After watching Pat Robertson interview
ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on “The 700
Club” last week, I was all set to write a scathing piece on
the presence of religion in government that encompassed my profound
hatred of people like Robertson, Moore and the moral watchdogs of
the religious right and the threats they posed to our civil
liberties. It was going to be bitter and sarcastic and no doubt
would have contained several unnecessary jabs at Christianity
I tried to make it work, but I just couldn’t do it.
I’ve honestly grown tired of attacking the beliefs of others
like that. It’s a sad thing to do. I don’t really hate
Christians (my parents are both Christian, and they’re my
favorite people in the world). Christianity brings people happiness
and peace of mind, and even if it does give people crazy and
annoying ideas such as placing 5,000-pound slabs with the Ten
Commandments etched into them in public courthouses, it’s not
such a bad thing.
Long story short, my lingering issues with Christianity have
been settled. Therefore, I decided to use this space more
constructively for once. I thought, why not discuss my own beliefs
and hopefully clear up some common misconceptions about them
instead of criticizing the beliefs of others? I’ll bare my
soul for all to judge. With all the criticizing I’ve done in
the past, it’s only fair.
So here goes:
In truth, I have no religious beliefs. I was raised in a
nondenominational Christian megachurch, and I clung to those
beliefs until two years ago. I had an epiphany, a wonderful moment
of clarity when the mysteries of the universe instantly unfolded
right before my eyes. Well, maybe not, but it created those
wonderful feelings that only hyperbole can properly capture. I
questioned the foundation of everything I believed in — God,
Jesus and the rest. To be brief, the religion no longer made sense
in the context of the real world. It all sounded so great in
theory, but in reality I couldn’t accept it. And so I gave up
religion cold turkey.
If I need a label, I guess you could call me an atheist.
It’s not a term I usually like to use — not because
it’s an untrue label, but because the word has such a
negative connotation in our culture. When the average person hears
the word “atheist” he or she usually thinks of one of
two types of people: the hedonistic heathen who indulges in all
types of debauchery, or the pretentious asshole who jumps at each
opportunity to mock religion in its every form. But I’ve
never been one to indulge in excess, and while I may take on the
pretentious asshole role from time to time, I try to be respectful
of others’ beliefs.
Some of the most common questions an atheist faces go something
like this: “If you don’t believe in a supreme being or
an afterlife, then why do you bother living? Why don’t you go
on a week-long bender of armed robbery, murder, promiscuous sex and
drug use and then commit suicide?” For me, it’s quite
simple: I bother living because I enjoy life. That, and I have
nothing better to do than live.
Part of the blame for the misconceptions surrounding atheism
lies with groups such as the American atheists. It’s one
thing for people with a common belief to band together, but when
that common belief is actually a lack of belief, it becomes kind of
ridiculous. For atheists to take on an agenda (literally promoting
nothing) is quite unnecessary and counterproductive. These militant
atheists are every bit as annoying as the religious right and twice
as crazy. They’re the ones who make the public think all
atheists hate religion and the religious. The only reason they
don’t pose a legitimate threat to the nation is that there
are so few of them.
But the majority of us aren’t crazy. In fact, we’re
very sane and rational people. We think, act and feel just like
you. Don’t be afraid of us. We like you, and you might just
Go in peace.