Posts Tagged ‘deconversion’

Freshly Boiled Blood

June 9, 2013 3 comments

by Noah Lugeons

My issues with religion are largely philosophical.  I live in a city rich with religious diversity and history among people who have long learned to overlook the demarcations of faith.  New York City hasn’t always been a pillar of religious tolerance, but today it’s home to at least some number of any devotion to any sect of any denomination of any religion you can imagine.  We have to share subways and sidewalks and parade routes and we’re constantly running late.  Most of us simply don’t have the time for religious friction.

The point is that if I didn’t seek it out, I would hardly ever have a reason to be pissed at religion.  I read the religious news, I seek out the abuses of religious authority, I immerse myself in religion’s festering underbelly.  But if I didn’t make an effort to do so, I’d hardly ever encounter the bad parts of religion in my daily life.

I constantly remind myself that this is probably true of most people in this country.  Sure, they know about the child rape and maybe they know about the fundamentalist camps, but what they see every day is religious people doing good things in the name of religion.  Unless they make an effort to see the ugliness backstage, religion comes off looking pretty clean and pretty most of the time.

Of course, much of it is simply slick PR.  When I was growing up, all I knew of the Latter Day Saints was from the heartwarming commercials they played during cartoons on Saturday morning.  A guy on bike would get splashed with mud by a guy in a truck.  Cut to guy on bike coming across guy in truck later.  Plot twist: Guy in truck is no longer in truck because his truck is broken down.  Resolution: muddy guy on bike stops and helps the asshole who splashed him.  Because Jesus.

But it would be petty of me to write it all off as a PR campaign.  Most of the sterling image of religion comes from the fact that most religious people are really awesome people.  I think this is probably because most people are awesome and any random selection of people will probably contain a majority of awesome ones.  But I don’t know that to be true.  What I do know is that when you give good people an outlet for their goodness, you usually get some good results.  You get some well fed homeless people or whatever.

Obviously I don’t think religion is necessary for charity, but I’m also not naive enough to overlook all the good.  When I step outside of my own perspective, I can see why atheists look like ranting assholes to a lot of people.  Why are they attacking this mostly good thing?  Why are they pissed off about bibles in cabins or god references on money or prayers at graduation ceremonies?  Why be so vindictive toward a mostly good thing.  After all, taking “In God We Trust” off the money isn’t going to stop any kids from getting raped.

But as I said, I seek out the bad.  And now that the podcast is starting to gain a wide audience, the bad is starting to seek me out as well.

If I’d really thought it through before I started the show, I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t.  I was ready for vicious hate mail and death threats (which I still haven’t gotten), but I was not prepared for some of the heart wrenching stories I now find in my inbox.

And for the first time today, I was moved to tears by one of them.  A fan of the show sent me an email detailing his personal experiences as a vulnerable child entrusted to the care of a sadistic Baptist minister.  He said he loved the show because it allowed him to laugh at the abuses of religion instead of simply welling up with impotent rage.

I’ve gotten a couple of emails like his so far.  None that detail such horror, but several from disowned sons, estranged spouses, alienated friends and psychologically tormented apostates and while I never expected them to come, I certainly welcome them.  I don’t want to hear these stories but I need to hear them.  They are the fuel that boils my blood.

I understand that a lot of people feel a need to share these stories.  I invite them.  I can’t help you much by listening to your story, but you can help me a lot by sharing it.  To keep up the effort this podcast takes, I sometimes need freshly boiled blood.

Are Atheists Angry at God?

March 24, 2013 11 comments

by Noah Lugeons


There are plenty of stereotypes about atheists that piss me off, but among my least favorite is this notion that atheists were driven to disbelief by their “anger at god”.  Screenwriters and religious bigots would love for you to believe that atheists became atheists because god wasn’t there for them in their time of need. They’d love for you to believe that atheism is the byproduct of trauma that we’re all still working through.

But on this subject and many others, Carlin said it best. I became an atheist right around the age of reason. The same can be said of most atheists. Some of us have great stories about our deconversion, but most of us can’t pinpoint a single time or date or significant precursor. We just slowly came to realize that religion was bullshit.

That’s not to say that nobody becomes an atheist after a traumatic event. I’m sure there are plenty of stories of devoutly religious people abandoning their faith after personal tragedies, but to be fair there are also plenty of stories of nominally religious or non-religious people embracing faith after similar events. Either way, these anecdotes are in the minority. Most atheists are atheists because they correctly employ logic.

But if you cut the sentence short and put the question mark two words sooner, the answer is very different, and I think that’s why theists have such an easy time believing the cliche. Atheists are angry. We’re not angry at god, we’re angry at religion, but I can see how it’s difficult for a theist to draw a distinction there. It has to be hard to step completely outside the religious worldview, but if they did, I think they could see fairly easily why pretending to speak for god would piss off people who don’t believe in god.

I don’t know that this is an understanding that some theists can reach, but I offer the Venn-diagram anyway. It’s not as much for them as it is for all the other atheists that are sick and fucking tired of pretentious religious fuck-munches who, upon hearing that they are atheists, respond with a condescendingly ostentatious display of pity and the words, “what happened?”