Militant Malarkey

I have officially been branded a “militant atheist.”

Coming out as an atheist has paralleled coming out as a gay man in many ways!

First was self awareness:

“I don’t believe in gods.”

Second was naming it:

“I don’t believe in gods; therefore, I am an atheist.”

Third was subtly purging references to gods from my life:

“Gesundheit.”
“Oh My Crap!”
“You’re in my thoughts.”

Fourth was telling people:

“I don’t have a religion. I don’t believe in gods.”

“I am an atheist.”

Fifth was discovering others like me:

“Really? Me too. Lets have godless lunch some time.” (Atheists are all about humor!)

Sixth is living openly:

“I think we should be good for goodness sake.”

“No, I don’t thank gods. I thank the people who helped me.”

“Everything doesn’t happen for a reason, but anything can happen and we can learn and grow from all experiences.”

“Wholesale slaughter, natural disasters and painful life threatening diseases are not part of a godly plan. They’re horrific occurrences brought on by very bad, sick people, climate conditions, or genetic variances.”

But, just like being out as a gay man, being out as an atheist is considered an act of war on established, acceptable civilized society and culture.

“Living openly” is the same as “shoving it in people’s faces” and being “militant” (when you possess and espouse the minority view, that is.)

Example:

Man and woman holding hands in public? Normal, acceptable expressions of public displays of affection.

Man and man holding hands in public? Outrageous activism, pushing their “lifestyle” and “sexual preference” (cringe) on an unsuspecting public.

Wearing a cross or yarmulkas, saying “I’ll pray for you” or “god bless you”, sending holiday cards that say “Jesus is the reason for the season” or displaying a manger scene almost anywhere? Normal, acceptable expressions of your faith.

Put a Flying Spaghetti Monster decal on your car, wear a t-shirt with the Atheist symbol or indicate you prefer secular holiday music? You’re a militant atheist shoving your beliefs in everyone’s face.

State, unequivocally, “There is a god”, and that’s you’re religious freedom, freedom of speech and belief.

State, unequivocally, “There is no god”, and you are an asshole who is disrespecting other people’s beliefs and mocking their religion.

Unlike many other dichotomies (men/women, gay/straight, black/white) it is much harder for atheists and theists to find common ground because their fundamental beliefs about the origins of life, nature of the universe, reasons for our existence, and basis of our “morality” is at, for the most part, complete odds.

The best and only way we manage to get along is to ignore each others beliefs. We know where we stand, we accept or overlook it as a condition of our friendship or acquaintance and we enjoy our time together without bringing god into it.

But sometimes, I just can’t bite my tongue. When bad things are blamed on “gypsies thieves and queers” for being godless or insisting in the maintenance of the wall between church and state; when people believe forcing prayer in school will turn our children into law abiding, god fearing, adult respecting, perfect behavior automatons and stop gun violence and jay walking; when religions insist their stories are original and their beliefs are not only the original but only right way; when evolution is touted as a whacko theory and creationism is being taught in school as legitimate science; when people insist god was always in the pledge, on our currency and this is and always has been a Christian nation; if people thank god for something I, or others, did to help; and when I am told it doesn’t matter what kind of person I am or how I treat people, if I don’t believe in gods I am going to hell; then the polite blinders come off and I step up to the plate.

If that makes me a militant, so be it.

So here’s what you can expect from me, if you are my friend:

If you offer, publicly, a theory on god the universe and everything, and I disagree I may respond accordingly.

If your argument starts with “but god/bible says…” I can’t have a rational discussion or debate with you, because I recognize neither as relevant or authoritative in the secular, rational, reasoned, legal world However, If we’re discussing the existence (or lack thereof) of god, then, by all means, have at it.

I will not pray for you or offer you prayers that will never come. I will talk to you, listen to you, hug you and help with food, money, shelter and ability when and where I can.

I will not go to church with you, but I will go to hospitals, gravesides, and the DMV with you.

I will not join you in saying grace, but I will sing karaoke with you, join you in laughter and offer words of support and gratitude as needed.

I will not thank god for your help, I will thank you.

I will not blame god for your illness and beg him/her to take it away. I will do what I can to comfort you, keep you company, and provide your needs as I am able.

I will not pontificate about heaven or hell and long for a better existence in the beyond. I will marvel at the world and people around us and do what I can to make the world we live in, here and now, a better place.

I will not see you in an afterlife, but I will spend as much time as I can with you here and, if you go first, I will cherish memories of you in mind and heart for as long as I live.

I will not pretend to understand why or how you continue to believe in gods,miracles, magic, prayer and the like, but I will respect your right to believe as you choose, so long as you return the courtesy.

And, when all is said and done, I will do all this because it is the kind of person and friend I choose to be, not because a book told me to, I fear punishment or I hope for reward.

I will try to be good for goodness sake. I hope that’s ok with you. If not, so be it.
But, please understand, I don’t want or need your god to make my life complete or purposeful. I have a whole world, universe, society, bevy of senses, rational inquisitive mind, healthy conscious and loving heart to make life all that I want and need it to be.

And I don’t need you to reject your gods to be in my life. I just need you to accept me for who I am.

It’s really that simple.

Peace, Love and Pride!

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18 Responses to Militant Malarkey

  1. JimA says:

    Sean… something about this bothers me a little bit.

    I ask this very respectfully: Why do you celebrate the Christian holidays? I am not a Christian and therefore do not celebrate Christmas or Easter. Instead I celebrate the traditions of the Solstices and Equinox’ like my northern European ancestors did LONG before Christianity was even a religion. It’s like; I can wish my jewish friends a happy hanukkah without being jewish.. but I don’t follow their traditions.

