How Dare You Label Me

While speaking to my mother this evening, I learned she told her friend about my blog. She said her conversation came with a warning about my Atheist views. They got into a discussion of fanatic atheism, her friend recommending books I should read to temper my point of view.I`ve never met this person in my life, nor had he read a word I`ve written – he heard the term Atheist, which apparently sent him into salvation mode.

My initial reaction was disbelief – not only for my mother choosing to share my blog with a disclaimer, but for the reaction of this man. Not often do I feel the need to set the record straight; in hope that this phantom stranger actually takes a peek – a definitive ponder on my religious views…..

The idea that God didn`t create man, man created God has been discussed for ages – I agree completely with this statement. My agreement isn`t dismissive or judgemental; it comes with the understanding that what sets mankind apart from other species on the evolutionary ladder is our ability to not only question, but reason. Since the dawn of time `faith` has comforted, guided, and shaped our destiny. Without it, man would never have become mankind. There isn`t a civilization in history without a creation myth. One of the first questions children ask is `where did I come from`, answers given by parents serve as comfort or reassurance – that is how I see faith. Some parents answer `the stork brought you`, some say `I found you in a cabbage patch`, others `from mommy`s tummy` – I see these as different religions. Not a question of right or wrong, merely a personal decision based on family values. Not one of us would take issue with this, or force parents to respond `you came from God`. My respect goes out the window when religion becomes a matter of public scrutiny.

I believe `faith` and `church` are two very different things. Millions upon millions of people quietly draw strength from belief in their God. When I write about religion my words aren`t meant for these people – it doesn`t make the slightest difference to me if people worship God. The fact that I don`t should be a non issue; what matters is how we spend our brief lives. What matters is that we respect others right to answer `I found you under a lily pad` if that`s how they want to.

I strongly believe anything less than complete separation of church and state infringes on basic human rights.

The term `fanatic atheist` makes me gag. Fanatic anything alludes to a one way ticket on crazy train; that said, what`s the worst thing a fanatic atheist could do – stalk forums and bait religious fanatics for amusement. I can`t imagine how the average Godless persons actions hold a candle to Pastor Michael Stahl of Florida wanting to create an Atheist data base or George H.W. Bush saying `I don`t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God`.

I don`t believe the `church` is above the law, the same rule of law should be applied to Catholic priests as your average paedophile or rapist.  I see no reason for churches not to be audited more closely – in particular ministries preaching on television or in travelling tent shows – extracting a lavish lifestyle in the name of God is criminal. Religious groups who speak out against homosexuality or abortion should be prosecuted for hate crimes. Scientology should never have been given official non profit status in America. God should be banned from reference in political speeches or campaigns. No person should ever be asked to disclose their religious affiliation.

So there it is; my abbreviated views on religion. If this makes me a fanatic Atheist – I give up. If respecting another’s right to faith, while speaking out against despicable injustice or crime in the name of God makes me worthy of data base registration – there is no hope for mankind. As long as I have to wear the label ` Atheist`, closed minds will dictate the future.

25 thoughts on “How Dare You Label Me

  1. Theists like the man you mentioned react in such ways principally because they clearly don’t have much confidence in their own religious delusions. They are terrified by an adult who calls BS on their childish beliefs. They are even more terrified of children calling BS, hence the great efforts they go through to indoctrinate the kids; to cloud their minds and persuade them from thinking for themselves. If their beliefs were strong they wouldn’t worry. If they had real confidence in the magic they profess exists they would smile more easily. It’s really a simple as that.

  2. Giving reasons why “Theists” do anything is no different than them labeling you. It’s simply reverse labeling and name calling.

    That said, I can’t agree more that churches should be accountable to the same rules everyone else answers to, and that ‘faith’ and ‘church’ are completely separate entities.

    I completely agree on the whole labeling problem. We label in order to simplify our own lives not to control others: put someone in a box and you don’t have to think about them, or their ideas — you know where they are, what they stand for, what they think — or at least you think you do. (well, we might LIKE to control others but that’s not really the issue, is it?)

    My entire life I have struggled with labels and the whole categorization mandate that seems to rule human existence. As a species we seem determined to put things in boxes — even when we post a comment on a blog — email, name, link. Gotta have something in ever box. male or female, rich or poor, believer or atheist. What difference to any of them make. Men behave as women, women behave as men. The rich can be far more miserly than the poor and the poor can be far more generous than the rich. The fact that you do or don’t find your values in the same place as I doesn’t make you any more wrong than the people who find their values in the same place as I, but who’s values I find anathema to mine. It’s not my place to judge them — though they often seem to think that it IT IS their place to judge me.

    Heck — I have a hard time categorizing my pictures. And when I try to identify birds I realize that none of them look like the pictures in any of my bird books — they all diverge from the ‘ideal’ in some way or another. I listen to politicians (here in the U.S.) and I can’t find a single one who actually sounds like a Republican or a Democrat because they all have divergent views, they are party this and partly that. And the only person that bothers is the narrow minded ones who have to fit everyone into a cubby hole of their own creation.

