I was perusing Humans of New York on Facebook today when I came upon this:
“I’m an atheist, but it makes me sad that he had to start his story with a disclaimer like this. It’s important that in our efforts to promote tolerance we don’t shut down the dialog that makes that tolerance necessary. I don’t need to believe in God myself to appreciate the positive impact faith can have on people’s lives.”
One of the hardest things I struggle with as an individual is why people of different faiths can’t get along (because let me tell you, we really should be able to.) Just like with other forms of discrimination, people who discriminate against any religious belief are holding back society.
Atheists are faced with religious folk who think they are bad, evil, or terrible people because they don’t believe in God; and Christian/monotheistic people are faced with those who immediately think they are delusional, crazy, overbearing, etc. (And that’s only two examples, of course. I recognize that it definitely happens with other beliefs as well.)
We should be able to believe what we believe, and not be faced with such prejudice, as long as we are making a positive impact in our life and in the lives of others. Whenever I see people on my Facebook feed bashing Christianity, it makes me feel sad for those individuals at my church who spend so much time helping others and never judging; accepting all walks of life, faith, sexual orientation, race, and background.
And whenever I see Christian believers bashing a life perspective that they are unfamiliar with, it makes me sad that they are ultimately making all Christian believers look completely prejudicial, racist, and/or intolerant. They hide behind religion like a mask, because they’re afraid to say the truth: that they are simply racist. Or they are simply intolerant.
Christianity never, not even once, had anything to do with being racist, being intolerant, oppressing people, or opposing others. Yes, there are some guidelines, but none of them had to do with forcing others to do something you think they should be doing.
Religion in general has to do with yourself. Looking inside and deciding what you should be doing. (Spoiler alert: the answer is helping others, regardless of who they are!)
So I just want to say thank you, random Atheist and awesome person of Facebook. I’m not atheist, but I completely understand someone who is, because I’ve been there once before. It’s not easy to decide what life means, and no one person, no one religion, no one belief system can really decide that for everyone as a whole. But that’s another aspect of what makes us all different, as humans, and you’re right: we should be able to communicate with each other about that without feeling the need to jump to judgement.
So thank you for your wise words. You have made a Christian woman very happy today.