Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Should I be allowed to marry?

Just back from a much-needed vacation. And per hearing the Religious Right Wing of the USA voice their reasons for being against gay marriage, per the state government vote in New York state, I have a question for those people:

I'm an Atheist, my husband is an Atheist, and we decided not to have children. Therefore, by your definition of marriage, should we have been allowed to marry?

The answer, based on what I'm hearing from you - that marriage is a sacrament of God and its purpose is to have children - must be a resounding NO. You folks saying gay marriage is impossible cannot believe an Atheist should have the right to get married, nor that someone who has chosen not to have children should have the right to get married, based on your arguments against gay marriage.

So, why did I get married? It wasn't to have any government sanction of my love for the man who is now my husband, and my lifelong commitment to him - I don't need any certificate to show that. I got married because:
  • if I'm in the hospital, I want my husband to be able to be with me, and if he's in the hospital, I want full access to him as well. Going with a health care proxy will NOT grant me access to him, or him to me, in all circumstances, unlike being married.
  • if I get great health care coverage, I want him to get that coverage as well (and vice versa!)
  • if I am unable to make decisions for myself, I want my family - and that's my husband - to make those decisions for me
  • if I die, I want him to have all my stuff and do with it what I want, because I know he'll follow my last wishes, because I trust him, because he is my family
  • I want to legally be responsible for him, and him for me, in the eyes of the law
  • if he wins the lottery, I want half!
That's what gay people want as well as married couples. Indeed, many of them also want the right to have or adopt children as well, as married parents - they see marriage as you religious folks do, as something that greatly contributes to the raising of happy, healthy children.

How can a religious person say gays should not be allowed to get married without also saying Atheists who are not going to have children should not be allowed to get married? There's no way to deny it to gays without also denying it to Atheists, based on your own arguments!

And Atheists - that should freakin' scare the hell out of you.

On a final note: why did I not only have the official, secular state marriage procedure, but also have a Godless marriage ceremony for family and friends? Because I wanted to celebrate my marriage with the people I love, to celebrate our friends for loving us and supporting us. And we drank a LOT of wine at our wedding - just like Jesus.

(for those of you looking for marriage vow ideas for your secular wedding ceremony, contact me - I'm happy to share ours)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the amazing compassion of Atheists

The love, compassion, support and selflessness of so many Atheists regularly renews my faith in humanity. Read this blog by Greta Christina about high school student and Atheist Damon Fowler if you want to be inspired. The harassment and hatred this kid has been subjected to by his local community Christians is heart-breaking, but the support he's received from Atheists is beautiful. Hurrah, us!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Religious people sometimes DO read. Hurrah!

According to two early Islamic historians, Ibn e Saad and Ibn Hisham, the Prophet Muhammad allowed a delegation of 60 Byzantine Christians from Najran in Yemen to worship in his own mosque in Madina. The story goes like this: the Christians had come to discuss a number of issues with Muhammad. When it came time for them to have a church service, they asked the Prophet's permission to perform their service in the mosque. Muhammad answered, "conduct your service here in the mosque. It is a place consecrated to God."

Now, Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Virginia will allow Muslims to pray there on Fridays while a nearby Mosque is being renovated.

Why does an Atheist care about this? Because it helps strengthen the faith I have in humanity. These are people that understand that they worship the same invisible magical friend. No, I don't believe in their invisible magical friend, but it's nice to see that these two representative groups do actually read their respective scriptures, and understand history.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

annoyed ≠ intolerant

Dan Savage wrote a rant about a customer that drove him crazy in line at a Starbuck's. And he ended the blog (or "slog", as he calls it), with this:

Didn't think I could hate the young goateed dope more... and then he sits down next to me, with his wife, and proceeds to loudly say grace* before eating his fucking pastry.

* For those who will accuse me of being intolerant: I didn't try to stop him from saying grace. I didn't start gathering signatures to put an initiative on the ballot that would prevent young goateed dopes from marrying or adopting children. I wanted to throttle him but... I tolerated him, I put up with him, I endured him. I am, as ever, the very model of a modern major tolerator. But I reserve the right to be annoyed by those I tolerate and to blog about it. Annoyed ≠ intolerant. Please make a note of it.

