Tag Archives: atheism in the south

Godless Neighbor


We got one of those church mailers the other day. You know, envelope written out by hand, and inside there’s a brochure with a smattering of scripture and a blurb about the church, usually with a little note like “hope to see you there!” These I put directly into the trash.

At least, that’s what I thought this was. In this one, however, was the obligatory brochure, but also inside was a little handwritten letter. “in these trying times…” “need for community more than ever…” “God’s love will provide…” all that stuff.

And, I dunno, maybe because my neighbor went to the trouble of sitting down and writing out this letter (and for goodness’s sake, I imagine he wrote out hundreds — our neighborhood is huge), I felt compelled to read it.

And because I’m a godless heathen, I also feel compelled to respond.

Here is the letter I will not be sending in return.

Dear neighbor,

Thank you for your invitation.

I will not be attending your church. I do not think you should attend your church anymore either. You rightly point out that the world is in disarray and that we are isolated due to Covid. If you think that God is the answer to all these problems, I must ask you — where has God been up until now? Is it not Her will that all this should have transpired exactly as it has?

Are not the 200,000 American deaths from Covid part of God’s handiwork? If not, why has She not saved those who have died, or answered the prayers of those who have lost friends and loved ones? Is not the animosity so many Americans feel for their countrymen of a different political persuasion exactly as God intended? If not, an all-powerful God could surely unite us. Is our isolation due to the outbreak not God’s will? If not, why has She cursed us with such a deadly and highly contagious plague?

And is it God’s will that we now congregate, in an enclosed space and in great numbers, to aid in the transmission of this plague, to our entire community?

God is not the answer to our problems. Only we can help ourselves, and I will not bring my family to a super-spreader event to hear tales and celebrate the glory of an invisible creature who “loves us” but who also visits such terrible suffering upon us. I advise you likewise to abstain from such endeavors.

Yours,

Your godless heathen neighbor

Ahem.

My dad told me recently that I sometimes lack tact.

But if somebody’s gonna send me a hand-written letter, I feel like they at least deserve a response.

Rest assured, I will not send this letter. But it is what I will be thinking when I compose something a little less harsh.

Slightly off-topic: I know *I* see these things and simply toss them in the bin, and think no further about it. I imagine most people do the same. I wonder what the sentiment in my neighborhood would be if I put out an Atheist brochure of the same tenor?

Something tells me it would not be nearly as charitably received. In fact, I wager I might have some God-loving souls knocking on my door or complaining to the HOA.


Meanwhile, Georgia is Still Fighting Gay Marriage


In other, less heartening news, I woke up to this in my Facebook feed today (yeah, I know, only old people use Facebook anymore, shut up): the Georgia senate has approved a law which “protects religious freedom”.

God dammit.

Here’s a salient central point from the actual bill (which I looked up and read).

Government shall not take any adverse action against a person or faith-based organization … on the basis that such person or faith-based organization believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief regarding lawful marriage between two people, including the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a union.

Emphasis mine. The bill in its entirety can be read here.

I’m not a lawyer by any stretch, but I’ve re-read the passage several times and I don’t see where they say that those actions are limited to refusing to perform a marriage, as the header in the bill claims. In other words, you can do or say or believe whatever the fargo you want, as long as you’re doing so because of your religious beliefs about gay marriage.

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Refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple? The Georgia legislature stands with you. Shout and proclaim that gays can’t get into heaven or god hates gays or simply that you don’t feel like serving gays? The Georgia legislature stands with you. Send a homosexual couple a bag full of excrement on the day of their wedding? The Georgia legislature stands with you.

I’m also going to go ahead and point out the idiotic double-talk present in the bill. Up in that section above, see where it says “lawful marriage”? Much as the religious right hates it, chokes on it, can’t stand the thought of it, GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL IN THIS COUNTRY. This law, and any law like it, is about prejudice and the denial of human rights, pure and simple.

Its proponents are predictably smarmy and blind to the double-edged sword they’re creating. Georgia’s lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle said, “We are simply ensuring that no Georgian suffers at the hand of our government for their view on marriage.” (Torres, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.) No Georgian, of course, except for those who are denied services or basic human decency because our leaders want to pander and wring their hands and stroke the egos of the religious zealots who want the world to bend their way.

I guess southern hospitality is reserved for those who think, believe, and worship the same way you do. Discriminating against a black person will land you in jail. Discriminating against Muslims apparently might get you elected present. But discriminating against homosexuals? Just say it’s a religious thing, and let the hate flow!

On a personal note, I can’t wait for a Muslim or Jew or atheist business owner to start denying service to homophobic Christians under the protection of this law. Because the moment that happens (and it would be LEGAL under this law), the “persecuted” will be shouting about discrimination and religious freedom all over again, except this time, they’ll be doing it to repeal the law they just got done passing.

The bill hasn’t passed yet, but according to the AJC, it’s just about a sure thing that it will.

As an atheist who thinks most religion is focused on a lot of the wrong things; as a teacher who has to turn around and explain things like this to young minds; hell, as a decent human being, I’m appalled at this. I’m ashamed that the people who have worked so hard to get this legislation passed represent the rest of us to the rest of the country and the rest of the world.

In forty years, we’ll be looking back on foolishness like this the way we look back at the shameful history of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Our kids, thank goodness, will think we were insane for having laws like this on the books.

In the meantime, those of us who don’t have our heads up our asses have to live with this crap, and we have to try to explain it to the rest of the world as they laugh their butts off at how bass-ackwards we are.


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