The Freedom From Religion Foundation‘s annual convention takes place in Portland, Oregon this weekend. One of the speakers, actress/comedian Julia Sweeney, did an interview for local alternative weekly Willamette Week and I loved her answers to these questions:
Why do atheists seem like assholes?
They’re saying unpopular and different things that aren’t what we’ve all be inculcated to hear as part of our general culture… they see how much religion — but particularly the Christian religious right — has used our government and taxes and our common will for their own ends.
So, what should I tell my mom when she tells me to hold hands and pray before dinner?
I would totally do it, because to me, I become Margaret Mead. I become an anthropologist and go, “Oh, the customs of these people! They hold hands and pray to their god!” Humans are social animals, and part of our cohesion is based in ritual.
Those answers are great because they completely avoid falling into the trap of saying what the interviewer wants to hear (“Because we’re right” and “Fuck off,” respectively). Instead, Sweeney calmly explains the background of why many atheists are so passionate when we talk about religion and how you can please your religious family without pretending to be someone you’re not.