is. Don’t bow down to religion when it treads on you in the name of “respect.” Respect has to be earned.
Another personal aspect of atheism. Pride may be a deadly sin, but while I’m not proud of many things about myself (for those of you who know me, you understand), I am very proud to be an atheist and think all atheists should be proud of themselves.
Like many people, at least like many people in the U.S., I was surrounded by religion from birth and I don’t think not having a religion was ever presented to me as an option. Like many of you, it was drilled into me that religion was good and a “moral compass.” Many of you suffered great personal costs for open atheism as it resulted in people hating you or families disowning you. While this wasn’t as extreme in my case, I did know that I would socially be punished for being an out atheist. Other atheists may have been in the closet, but resented this in their own way.
We knew these things. Yet, there was something inside of us that was strong and smart enough to say, “I’m not going to buy this.” For many of us, there was something strong and smart enough to say, “Religion does a lot of harm and I’m not going to let it off the hook.”
I feel that I have, in a sense, beaten the odds. I have broken free of the chains, to use a cliche, of socialization and religion which everyone seemed to want to impose on me. How we did this in the first place, for many of us who were never offered the option, is a mystery. Why us and not others? As in, why us and not more people?
I wouldn’t obey. I broke free, even at my own personal cost.
Not My God focuses on the difficulty of being an atheist in America, so the stories on the site illustrate how people feel isolated or are persecuted. I look forward to the day when being an atheist is too commonplace to warrant these experiences.
Often, atheism is compared to being gay; our “coming out” movement certainly seems analogous. (Hmm, what was our Stonewall?) One big difference that I see is that the number of atheists, from what I hear, is growing, and in large numbers, whereas the number of gay people is probably stationary.
At any rate, Not My God is about the personal experiences of atheists. While I have not spoken with Hemant Mehta, so I don’t know if I can really call this a personal story, it does illustrate the persecution I’m talking about, and is so analogous to the persecution of gay teachers that it is nearly interchangeable. Later, I’ll go look to what the gay atheists have to say about this.
For those of you who haven’t heard, Mehta, a high school teacher, is in trouble with the Christian Right.
Long story short, a Christian group is campaigning to fire Mehta so that he won’t be a bad influence on their children. The Illinois Family Institute has adopted the exact same stance on (you guessed it) gays. Once the IFI found out that Mehta was an atheist blogger when he criticized their anti-gay practices, he joined their victims at the stake. (Funny, that.) Not only is Mehta spreading the “gospel” of atheism, but of homosexuality, too! I wonder what would have happened if Mehta agreed with the IFI’s homophobia, but they discovered he was an atheist, anyway.
If a high school teacher is gay (or other sexual minority), should she keep it secret for the sake of not offending the students’ parents? What about an atheist teacher?
For what it’s worth, I’m not likening the persecution of atheists to, for example, the history of racism in the U.S. They are completely different struggles and, at least from an historical perspective, being black was/is much, much worse (in the sense of persecution) than being an atheist in the U.S. Besides, one doesn’t get to choose to be black or not, but to be an atheist is a choice, at least for the most part.
On the flip side, I can’t imagine trying to get a teacher fired for being black in the contemporary U.S., and according to polls, Americans would much rather vote for a black candidate than an atheist candidate if all else were equal, by a wide margin.
Because I’m a Caucasian, I’ll never fully understand what it’s like to be a victim of racism. I do, however, know what it’s like to be a victim of sexism. Plus, I’m Jewish, and I know that there are many people in the world (the Islamic world, mostly) that want the Jewish people off the map– I do not mean hurt, subjugated, enslaved, or conquered: I mean annihilated. That includes yours truly.
I’m not comparing atheism to these things. It’s a completely different kind of movement.
Just a couple of other small things about me and this blog I want to clear up:
I don’t hate religious people. Yeah, yeah, I have many religious friends of many faiths.
I don’t think all religious people are on the side of extremists and fundamentalists. Many religious people are very cool and don’t want creationism taught in the schools, are OK with atheists, etc.
I’m an atheist and a Jew because I’m ethnically Jewish and nothing can change that.
Yes, I am very concerned with Islam, as I think a large number (no, I don’t know how many, but let’s let the incidents speak for themselves) are extremists and dangerous, but I do not think *every* Muslim feels this way and I know many do criticize their violent co-religionists. It would be very silly of me to say that all Muslims, every last one, were dangerous.
While I do not “respect” religion, neither do I stand in front of churches with a megaphone shouting, “You’re all stupid!” I don’t attack; I counter-attack.
