This is always a hot-button topic. People on both sides tend to take any remarks from the other side as a personal attack, so I’ll put this out up front; I’m not attacking religion as a whole, atheism, or any specific religions. This is an honest attempt to write something objective about the war between the religious and the not without trying to knife either side.
I grew up Catholic, went to the school with the nuns and everything. Growing up in a specifically religious environment desensitizes you to how truly strange some religious practices appear from outside. Watching the standing/kneeling/sitting in unison, the difference sacraments and various oddities that go on in the hour or so of a standard Catholic Mass is very cult-like if you aren’t used to it. I don’t remember thinking that until I was a little older (nine or ten or so) and made the switch to a more objective viewpoint. It doesn’t go to the extreme of Pentecostal services, but it is definitely weird for the uninitiated. Nowadays, I choose the label of “Agnostic” and roll on through life attempting to live in a way that I see as fair and right.
With my background and a touch of my personal outlook out of the way, we’ll get down to it.
I read an article (http://www.examiner.com/humanist-in-national/teen-atheist-abused-via-social-media-after-prayer-banner-ruling) today about an atheist girl in Rhode Island who spearheaded a movement to remove a prayer banner from a public school. After a federal judge ruled that the banner needed to be removed the young woman was verbally attacked on what I assume is Facebook, though the article only states “social media” so maybe Twitter, as well. The people told her they who they had a lot of banners in hell, where she is sure to go and stated that she needed to be “jumped” or “punched in the face”. Not at all the Christian values I remember learning about growing up.
Atheism has no code of ethics, no Ten Commandments. There is no atheist standard of behavior, each has their own standard. Someone who aligns with a religion, in general, has rules to follow with spiritual consequences if they deviate from the prescribed path.
While unfair to do so, I tend to judge those who claim a belief system more harshly than someone with no declared affiliation. Those who take the Christian stance, and do so loudly and proudly, should be making an effort to live up to it. Those that do are, in general, wonderful people know. The far more common type, the hypocrite, is pure poison, always patting you on the back and making a public spectacle of their religion while breaking all the rules when no one is looking, or no one they think matters is looking, anyway.
Atheists come in several varieties, too. Those that go about their lives, following the laws of the land and just being. Then their are the zealots, as bad as any religious zealot; loud and obnoxious about how God is dead or things of that nature. They embody all the negative traits that they rail against in organized religion.
What I don’t understand from the whole battle is why it matters to anyone what anyone else believes. It strikes me as a very personal, maybe the most personal, thing about someone. If they want to share that with you, no matter what their views, you should feel honored. Instead there are endless wars, genocides and social tensions between people of different faiths and beliefs. Why not ignore them and let them make their own mistakes or have their own successes? If you try to move them to your point of view, that’s great. I have no problem with people promoting their own gig. But if you come to my house and start getting pushy with it after I’ve shown no interest in moving into your belief system and setting up shop, back the fuck off. Knocking on my door makes me angry enough because it riles up the dogs, when you try to jam your brand of afterlife gumbo into my soul it just makes things worse.
Very few belief systems, as written, promote the atrocities that have been done by people who claim to be doing the will of God. I doubt that attacking someone for their personal beliefs or sexual preference raises your stock in the eyes of the Almighty or that the hinges on the doors of Heaven are greased with blood, chances are God uses WD-40 because that stuff is legit.
In the battle between religion and atheism, the only winners are those who live their lives according to what they believe and let others do the same. We’re all just surviving on this spinning madhouse until our time runs out and we don’t get to live here anymore. Do we really want to continue to make it more difficult for a reason that, in the end, shouldn’t matter to anyone but the individual involved?