Just today one of my dear relatives posted a comment on one of my Facebook links (one that was incidentally not about atheism, but simply about teaching children to question what they read. OK, so maybe that is about atheism after all.) She ended with the statement that she wants to save me from a "miserable future and an everlasting punishment." That's right. I posted about teaching children to question everything, and she said she's worried I'm going to hell. And you know what? She is being a good Christian in saying that, isn't she? Because if you genuinely believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and our savior on earth, then you must also believe I am in some serious need of saving.
Here's the horribly offensive photo that incurred such venom, by the way. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I had also posted a horribly offensive picture of our President with a quote in support of women's rights the day before.)
Even my most supportive, liberal, and kind Christian friends and family (who I am incredibly thankful for) dodge the questions of why priests and ministers don't talk about how it's possible to be both a good person and an atheist. And as much as I love those friends and family of mine, I also wonder how they address atheism with their own children. I've said it before, and I will say it again, and I'll also probably say it even another time in the future: "Jesus is the only route to salvation" and "You can be an atheist and be a good person" can't really both be true. (Unless I am missing something.) So you're probably not going to hear a lot of Christians, even kind, liberal ones, loudly stating and teaching their children that it's okay to be an atheist. And certainly no church that survives on tithing is going to make such a statement either, is it?
I read once about a survey that revealed that people trust atheists LESS than known rapists. And while I really hope that isn't true, it wouldn't surprise me if it were. I've seen people seeking childcare that put the sole qualifier "has to be Christian" on the ad. Really? You think I'm going to eat your kid because I don't believe a fairy tale that was written two thousand years ago? THAT is what makes someone a good person?
In case it's not abundantly clear into paragraph six here that I'm a little frustrated about the whole atheist stigma thing, well, I'm a little frustrated with the whole atheist stigma thing. I feel some comfort knowing that various friends and family members have approached me in private confiding their atheism to me. My big mouth did that! Woo hoo! And I am going to keep on being loud as long as there are people who face fear and shame in admitting their atheism.
Oh, and back to the Screen-Free Week thing, since I started with it. We'll still do something to honor the spirit of the week, like maybe adding some more screen-free chunks of time, including a few screen-free days. I just can't lose this connection with the online atheist community.
One last thing.