I am a stand-up comedian and often use humor on the site. Yes, this is a serious site and I talk about some pretty serious things: child abuse, isolation, depression, violence, etc. My use of humor may confuse people, but I feel that it is a survival skill and a darn good one, and there are times when I need to get away from the “gloom and doom” that makes up a lot of the material. A sense of humor is a wonderful thing. Also, I think humor can have a lot of insight, so it is an excellent way to make a point.
Zachary Moore of Apologia posted the podcast on which I appeared at Apologia.
Thanks, Zachary. Let’s do it again sometime.
I’m following an Amazon discussion, “Non-believers– is optimism premature?”
One poster, David Miller, replies to another:
I’m particularly intrigued by the free publicity you have given to those of us New Atheists who are passionate about the ‘Save the Children’ theme.
I had just posted on this forum a couple days ago on the same point.
So, I thought you might be interested in one of the songs we New Atheists teach our kids; my own kids liked it when they were young:
Jesus hates us
This we know
For the Bible tells us so
Little ones to Hell he sends
He hates us
And we hate him.
Yes, Jesus hates us!
Yes, Jesus hates us!
Yes, Jesus hates us!
The Bible tells me so.
I think you know the melody.
This sort of thing gives old fogey Old Atheists like Angel White [another poster] a lot of heartburn.
But I thought you would find it interesting.
I like to have my kids associate with Christian kids, so that they can pass on tidbits like this: you know how kids learn from their friends!
It’s interesting to see how new atheist parents pass their values on to their kids. I think I would do the same if/when I have a child, and I love the song. How do the rest of you, especially those of you who have children, feel about this? I can well imagine that many people, atheists and theists alike, perceive this as another form of indoctrination that atheists hypocritically accuse religion of imposing on children.
One more thing: I have a background in psychology, but can anyone satisfactorly explain how some children are successfully indoctrinated and others are not? This goes for anything, not just religion.
Andy my beau told me about when he was a kid taking his first communion and vomited the communion wafer. Eerily prophetic.
Perhaps we’ve all vomited a communion wafer in the figurative sense. To paraphrase Homer Simpson’s “crayon up the nose” speech, maybe it’s a wafer made from irrationality, or hatred, or cruelty, or abuse, or annoyance. I used the analogy that my mother force-fed me religion until I threw up.
Over and over, hearing people’s stories, I see this theme. This is particularly salient in recovering Catholics who have left their faith due to the trend of priests raping children and the Church protecting the rapists.
Even though Not My God is about the atheist experience in the U.S., I found this story from a Brit, Gary Roberts, on Coming Out Godless very stirring.
“I remember, one time, lying on the bed beside my mother as she rested during the day—and as Jesus, Mary and Joseph stared down at us from her bedroom wall. I was about 8 or 9 years old and we were talking about baptism, the bible and the Catholic faith. I asked her what would’ve happened to all those people born throughout history before the coming of Christ. I was surprised to hear her say that these people—which included innocent children and babies—could never attain salvation, simply because they hadn’t been baptised into the Christian faith. I’m not a hundred per cent sure if this was actually true according to the Church’s teachings or not, but I remember how horrified I felt for those unlucky, unbaptised masses. I tried putting forward naive arguments, such as its not being their fault they were born when they were, before the coming of Christ; or that they may have led good, honest lives.
But my pleas on their behalf just didn’t cut the mustard—these people were toast.
I believe that was a major moral crossroads in my life, one which led to scepticism regarding the tenets of not just Catholicism, but any religion.”
What made you vomit?
This is a post from a couple of weeks ago that I mistakingly put as a page, previously on the right by the About this Page stuff.
No results on the winner of the Christian Kitsch contest just yet…Corey of God is Pretend and I have so many great choices to contend with that our judgment day is very difficult!
This blog is about the personal stories of atheists, since there are many other blogs dealing (much better than I could) with political happenings, current events, evolution, skepticism, etc. When I started Not My God, I resolved to refer to such things tangentially lest I lose the mission of the project, but sometimes it’s hard to not mention those other subjects when they can weigh so heavily on my mind.
I think that along with global warming, militant Islam is the greatest challenge of our times and both scare me so much that I wish I had a prescription for Lisa Simpson’s Ignorital, but pay attention I must or else what else am I supposed to do?
The most recent book I read about the threat of Islam is Brigitte Gabriel’s
which not only scared the hell out of me, but provided ways we can fight back to preserve freedom and democracy. I was spellbound and horrified by what I read.
