Have you ever been at an amusement park late in the day when it’s about to close? You know, when all the normal people are long gone and only people like you are left, who are hell-bent on getting their goddamned money’s worth in rides? It’s like a sprint race from ride to ride, where you go straight through because no one’s in line, you get your cheap thrill and then you run to the next one. All the blinking lights are on, and the ride operators are getting more and more lax with the rules. Finally, you find yourself on the Tilt-O-Whirl with ten minutes left before the gates to the park close. The ride operator looks at you with a twinkle in his eye. He flashes his carnie smile as he checks your seat is secure, and dread creeps up inside you. It’s too late though, you’re buckled in and he just pressed the big green button. You spin, and you spin and you spin and you spin. All the same things keep streaking past you; the world is just a blur of illuminated stripes and you could swear the ride should have ended by now. You grab on so tight the smell of sweat meeting metal wafts into the air and you can taste the cotton candy coming back up your throat. You imagine your eyes look like those googly ones you find in a craft store. Around and around and around. It’s never going to end, you think to yourself and just as you’re about to spray half-digested corn dog all over the spinning machinery, you feel it begin to slow. When it finally comes to a stop, you stumble off, gripping the rail like your life depended on it, and the carnie shouts,
“Hope you guys didn’t mind me giving you an extra long ride!” Dead silence as the tattooed eighteen-year-old shuffles his feet. “You know, I thought ’cause no one else was in line and all…”
Have you ever had that feeling? You know the part where you’re spinning, and the same shit keeps passing in front of you and it’s making you nauseous and you think it’ll never end? Yeah, that’s how I feel when theists constantly ask me why I talk so much about God if I don’t believe in him. It’s just the same shit, over and over again, neverending, while I sip ginger ale to stop my breakfast from reappearing in liquid form.
The most recent occasion I was asked this, was on this post on my Instagram account:
The comment literally read, “I don’t get it. You atheists say you don’t believe in God, but all you ever do is talk about him.”
Now, as the clever motherfucker I know you to be, you’ve likely already spotted the myriad things wrong with this statement, but you know what, genius? I’m going to break it down for you, anyway.
The first, and the probably most obvious, thing about this meme with respect to this comment, is that it is not, in fact, at all about God. It’s almost as if our Instagram critic didn’t even read the meme in the first place. No, this meme is known as Sheltering Suburban Mom, and the text on this particular version of it is meant solely to point out the hypocrisy of religious humans. No gods are mentioned here. No gods are even insinuated. This meme is about human hypocrisy and nothing more.
Next, we have this part, “You atheists say you don’t believe in God, but…” Here we have the classic theist attempt to stick us with a belief in God. For some, they simply cannot wrap their minds around people not believing in God, so they study our every move and try to catch us slipping up, to prove we do actually believe in the magic daddio in the sky. We’re just silly little atheists. We couldn’t possibly know what we believe in and what we don’t believe in. We need big, smart, theists to tell us that!
Yes, we say we don’t believe in God… because we don’t believe in God. Trust us. We know what we believe in and what we don’t. No amount of memes posted to Instagram is going to change that. Why would we lie about it? It’s not like the world throws a party when we figure out we’re atheists. It’s not like we win prizes or move to the head of the pack or suddenly have an advantage running for office. It’s not like we can move freely throughout the world without worrying we’ll be jailed or murdered. Why would we choose to fake being an atheist? What is there to gain that’s greater than what we could potentially lose?
As far as posting about God all the time goes, if I’m doing that, I am certainly not aware. A quick perusal of my posts shows a significant lack of God, but a lot of talk about religion. In fact, the only posts I can see, going back months, that mention God are limited to jokes and pointing out conflicting claims about God’s supposed nature. Neither of which indicates a belief in him, but rather a critical view of what theists claim to be true. I will freely admit to posting about religion frequently, but I don’t talk about God much in any seriousness.
There are so many reasons I constantly talk about religion as Godless Mom, and if I wrote them all out, it would probably take me a decade, so I will just limit it to the twenty most important ones:
Religion made it impossible for my best friend to marry her girlfriend for a very long time.
Religion made my best friend’s otherwise amazing mom consider sending her to reparative therapy when she came out.
Religion is why many families disown their gay children. Religion is why many of these kids are depressed and suicidal.
Religion is why my friend was locked up in a mental hospital, and drugged and beaten by his family after he came out as an atheist.
Religion is why a team of French cartoonists are dead.
Religion is why six atheist bloggers have been hacked to death with machetes in the past year.
Religion is why Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes.
Religion is why I can’t travel to some parts of the world without fearing for my life and freedom.
Religion is why some little girls have their vaginas sliced up, making sex a painful act for the rest of their lives.
Religion is why so many little boys the world over have been raped.
Religion is why “witches” were burned at the stake and continue to be terrorized in some parts of the world.
Religion is why little boys and little girls all over the world have nightmares, worried that they will do something wrong and end up in Hell for eternity.
Religion has held back the pursuit of knowledge for centuries.
Religion is why so many women have been forced to carry a child to term, even when that child threatens the mother’s health, or is a product of rape.
Religion is why women in many places are still treated as property.
Religion is why I get knocks on my door every week, intruding into my home life, and sometimes even into my work, which feeds and clothes my children.
Religion is why so many children all over the world are denied a proper education.
Religion is the fuel behind so many different forms of hate, from homophobia and transphobia to misogyny and racism.
Religion was the life force of many wars, conflicts and genocides responsible for billions of deaths the world over.
Religion exacerbated the HIV/Aids epidemic in Africa and was fuel on the fire of famine.
There… the top twenty reasons why I talk about religion a lot. I feel it’s something any decent human being would do or view as a positive thing. In fact, I feel kind of disgusted by people who don’t think speaking out against religion is a good thing. I don’t think everyone should speak out about the wrongs committed by religion, as clearly that puts some people in danger, but I do think every decent person should recognize the value in speaking out against religion. If you don’t, you’re simply not a decent person. I really don’t want to know you.
The fact is, beliefs inform actions. As long as we continue to accept, wholeheartedly, in things that are not backed up with evidence, we can be led to believe worse and worse and worse. Eventually, we can find ourselves committing acts against other human beings that we never would have committed without our religious belief. My best friend’s mom would have never considered reparative therapy without her religious convictions. The staff of Charlie Hebdo would still be alive had the extremist killers not believed what they were doing was going to be rewarded by Allah. There wouldn’t be near as many children orphaned by HIV across Africa, had it not been for the sincere religious convictions of Catholic missionaries doing what they believed to be God’s work.
These three facts alone are enough to make me want to cause religious people to have a few doubts. Doubt is all we need. Even the tiniest sliver of doubt could stop someone from taking devastating action against someone else, and so yes, I do post a lot about religion. I talk about it as much as I can and I promise and vow and pledge that I will not stop, ever, so long as it is up to me.
Even if it means my life is like the Tilt-O-Whirl.
How do you respond to people who tell you that all you talk about is something you don’t believe in? Let me know in the comments!