God Bless Me
I’m curious. If a Buddhist were to approach a Catholic and tell this Catholic that their beliefs are wrong and Buddhism is the proper path for them to choose, insisting that their soul won’t be safe until they do so, what would the reaction be? Surely this action would be protested, as the Catholic has the right to their faith and beliefs without interference from this arrogant Muslim who is trying to impose and change a person’s entire belief system solely based on their opinion that their faith is the one who got it right. Surely this would be frowned upon, as it is unacceptable to challenge someone simply because you disagree with who they worship or how they worship.
Even in the Christian faith, I’ve seen Baptists and Catholics clash and Episcopalians and Methodists disagree. Those in religion A know for a fact that they are correct, while religions B, C, and D have either most or all of it wrong. This by itself is perfectly fine; we are obviously entitled to our opinion and we have freedom of religion and the freedom to believe what we wish. Although we do have freedom of speech, there is a fine line that out of respect should not be crossed when conversing with someone who doesn’t share your belief system. It’s simply bad form to try to convince someone that they are wrong or damned for what they choose to believe and deny.
I consider myself to be Agnostic; I don’t deny that there may be some sort of spiritual forces at work here and there, but I don’t believe in organized religion, nor do I believe there is a God in heaven flanked by his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit as I was taught growing up. I’m not comfortable in calling myself an Atheist as my husband does, but I do identify with them and share many of their opinions on organized religion, faith, and spirituality. I feel that it would be ignorant for me to say nothing exists out there, especially because I do believe in the existence of ghosts and life after death, but I don’t buy into the religion of my upbringing or any other. It’s a decision I came to gradually over the years and I’m quite happy with it.
What boggles my mind is that many people, mostly Christians, look at me as someone who requires saving and who needs to know God. They see it as their duty to tell me I’ll “come around,” I’ll “see the light one day,” or to invite me to their church in the hopes I have some sort of epiphany and praise Jesus. These are the same people who accept those of other faiths, even though the belief systems differ, but see me as abnormal because I have an absence of faith as it fits into organized religion. They look at me strangely, as if I’ll burst into flames at any second, and they see me as an immoral person due to my lack of appearances in church and my idea that prayer is useless.
It is not my duty to spread the word to people I encounter and inform them that there is no God, no heaven, no hell, and no Satan. No one has tasked me with saving people from their misguided faith and silly beliefs, telling them they are wasting their time in church and are teaching their children nonsense. For me to say those things would be rude, insulting, and totally inappropriate. I don’t agree with a lot of things people choose to believe, but I also respect their right to believe it and know that it’s not my right or place to make them feel foolish for worshipping what they wish.
I can hardly speak for everyone who feels similar to me when it comes to matters of the Lord, but it’s not a path that is chosen out of laziness and a desire to stay away from church as much as possible. It’s not something decided on a whim. It doesn’t make life easier or less stressful, nor does it provide some sort of social boost. I think my mother would have rather me told her I was gay than tell her I didn’t believe in God, and my husband struggled on how to tell his own mother. I get asked why I celebrate Christmas and Easter since the origins are religion-based. I am asked what I teach my son and if I deny him a religious education. It’s a bit of a stigma and seen as a flaw to not have an acceptable faith.
What I would like is for Atheists and Agnostics to be treated more like they are just another belief system. If you wouldn’t approach a Jewish man and insult his temple and insist your Baptist church down the road is the only way to be right, don’t approach me and treat me as some sort of spiritual leper who needs your assistance. Yes, there are misguided Atheists and Agnostics, but misguided people exist in all faiths. It’s not your job or your place in the world to seek them out and “fix” them. Bottom line, I’m not a bad person, I don’t need to be repaired, and I haven’t been brainwashed or misinformed. Lay off and save your judgment and laughter for the afterlife, as I give you permission to mock away from your perch in heaven as I burn in hell. Send me marshmallows.