I live in a red state in the Midwest so Christianity is hard to escape. You hear it everywhere – the workplace, standing in line at the grocery store, the doctor’s office, etc.
I once had an OBGYN reference the bible. That’s the last person I want preaching to me. You better believe that was my last appointment with her.
People bring up god openly and it is generally accepted. Christians around here aren’t afraid to talk – but I am and it pisses me off.
When I hear someone pushing religion it makes me really uncomfortable. I get angry and I can’t get it out of my head.
People tell me to let it go and be more accepting, but I can’t. It’s just not right. I can’t be the only one who feels uncomfortable, yet our voices go unheard.
Writing is my voice and sadly, the things I write on my blog I only discuss with my husband. The rest of the people in my personal life wouldn’t really be open to it.
But there is one exception. When I was promoting my poetry book, I spoke with many atheist and humanist groups. They were from all over and surprisingly, some were in my own backyard.
So I know I’m not alone – but how do I deal with the anger?
So many injustices and evils are rooted in religion so while someone saying “god is good” in the checkout lane may seem innocent, it really bothers me. How can something so wrong be so widely accepted?
So many Christians were just “raised that way” so maybe people truly don’t know what they’re supporting. Should I forgive their ignorance?
I know we are all humans just trying to get by but I also know the world would be a better place without religion. Even “innocent” comments out in the community perpetuate injustices and evils.
My anger is valid and justified but how do I keep it from eating me up inside?
Are you angry, too? How do you deal with it? Or maybe we can just commiserate together. Has anyone’s anger led to change? I would love to hear stories.
When someone implies we are in a Christian country, I remember that Wednesday is named for Odin and Thursday for Thor. I don’t always say that we live in a Viking country, but I think it. That helps me to balance out my annoyance.
The only ones who annoy me, other than the political Xians, are the ones who knock on my door spreading “the word.” Then I’m not your stereotypically polite Canadian. They rarely come back and others from their church now know to stay away. It’s just my idea of fun.
About 40 years ago a friend of mine was at home on a Friday night and bored. The door knockers showed up and he let them in and listened to them. They came back for the next six weeks and were sure they had a live one. The last time they came they told him that they would be inducting him into their church on the following Sunday. He laughed and said he wasn’t going to join their church, he just had nothing better to do the past few weeks. They were very angry at him for wasting their time. Serves them right.
Raging Bee says
My anger is valid and justified but how do I keep it from eating me up inside?
Direct it outside of yourself, to/at its valid targets. Let it eat them up, not yourself. You’ll be doing us all a service, not just yourself, by letting the Christians know you’re willing to call them out and not let them spout their willful ignorance and escapist rot without consequence.
Depends. If their mention of Christianity is incidental and not intended to rattle or change me I , generally, but not without exception, let it go.
If it is intended to ‘rattle my cage’ I usually act nice and ask questions that raise painful contradictions in their minds. Feeling mental pain in the presence of a nice man with a pleasant tone and smile tends to cause them to look around confused, and leave. I figure I’ve won because I’m standing still and they are scurrying away to find solace in their malevolent doctrine and dogma.
I grew up in the southern Baptist church. My atheism is well tested and my understanding of the contradictions and conflict within Christianity, and the Bible, have served me well. Hint: If you have a working understanding of Christianity and the bible you are well ahead of most Christians. Even their preachers are often unread and unprepared to meet any real argument. They ague in bumper-sticker memes and platitudes that are unsupported logically and/or Biblically.
I have felt significant amounts of joy seeing Christians trapped in their own logic and flustered to the point of speechlessness. That said I have no hope of changing anyone’s mind. As with most religions it is a felt, visceral comfort and reassurance, they feel. Like a mother’s tender embrace, a soft breast, and mother’s milk. No amount of hard truth and incisive logic can re-frame that.
Raging Bee says
That said I have no hope of changing anyone’s mind…
We don’t have to change their actual beliefs, just as long as we change their understanding of how they’re allowed to conduct themselves in public, and what others will or will not let them get away with. If that indirectly results in a few of them revising their beliefs, that’s a win, but it’s just icing on the cake of getting them to change how they behave.
Other, less infested places to live are available.
I’m not qualified to help you deal with your anger, any more than I’m qualified to help you with processing grief or dealing with PTSD. When I needed help processing grief and dealing with PTSD, I paid a qualified therapist. It definitely helped.
A little over 50 years’ experience of humans has led me to conclude that a minimum of 60% of them – possibly many more – are absolute fucking morons who are terrified of death and prepared to swallow any old bullshit to make them feel better about the fact that they are definitely going to die. Accepting – REALLY accepting – that fact might help your anger.
Nope. Accepting it doesn’t mean forgiving it. I accept that a proportion of people in society are going to murder, rape, steal, defraud, abuse and bully. Understanding that it’s definitely going to happen and not losing sleep over that absolutely doesn’t mean forgiving any of it.
