I became open about my atheism back in the early 1990’s. For a while I just blended in, ignored the overt, and often hypocritical professions of piety from my friends and co-workers, and stayed silent. However, being silent about a subject is a tacit expression that either your opinion is not as valued as a majority opinion, or that it’s wrong. So I began to speak out against religion, and the reaction was as strong as it was predictable.
People whose lives are deeply rooted in religiosity not necessarily the beliefs and the actions, but the civic perception, are those who most want to stamp out any mention that there is no supernatural old white man living in a cloud bank, wearing a bathrobe and sandals, waiting to roast people who masturbate in a lake of fire for all time. Those were, and still are, the people who have the biggest problem.
For years, decades even, because churches were the only form of mass socialization, society was shaped by what the herd thought was right. Those people who did not go to church were marginalized, and those who were walking through the door every time they opened were thought better of, even if they didn’t behave any better than anyone else.
The idea that a person could say one thing while totally living their life in a manner opposite of those words, was baptized in America churches.
Social media has religionized nearly every opinion. It’s sanctified politics. It’s drawn a line of holy and unholy between people who would vote for one person, or another, when that line, like every god except the one you believe in, doesn’t really exist.
Worse, infinitely worse, these lines are now being drawn in the streets, between friends, inside of families, and the nation is becoming both more divided and less informed. Religion does not inform but instead indoctrinates. The harder you believe, the less intelligent your decisions will be. Belief is not an educated choice but one derived from feelings.
This isn’t to say that people who believe are stupid. This is merely pointing out that to truly understand why an apple drops from a tree a person could study physics, yet to believe that a Jewish zombie could bring everlasting life requires nothing more than faith, and a support group who repeats, endlessly, that this is so.
Even the people I agreed with were becoming religious about their opinions. They demonized the people who disagreed with them, and they settled in to an echo chamber of opinions that matched their own. To break with the herd as blasphemy.
Trust me. I know exactly how this feel and looks. I feel it again. I see it again. I’m leaving it again.