One of the obstacles of challenging Islam is political correctness/”cultural sensitivity” of the free developed world for the benefit of Islam. While I am in general skeptical of PC, well-intentioned though it may be, for reasons such as this example
Six Year-old Suspended for Sharing Lemon Drops
In the latest in a national trend, a six-year-old boy was suspended from school for half a day for giving a lemon drop candy to a classmate. Officials at Taylor Elementary School in Colorado Springs, CO summoned an ambulance and the fire department to respond when they found the boys in possession of the candies, which were bought by the student’s mother in a local health food store, and which school officials could not identify. The suspension came despite the mother’s assurances as to the identity of the candies, and despite those assurances, school officials urged the parents of both students to take the children to a local hospital for “tests.”
The school district’s policy treats any unfamiliar product as “drugs,” according to an administrator. The suspended student’s mother told the Denver Post that the school’s response was one of “complete hysteria” adding “I can’t believe these people are educating our kids.”
from THE WEEK ONLINE with DRCNet
ISSUE #20 – November 23, 1997
Drug Reform Coordination Network
I agree even more strongly about the danger of political correctness in abetting and emboldening our enemies.
While I do not think Gabriel herself is an atheist (she was raised, at least, as a Christian), I think that atheism, and the nation of Israel, will go a long way in our fight. While we’re on the subject of Israel, it fries me how the developed world chastises Israel for its attack (I would say counter-attack) of Muslims…all while saying, “Now get out there and save our asses from Muslim terrorism!”
The threat of Islam is relevant to me on a personal level– even if not exactly “the personal stories of atheists.” This could, in a very practical and horrible way, effect us all.
Please read Gabriel’s book, if for no other reason than for its practical advice about grassroots activism.
The answer is in your hands, as the story says. The free world defeated Naziism. We can defeat this, too.
Hi Diddly Ho Atheisterinos,
“I have one, but I don’t have a picture so a description will have to do. I saw it at a funeral one time (hence why there’s no picture, there’s a time and place for everything and that was neither the time nor the place).
It was, you know how they have those flower arrangements beside the casket, usually on a tripod like thing, and there’s flowers usually in a circular pattern. Well, there was one of them, it was light blue, with blue flowers around it, and in the center was what looked like one of those Playskool rotary telephones, it was plastic, three dimensional, and the words written next to it were ‘Jesus Called.’ I’m not even joking.”
I think I could write a bunch of long blogs just on all the sex-related products I am seeing in this contest, but then when would I get to talk about the personal aspects of atheism?
One more tangent, though: I had the good fortune of seeing Dr. Richard Milner perform his one-man show depicting Charles Darwin, among other greats in the history of evolution. Dr. Milner is such a talent– who else would rhyme “mandrill” with “spandrell”?
Since you all know what a Christian enthusiast Mike Seaver is, you may have seen his performance (which I hear was pro-bono– you get what you pay for) as the lead in the film Left Behind. Well, I tried to read the first book of this very popular apocalyptic series, though I admit I wasn’t all that interested and didn’t finish it. Similarly, once I tried to read Revelations to find all the references for this stuff that I heard of, and couldn’t get through that, either. I still had fun heckling the movie, since I love to heckle anyway, and it was a pretty good target.
In the spirit of good (heh heh) faith, Andy showed me the book of Revelations on his iPhone bible. I skimmed and skimmed, and maybe a close reading would have turned up more, but I couldn’t find any references to stuff I’d heard about from Left Behind or otherwise. Lots of references to fire and brimstone (is that lava?), Satan, scorpions, horsemen and fornication…but I didn’t see anything about people ascending and leaving behind a pile of clothing, about the nation of Israel as we know it, about a holy war in which the Jews would ultimately be destroyed, Jews embracing Jesus, lakes of fire, etc. In any case, if the rapture were to happen, what would be the point of those left behind to embrace Jesus? Wouldn’t it be too little, too late? Do their ascended loved ones miss them…or are they up in heaven full of schadenfreude? “I told you not to whistle on the Sabbath.”
It’s hard not to make jokes when you think of literate, educated 21st century people believing that plagues of fire and scorpions will happen if we don’t worship the right way. Many Christians believe that the apocalypse will occur within the next fifty years. I’m guessing it’s *always* been going to happen in the next fifty years.
Where does all this leave atheists? I’m with the sticker that says, “Come the rapture, I’ll be down here stealing your car.” Perhaps more relevantly, where does this leave Jews? A Christian “friend” of mine told me, mincing no words, that he would go to Israel when the time came to join the eternal army and kill my people. “Your people will die.”
