“Where does your hatred come from?”
I was not able to answer you when you issued this insulting challenge, or answer your wife when she insinuated that my life and the life of my beloved are devoid of meaning for not being subordinated to your preferred cosmic tyrant. You and yours have made a tidy mess of my, and more importantly her, mental state by squatting on the privileged status of “host” to our “guest,” lobbing your assorted insults and imprecations while shielded from all but the most perfunctory defense.
You know what we call someone who uses a position of power to make someone else miserable? You know what we call someone who thinks the way to make someone agree with them is to treat them badly until they recant? We call them “bullies” when we feel charitable and “assholes” when we don’t.
I know you’re not prepared to so much as understand what being an atheist means. You stopped comprehending the atheist position at “doesn’t go to church anymore and lives in sin.” You continue to imagine it as an infantile rebellion against the One True Faith, a self-deception that allows a debauched youthful generation to enjoy various ungodly pleasures without guilt until it falls apart. You’ve made excruciatingly clear that you are not interested in even asking either of us, in even asking your daughter, what this weighty decision meant to her or me, what it continues to mean to us, because you like your assorted prejudices better. You’re quite content to think of us as the joyless, amoral, antisocial monsters your religious leaders have convinced you we are, and think of any reevaluation of our nature based on actually examining us and how we live as a lack of faith.
It’s funny how often this kind of faith leads people to treat each other badly. No, wait, it’s not funny. It’s incredibly, unbelievably sad.
Here’s something that’ll blow your mind:
I’m an atheist because NONE of the truth claims made by any religion, and especially yours, hold together under scrutiny. Not “God exists,” not “Jesus died for our sins,” not “there’s something wrong with having sex with someone before a priest has performed some hocus-pocus over the two of you,” not “there is a component of a human that ‘survives’ after the death of their body,” not even “Jesus existed.”
I’m an atheist because other people’s attempts to convince me that their religion is true, especially the religion with which I was raised, are always a dense pudding of logical fallacies, appeals to emotion (usually fear), appeals to ignorance or irrelevant authority, and outright lies.
I’m an atheist because “I feel it in my heart,” “my priest told me,” and “this is what my culture has taught since shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire” are unbelievably bad reasons to believe anything.
I’m an atheist because “examining the world in a way that takes into account the results of previous such examinations and is systematically designed to weed out human biases” is the ONLY way to gain real, usable knowledge.
I’m an atheist because faith is about ending inquiry and science is about starting it.
I am NOT an atheist because of “hatred.” I am NOT an atheist because some awful thing in my life made me “angry at God.” I am not an atheist out of disappointment or rage or spite. I am an atheist because atheism is a true description of reality and religion is not. The moment you understand that, you’ll join us.
So if you sense a special antipathy in me, in us, for the church in which you were raised, for the Church with a capital C that had the chutzpah to name itself with an obscure synonym for “universal” back when it was a tiny minority of the civilized world, it’s there all right. But it’s not there because we’re atheists.
It’s there because the church you so favor has a record of crimes against humanity that makes make Pol Pot look like an amateur.
It’s there because the church you so favor has spent billions of dollars fighting reproductive freedom at every possible turn, from sabotaging sexual education programs to attempting to deny women access to contraception to encouraging the state-mandated rape-by-medical-device of women seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies.It’s there because the church you so favor expects people to accept, apropos of nothing, that the most natural of all human activities is a moral outrage unless it has the approval of a clique of old celibates with extravagant hats.It’s there because the church you so favor is so intractably disgusted with the idea that sex is fun, and that there are a LOT of reasons people have sex besides wanting offspring, that it’s determined to attack any means of separating the two developed since the first century CE.
It’s there because the church you so favor has spent billions of dollars propagating the ridiculous lie that permitting same-sex couples to enjoy the word “marriage” and the associated government benefits will have any consequence for opposite-sex couples. It’s there because the church you so favor, the church that’s been so busy making life worse for Africans in other ways, isn’t even raising an eyebrow at its Protestant counterparts’ effort to make being gay a death-penalty offense in Uganda. It’s there because the church you so favor and its assorted descendants have gone out of their way to make sure that people with gender dysmorphia are treated like monstrous aberrations, if they are treated at all. It’s there because the church you so favor encourages gay teenagers to commit suicide by telling them their very undeniable, immutable nature is a moral affront.
