Is it because religion has let us down? Is it because so much traditional religion is so grotesquely homophobic? Is it because priests molest children and the Catholic Church blames it on gays; because the Mormon Church spent millions to block same-sex marriage in California; because the evangelical Christian Right has used revulsion and fear of homosexuality to advance their political agenda?
Or is there, perhaps, another reason?
Much of what she writes I agree with (I certainly don’t object to the idea of fighting against homophobia in organized religion). And some of it I take issue with, but am willing to let slide for the purposes of this post.
But this has really stuck in my craw:
Letâs also say, while we’re still here in the first paragraph, that whatever the church or its representatives did to you — whatever abuse, whatever violation of trust, whatever was said to make you believe that you were not a child of God in your whole beautiful queer self, whatever the silence in which you did not hear how infinitely and immeasurably God loves you — whatever drove you out of the church is simply inexcusable.
Okay. Deep breath. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean.
Here is the problem.
You want to know why I don’t believe that I am a child of God? You want to know why I don’t believe that God infinitely and immeasurably loves me? It’s not because I was abused or my trust was violated. It’s not because I was wounded or stunted by my religious upbringing (I didn’t have one). It’s not because so much traditional religion is so hateful and damaging to queers.
It’s because I don’t believe in God.
The idea that people become atheists because they’re angry at God or religion is one of the most insidious myths that are held about us. (In fact, it’s Number 7 on my Eleven Myths About Atheists.) It’s the kind of thing that people like Rick Warren say about us. And it’s flatly untrue. Atheists — queer, straight, whatever — aren’t angry with God, any more than we’re angry with Zeus, unicorns, or the Tooth Fairy. We don’t believe in God. That’s the whole point of being an atheist. You can’t be angry with something that you don’t believe exists.
But people who leave religious belief don’t generally leave it because they’re angry. People who are angry with religion, but who still believe? They tend to look for a different religion. Anger may be the starting point for rejecting religion… but from my observation and experience, it is rarely the final straw. People don’t leave religion because they’re angry. They leave because they’ve become convinced that religion isn’t supported by any solid evidence, and doesn’t really make any sense. They leave because they no longer believe.
You want to know how the churches have failed us? They’ve failed to provide convincing evidence for God’s existence.
You want to know what the churches can do to bring us back? Come up with some better evidence, or some better arguments.
And in the meantime, please stop treating us like sad, wounded victims, who don’t understand that God loves us.