Jack Nicholson nailed it. That condescending smile that just puts the fear of death in you so deep you feel it kicking around in your spleen. The iconic smile, the one shoved through an axe-wound in a door, with an implied “Heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”. When he hobbles up stairs, grinning that Joker-grin, forcing through clenched teeth,
Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in.
He’s smiling. He’s grinning. But he’s deadly.
It’s how I imagine some of the theists look, when they approach me on Twitter or Facebook with their ridiculous assumptions. I’m ashamed to admit, this is the one thing that gets under my skin. I often have people on Twitter ask me how I can have so much patience with religious trolls. I just do. I just don’t take seriously what they’re saying to me… until they assume. Especially if they assume something about the people I love. That’s when GM gets pissed.
Here are just a small handful of those assumptions:
“You believe there is no God”
No. To be honest, I have no belief about God one way or the other. I think the entire fucking idea of God is silly. I am, on a daily basis, floored that people not only take this idea seriously, but also fully believe it and live their lives in line with this belief. It is, to me, precisely the same as entertaining the idea that elves make Christmas presents at the North Pole. It’s neat. It’s cute. It’s sweet. But mama has bills to pay, so it’s time to put the story books away.
“You are a nihilist.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Things have more meaning to me than is probably considered healthy. When I become passionate about something, it fucking consumes me. I have drive and goals and loves and meaning and value. I am not a nihilist, nor do I think I could ever be capable of being one.
You have to be careful when you assume something like this about someone. When you say it to me, you’re insinuating that I think my love for my son cannot truly be known, communicated, and that it has no meaning. You’re saying that to a devoted mother…
I’ll give you a second to rethink it.
“The reason you don’t believe in god is… [insert straw man here]”
There’s only one reason I don’t believe in god and that’s because I have never found a reason to do so. A convincing reason for me, would be demonstrable, repeatable and observable by anyone. I am not angry at god. I do not “want to sin”. I simply have no reason to believe and until I do, I will live my life as though there is no god.
“You think religious people are stupid.”
No, honey. I think you are stupid. I think assuming things about strangers on the internet is a sign of stupidity. Not religious belief. I think if you were truly interested in an honest discussion, you would ask about what I think before assuming it.
“You want to deconvert people”
It’s funny because I was just chatting with a friend yesterday afternoon about how I am not out to deconvert people. I just want people to admit they don’t know with certainty. If they can admit that, well, then they can admit that their ideas are not any better than anyone else’s, and should not be a determining factor in who gets human rights and who doesn’t, or which laws get passed and which do not.
“Yes, you do want to deconvert people. Why would you post so many things against religion if you didn’t?”
As I stated on my FAQ over a year and a half ago, this site and associated social spaces are geared specifically toward other atheists. These are supposed to be safe spaces for us to talk about how we view religion, without the threat of being fired, disowned by family, physically harmed, locked up or killed. If you, as a religious person, happen to stumble across these spaces, it’s something that cannot be helped. I am not trying to deconvert you, as much as your persecution complex wants so badly to believe. I am just trying to talk to my heathen buddies about heathen things on my heathen spaces.
That said, the theists who do stick around and can handle it,
You truly are, because not only can we have great conversations honestly when they come up, but through your patience and thick skin, we can learn more and more about each other and nothing facilitates progress better than understanding.
“You’re obsessed with god! It’s all you talk about!”
Religion is indeed all I talk about as my online “Godless Mom” persona, but did you know, I have a whole other life? I do! In fact, there are huge chunks of each day that pass during which I am not being “Godless Mom” and am just being Courtney the wife, mom, daughter, sister, doggy owner and friend. Further, if you scroll through my blog, you’ll see a metric ton of posts about the American Justice system, and some posts that are creative writing exercises, and you’ll even notice one of my most abundant series’, called “Atheist Life Hacks” which really have nothing to do with atheism at all, but are, instead, stories from my pretty eventful life. In fact, if I had to whittle it down to a percentage of my life, I’d say being Godless is maybe 1 or 2% of who I am. My interests and passions are varied and plentiful. However, on my “Godless Mom” web site and social spaces, it seems particularly fitting to be talking about my lack of religion and how I feel about the effect of religion on the world. So that’s what I do here. If I were to suddenly start posting recipes and DIYs, well then I wouldn’t really be running a site that should be called “Godless Mom”, now, would I?
Believe it or not, secular families face struggles that religious families do not. A blog about raising children without religion in a world that is overwhelmingly religious, is not a blog obsessed with God. It’s a blog that attempts to help others sort out these struggles; to help them see that being raised without God can and was a wonderful way to grow up (via Atheist Life Hacks); and to help them cope with the onslaught of religious arguments that we find ourselves bombarded with as soon as we make our disbelief known. Hopefully, nonbelievers can find themselves having a chuckle while doing this.
No, good people don’t assume things about strangers
For theists who come at me like Jack Torrence with a limp, smiling condescendingly and dumping assumption after assumption on me: quit it. It’s not doing you any favours. You just look like a morally bankrupt loser. You make a better case for atheists to not want to be anything like you.
A better approach is to ask questions. In fact, I invite them. I’ll even give you my email address to do so: firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to having honest and open conversations with believers. All you have to do is ask before you assume.