The FriendlyAtheist just posted a link to a blog entry written in light of the death of Pat Tillman in 2004,
Speaking at the funeral service for Pat Tillman, both Maria Shriver and John McCain dropped their insensitive god bombs; ‘he’s with god now,’ etc. In his emotional speech at this same service, Pat’s devoted younger brother, Richard, spoke from his heart: “make no mistake, he’d want me to say this, he’s not with god. He’s fucking dead. He wasn’t religious. So, thanks for your thoughts but, he’s fucking dead.” Explaining his statements to Bill Maher in an interview on Sept. 25, 2010, Richard said that he found Shriver’s and McCain’s statements to be offensive. “I don’t go into a church and say ‘this is bullshit’ so don’t come to my brother’s service and tell me that he’s with god. He’s simply not with fucking god.”
The rest of the post can be read here.
This post reminded me of a time I told a friend in university that I was atheist, to which he responded, “This made me sad… I’ll continue praying for you. I hope you change your mind about god someday.”
Another friend in a different conversation responded by saying, “Oh, Char, not god, please.”
And while I could have launched a tirade against what they said, I deferred because, no doubt, my friends meant well. However, what most religious people fail to realize is that atheists, (Well, okay, fine, let’s not generalize.) — is that I am not unhappy with my situation. Should this come as a surprise to you, my life does not feel incomplete nor does it feel devoid of “purpose and direction”. There is a distinction between hating god and not believing in one. I hope you don’t mistake me for the latter because one can’t hate what one does not believe to exist in the first place.
What makes encounters like these worse, is that I always sense a tinge of pity in their voices, which I find offensive. I mean, you don’t see me go around saying, “I’m sorry you still believe in fairy tales”. On bad days, this angers me to know that I am being pitied for a belief (or lack thereof) that I consciously chose to stand up for and that I am actually proud of.
The most noteworthy incident, however, is the time I received a letter from a family friend. She gave me an article arguing that “atheists” don’t exist because we can’t ever prove that god doesn’t exist, so therefore that makes me agnostic, which is derived from the Greek words, “without knowledge” or “ignorant”. And, well, no one would want to be called ignorant, right? The conclusion: I must now repent and believe in god. I won’t even start pointing out all the things wrong with the article, but maybe I will someday when I’m have more time in my hands.
Reading it made me want to laugh, but I didn’t because my parents were already upset enough as it is. If you don’t know this, I was brought up in a religious environment by my parents. I went to mass on Sundays, studied in a Catholic school, and joined bible quiz bees and even won them. I was a devout follower and I remember watching a documentary on the prophecies of Nostradamus, among which, it says, that the Pope would lose the support of women and this would consequently lead to the downfall of the Catholic Church someday. It terrified me to the point that I hoped and prayed that I would be dead by the time this prophecy came true, should it come true.
Of course, I see things differently now, but the point of that anecdote is show you that I did care. I didn’t lose faith in the existence of a god because I wanted to stop going to mass or because I was too lazy to read the bible. My reasons and my story would take too long to discuss here, but I will write about it sooner or later, when I am not as harassed with school work. I cared enough to examine my faith and to scrutinize it and to question it because I didn’t just want to blindly follow my religion. I wanted faith with substance. I realize now that thinking does bad things to your faith.
That said, to all my religious friends who care enough to pray for me and who attempt to sway me back into faith, thank you, but no thank you. Religious freedom and freedom of speech compels me to respect your choice, but don’t forget that this liberty works both ways.