Saturday, January 12, 2013

Religious Double Standards

I am an atheist, and I do not apologize for this. I keep atheism posts on my Facebook page (and here) to a minimum as most of my friends and family are believers. I believe strongly that one shouldn't push one's views on others, and if you wish you receive that courtesy you must act on it. I believe that everyone has a right to believe what they want and that this right needs to be respected. However, I do not believe that respect must extend to the beliefs themselves. I am not extended the same courtesy by the majority of the believers on my list. They are constantly posting religious sayings, Bible verses, etc. They would say that this isn't pushing their belief, yet if I was to constantly post sayings by atheists (especially those questioning faith) I would be told right away that I was being pushy and insulting.

I recently posted a joke (shown at the right) related to religious belief on my Facebook page, the result of this was someone unfriending me and telling my spouse that "I'm full of hate". I'm not going to say that I don't feel hatred, that would be a lie. I hate child molesters, rapists, war mongers, and asparagus. My original intent was to save it until I could get home and share it with a small group of friends that would appreciate it and then remove it. Needless to say, I decided to leave it on my wall. A bit of a rebellious act I admit, but it's my wall and I don't like being told what can go there when I already censor myself to a large extent.

This general post was taken as a personal insult on this person's intelligence. Now I am not one to use a person's religious beliefs as a measure of their whole intelligence. I know many very intelligent people who are also believers. They are critical thinkers in so many aspects of their lives, the only area they avoid using this ability seems to be their religious beliefs. If I'm going to question your intelligence, I'm going to look at the choices you've made in your life not what religion, if any, you follow. You ability to learn from mistakes, adapt, and make good choices are a much better gauge of intellect than which god you follow.

I mentioned that I ignore offensive homophobic and racist posts all the time, and was told that that I'm not a minority. Yet I am a minority, one that is discriminated against under US law. There are many places where atheists can't run for political office based on the fact that they do not have a religious belief. And I think it's asinine to for someone to tell me that I can't be offended about such posts because I'm not a member of that particular group. I am offended by such posts, partially because it offensive in general and partially because (especially in the case of gays) it was taught to the person by their religion. They often don't even see it as bigotry because it's a religious belief.

My posting was in no way intended to be insulting or malicious, this person assumed that was my intent because she was aware of my atheism. Through out the exchange on my wall, I was polite while she resorted to name calling and threatening a friend that spoke up for me. She carried the conversation over into text message and her last comment included a statement that "faith teaches tolerance" which I found ironic since she resorted to nastiness. I wanted very much to list the many examples of religion showing the exact opposite of tolerance, but I resisted as I knew it was pointless.

The comments about hate and tolerance got me to thinking. Atheists are accused regularly of being depressed, bitter, angry, and hateful. And I'm sure there are atheists that fit into all these categories, at least part of the time. Because every person on the planet no matter what they believe has these feelings at one point or another. And yes, many atheists make fun of religious beliefs. Just as many religious people make fun of other faiths. But that's ok, since they are doing it in the name of religion. They only consider it a problem when it is directed that their particular belief system. Yet religious people don't make jokes about atheism. Instead, they tell atheists that they don't deserve to be citizens of the US and should just leave, that they are immoral and criminal, and threaten them with burning in hell for eternity. I don't know what their definitions of tolerance and hate are, but these comments definitely counter my definition of the former and fulfill my definition of the latter.

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