I like to compare religion to sexuality. More specifically, being an atheist is much like being gay.
Oh my, can you hear that? It's the sound of keys clicking against the keyboard of angry readers writing me hate mail. Obviously they have never been an atheist or gay.
Though I may not be gay I know plenty who are, and I myself am an atheist. I've been through the process of understanding and accepting the fact that I am an atheist. I've come out to my family, and they reacted in just the same way the families of my gay friends did when they came out about their sexuality. They tried to convince me I was going through a phase. Once they realized I was serious they tried to change my mind; they tried to get others to change my mind. Eventually they learned to pretend like I was a God fearing citizen just like the rest of them. All this made me feel like an outcast. I no longer felt like I belonged, and all because I chose a belief that didn't conform to the popular beliefs of mainstream society. Now doesn't that sound like the exact same experience any lesbian or gay would be subjected to?
With all that considered, it's no wonder I felt uncomfortable yesterday while having a conversation at the bus stop with one of my co-workers. Our conversation started out much like the way any conversation between two strangers would. We chatted about the weather, we chatted about the public transit. We chatted about the company we work for. Then all of the sudden this guy drops the G-bomb on me like I was Hiroshima when he said, "I believe we are all lost souls, but we are all connected through God, and until we find God we will continue to feel lost."
Woah buddy! Lets back up there. I thought this was a bus stop, not the Broomfield community church. I didn't come here to be preached to, I'm just trying to make my way home.
Okay, I didn't say that, but I thought it. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and knew it would be out of line for me to protest his convictions, so I nodded and smiled. I didn't want to admit my religious beliefs, knowing very well he would stuff me into the "lost and needs to find" category because any atheist will tell you that only leads to more preaching. And do you know what atheists hate most? No, it's not puppies, it's being preached to about the power of the lord; puppies come in second. I can't deny that I feel lost most of the time, but I know "finding God" will not help me feel like I belong any more than peeing standing up will make me feel like a man . I know this because for a good portion of my life I was a baptist, that and I have tried to pee standing up (not a pleasant experience). I went to church and bible study, I prayed to God when I was hurt and desperate. Sometimes I still catch myself praying to that God I no longer believe in because old habits die hard. I sometimes think if I could only conform my life would be easier, pleasure and acceptance would not be such a struggle. who am I kidding? I've never been any good at pretending.