Tag Archives: atheism

On being not just an atheist but a parent of atheists

Today, the inauguration, was an incredibly moving day. However, as these things always are, there were portions that were uncomfortable for me, an atheist.

Even more so when one of my children texted me: ‘Irritates me that God is part of government. What happened to separation of church and state?’

This is the same child who was called to the principal’s office in junior high for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance (ok, his sister had the identical experience). When queried as to why, he responded that he could not recite something he did not believe in–that being the the segment ‘one nation under God.’ When I too was called to school, I defended my son’s right to hold fast to his own belief system, with the one caveat being that out of respect, he should stand. But that he should never have to repeat something that he did not feel to be true.

My own early experience with the Pledge of Allegiance was confusing. I would have been a kindergartner, in the early sixties. The first time we recited the pledge at school I loudly said Amen at the end, certain this was a prayer. I still recall the uncomfortable laughter of my classmates.

So why do we not have actual separation of church and state? That is a very good question. We are not, in fact, a Christian nation. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy and it contain no reference to religion. ‘One nation under God’ was added to the pledge by president Eisenhower in 1954, out of paranoia per communism and the association with atheism.

However, according to a report from the Pew Research Center, in 2019 26% of the US population identified as atheist, agnostic, or having belief in ‘nothing in particular’. And then are all those Americans of faiths other than Christianity.

So yeah. If you ask me, I would like to see all functions of state devoid of references to God. I tolerate these references because I am tolerant. Extraordinarily so. Please never forget nor disrespect that fact. Just as I do not disrespect you.

But my children? They may not be so understanding.

xo

OUT

I have been an out atheist since my late teens. Not a casual decision; hell, my first crush was on Jesus—that handsome man with long brown hair and a beard as depicted on the little print I received as a prize in Sunday School after memorizing the Lord’s Prayer.

No. I gave religion a lot of thought and ultimately simply could not suspend my disbelief.

Back then I was in the minority, or at least seemingly so. If others questioned their belief in God they kept it to themselves, something I never felt obligated to do.

Through the years there have been both multiple and in at least one case, ongoing campaigns to convert me. And….not gonna happen.

My atheism is not nothing–it is my own well thought out belief system. Although some would argue to the contrary, atheism is not synonymous with amorality. I have a strong moral compass, one that is dictated not by rules but rather by what is right. And being atheist certainly doesn’t mean I ‘hate’ God, something I was recently accused of. I also don’t believe in unicorns, but that doesn’t mean I hate unicorns.

Many if not most of my friends subscribe to one organized religion or another and I have always been respectful of their belief system. Unfortunately, the respect has not always gone both ways.

For the most part I have been extremely tolerant. I understand that when someone is trying to convert me they feel they are doing me a favor. But, you are not. I’m good here; happy atheist if you will.

A week ago a family member sent me a card. They acknowledged how hard I have fought to stay alive: ‘most people would have given up years ago.’ But that was followed with this piece of advice; ‘Perhaps God is waiting for you to choose eternal life with Him.’

I cried. And then I drank too much.

The next morning I made some decisions. No more Ms Nice Guy when I am being blatantly disrespected.

Fortunately, reverse psychology often works for me. Case in point, in junior high my band teacher told me I would never master my instrument (a flute) because I had a cupid’s bow on my upper lip. Well damned if this girl didn’t go on to sit in first chair in both band and orchestra. If you tell me I can’t, I likely will.

But if you try to get me to do something that is in conflict with my personal beliefs, well, don’t even. I am open minded but I am not malleable.

And if there is a God, well they (I simply can’t gender something like God) are going to have to wait. I am in no hurry to find out if I am right or wrong.

None whatsoever.

xo