I must interact daily with many devoutly religious individuals.
Work conversations are peppered with Biblical references and overtly over-religicized aphorisms. Weekend schedules revolve around liturgical services. I have stopped sharing anything personal with anyone, because everything good that happens must be a “blessing,” or “providence,” or all part of “God’s plan.” [Sometimes they point to the sky at this point, for emphasis.]
I am presented with the biggest moral dilemma for an atheist which pertains solely to the trait of atheism: should one speak out?
From reading my blog, you might assume I’m pretty assertive. The truth is, I have two personalities: I have a personality for public/strangers/co-workers, and a personality for friends/family/anonymity.
Strangely, the face I show my friends and family is pretty horrific and in-your-face, so they deserve a round of applause for putting up with that. My public face is the person you would meet on the street for the first time: patient, soft-spoken, agreeable, smiling… everything I’m usually not.
I’ve worked with this group of people for at least three weeks now, and I can easily gauge at this point who I want be honest with and those for whom I must always don the mask of polity.
I’ve told one person off-handedly who is roughly my age and who volunteered that she was Jewish in a discussion about how I was meeting my wife’s parents for the first time on our one-year anniversary. It was pertinent to the discussion (we are not an inter-faith couple, as we are both atheist), she was the only one around, and we were just making small talk while packing up to leave.
But why hold back at all? So many throw it in my face, so why can’t I at the very least merely inform everyone of my stance? Maybe the religious allusions will stop, though I find most mannerisms are tough habits to break.
I certainly won’t be pointing any of them to my blog, especially the Muslim ones… at least not until after “Draw Mohammad Day” is off the front page.
All of this reminds me of why atheists do need to speak out. I prefer a medium such as blogging, which is not a captive audience. If I offend someone at any point, they can choose to stop reading and never have to be exposed to my ideas again.
The thing about religious people that I hate so much is that they incorporate their faith into every aspect of their lives and personal interactions. I want nothing to do with that. Unlike religion, atheism is not a club; it is neither an exclusive group nor a blunt object for hitting others over the head. I refuse to adopt the tactics of the faithful. I believe fighting fire with fire only ensures we are all burned.
… but that doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it here.