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Because I am an atheist: The Uncredible Hallq

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Chris Hallquist, who blogs at The Uncredible Hallq.

Because I am an atheist…

…I can view religion honestly.

I was raised a liberal Protestant, Congregationalist to be exact. I’ve joked that our family was one step away from being Unitarians and this made becoming an atheist not much of a leap, but this is a total lie.

The truth is that when I finally admitted to myself, “yup, I’m an atheist,” it had a couple immediate, beneficial effects on my life

As a young, liberal Christian teenager, I had no problem ignoring the scary stuff in the Old Testament, letters of Paul, and well everything except the stuff about Jesus. And the stuff about Jesus included some good stuff, “judge not least ye be judged,” the parable of the good Samaritan, giving to charity, the parable of the sheep and the goats (a good rebuke to fundamentalists who say it’s all about whether you believe in Jesus), and so on.

The problem was that not everything about Jesus was good stuff. Greta covers this really well in her “The Messed-Up Teachings of Jesus,” but one thing I’d highlight is the thought crime stuff. That messed with my head, especially since it was right there in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, mixed in with the “blessed are the poor” stuff and stuff about not taking an eye for an eye.

The other immediate change once I started thinking of myself as an atheist was that I no longer felt any need to make excuses for fundamentalist Christians. Don’t get me wrong, part of me thought they were scary, but I also had it in my head that Christian = good so sometimes I felt obliged to think good thoughts about them. Once I stopped identifying as a Christian, I could see them for what they were, and see that the correct response to their quoting the Bible to support their views was not to argue interpretation but just say, “OK, if that’s what the Bible says, the Bible is wrong.” It’s really refreshing to be able to be honest about things like that.

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