Back at the start of December, Friendly Atheist wrote about Bill Donohue and his Catholic League’s Adopt an Atheist campaign. Hemant Mehta hoped it was meant to be taken as “tongue-in-cheek,” a joke of an idea coming from a man who doesn’t know how to be properly funny thus only manages to be funny by accident. Funny to atheists, at least. He quotes one particular part of the press release, a quote Greta Christina took issue with:
If we hurry, these closeted Christians can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”
Her response was to point out that yes, Donohue appears to be admitting that it’s tough to be an atheist who’s considered to be less than nothing but his solution for fixing the bigotry faced by atheists is not “correct the assumption” but “make them Christians so they’ll fit in!”
How messed-up is that? What would he say to, say, a Jew who was looked on as someone who believes in nothing, stands for nothing, and is good for nothing? Would he tell them that the answer to anti-Semitism was to convert to Christianity? Would he tell an immigrant who was seen as worthless because of their heritage that they should deny it?
And if not — then how is it a remotely acceptable thing to say to atheists? How is it appropriate to tell atheists that we should convert to Christianity because, in addition to getting to “celebrate Christmas like the rest of us,” we get to be treated as having meaning, integrity, and value to our lives?
She goes on to offer example after example of atheists getting the short end of the proverbial stick when it comes to rights and freedoms, then reiterates her point about how messed up it is to think assimilation is the solution. “Fuck that noise,” she states, then offers herself as a guinea pig for any Catholic who wants to attempt to convert her. She’s not worried that she, or any other atheists who want to do the same, will convert by the end, mind you. We should be willing to do it
Because we’re not afraid. Our arguments are better. Our ideas are better. We’re right.
I don’t think I self-identified as an atheist before university but looking back I’m sure I was one even during elementary school. I don’t remember paying much attention to my Religion class in Catholic school. I recall filling in the blanks in the Confirmation and Communion books the years the rest of the kids were doing them but since I hadn’t been baptized as a baby I couldn’t join in on the “fun” of either ceremony. I don’t recall ever feeling left out, or even singled out, because of that. Might have been my temperament in general, though. I don’t tend to be much of a joiner. Once in a while I might feel like I’ve been left out of something important but those moments tend to have more to do with discovering that friends went to McDonald’s without me, or never told me they’d be playing a game at coffee time. I regret missing those kinds of opportunities. I don’t regret not catching Christianity during all those years I was exposed to it. Beyond a surface rash that went away after a while, I appear to be immune to it.
I learned early on that goodness and kindness and generosity had squat to do with a magic man in the sky watching what I’m doing. My parents aren’t church people. They don’t pray. Mom may have done a bit of church as a youth but has only been in them for weddings and funerals for as long as I’ve known her. Same for Dad. It’s just not what we did. But we did volunteer and help and do what we could for family and friends – because it’s what people ought to do. Whether people want to believe in God or not.