Right on.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Advice to Christian friend of an Atheist

Brought to my attention by The Friendly Atheist:

A Christian posted to the Think Atheist asking how to deal with the fact that her best friend is now an Atheist. She's purposely vague in her post about what the problem is, exactly, but in one of her responses to comments, says, she's not uneasy that her friend is an Atheist, but, rather, "I'm more worried that she's uneasy with me being Christian... I'm one who does love talking about my faith."

This response to her is so excellent - I identify with this response in so many ways. If you don't want to click on the link, here's the response I so loved:

First I wanna say that Rachel is pretty lucky to have a friend that wants to make it through a situation like this. Most of my "friends" dropped me like a bad habit when I came out as an atheist. I did have some that stuck around but they still want to debate or make the occasional comments. Every single friendship, relationship, and family bond was affected somehow by my atheism, mostly with a negative outcome, and I know that I did nothing wrong. It was their decision to act differently toward me, not vice versa. I was still the same person, but they didn't care... and still don't. Their religion was so important to them that I no longer mattered because I didn't believe the same as them.

Anyway, depending on where you guys are from, she may be faced with religion every day. You may not realize it as a Christian, but we atheists have to encounter Christianity constantly. We drive by several churches, see countless bumper stickers, read tons of religious status updates on facebook, see it on our money, our children recite it at school, people knock on our doors to spread the word, get told "bless you" when we sneeze, get invited to church by pushy friends/family/co-workers (some literally beg you to go), get told to have a "blessed day" at the drive-thru or checkout line (happens all the time here in the south), hear about it in song lyrics -especially country music-, get handed little bibles or find fliers on our cars, and the list goes on. We get to see nothing supporting atheism and if we bring it up, people want to argue and get steaming mad.

When you realize that you no longer believe in a god, you begin to find new purpose for your life. You get to live your life for yourself instead of some deity. Now that I know this is the only life I have, I cherish it. I have a new respect for life in general. It is a wonderful feeling and everything begins to make sense. All of this is exciting but it can sometimes be overwhelming. Losing religion can be hard for some people at first, so you may want to discuss it with your friends and share what you have learned and how you feel. The bad part is when you tell your friends about this and they begin to resent you for it. They think you are "mad at God" or "it's just a phase". This couldn't be further from the truth and it is very insulting. And the worst thing that someone can do is to try to get them to "fix their relationship with god" or go back to church. Once someone comes to the intellectual conclusion that they are atheists, it is not likely that they will return to their faith. Chances are, they have spent a long time studying their religion and trying figuring out what they believe. I have Christians tell me that I need to read the bible. What they don't know is that I (and most atheists) have read it and debunked it, but the ones preaching and telling me this are typically the blind followers that haven't even read it for themselves. We atheists usually tend to analyze everything. We truly believe that all gods are a myth, including the Christian god. It would be hard to get an adult to believe in Santa again. We feel that God is no more real than Santa, so it would be very difficult to get an atheist to believe in a god again.

In good, healthy friendships, you want to be able to talk with your friend about anything. If you find that it is a topic that you absolutely can't avoid, please try to understand her position. You have hundreds, likely thousands, of people in your area that you can talk to and will support Christianity. But it is also likely that she has no one to talk to or support her atheism. That can be pretty frustrating and it can also be quite lonely, especially when you are no longer socially accepted due to this one difference.

Over the years, the friends that have stayed friends have given up on trying to convert me back to Christianity and they've learned to accept it, but none of them tolerate my atheism. This means that I have to listen to them ramble on about god's will but if I mention evolution or anything about atheism they go into attack mode. It isn't fair but there isn't much I can do about it if I want to keep the few friends that I have left. Be there for her and support her even if you don't agree with her. If you love each other enough, you can overlook the rough patches.

You can read the original post and comments here at Think Atheist.