Maybe the Christian army has to kill the atheists to get to the Jews, or vice versa?
When does the apocalypse/rapture get personal to atheists or Jews? For that matter, why does the Christian apocalpyse have to be so catastrophic and hate-filled, as opposed to the nice happy messianic coming of the Jewish “end of the world”? Learn to have fun, guys.
I once heard a story about two rabbis who survived the holocaust. The first said,
“After what we went through, how could I still believe in God?”
His friend replied,
“After what we went through, how could I not?”
I would rather have heard the story with those lines reversed and the atheist having the last word.
I’m reading Dawkins’s Converts Corner on his site and there are so many great quotes– people have a lot to say about how significant, and often very difficult, it is to lose one’s faith. It’s so inspiring that, even though “conversion” may be painful, it can be so freeing and positive.
“The few arguments I’ve been able to hold onto for the existence of god (Parts of the Ontological and the Cosmological arguments) have been torn out, vivisected, and sterilized before my very eyes… and though it left me a little mentaly raw at first from having a belief I’ve been told I must have since I was a child cut open like a frog on a lab table, I feel that a large weight has been lifted off of my mind.
Drastic brain washing will take drastic deprogramming to fix, and I thank my luck that someone in the world had the stones to stand up and stop being polite about it.”
“I then came across a book that changed my life. It was the late Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (a book version of the famous television documentary series). I was an Atheist.
I then read Richard Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and that nailed God in to the coffin as far as I was concerned.”
No wonder creationists prefer this version of Cosmos
“It is a humbling thought that we can look up into the night sky and feel so inconsequential on our little gem of a planet, but yet make such an impact on this world because of some courage, intelligence, and the support of millions of like-minded beings that we will never meet.”
It’s stirring how often I hear this sentiment expressed in the accounts I hear. One of the interviewees told me that one winter night, she and her husband were walking and she looked up and didn’t see heaven, but “just stars.”
One final thought:
“Thomas Huxley : Darwin’s Bulldog….Richard Dawkin’s : Darwin’s Rottweiler.
May I, arguably your greatest fan, lay claim to the title of ‘Dawkin’s Bloodhound’. Thank you so much for raising my awareness …I can now carry on sniffing out the truth, in true ‘bloodhound’ fashion.”
I think that makes me Darwin’s bitch. (Just kidding.)
Everyone, don’t forget to enter the Christian Kitsch Contest. So many great contenders out there…
Please check out my new Not My God submissions, link on the right. Thanks to everyone for sharing. I’m heartened by all the response I’m getting.
Here’s some of Matt’s submission:
“I’ve always had problems with dating. I am just a very different person. I was as a theist. I am as an atheist. I have had to go through public school with Asperger’s syndrome. In addition to that, as I said before, I’m very straight laced. The thing that is the real kiss of death with my dating is the fact that I don’t want children. I will not date a girl that wants children, because I see no point in setting myself up for failure. I’d like to get married eventually. It’s not on the top of my list now (I’m a college freshman), but eventually.
I thought I was successful last summer. She didn’t want children, and shared my moral uprightedness. She was a very deep and insightful person, too. But I knew that something wasn’t quite right at the same time. She was always very shy around me in person, in spite of being talkative on the phone when we were some distance from each other. It was almost as though she was a different person. She later admitted to being uncomfortable around men.
We ended up breaking up. I realize I’ve left some holes in that story. In a nutshell, her discomfort around me was becoming emotionally draining for her, so she figured it was better we weren’t together. I thought it a smart decision on her part, but of course I was still upset.
I later learned that when she was only seven, her own father sexually abused her.
My faith was put to the test in a way it had never been before. Why would God put such a nice person in the hands of such a horrendous human being?”
So many people on this site have had their faith tested when bad things happen to good people. After all, the tenets of religion pretty much say that if you’re a good person, god will reward you. Matt talks about this and also in the context of how challenging it is for him to find someone to be with… and then was his faith most challenged.
How many of you have been there?
One thing I wonder: how come no one ever seems to ask why good things happen to bad people?
Just kidding. This is Not My God, a site for the personal aspect of atheism. I'm putting together a book with that title, having already 20 interviews lined up, but I still want to hear from more of you.
I've expanded the blog to include material not related to atheism, including rants, raves, consumer issues, curmudgeonly matters and other miscellany.
Read more about Not My God on the About page
- October 2016
- October 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2014
- April 2014
- October 2013
- September 2013
- April 2013
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- January 2011
- November 2010
- September 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008