    And therein lies the problem for me: there never is, never was, never will be a universal system. It is for us each as individuals to devise — if we insist — our own schema — our own classifications, our own order to the universe.

    Categories will never end. We are puny little creatures in a big big universe and we need to feel in control even when there is no control.

    And yet…

    The equally troubling issue is that we allow others to trip our hot buttons…

    Who has not smashed their thumb with a hammer at some point in life? When you do — is not the most common reaction the frantic attempt to keep from smashing it again — to protect, to cover, to shield? All we want is for the pain to end.

    Recently I read a blog (not one I routinely visit) about a college level instructor who used an anonymous survey to help her evaluate her effectiveness. Out of 160 responses one person wrote that she would be a better instructor if she taught naked. That singularl inappropriate response gave rise to a totally non-proportional response . Why? Because the respondent was a jerk, because the respondent was insensitive, because the respondent thought they were being cute. The other 159 responses seemed not to matter just because one person acted inapproriately. And yet among those other 159 responses there may have been great nuggets of truth and improvement — none of which got anywhere near the attention because using anonymity as a cloak one person decided to hit the instructor’s hot button.

    I often wonder whether issues of sexuality and gender and religion and money and power get confused and blown out of proportion in part because they are our ‘smashed thumbs’ — we aren’t reacting to them rationally. We are preventing that thumb from getting smashed again, or continually.

    Another blogger recently posted about racial issues and she made a point that really struck me. If you are being discriminated against in any fashion you can get to the point that you are so aware of your DIFFERENCES that you are no longer able to see your SIMILARITIES. This, I fear,is becoming the social plague of the 21st Century.

    As social animals we seem entirely unwilling to see the things that should be drawing us together in the future — human rights, equality, etc., etc., etc., — and we can only focus upon those things that have driven us apart in the past.

    sorry for the long response….

    A retired photographer looks at life from behind an RV steering wheel.
    Life Unscripted

    • I’m rather accustomed to your “long” responses, and value your point of view.Never apologize and keep them coming. In hind-sight my knee jerk reaction post was an unnecessary rant.It pushes my buttons to be “labelled” – I am not defined by my religious views.

      Your point about concentrating on similarities rather than differences has hit home.It serves no purpose, and does me more harm to protest so loudly. Thanks 🙂

  3. Well….I’ve come to accept that culture is a consensus agreement with a hierarchical structure.

    Sure… people who are most comfortable aligning with something outside themselves, for their own structure, want and need their “beliefs” to be safely up as high as possible on the ladder. And the higher these agreed upon positions are up on the ladder is then culturally accepted as the prevailing “truth” with lots of climbing over each other for the best position.

    Impossible to argue with anyone who can only look down from a shaky ladder, with someone’s foot in their face……

  4. The situation is pretty bad in ‘secular’ India too. It’s funny but I have seen people react differently when I tell them I am a ‘non-believer and when I tell them I am an atheist. Somehow the term ‘non-believer’ is more acceptable to them!

    • Interesting. I suppose the term Atheist strikes fear in the hearts of believers.

      I can honestly say – the only time this issue comes up in my life is on this blog. I’m waiting for the day we have far better things to talk about.

  5. Tell us how you really feel! But good job Notes, though, I don’t feel you should have to defend your beliefs, as you’ve mentioned here, we are not defined by our religious views.

    I did get a laugh from your comment about fanatic atheists baiting religious fanatics though. Just what would a fanatic atheist look like exactly? I am picturing either a regular person who, in general, is overly excited or a person chanting anti-religious sentiments in the streets.. Strange term! I am glad I have never heard it used before, and I hope I never do.

    • My sincerest apology for this religious “rant”. I would be happy to never talk religion for the rest of my days – life is far too short.

      As for that fanatic atheist – fanatic anything looks just about the same. Personally I see nostrils flaring on a red face as veins throb above flushed ears closed to all but their narrow little world.:)

  6. I never talk about this subject on my blogs. If I should do it one day, I would reblog this post…

    Have a nice day.

    • I take that as the sincerest of compliments.

      I wish I shared your fortitude avoiding religion and politics. When I started blogging I vowed to avoid them as well – we both know how that turned out 🙂

      • I always say what’s on my mind. It was a sincere compliment.

        We are both on the same wave-length on many subjects. This does not make us gurus to others (can’t stand gurus…). We just share our thoughts about the world which sometimes goes crazy. And it goes crazy a lot these days.