It’s there because the church you so favor has had child rapists in its midst for 1700 years, even making one of them Pope in 1550, and has spent that ENTIRE TIME stonewalling any secular authority who would dare attempt to prosecute those rapes as ordinary crimes. It’s there because the church you so favor has systematically silenced and punished anyone who brought allegations of child rape to secular authorities. It’s there because the church you so favor had a policy in place, signed by the man who is now Pope, for moving pedophile priests from parish to parish, and sequestering them in remote corners of the world, so that their ever-growing resumes of raped children wouldn’t get too heavy in one place or draw the public eye. It’s there because the church you so favor, now that it’s finally being called to task for systematically concealing the rapes of more children than the country of Luxembourg has people, for 1700 years, its response was not to apologize for traumatizing thousands of children currently alive and untold millions more throughout history, or to immediately remit into police custody everyone they knew was raping children, but to keep stonewalling until the last possible second and to blame absolutely everyone else for the actions of thousands of priests sheltered by official policy signed by the Pope, including the raped children themselves.
It’s there because the church you so favor claims its authority from an unbelievably badly written book riddled with genocidal, bigoted, patriarchal madness, whose only redeeming feature is a smattering of moral truths that were old thousands of years before Jesus’s supposed lifetime, and has spent nearly 2000 years paying people to weave elegantly contrived sophistries to either justify or handwave away those monstrosities, as the morals of a given period demanded. It’s there because the church you so favor claims the mantle of moral superiority every chance it gets but has to be dragged kicking and screaming through every social revolution, always at least a century behind. It’s there because the church you so favor has sided with villains as renowned as the Nazi Party of Germany when it proved convenient and discarded those connections whenever they no longer heightened the church’s public esteem. It’s there because the church you so favor has as its top priority, from beginning to end, its own aggrandizement, with the well-being of its laity not even on the list.
It’s there because the church you so favor, and the thousands of others just like it, have defined a god that would eternally torment people for being insufficiently pious as “loving.”
It’s there because people like you—intelligent, thoughtful people like you—see all of those crimes, and keep going. It’s there because people like you claim to be utterly appalled at your church’s crimes against humanity, but you keep putting money in the collection plate, even though you know exactly the evil that money funds. It’s there because people like you are convinced that allegiance to the Catholic Church is a good in itself, despite the FACT that this allegiance contributes to a list of crimes against humanity I have only begun to enumerate, despite the FACT that this allegiance makes the world a worse place for all of us in a thousand terrifying ways. It’s there because people like you see the Church’s charities (universally worse at their job than secular charities) and its role in defeating Communism and think that makes everything else okay. It’s there because people like you look at African AIDS victims and suicidal gay teenagers and enslaved single mothers and people trapped in poverty by an unplanned pregnancy and say with sanctimonious pride that they brought their fate on themselves and should look forward to their eternal torment. It’s there because the church you so favor BROUGHT THAT SUFFERING ON THEM, AND PROUDLY CONTINUES TO DO SO.
It’s there because people like you look at people like us, people like my beloved and me, who refuse under any circumstances to even appear to support that level of cartoonish, monstrous evil, like there’s something wrong with US.
No, sir. My atheism is not behind my problem with the Catholic Church. The Church has that pretty much in hand by being utterly, shamelessly evil and expecting us to thank them for not being even more evil than that. My atheism is merely why I see no need to invent a thousand intricate rationalizations for why the supposed font of all moral truth and mouthpiece of an all-loving supreme being devotes so much of its energy to torturing to death anyone it doesn’t like. My atheism is merely why I didn’t have to choose between being a devout, practicing believer and not supporting the world’s oldest and most successful criminal enterprise.
My atheism is merely why I see this evil so much more clearly than you do.
You remember that next time you look down on us because we don’t respect or share your delusions.