    Thanks… oxox

    • Sassybear says:

      “Christmas” has moved way past a Christian holiday and is mostly secular for most people, despite the name carry-over. It also is a subsumption of pre-existing winter solstice pagan celebrations and rituals, from decorating trees to gift giving. Knowing these practices pre-existed Christianity allows me a mental comfort with celebrating it as we do. We put up and decorate a tree and swap gifts (sometimes.) It is more cultural for me as I was raised with Christmas as a holiday that happened every year at this time. I do not celebrate Easter or recognize any other Christian or religious holiday. As a rule, we do not wish people Merry Christmas and if/when we send cards, they always say seasons greetings or happy holidays and intentionally never have the word Christmas or anything religious on them. I see no conflict, in having a tree or swapping gifts, with my Atheism. I can enjoy this season as I see fit without having to accept some of the meaning and purposes Christians or Jewish people apply to it. It is more of an end of the year seasonal celebration for us. It certainly has no religious or godly connection or connotation for us, any more than paying for things with money that says “In God We Trust” implies we support the use and perpetuation of god on our currency, or not killing people means we’re following one of the Ten Commandments of the Christian god. If Christmas were truly and solely a Christian holiday, it would stay in churches and the private homes of Christians. Instead, it is a public, secular, commercial holiday, like Valentine’s Day. Some may still celebrate it in a religious way, but we don’t, and don’t have to, to find some fun in celebrating it our own way.

  2. Shawn says:

    I commend you too.
    I respect everyone’s right to choose – or not choose – a god of their own understanding – or not. I have one (a god), but that is for me and me only…. not to push on anyone else nor judge anyone else. We all have the right to believe what we want, and respect the right of others to believe…….as long as they not judge others who do not believe as they do nor push their beliefs on others who may believe differently.
    You have your belief….I respect that. I have my belief and think that you respect that too. I do not go to a church or practice an organized religion. I have a strong belief in a power that brings me peace. I strive to be a good person, to improve and to hopefully leave everyone and every place I touch just a little better than I found it.
    Peace!

  3. Richard says:

    And peaking of militant . . . I loves me a man in uniform!

  4. RG says:

    Gesundheit does not mean “God Bless You” in German. It means “To Your Health”. You can continue to say Gesundheit when someone sneezes. LOL

  5. *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*

  6. Kyle Leach says:

    Sean, may the force be with us!

  7. Richard says:

    Excellent!!! I agree! “Praying” for someone can be the easy way out when someone asks for help. Last week I received a text from one of my daughters. She asked me to pray for her because she had a wicked migraine headache and had three shows in a row that she needed to perform in. (I’ll only say it involved wearing a ginormous head of a duck.) I asked her what times the shows began, and told her I would be there in spirit as I watched the show on youtube (filmed with her in it), starting at the exact times each of the three shows were scheduled. And I did. All three. We texted in between. (She threw up in between shows 2 and 3.) When it was all over, she thanked me and said she would not have been able to do it if I wasn’t there ‘watching’ her. I helped her get through it. Prayer was not mentioned. We can lead by example. Love you Sean!

  8. Tony Davis says:

    hello–writing from california. as a fellow atheist, i devoured your post, and found myself loving the past part the most as you describe how you will “be” with others without including god. i could not agree more–i am a very “out” atheist at work, where i am surrounded by christians and catholics. they either love me or hate me, but i accept both reactions. there are several who no longer say “god bless you” to me when i sneeze, not out of fear, but out of respect, with a dash of humor. i love it. since becoming an atheist i live more fully than ever before, because i don’t pine my hopes on an afterlife. i don’t know why i think and love differently than the majority, though i have some clues, but i would not have it any other way. i am glad i found your blog. happy holidays! -tony

  9. Raybeard says:

    When I first read this I was lost for words. Now I’ve got one – “YES!”

  10. wcs says:

    Thank the FSM! I was hoping for someone to go to the DMV with… LOL!

    Nice post. I have to go now, I’ve run out of 3-letter acronyms.

  11. JimA says:

    Very well written! And I think more of you when you stand up and state your beliefs. You could always say: “I’m not militant! Do you want to see militant? I’ll show you militant!!!”

    Thank your good sense and parents good sense that you don’t live in the bible belt!

  12. Mark in DE says:

    Very well articulated!! I agree with and support your logical point of view.

  13. justajeepguy says:

    I guess I still need to come out. I don’t believe in organized religion and as for gods, I not sure what I truly think. I know that I live my life doing good for goodness sake (quoting the Santa song!) and the it is the best I can do for me, my fellow humans and for any gods there may be.
    I don’t see why atheists are hated more than other religious groups. I think all religions believe that if you don’t believe in their religion you are equally damned. The big difference is that atheist are not organized nor do they try to recruit, dominate or eliminate other religions. They just ask that they be left alone.

  14. Gary says:

    I commend you, That is what has made this country great people from every walk of life. There is no sign on our shoreline that says we do not accept athiests. But for some odd reason people feel compelled to convert anyone or everyone that they encounter with their core beliefs. I had to laugh out loud when the pastor blamed the gays for Sandy Hook shootings. They need to figure out a new game plan. That dog will not hunt anymore and the American people for the first time are coming to terms with their own realizations about injustice, bigotry, and are adopting as the old farts die off of live and let live.

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