I’ve never come out and told my family I’m athiest, mostly because of the negative association.  Not the whole ‘you’re going to hell’ but because, on the internet, being an athiest is synonymous with being an asshole.  I’m not trying to say that’s necessarily true, I’m just saying that a lot of people use athiesm as an excuse to be huge dicks.

I know two people who were born athiests- they were raised by relatively religious people and never believed, not in Santa or the Tooth Fairy or God.  They don’t have any idea what it’s like to need to believe.

I live with a man who was, once upon a time, a god-fearing fundamentalist Christian of the Southern Baptist variety.  I’ve been to his church, and there are some very sweet people there.  My mother’s family mostly attend a Methodist church, and there are some pretty nice people there.

The truth is, just like there are people who are wired not to believe, there are people who are wired to believe.  My friend, who has had some crazy exes so to preserve her anonimity I’ll call her T, never did believe.  When I knew her when she was 12, she was an athiest, and I was a Christian.

I was a Christian throughout my whole childhood.  In high school, at either 17 or 18, I started exploring other options and settled on a form of paganism known as Wicca, which was the closest fit to my beliefs at the time.  Say what you will about the religion, I was pretty quiet about it and didn’t really trumpet it about.  I was just as likely to wear a crucifix or a St. Jude’s medal as a pentacle under my shirt (the crucifix and medal belonged to an aunt who passed away, and I wore them for sentimental reasons).  The few people who knew I considered friends, and they were non-judgemental about it.

I am an athiest, and have been for several years at this point.  I am just as quiet about this as I ever have been about my personal beliefs.  If asked, I will tell you.  Otherwise, I don’t talk about it.  I consider it very personal.  I don’t even really trumpet it about in the anonimity of the internet.  This is probably the first time I’ve ever admitted to it online.  I’m generally vague, and say something like ‘if you really want to know, ask me.’

It is hard to explain to people who just never believed what it’s like to believe, why there’s such a need for it.  I can’t explain it now, not to my own satisfaction, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put it into adequate words.

I see people being judged all the time for being Christian (or Wiccan or Jewish or whatever).  Judgement is not something I’m capable of handing out willy-nilly, and I hate seeing it done online where it’s so easy to judge based on one facet of a person you can see.

I am a believer in giving people the benefit of the doubt.  It is my nature.  There are people in my life who have taken advantage of this, and I am more cynical than I was when I was younger.  But when I see people suffer, even if it’s because of choices that they made, I suffer with them.  You can’t say for sure you would abort a child with severe disability unless you are pregnant with a child with a disability.  You can’t say for sure what you would do in a situation until you hit that particular situation, and saying “I would do X” is a lie.  Saying “I hope I would do x” is appropriate.

I’m just saying that if you see someone suffering, even if it’s from their own decision, a little compassion will do you better than judgement.

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