I’m not, I think, as angry as you, simply because I live in a civilised country where talking about your religion in public in front of people you don’t know well would mark you out as a kook to be pitied and avoided. I mean – I know (and like) people I know to be observant Muslims – but being BRITISH Muslims they’d never be so… uncouth as to bring it up. “Can’t make it then, I’ll be at prayers” – comments like that now and again, fair enough, but it’s offered in the same tone one would use if one were taking one’s kids to soccer practice. I’ve never met a Sikh I didn’t like, but I can’t remember a time one has ever even mentioned their religion. I don’t know any Jews (or at least, none who’ve *told me* they’re Jewish) because there are hardly any of them and I don’t live or work in any of the tiny, tiny number of places and professions they seem to congregate in. And Christians in the UK, dwindling band that they are, are in my experience at least as shy about mentioning it as Muslims. There ARE the occasional nutters who stand in the high street on a Saturday with a little stall, but even they don’t ever actually *say* anything – which does make me wonder (a) why they bother and/or (b) whether I exude some kind of aura that repels them. But I never see them talking to anyone else, either.
So no – no anger, not day to day. Remind me of historic injustices, and I may rant, but to be honest religion simply doesn’t come up. If I didn’t regularly comment on this blog network, I’d probably not think about religion from one year to the next.
I agree with @4 and @5. I don’t care if someone’s religious, but I don’t want them to proselytize at me and I will be clear that’s unwelcome.
You, in the midwest, have a tougher time because militant Christianity and blind conformism is more part of the culture.
I used to get angry about dealing with christian things. When I was leaving christianity and stumbling around trying to figure out what I did or did not believe in, I had a couple friends who tried to talk me into going back. One friend brought up christian stuff in conversations a couple times and I asked them to stop because I had bad experiences with it. They didn’t. I was polite to a point and then I let them have it. The other friend explained that their faith made them feel great and they wanted something wonderful like that for me. They asked if they could leave a book with me. I told them I might not read it but they could leave it if they wished. I never did read it and they respected my wishes and didn’t push me on this topic. For what it’s worth, while we were separated for a few years the second friend became an atheist. I’d never pushed my views on them, either. I just explained how I thought and tried to be polite about it.
This is largely my blueprint for dealing with things like this. I’m polite and I tiptoe around other people’s views as long as they return that politeness. They often don’t know how to tiptoe around my lack of belief (or the beliefs of anyone not like them for that matter), so I’m not quick to take offense either. But I do try to teach them something along the way. And if they’re not polite… Well, when you don’t believe in sacred cows you don’t have to care whose sacred cows get gored. It’s pretty simple to point out bad ideas and why simple platitudes and cheesy sayings are useless. Politicians are better than comedians for pointing out the absurdity of a lot of this stuff and they aren’t even trying!
It doesn’t save me from every uncomfortable situation. I had a family member die a couple weeks ago and there was a christian service for it. I haven’t told most of my family I’m atheist yet, at least in part because I don’t have much to do with them. So I didn’t have a good opportunity to sneak out and avoid the religious service. The preacher said some things I forgot within a few days but they bothered me at the time. I read them as some sort of praise of belief and putting it on a pedestal while having some rather dark and unpleasant implications for people like me who do not believe in the christian dogma. And that bothered me. I didn’t need that sort of nonsense at the time, not one bit. But it passed. I live a couple hours away from all of those people and most of them I haven’t seen in at least several years. They can live their daily lives however they like without bothering me much. And I simply don’t let anyone around me throw this sort of nonsense my way on a regular basis. This means there’s no constant flow so I’m not building up a store of anger I don’t know what to do with.
You may adopt a different plan but I think Raging Bee got to the core of the issue in #3. If you’re experiencing it frequently, you have to do something with it, find a way to let it out somehow. The rarer these incidents become the more tolerance you’ll have for dealing with other people’s poor ideas and bad faith arguments.
John Morales says
Like others have noted, I am not that fussed whether someone is religious (I relate to how they actually behave) once I know them, but I confess that I am prejudiced before I get to know them, if I am made aware that they are religious.
But then, I live in Oz. Not the USA midwest, so that has never really come up.
Different milieu. Less hostile to atheism.
I had a sorta run in with some Jehovah Witnesses. I’d see them at a bus stop close to my house every day and we’d gotten into the habit of just saying hello. The few times I’ve had conversations they acted like they wanted to correct me about my observations and experiences. Like mansplaining but with women . I told them I danced ballet to exercise and they’d insist that I was just exercising. I was doing full standing splits and arabesque penche while I was waiting for the bus. It got kinda annoying but I knew they didn’t allow their members to have a social life outside of their cult. Everything was ok until I mentioned how old I was. I’m in my late 60s . They all stopped talking to me and would stand across the street because it was demonic for someone my age to dance like that . I thought they were pathetic