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Jun 11 2012

Because I am an atheist: Lousy Canuck

Today’s submission comes from fellow FTBorg Jason Thibeault, who writes at the brilliant and therefore deceptively-named Lousy Canuck blog.

Because I am an atheist…

I’ve been an atheist since I was 13. This is well before I knew the word, or the implications, though I had a vague inkling that a lot of people were probably wrong about a lot of things. When I further realized that my own parents counted among those people, I figured it was a very bad idea to let anyone else know what I thought about theology.

Several years ago, my sister came out to me as gay. The way she approached it was to ask me, “what is the worst possible thing you could imagine me telling you about myself?” I joked, “that you vote Conservative.” So, she apparently took that as an indicator that I’m safe, and came out of the closet. 

I also learned that my father — then very recently estranged from my mother, who’d moved to the States at that point — wasn’t exactly thrilled by this news himself. This I’d assume explains my sister’s caution, despite her knowledge that I’d had a gay male friend as a roommate for a year during university. I also know that my father’s prejudices against homosexuality came, though he was a very liberal Catholic, from his religious upbringing. I have a few childhood memories of my father acting explicitly homophobic, among dozens of exhortations that I should follow traditional male gender roles and that he would disown me if I turned out to be gay. So I immediately understood why my sister was apprehensive. My heart sank for her.

As life in our old hometown began to wear on her over the next year or so, the acrimony my sister got from my father increased over time, and the hotel she was working at shut down, so she found herself in a bad spot. I encouraged her and her then-partner to move to live with Jodi and I in our spare room until they could get on their feet, find jobs and someplace to live.

I had realized that the ridiculous anti-gay memes embedded in my father’s consciousness are every bit as wrong as the religious ones, both of which he tried to instill in me. I have successfully resisted both forms of indoctrination because I had inoculated myself against the meme that my father is always right by realizing he was expressly wrong about one of the central questions of the universe.

My sister has a very strong character, and has built a pretty good life for herself now. It’s not perfect, but she’s directing the same sort of incremental improvements that I put myself through when I moved out of the house originally. And while I’m sure she would have survived whatever came from the bad situation, I am gratified that I was able to ensure it was not worse.

Because I am an atheist, my sister had a support structure in me, even where all our father had for her was sanctimony over her “life choices”. If I hadn’t been an atheist, there’s every possibility that I would have been significantly less willing to help my sister in her time of need, following in our father’s footsteps.

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10 comments

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  1. 1
    Pieter-Jan van der Veld

    good story

  2. 2
    northierthanthou

    Excellent story. Thanks for writing (and tweeting) it.

  3. 3
    'Tis Himself

    I encouraged her and her then-partner to move to live with Jodi and I in our spare room until they could get on their feet, find jobs and someplace to live.

    That tells me that you love your sister.

    Because I am an atheist, my sister had a support structure in me, even where all our father had for her was sanctimony over her “life choices”. If I hadn’t been an atheist, there’s every possibility that I would have been significantly less willing to help my sister in her time of need, following in our father’s footsteps.

    Because we’re atheists, we realize that this life is all we have and we need to make life as good for ourselves and others as we possibly can. Your sister had a problem and you helped her out, not to make points with The Big Guy In The Sky™ but because she’s your sister and a fellow human being.

    Ian, you’re one of the good guys.

  4. 4
    John Horstman

    That’s Jason Thibeault writing there, though it’s true in both cases.

  5. 5
    Crommunist

    Yeah, I feel the need to emphasize that this is Jason’s story, not mine.

  6. 6
    'Tis Himself

    Apologies to both Ian and Jason for confusing them. Please transfer any mention of “Ian” to “Jason”.

  7. 7
    Jason Thibeault

    I’m not insulted or slighted in any way whatsoever. Ian might be, though.

  8. 8
    Crommunist

    Meh. If he thinks your excellent writing is of a similar quality to my writing, I’m good with that.

  9. 9
    Suido

    And the winners of the critic’s choice award for Best Example of the FtB Hivemind through Mutual Admiration goes to…

  10. 10
    Crommunist

    Naw, Jason and I are just Canadian. We’re all like that, eh?

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