A Thank You Note From an Elementary School Friend

I woke up this morning to find this in my inbox from an old friend, Wes, whom I’ve known since Elementary school:

Just wanted to take the time and thank you for being an atheist that doesn’t feel the need to bash religion on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Have a friend who I am considering deleting from Facebook for the mere fact that she feels the need to spread hate through being an atheist – and you and I know, that regardless of religious/non-religious affiliation – spreading hate is spreading hate.

It’s a good reminder

We have so many allies in this fight against theocracy that are not themselves atheists. Now, do I think they are buying into something foolish and suffering from some cognitive dissonance? Yes. That doesn’t mean I go around spouting it as part of my daily ritual. In a fight as important as preserving our religious freedom I’d much rather align with people who haven’t fully woke up yet.

That’s fine for them. They realize there are more atheists and we are making it socially acceptable to come out. I do understand how angry an atheist is when they first deconvert. I think it’s part of the grieving process (and yes I think it’s appropriate to call it that). You’ve lost your faith that you took emotional comfort in, you feel as if you’ve been lied to all your life, and you want to do everything in your power to awaken those around you and tell them they don’t have to live by some silly set of rules that pleases some imaginary totalitarian friend. But at the end you’ll probably just end up pushing them away.

The Internet

The Internet has been the greatest source of advancement for our cause of social acceptance, and every civil rights cause. Yet it has also been our greatest enemy. It has given people the ability to speak uncensored to the masses with the click of a button without the time to check one’s own work and ensure that you aren’t disassociating yourself from allies in your own cause. What’s the point of keeping your right hand dry by pissing on the left one?

I think I’ve struck a pretty fair balance over the years. I’ve been pretty offensive at times when attempting humor and I’ve been pretty humorous when attempting to be offensive. I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes, though.

I think when Casey guest-blogged on here months ago he said it best:

If you haven’t already, consider making your atheism more public. Don’t be afraid to mention your non-belief in casual conversation and honestly answer questions anyone might have. Be the public face of freethought  in your unit. You may just be the only one they know.

He was speaking about coming out in your active duty unit. Depending on how you look at it that is both easier and harder than doing it in the real world. On one hand you can’t get fired, but you can get blackballed and never promoted again. You also have to go to combat with those guys and that is a situation where the utmost trust between everyone in a platoon is necessary. In the real world you can be let go for a various number of reasons and that may be a reason to not come forward with your co-workers, either.

Regardless…the angry atheist meme is just old. Most of us really don’t care. Those of us that speak out are a minority and those of us that become activists are a vast minority.

Silverman says

Don’t be a dick.

I get it. That’s not my style, but I get it. As a general rule I’m a dick. Unless it’s close friends or family I don’t get emotionally invested and even then I can be distant (I don’t even wanna see my psychological profile). But I’m consistent. I apply the same amount of “dickiness” to my atheism that I do to the rest of the situations in my life, which has apparently led me to receiving a thank-you note from my old friend Wes.

So, I guess you can be a dick. Just be the right kind of dick?

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About Paul Loebe
  • KacyRay

    I think “Don’t be a dick” is pretty sound advice, and actually more useful than most of what is found in the bible.

    • Paul Loebe

      Lol. For sure!

  • spitzs

    “Just be the right kind of dick?”

    Of course. Like your friend said, they don’t think your dickishness involves bashing religion too often, so you’re allowed to be a dick. People who do bash religion are bad dicks, and are removed from facebook accounts and/or receive essays telling them to knock it off(without directly addressing/providing any examples of what they have to say). They’re then blamed for alienating people even though it is those people who are separating from them. Why? Because cutting people off for criticizing religion is approved. They’re free to push people away? The critics? They’re chastised when it happens.

    And that brings us back to “don’t be a dick.” Some people have to watch what they say and do around others in order to avoid offending them. Others are free to call those people dicks. It’s a wonderful system.

  • Guest

    We read ‘The Bonobo and The Atheist’ at the Tampa-CFI Bookclub this morning and a lot of what you said in this post was raised. I absolutely agree and relate to the grieving process many of us go through when we come to terms with not believing in god. In the spirit of the holidays, a good comparison given was how, as children, many of us were devastated when we learned Santa wasn’t real. It’s not so much facing this reality but having been lied to by our parents or ppl we trusted an looked to for answers. It’s a form of bribery (Santa’s checking the list so you have to be good all year.)

    I see a parallel in that to how ppl have to face a life-time of believing in something in hopes of being rewarded and not punished. I think it’s losing that attachment to something that gave you hope and for many it leaves them feeling detached and angry which can lead to some being dicks.

    Great post!

  • aspromised

    It’s important to understand that in many ways this is a uniquely American issue. Most modern countries don’t have the strident pervasive fundamental/evangelical movement that dominates the scene or where being atheist is considered abhorrent. Consequently there is not the strong need to have to fight for your rights as a non-believer; you are already considered “normal” because religion just plain isn’t a topic. It also makes for better tolerance and acceptance of all religion (and lack of).
    I know because I live it. Except for my immediate family I haven’t a clue what beliefs any of my friends or co-workers (or politicians! ) have. One exception being the Muslim guy at work, but only because he attends mosque on Fridays. Otherwise we’d have never known. And none of us care because it’s a personal thing – as it should be.
    I don’t want to be an “angry athiest” or a dick, just don’t expect me to think the bible belongs anywhere but the Fiction section!

  • Stev84

    Another moron who can’t distinguish between attacking religion and religious people. Criticizing religion is not “hate”, depending on how you do it. And the act of doing it often doesn’t make it “hate” either.


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