Little Dianna Atheist, dancing through the forest, picking up Christians and bashing them on the head…
I’ve had another epiphany. Fireworks are lighting up in my brain. These jolts of understanding hit me a lot more often since I realized atheism than they did before that time. I wouldn’t say it necessarily has anything to do with atheism; instead, it has to do with the regular practice of thinking, something I can honestly admit I avoided in the past and the very thing that led to finding myself among the heathen.
I suppose I ought to qualify myself–-my epiphanies might better be described as “duh” moments because it always turns out my brilliant insight was staring me in the face asking to be noticed, or worse, remembered all along. This time it arrived after a brittle confrontation with a Christian. I was accused, indirectly, of Christian bashing–of ripping people to shreds for their beliefs. I was properly aghast at the charge. Sure, I can be a solid foe once you poke me, but I don’t attack people outright with no provocation. And while I try to be honest about my thoughts and feelings regarding religion, especially Christianity as I know more about that one, I’ve never ripped a person to shreds physically or emotionally.
Long ago in that horrid institution known as high school, I learned my lesson. Before this particular incident I remember a few others in which I said or did something on purpose that hurt another person. This time, I was older and wiser and frankly should have known better. I’d like to say it was the fault of the culture, but nah, it was just me being jealous and acting out. I told another girl that my mother disapproved of her as a friend and that I could no longer be hers. My mother had said no such thing. I’d joined a bandwagon of girls unloading on this one, took my turn and for that, cried all the way home.
I called her as soon as I arrived there and apologized. I don’t know why I said it and the look on her face when I did told me I’d hurt her. I can’t recall ever doing such a thing again. I don’t like hurting people. I don’t like confronting people. I don’t like having people angry at me. I don’t even like it when people don’t like me. I’m basically a relationship wimp. Part of the reason realizing atheism was hard for me was the subsequent realization that a lot people don’t like atheists very much, to say the least.
So, why would someone think of me as an antagonistic, hurtful person now? A Christian basher? Why would someone imagine me thinking to myself, “Why don’t I insult my Christian friend today?” The idea is silly. One would think a person would need a reason to automatically assign injurious motives to another person’s behavior. As far as I can tell, I’m not generally known as a basher in the company I keep; so why did this person assume I meant to hurt her?
I’ve heard of this plague of Christian bashing before. I’ve been told that we live in an anti-Christian society. That’s a rather bizarre claim, as there are churches everywhere with their billboards advertising their moral and intellectual superiority with cutesy sayings. They’ve got their God in our Pledge and on our money and in our oaths. Could an atheist get elected president in this anti-Christian climate? Are you out of your mind? According to one poll I read recently, a convicted felon is a better choice for voters than an atheist.
Why do some Christians think they’re being bashed all the time? Well, I figured it out. The truth is they aren’t being bashed. Duh. Bashing would be harsh, threatening, or belittling criticism, especially involving personal insult. Bashing Christians would be calling them “stupid” or “idiotic.” It might involve large groups of people agreeing in public that Christianity is ridiculous and ought to be wiped out. Certainly telling Christians they should leave the country if they don’t like the way we do things here would qualify. But that’s not what’s been going on.
The truth is that those who claim that Christian bashing is a common occurrence are either so sure they’re right about everything or so scared they’re wrong, that questioning or disagreeing with their beliefs is tantamount to a vicious attack. Any sort of humor aimed at their religion is blasphemous vitriol. Their beliefs, and therefore they themselves, are venerable and beyond reproach.
They can attack you, mind you, and they do so with gusto and quite a bit of self-righteous snobbery. But do not dare stand up for yourself, or worse, demand respect by going against what they’ve stated as fact. That’s Christian bashing! And if you’re an atheist you don’t have to say or do anything to bash a Christian–-apparently just being you will do the trick.
Granted, I’ve gone so far as to not only declare my atheism (Effrontery!), but write a book about it (Slamming!), run a website about it (Knocking!), and regularly write letters to editors concerning separation of state and church (Bullying!). This is all, apparently, purposeful Christian bashing. When Christians do these things it’s out of love and concern for our nation and their fellow man. When I do it, it’s ripping people to shreds for their beliefs.
Knowing what I am and what I do, a Christian can take virtually anything I say, especially as regards religion, as bashing.
Me: What’s up with the Pope, eh?
Christian: How dare you impose your non-values on me!
Me: The Christian Right has taken over the Republican party.
Christian: Stop ripping me to shreds because of my beliefs!
I don’t like upsetting people. I wish I could stop all this bashing. But, I fear the only other option is to agree with everything Christians say. I’ve never been a good candidate for Stepford so I guess I’ll have to learn to embrace this new label. I’m doing well so far, I think, as this entire essay has been one long example of Christian bashing. Hey, when you find something you’re good at, you ought to stick with it.