“I’ve got nothing against God – it’s his fan club I can’t stand.”
Things I’ve been told recently by girls in my grade prompted me to write a post about the institution of Christianity – but where do I start?
I have not experienced such widespread institutionalised intolerance with any other religion, perhaps because Christianity is the “norm” in Australia; in our legislation, lawmakers, the media, Christianity is evident and considered a common characteristic shared by many Australians. This domination does not take into consideration the large percentage of Australians who are not religious at all – off the top of my head, about 18% (edit: fact checked this, 18.7% of Australians marked “no religion” on the 2006 census) – nor does it consider those of other faiths. This continued stranglehold that the institution of Christianity has over our society is, to me, extremely disturbing. Churches and church schools are exempt from anti-discrimination legislation, which is just horrifying. Nobody should be allowed, by the law, to discriminate in any way – discrimination based on faith, gender, sexuality, personal beliefs, etc, is something a “democratic and fair” country like Australia should not be allowing.
This hatred makes me terribly sad, and the fact that it is so widespread that lawmakers don’t even fight it anymore just depresses me. Our atheist Prime Minister refuses to afford same-sex couples the same marital recognition as heterosexual couples because her “traditional upbringing” dictates otherwise, which is disturbing and to me, irrelevant. Just because something is traditional does not necessarily make it a positive thing. To progress, society needs to be progressive – clinging on to relics of the past, and twisted, ancient ideologies is no way to “move forward”. Same-sex couples are an example everyone jumps to, I know, but it is a relevant issue – Christian values should not dictate how the rest of us live our lives.
I’ve attended a Christian school since the age of 5, and I can assure you, readers, that it has not clarified much for me. I was told Christianity was about love and tolerance, but I see few real world examples of this. Girls in my grade hound a friend of mine for not being religious – they anonymously harass her about her lack of faith, and even ask her online, out of the blue, “why do you hate Jesus?” What I cannot comprehend is, why does it matter to you? With all the agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc in the world, there are billions of people who do not share your beliefs. Why does this personally affect you? Focus on your own faith, and becoming more secure in your beliefs so you don’t need to affirm them by harassing others. N.B. “There is more evidence that Jesus existed than Julius Caesar” is a terribly embarrassing argument to use… it indicates a complete lack of historical knowledge, and undermines your case. Do you see anyone on Earth debating the existence of Caesar? And please note that many non-Christians acknowledge there was a guy wandering around at that time called Jesus. That is not where the issue is – it’s whether or not he is the son of a higher power that’s under question.
This religion, that is supposedly based on love and tolerance, has not indicated that much to me in all my limited years. Apparently, a religious person at my school has mentioned to girls that she thinks that homosexuals are “evil”. How tolerant and loving of her! Totally getting warm feelings of acceptance from her direction. Unfortunately, this attitude is not uncommon amongst “tolerant” Christians – they cover themselves by saying they don’t have anything wrong with the individuals, just the acts they perform. Sorry kids, that doesn’t actually excuse your hatred – and why are Christians so uncomfortable about sex? Are we in Victorian England? Why does it matter to you what people do in the privacy of their own homes? Why does it matter to you if two people of the same sex, who have loving feelings for each other, hold hands in public? How does this impact upon your life in any way? It doesn’t, unless you let it. Your intolerance doesn’t impact on my life until it does – until you’re upsetting people I like, until I can see the bullshit you’re spouting with my own eyes. Then, I say something.
So, why am I not a Christian? I can’t give you a succinct reason. When I was a child, I would pray a lot – pray that my parents, and my cat (laugh away) would be kept safe. Then, my father got cancer, my cat was hit by a car and killed at the age of 3, and my parents got divorced! A lot for a ten year old to handle in a relatively short amount of time. So, my reaction was to reject this God that did not have my back. As I thought about it more and more, though, I asked that big question – “if there is a God, why are there people suffering in the world?” It’s a good question, and one that I’ve never received an adequate answer to. One answer was “God created humans to look after themselves”. He seemed content with intervening when Eve ate that apple? Not to mention, the more I considered the idea that there was a higher power who created the world, the more I realised this idea made no sense to me. Of course, that aspect of Christianity is not what I am calling into question here – Christianity isn’t the only religion that considers there to be a sort of higher power. My issue is with the institution, and the zealots who support it. For everyone, their beliefs, religious or otherwise, are highly personal. Each of us experiences a sort of “spiritual journey” to reach a conclusion we’re comfortable with, and that journey and the resulting belief is a very personal thing. You feel very strongly about the existence of God, and you feel very strongly about going to church, and those are your beliefs – personal to you. My beliefs are personal to me. Respecting people’s personal beliefs and values would not be a bad idea.
But I digress. The things taught to me in religion lessons at school didn’t help – the stories made no sense to me, and the songs seemed overly manipulative – indoctrination via song! If you can’t get the kids any other way, that’s the way to go, I suppose. The Christians at my school really do not help me think more of their religion – what makes you think that anonymously hounding someone is going to get them to convert religions? What makes you think isolating that individual as an atheist and picking on her is going to make her like your religion more? By all means, isolate me. Pick on me. I’ve been an atheist for eight years now, neither of my parents are religious (though they are extremely educated on religion, probably more so than a lot of the teenaged Christians I’m referring to…), and I’m more than happy to throw down about religion, politics, all those “uncomfortable” topics. But please, do it to my face. Don’t hound me anonymously, like you do with others. That method will earn you no respect, and it does not do your religion justice. To be honest, by doing that, you are embarrassing all the other Christians who do not force their views on others through pathetic methods – those Christians who are comfortable with their beliefs, and recognise that not everyone shares them, but still manage to get on with their lives. It’s amazing! It must be a true struggle for them, managing to do that each and every day. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re mature. A foreign concept to you, I’m sure.
I have no idea where my thoughts are at the moment. I’m annoyed, and unhappy, and unimpressed with how some people are representing their religion. Being intolerant of groups in society, and anonymously harassing your peers, and influencing all aspects of the society I live in does not strike me as loving, or tolerant, or accepting. Why can you not practice what you preach?
Obviously, this does not apply to all Christians. Like I said, many manage to live their lives without hounding others, and they’re good in my books. This does apply to the ones who hold parliaments hostage with their demands (and those who enable them to do so, and bow to their idiotic demands); the ones who anonymously harass teenage girls online because they aren’t religious; the ones who consider those who fancy people of the same sex as them “evil”; the ones who indoctrinate children without providing facts, or other points of view; the ones who persecute teenage girls who like each other. Those are the Christians I have the issue with. I am intolerant of their intolerance – I can’t be tolerant of such hatred; such hatred that is ingrained in our political and educational institutions; such hatred that does not represent a modern society’s views.
“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.” – Bertrand Russell