I had an epiphany of sorts while lying in bed this morning: I’m never going to win by being angry all the time, and trying to reason with fundamentalists is pointless… This is something that is going to take a while for me to grasp since I’ve been so angry for so long. I feel my anger has alienated friends, and worst of all caused some tensions with my significant other…
But what can I say? I have good reasons to be angry. I’m viewed as immoral by a good chunk of the religious populous, I’m barred from holding office in five states, some view Atheists as not citizens, the religious have a powerful lobby with which they influence our government, an evangelical christian has been president for the past 8 years, religious terrorism and genocide happens all the time around the world, the list goes on and on….
So what is my goal as an Atheist? What would my dream world be? Well for one, there wouldn’t be any religion to drive people mad. Thinking about this, I came to a second epiphany of sorts: the deconversion of the world will take a long time. It’s a slow process, we’re winning, but it’s slow. In the mean time, my abrasive attitude is not helping win people to my side.
I think my anger has a lot to do with how I deconverted. After slowly ebbing away from being a born again evangelical I watched “Root of all evil?” by Richard Dawkins. He was angry too, and his reasons for being angry became my reasons, on top of all the baggage that comes with being an ex-evangelical. (I’ve noticed that my friends who weren’t raised in a strict faith are on the whole a LOT less angry than those who were) I suddenly found myself alone on campus in one of the most religious towns in the southern bible belt. I felt isolated and cornered. (I feel much better now with the help of online communities like Atheist Nexus and the Rational Response Squad)
With all this in mind, what should I do? Well, for one, I think I need to chill out. Most of my energy is spent in shouting matches with fundamentalist loonies. I need to stop this as it is a waste of time. No amount of evidence or reason will ever persuade these people. Instead I should focus on religious moderates.
In focusing on religious moderates, I should emphasise the positives of Atheism and be friendly. I have to work on the public image of Atheists and try to de-stigmatize the word. I also have to readjust my goals. The world will never be completely free from religion. I need to accept this. I think changing my goals to “Minimal religious interference in government” is much more attainable.
People are going to be religious. My trying to eradicate that is just as bad as fundamentalists trying to shove their views down my throat. I can still think their beliefs are ridiculous, but what they think in their own homes or places of worship is their business, not mine. I don’t need to get stressed out and angry over that. Just as long as they stay out of the public government.
It’s going to take some time for me to get over the constant anger, the immediate feelings of loathing when I even hear the word religion. It’s going to take a while for me to get good at focusing on the positive and ignoring the fundies. Perhaps, in time, I might even go to my girlfriend’s Unitarian Universalist church.