Over at the Parenting Beyond Belief blog, Dale McGowen linked to a letter written by a former Christian family to their church brethren explaining their decision to leave the church. The letter was written in November of last year. The entire letter is worth the read, but I wanted to pull out their three key points (emphasis mine):
First, nothing has changed except what we call ourselves. There are very few things that have changed about us in the past few years. We have just put names to what we have been feeling and thinking all along. We’re still the exact same people, with the exact same ideas. The exact same things make us laugh and cry. We enjoy doing the exact same things. We still have our same skills and weaknesses. We still want to talk about the same things. We’d still love to spend time with you.
Which leads to the second thing we want you to know: We’re not angry, bitter or disillusioned ex-Christians. We’ve realized that we don’t believe much of what we professed in the past, but we don’t demand or expect that everyone should do the same. This is our decision, not yours. We still respect you and your beliefs, we still acknowledge your decisions as yours to make, and we will fight to let you make them as you see fit.
Thirdly, I’d like you to know about our sorrows. We have been living in fear of the big reveal. We’ve compared it to “coming out of the closet”. Much of our close community is conservative Christian and when we put out some early hints to people, the reaction was painful and severe. We are well aware that our choice will be too much for many of you to accept, and we may never hear from you or see you again. This is our greatest source of pain and sorrow. Taking the steps to deliberately alienate ourselves from the only friends and community that we and our children have known has been the most difficult thing we have ever done, but the fact that we chose this road despite the consequences should indicate how seriously we take our choice. No person would willingly put themselves through this much pain, stress and heartache unless they were truly sure of their path.
These were points that I tried conveying to my own family at one time or another. I added that I didn’t want them censoring themselves. For instance, if you wanted to say, “We’re praying for you.” Say it. It’s not that I stopped thinking about you. I hope for my family. I don’t “pray” like they do to a higher power. But if you loosen the term, there’s an element in wishful thinking that falls under the umbrella of prayer. Regardless, I tell them, “Please tell me you’re praying for me. Don’t alter your vocabulary or life because you think I’m going to judge you.” It’s as if they are implicitly judging me by not saying it.
Second, I don’t care if they change or think like me. Your response might be, “Well, then, why are you actively being a huge dick by blogging about anti-theism?” To which I say, I never asked them to read this blog. This blog is my avenue. It’s my outlet. These thoughts have been rattling in my head for what feels like decades. If they masochistically want to read thoughts that hurt them, by all means, read this blog. Otherwise, I’m going to plant this hypocritical flag pole straight in the sand and say, I don’t expect them to think like me.
Third, no person would willingly put themselves through this much pain, stress and heartache unless they were truly sure of the path. This was one of the biggest arguments I had for finally accepting the friends I had who were homosexuals as being perfectly natural and reasonable. When I empathized with the rest of humanity who just want to live their lives, it proved impossible for me not to become a humanist. I would rather not be associated with a team that causes anyone to avoid being themselves, and I think Christianity does that.
You’d be right to say, “Well, that’s the way you treat Christianity. You make it difficult to be Christian.”
Do I? Have I? Really? I’d love to hear someone respond to that.
If I responded, I might say, “My little voice isn’t nearly as loud as the religious voice. Religion’s prevalence in this country surely out volumes my pitiful little voice.”
My mind is churning over my last post when I said that my family is pretty much entirely secular … except for the minute times during their days when they seem religious. There really is little difference between the religious and non-religious. I feel like there’s something more there, but I can’t put my finger on it.
You’ve likely heard by now, there’s an atheist group at the University of Texas at San Antonio which set up a publicity stunt called, “Smut for Smut.” In exchange for a holy book of choice, you can get some softcore porn. The message the group is attempting to convey is the bible is full of many things smutty, so why not get some non-violent porn in exchange for the gross violent stuff found throughout the bible.
FOX did this bit on it:
I was particularly moved by Mehta’s statement when he said:
I understand that not everyone appreciates a “gentler” approach to all this. We need all types in a movement. But why revel in a publicity stunt that only makes atheists look bad?
I’m not personally turned off by the group or its message. I wouldn’t join the group. But they are on my “team.”
Oddly enough, this silly “Smut for Smut” story turned me on to one simple idea. It’s really not Christians I hate. It’s their nonsensical love affair with the bible. Christians can be and often are very cool people.
If I wrote out a personal ad in search for love, I’d write, “Interests: photography and writing. Turn ons: a big personality, infectious laugh and a flirtatious smile. Turn offs: bloody, puss-filled back boils and a saying things like, ‘I’m a bible-believing literalist.”
When I hang out with my family who are honestly some of the best and coolest people you’ve ever met, that’s what they are … cool people. They drink. They use language like “shit” and “fuck”. They love all things secular. The only time it’s apparent they aren’t atheists is when they pray before a meal or they talk about church on Sunday. Then it’s like, “Oh yeah, you’re Christians.” Frankly, I see them as no different than me, except during .0535 percent of their day, they might say a prayer or glance at a bible. You’d think that the boundary for non-belief would be much easier crossed.
My family interprets their “spiritual” teachings at church into an effort to make the world and their families better. They are involved with their church ministries. They aim to present a message of love and peace to their communities. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Why is there a need to base the group off the bible, when it is clearly not the moral compass it’s purported to be?
I saw a video on facebook for a church recently. It was well done. It has great motion graphics and editing.
Someone in this church either works for a video company that has access to a shitload of stock video, or the church legitimately bought thousands of dollars worth of stock video and paid an editor a helluva lot to promote their group.
There were a couple stock clips that I’ve bought for projects I’ve done, and they were over $600 a piece when I bought them. This whole video was comprised of stock video. And it used a portion of a copyrighted mainstream song at the end, which I imagine wasn’t something they had permission for. If they didn’t have permission, I would hope that they would follow copyright laws to ascertain its legitimate use. Ethical use of copyright material should be at the forefront of Christian behavior, but I’m afraid it’s not.
What struck me about the video was the message. It was basically, “We’re a cool church packed to the nines with cool people. We are different. We are family oriented. But there’s one thing we don’t compromise … and that’s the BIBLE and its MESSAGE!”
You don’t compromise the message of the bible?
Because I’m pretty sure the church DOES compromise the bible’s message or else Sundays would be a day of carnage and debauchery.
It makes me think of the time when I saw Mehta and Chad Meister at the Collision event last year. Meister’s effort concentrated on damning associations. He kept bringing up how Ted Bundy was an atheist. These associations should deter me and others from being an atheist. There’s a gigantic flipside, because associations should deter Christians from being associated with the evil in their history as well.
I’m perfectly fine taking on another association to avoid being associated with “evil atheists.” I could call myself a humanist, a free thinker, a bright, etc.
If I don’t like another atheist or his/her message, I disassociate myself from them. I’ve disassociated myself from Bundy and John Loftus for that matter. I refuse to finish Loftus’ book now (wow! what a protest!). If I don’t like a book or find that its author doesn’t represent my views, I don’t claim it’s my book to base my non-belief upon. I’d much rather pick and choose books than pick and choose lines from within a book.
There seems to be a lot of believers who ignore whole parts of the bible. Their religion and beliefs are based on other books and messages anyway. Why keep focusing on the book that makes adherents look like assholes?
Christians don’t have that luxury. Why? It’s their stubborn tradition. They are stuck with their book no matter what.
It’s time they distanced themselves from from it.
What do you think of the church’s inability to let go of a book that really isn’t all that great? Do you think it should be edited? What harm would it do to the church if it disassociated herself from the absolute horrors found in the bible?