The Atheist Academic

The Atheist Academic: I’m NOT Angry!

“You’re not an atheist… you’re just angry at God.”

Yeah, you’ve heard that too? Ugh. It drives me up a wall. My mom is Catholic through-and-through. I was, too, for a long time. Catholic schoolgirl. Confirmation. Church choir. Eucharistic minister at the college Catholic church. I think, in some ways, it defined who I was in my mom’s head. Maybe it helped her to let me go out into the world and find my own way… if I had a church to cling to, no matter where I was living, it was like I had an extended family around. Nothing TOO bad could happen to me if I was going to church on Sundays.

But, of course, I started realizing that church wasn’t for me. And as I got older, I eschewed organized religion and defined myself as “spiritual”. And then, a few years later, I started reading more, and I defined myself as agnostic. And all of those definitions, my mom could handle. I think she was fine as long as I had SOME guiding religious principle. But one day, I specifically used the word “atheist”, and it was like I had slapped her in the face.

And so my mom started voicing her opinion that I wasn’t actually atheist — I was just angry. And since then, I’ve heard that same sentiment voiced from many other people. I don’t know where that comes from. Actually, since I’ve realized that I’m atheist, I’ve become a much LESS angry person. I’m not angry at a God — I don’t believe he exists at all.

Where does the notion that atheists are angry come from? I would love to know who started this myth that atheists are wild, crazy, horrible people. Why is it so shocking to find out that your daughter, or your son, or your best friend, or your coworker is atheist?

I remember the first person that I ever met who told me that he was atheist. I was 16, and Lowell was in his 20’s, and we were chatting, when he casually mentioned that he was atheist. I was in the throes of being super-Catholic, but like all good little super-Catholics, I should have been horrified. I should have never talked to him again; at the very least I should have tried to convert him.  But, instead, I asked Lowell questions — and my only real thought was that he was brave. So brave.

Why can’t other people’s reactions be like that? I was a damn cool Catholic! I never tried to change Lowell’s opinion, and he never tried to change mine. We just talked, noted some interesting facts about each other, and then went on to just be friends. When I finally figured out that I was atheist, 10 years after I had met him, his reaction was something less than surprised. Maybe, deep down, I had been an atheist all along.

It’s sad that people equate atheism with anger. I think it makes non-atheists feel defensive. But if their religion is so fragile to start with that an atheist can rip it to shreds, then maybe it wasn’t so strong to begin with. Anyway, I’m not angry. At least not at religion. Don’t get me started on the government, though.

 

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Tori Parker

Tori Parker

Tori is a high school English teacher from Ohio (insert cheerleader kick here)! She is emphatic! She is skeptical! She is nifty! Her boyfriend says that they can get a potbellied pig someday and name him Bacon. She has a little boy whose pseudonym is SC, although he has recently asked that his name be changed to Henry. When asked for a comment to add on this bio, he asked, "Why do we sound like a bad '70's cop show?" So there's that.

1 Comment

  1. October 10, 2013 at 12:59 am —

    I’ve gotten mad at religious organizations, but I’m rarely mad at the religion itself. I grew up in a Christian household and I still subscribe to the notion that I ought to be a good neighbor and treat others the way I’d expect to be treated or better. I’m also not quite sure about the “angry at God” argument or from where it stems. How can you be mad at a fictional character, really? I can’t really be mad at God the same way that I can’t really be mad at Zeus or Vecna or Urizen. I mean, couldn’t an ancient Pagan argue that monotheists are just “Angry at all the gods but one”? *shrug*

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