Monday, August 18, 2008

Itching for Better

So, I was talking to the baby daddy the other day, and I mentioned a t-shirt I saw that said, "Threatening kids with a made up hell is child abuse." And I laughed about it.

He said, "Let's not be those parents."

"It won't be hard," I replied. "I don't believe in hell."

He shook his head. "No, let's not be those parents that are so fundamentally against the fundamentalists."

I agreed to it, but it really got me thinking. I don't like to think of myself as a bigot - but I can see how I could come off that way. If someone tells me they're a creationist (or intelligent design, as it has been relabeled, to make it sound nicer), I do automatically think "what a sheep." I question how anyone of intelligence could believe anything that insane and obviously false. Even when I was a "Christian" - I believed that God created the earth using evolution. And when the bible said "fear God", I just laughed and said "no."

So, I was never a fundamentalist. I never took the words of the bible as anything more than inspired writings that had a good message in there somewhere (after the 60 pages of A begat B begat C begat D - which is as far as I got when I tried to read the Bible at 13.)

The only time I have questioned my atheism since I embraced it was when I fell in love with a Christian boy. But he was no sheep. He was a beautiful human being - he truly just wanted everyone to get along. He didn't believe in any of the fundamentalist bigotries - homosexuality and pre/extra-marital fornication come to mind. He was just a nice guy - a nice guy who believed in God and used his religion to make himself a better person. I even went to church with him one Easter. It twigged me out, but it was nice to see a nice, happy community. The preacher talked about the resurection of Jesus and preached love.

But it quickly came to a halt when he started talking about those poor Jews, who didn't believe in Jesus Christ, our savior, and because of that, they were going to hell. Let me say that again, because it's just that crazy - those poor Jews are going to hell because they don't believe that Jesus was our savior. That's real Christian love for you.

I think that's when I shut my brain off to religion - I decided it was a horrible idea for people to get together and all believe in the same thing - because the guy in the front of the room told them too. I never want to tailor my beliefs because some charismatic speaker says that's how it is. I don't want to be a sheep.

But I need to be able to live in a world filled with them - I need to be able to respect them for who they are outside of that religion. And I need to teach that critical thinking and tolerance to my daughter - who will not be indoctrinated by me, even to atheism, if I can help it.