by Lucas Oliver – Guest Columnist (See Post Script)
I would like to preface that this is an apology. Perhaps after reading this it will be understood that way. It is an apology to any who don’t understand it, and to any who would disagree. I don’t mean to put words into anyone’s mouth, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s faith.
The fact that man fears that which he does not understand is undeniable. Understanding atheism is as difficult a concept as quantum physics. The steps required to understand it are not something that can be achieved without intent. You don’t just stumble into a building that says leave all your woes behind outside. It isn’t a religion, or a belief, or a non-religion or non-belief. In the most simplest of terms it is a statement.
We don’t believe you…
It isn’t about what we do or don’t believe. That’s why you can’t change our minds about it and you have no fear of us trying to convert you. It doesn’t make us evil, indecent, or amoral. Our perspective on what matters is just different. That perspective is what makes us not believe you, your priest, Rabbi, or fat guy in a red coat. It even makes us not believe ourselves. We must question things that we don’t understand until we understand them and we won’t lie to ourselves by making a statement otherwise.
Animosity towards atheism is sometimes generated by a perceived air of superiority because our lack of ability to convey what it means. We want our children to grow up in a better world than us, just like you. We want your children to grow up in that world with us. We are just as much different from you as Catholicism is from the Judaic. We just don’t know how to make you want to understand.
An atheist isn’t born or converted. It’s something that just happens, whether it be from the religious bully in school or the beatings via bible verses, there is a catalyst but you can’t protect your children from it anymore than you can protect them from a random drive by at their school. If you want to protect them, support them when they want to learn.
The fact that we don’t believe doesn’t mean we don’t want you to believe. In most cases, we couldn’t care less. Any of us that care to label ourselves things like wiccan, or neo-pagan, pantheist, flying spaghetti worshipper, or whatever means we are still trying to believe in something. Any of them that truly are looking for something, are too busy working on themselves to proselytize.
Here in Peachtree City, GA, you have a larger conglomeration of us than you would think this deep in the bible belt. The many different cultures intermingling in the villages make for a veritable feast to anyone looking for new ideas. It bewilders us that witch hunts can still thrive in the communication era that we live in now. The other side of the world tried to destroy our economy because they think America is the great satan. The same people who cry bigot when a black man won’t let a muslim into his cabinet profess anyone not fearing their god to be a villain.
We aren’t bad people. We aren’t a threat to your lifestyle. Yes, we will circle the wagons when we feel threatened. Salem was real though, so were the crusades. We will band together as a group to protect someone from themselves even. You may think people like Al Stefanelli or the people who protested the cross at ground zero are evil, but we think people like Pat Robertson and hate groups who hide behind your cross are evil. It doesn’t mean we think all christians are evil, we usually just run whenever a religious discussion comes up because we are more afraid of you than you are of us. The honest truth though, is the only time you’ll hear anything out of us is when we think you’re hurting yourselves or your future generations.
Again, I would like to apologize for not believing, but it is the truth and we don’t want to lie to you. Most of us believe the removal of another’s free will is the worst sin of all. The easiest way to take someone’s will from them is through deceit. You want us to be good people by believing in the same invisible man as you, but in order for us to be good people we can not betray you by saying we do. I am sorry because the majority of you will never accept this truth.
Post Script from Al: This piece was written to address a case of local bigotry and discrimination against a Freethinker community in a small southern town by the local conservative newspaper that has been publishing very unflattering, dangerous stories and editorials that denigrate non-Christians, including atheists, humanists, secularists, Jews and Pagans as, among other things, worshiping Satan, destroying the country and being unfit for public service. With a few exceptions, this newspaper gives comment capabilities on it’s digital content almost exclusively to the right-wing conservative community, which only fuel the fires of bigotry.