        You use the word fortitude, I take that as a compliment although I would wish I had your courage sometimes to write what is on my mind about the treatment reserved to veterans…

  7. Very well put. I agree with you about the registration. If you do it for one sect, you’d have to do it for all. I am a born-again Christian, as you well know, but I don’t want to be categorized since I’m sure my definition of my beliefs is not the way the world thinks.
    Also, I agree with you on the getting along part. That’s what we should all be doing. Tolerance, patience, and understanding are essential skills everyone should learn. However, we currently have a regime that doesn’t believe in any of those and wants everyone to be politically correct. I strongly disagree with that because it takes away my rights so they can have theirs.
    Like you said, you don’t want to hear anything about God. Does that mean I can’t sing a hymn in public just because I’m happy? Does that mean there can be nothing religious on TV? Would I no longer be allowed to bow my head in a restaurant and say a silent prayer of thanks? Do I have to give up my rights so you can have yours? That’s what being politically correct does.
    I don’t like hearing people take God’s name in vain. If they ever make it a law not to talk about God, will it include the cussing? I’d hope so, but you know the fuss that would be raised–what about my freedom of expression?, they’d cry.
    You can’t separate ‘church’ from state. We as humans each have our own beliefs, they are an integral part of us. All laws would have to be made by robots, but then who programs them.
    This battle has been going on for centuries, and will continue until the day of rapture. Atheism is a religion; it falls under Humanism because you believe in man’s power and intelligence. It doesn’t matter to me that you chose not to believe in God and I can’t do a thing to change your mind. BUT it does not stop me from praying for you and all the others in my blog and facebook worlds.

    • The problem I have with your logic is that excludes what you claim to agree with (patience, tolerance, understanding) by pointing a finger at a “regime” you believe uses political correctness to strip away your rights.

      Breaking that statement down a little…

      Politically correct is a dumb definition for “attempting to treat everyone fairly” I say dumb because it’s over used to the point of vague cliche. A blanket generalization bordering on comical. Politically correct is not a detriment – it attempts to be inclusive – taking us back to patience, understanding and tolerance.

      Church and State not only can, they must be separated. I can’t imagine how you arrived at the conclusion this means you can’t say a prayer, sing a hymn in public or wait for the rapture.Separation of church and state guarantees your right to these freedoms. All political correctness does is guarantee those same rights to people with different beliefs. When you say political correctness robs you of your religious freedom, all I can conclude is unwillingness to live in a country that doesn’t recognize your God as the one true God.I find that rather depressing.Your “regime” doesn’t hate or threaten God, it asks only that we respect all people regardless of faith. You live in a once great nation founded on principles that religious freedom is a basic human right.That translates to freedom regardless of faith – that is the definition of politically correct.

      When I say I don’t want to hear about God, I’m not negating importance of your faith or expecting you to refrain from religious expression. What I’m saying is – it doesn’t matter one iota what a person believes – faith is a personal matter. Not something having any business in a country founded on freedom to follow any path one chooses. Hence – separation of church and state, a fundamental human right to be left alone regarding faith, and an obligation to accept all other points of view without ridicule or judgement.Undermining the leader of your nation, blindly eroding any chance of pulling the country out of the crapper simply because he had the nerve to say some Americans find your God uncomfortable in official settings, all American citizens are equal, therefore all Americans deserve a state separate from religion. The beauty is – you’re free to express your faith away from “state” any way you please.I don’t have words to describe my dismay over something so fair and simple being so difficult to understand.

      As for Atheism – one thing it isn’t is a religion.I loathe labels, classification, justification and pigeon holing. Man’s power and intelligence has nothing to do with my position – I simply don’t buy into the Christian myth of creation – end of story.I study ancient history, science and astronomy – I give no more credence to God than the scores of deities documented throughout history.Mankind sits apart because of our ability to formulate questions. Questions answered over and over again throughout history with soothing creation myths explaining where we came from. What arrogance to think one explanation is any better than the next – structured religion began when hunter/gathers put down roots. Religion created structure and obedience, it allowed growing populations to be controlled – end of story.Religion provided structure, and guaranteed unimaginable wealth for those in power.

      I fail to see how law would have to be made by robots if church and state parted ways. That’s just plain silly. Like it or not, the world is made up of many beliefs. Laws are about fairness, equality, and compassion. Last time I checked robots were none of these things – not believing in your God doesn’t reduce the rest of us into mindless machines.

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  9. Well, I can understand your mother giving that disclaimer if she believed that the man in question would be upset by your atheist views. I follow a range of blogs, and some of their authors are Christian, and I often find difficulty reading their posts – especially since God seems to get *everywhere* in some people’s world view.
    But it is annoying to be treated as someone who has gone off the rails and needs to be saved, especially when we feel like we are the only sane people in a gigantic lunatic asylum.

    • It struck me as pretty funny since I was kicked out of Sunday School at age 5 for asking questions that upset the other children. My poor mother was mortified when the took her aside, politely requesting I not return.

      I’ve spent my life optimistically trying to understand opposing perspectives. It doesn’t make the slightest difference to me if another believes in God. As far as I’m concerned faith or lack thereof is a personal matter. I draw the line (and admittedly lose composure once in a while) when it becomes judgmental. My son had a school friend when he was 8 or 9, they played together every day after school. One day (I suppose friend’s mother inquired) friend’s mother knocked on my door to tell me her son could no longer be friends with a child who didn’t read the Bible. Holy crap!

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