Religion is one of those hot button topics that usually ends up turning into a long heated discussion of who is right. That’s why I don’t talk about it with most people, people that can’t accept that I see things differently than they do. That number is surprisingly high. Lately though, I see a lot of people saying more and more increasingly insulting things, whether it’s intended or not, about other points of view. The point of this isn’t to call anyone out. It’s more of a way for me to share the way I see things.
Religion is a personal choice. You choose a religion that makes sense to you. Some people just choose to follow what they grew up with because it’s what they know. There’s nothing wrong with how or why you choose one over another. The problem, to me, is when you treat people differently because you find out they don’t believe in your version of holy text or deity. One of the major principles of many religions is to treat people in the way you want them to treat you. If you’re hostile toward them, they’ll more than likely be hostile toward you. If you treat them as you’d treat someone in your religion, they’ll treat you the same way.
I tend to keep my views to myself. I’m not even sure that my family knows what they are so I’ll give you a little look into my past. I grew up in a home that, when we actually went to church, was Baptist. I had a mother, a father, two brothers and a sister. I had the normal struggles of the middle child that was separated from his older sister and younger brother by three years each. I didn’t hate going to church until later in my life. Even though I was a child, I understood enough about our religion to know that something wasn’t quite right. I was surrounded by a lot of adultery and divorce. Things that were, at least I thought so at the time, looked down upon in the church. Shortly after this realization, we moved.
For reasons unknown, we stopped going to church after that. I was okay with that. I never really thought about religion for quite some time after that until my parents decided to get divorced. I’m not going to go into what happened with that because it doesn’t matter. It was sudden to me. I had trouble dealing with it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. I remember, quite vividly, an attempt to help me understand that it wasn’t my fault. We went to some kind of child therapy place. The person leading the session went on and on about how it was my parents’ decision and that it didn’t change how they felt about us. There were some strong religious undertones to it and that’s fine because I’m sure it helps people. It didn’t help me though. Life went on. I grew to understand what was going on and moved on with my life.
My mom got remarried. They started going to church. It was a Baptist church. I didn’t really like going but I went because my mom asked me to go. It’s still that way today. It’s just not as frequent. As a child, I sat and watched what was going on. I listened to the people. I watched what they did. I saw a lot of the same things I saw at the first church I went to. I was still a kid so I just attributed it to something adults do. I continued to go for a few more years. I never really grew to care for it very much. I figured that I didn’t need a group of people to agree with me for me to have faith in something. Having someone telling me what I was able to read myself was too much like school.
When I graduated high school and went off to college, I was thrown into a new world. Before then, I’d never really been exposed to religions outside the realms of Christianity and Catholicism. It was definitely an eye-opening experience. I met Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, Jews, Wiccans and pretty much any other religions, or lack of religion, that you can think of. I would talk to them about their religions. I liked learning about them. I still do. I’ll even go as far as going to worship with people. I do have one rule though. I won’t take part in rituals that tie me directly to a religion. That means no communion, no baptism, no confession, anything like that. I respect their religions too much to make them waste their time on someone that isn’t a follower.
That pretty much covers everything up until the present. I have a very small group of people that I’m actually open with about my views. Each of them has a different view on it from everyone else. We can actually have discussions about it. Sometimes it gets heated but we always end up leaving the situation feeling pretty good.
Now comes the part of this post that makes me hesitate a little. There will be people that don’t understand so I’m going to explain as best as I can. When people ask me what my religion is, so I don’t have to explain to people that don’t care to listen, I say I’m an atheist. That’s only partially true. It’s true that I don’t hold belief in a religion that believes in a deity. I’m actually an agnostic atheist. I don’t believe in a deity but I don’t have a stance on whether one, or more, exists or not. Both of the words used to describe my views are tinted with a hue of misunderstanding by the religious community. While it’s true that some atheists and agnostics are, to put it bluntly, asshats, not all of us are. It works the same way with Christianity. Not all Christians, in any of the facets, are like the KKK. It’s a small group that overshadows the rest in some cases. It works the same way with us. I don’t dislike anyone because of their religion. I do, however, dislike people that use their religion as an excuse for treating people like garbage.
That’s the best I can explain it, I think. If you want to talk to me about anything in here, feel free to ask me about it. It can either be in the comments below or in another form that is more private. I enjoy talking about it as long as the person asking is actually listening and not just trying to make me change my mind. It hasn’t happened in the last 7 years. It isn’t going to happen now.