Yesterday I posted this as part of a longer post about how Christians keep treating non-Christians with contempt–as if we’re their own young children. (The metaphor I used is one from Christian apologist Ray Comfort, who compared non-Christians to children who want to eat candy for dinner, so that’s why you’ll notice a lot of eating/diet terminology here.) Someone asked if I’d please post this part by itself and the idea seemed to be attractive to other readers, so here you go. I don’t pretend that the following speaks for every non-Christian in the world, but I know it speaks for a lot of us. I hope it’s of use to you.
A Manifesto and Declaration of Rights and Expectations.
1. Non-believing adults are first and foremost adults.
We didn’t get through our childhoods just so Christians could put us back into that position again under them as our divinely-mandated and Jesus-approved parent figures. We have rights and liberties. So it doesn’t especially matter whether or not Christians approve or disapprove of how anybody else lives. I realize that this is the problem for them in a nutshell, that Christians are getting themselves worked into a fine frothy lather because they desperately want us to care about their approval and disapproval. But we don’t, and they’re going to need to resolve that concern on their own time. Treating us like children is not going to make us care about their approval or disapproval. Neither will leaving us alone, granted, but they were never in the right to try to force us to care about that anyway.
2. We do not accept in any way that Christians have some magical knowledge that we do not have regarding how to live.
We are right to resent Christians’ implication that we not only lack their supposed wisdom but also need to be forcibly shoved toward their way of thinking. I realize it’s going to be a challenge for paternalistic, controlling, contemptuous Christians to understand that other people are adults who are doing just great without Christian interference or oversight, but it’s one they will have to surmount on their own because in today’s society, trampling boundaries is getting seen increasingly as abusive. They are never going to convince us that it’s okay for them to do it to people who have rejected their exalted guidance.
3. We do not want parent-child interaction. We want adult-adult interaction and have every right to expect it of those seeking to impose upon us.
Every time a Christian glorifies his or her own over-dependence on “Daddy God” and makes being a child sound optimal, but then looks down on a non-believer for “childishness,” sensible people are reminded anew of why we rejected Christianity in the first place. And we find it more than a little suspicious that paternalistic Christians always, automatically put themselves into the parental position when interacting with us. All that pious simpering over how everybody’s a sinner smacks up against reality when they go on to try to take control over other people’s lives. Nobody asked for them to be our parents. All we have ever wanted is for them to be decent neighbors. I realize that this idea, too, is going to challenge Christians who really like thinking of themselves in paternalistic ways, and that recovering from this idea may even require a reworking of their entire paradigm for interacting with non-believers. So be it. If they want to talk to me and impose upon my time, then they will do it as equals. Such people have no right whatsoever to make demands of me or to treat me like I’m a child who must defer to them as a parent.
4. We do not give Christians permission to treat us this way. The idea of Christians taking this role without the permission or consent of their targets smacks of more than mere presumptuousness. Jesus told them to “love your neighbors,” implying that Christians are to consider themselves the neighbors to those around themselves. Hypocrisy, thy name is conservative Christianity. And nobody has to humor overreach just because it’d really help Christians out if we did. I realize this is a problem for Christians who think that their supposed all-consuming concern for our eternal fates gives them some kind of right to override our consent and boundaries, but this, again, is a them problem, not an us problem. They’re the ones who have something to prove to us. They’re the ones who want something from us. So they need our permission to engage with us–permission which we can withdraw at any time for any reason whatsoever.5. Most importantly of all, no matter how we behave, we deserve basic civility and courtesy.
It’s a shame that English uses one word, “respect,” to describe both “basic civility and courtesy” and “deference.” That’s what made me bristle the most when the latest drive-by Christian made that accusation. Hidden within her JAQing off was an assertion that if I behave childishly, then I deserve mistreatment by Christians. And I reject that idea categorically. Like most Christians do, she was defining “childishness” as “not complying with her religious demands,” and she didn’t see any problem with treating me with contempt because of my non-compliance. Alas for them, Christians do not get to punish non-compliant people with mistreatment, and they in particular do not ever earn the right to mistreat others no matter how those others behave (their Bible even tells them this in Matthew 5:38-46!). And this, too, will be problematic for Christians who have been taught that they are allowed to judge, mistreat, punish, and condemn others as a form of misunderstood “tough love,” but nobody is obligated to buy into their delusion just because it’s a really long-running one.
Especially when one considers that Christians’ ultimate goal is to “love their god and their neighbor,” as Jesus himself is thought to have commanded (in Mark 5:28-33) as well as to convert everybody in the world and serve those who need it, then the idea that they are ever justified in mistreating people starts looking simply absurd–because when Christians treat non-Christians with contempt, they accomplish not one of those goals.
You Own You.
Regardless of what Christians’ holy books or preachers say, you’re not bound by their misunderstandings or indoctrination. When a Christian tries to engage you about religion, that person is trying to sell you something. Keep that in mind as you navigate the interaction.
You own you. Nobody else does.
Nobody ever has the right to mistreat you, threaten you, impose on you, dictate your opinions to you, manipulate you, or make you feel like a lesser life form. Their feelings of urgency do not translate into your obligation. They are not justified in mistreating you no matter how justified they think they are.
You owe Christians nothing–not your time, not your compliance, not your attention. You don’t need to dance to their tune. Your “diet” is none of their business. You don’t have to explain or justify yourself to them, prove you were “really” Christian once, or demonstrate that your deconversion was done for valid reasons.
If anybody ever tries to tell you anything different, then watch out, because that person’s about to try to sell you something that is profoundly not in your best interest to buy.
We’re going to talk soon about evaluating how our behavior matches up with our goals, and this post will come into play there–so I was glad to put it up on its own! See you tomorrow.
I’m going to close comments on this post because it’s just an excerpt (with very minor reworking) from yesterday’s post. If you’d like to comment on it, please head over to yesterday’s post. If you’re new around here, then be welcome! Here is a link to our Rules of Engagement–please check them out before commenting.