Atheists Are Part of Our Society, Accept Them As They Are

Atheists Are Part of Our Society, Accept Them As They Are

Freedom of religion also means freedom to be without it, but this country has had many issues with atheism over the years.

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First things first; I am a Catholic. I retain that belief regardless, and I love that the constitution has protected the ability to practice my religion. However, I am an ardent secularist as well; the freedom to practice and adhere to (or not adhere to) a religion or religious ideology extends to everyone, and this is without exception. This, obviously, must extend to atheists or other irreligious and non-believing individuals. However, in this country, we have not afforded them the same protection that we afford to other religious groups. What gives? Why exactly is this the case?

Let's discuss one way that atheists have been discriminated against; politically. SEVEN (as in, not the zero we should expect) states have laws that stipulate that one must profess belief in God in order to hold office. Even if this is unenforceable (thanks Supreme Court), the fact these are still on the books despite this is... horrifying. Why must an individual profess belief in God, especially in a country that has founding figures that rejected established dogmas? Furthermore, running as an atheist is nearly taboo; there have been so many political adverts that emphasize a person's religion and the ideology, as well as demeaning people who are considered as having beliefs in "atheistic ideals" like, GASP, belief in evolution. Or the Big Bang Theory (, many southern candidates where religiosity is just that important). It is a pathetic tale where atheists are unable to represent people as a result of their atheism, which many people say is DISQUALIFYING for a candidate. We have had ONE atheist in the United States Congress ever. Shocking.

Let's talk U.S. culture and society, as well. Atheism has not been accepted well across the board in this country. Atheists have been seen as behind various atrocities in this country, and have had certain events attributed to their lack of belief (aka, school shootings, 9/11, and just about any other major terrorist attack/shooting). Atheists have varying degrees of acceptance from religious groups, with only 29% of evangelical Christians having a favorable view of atheists (and 45% for Catholics as well). There's also the Boy Scouts of America, which asserted that belief in God was necessary to be a member, as well as to be a good citizen.

Fox News even ran an abhorrent opinion piece which decried atheism as responsible for ALL deaths under communist regimes, as well as promoting an inane ideology where belief in the theory of evolution makes someone a more evil person. Preachers, like John Hagee, believe atheists should leave the country. People on the AFA Radio station, like Bryan Fischer, believe atheists to be incapable of serving the country faithfully. Plus, atheists are seen as inherently immoral by just about every major religious group.

Look, here's my thing. I am Catholic. I practice my faith. I can reiterate that as I please. However, as I said, I believe in freedom of religion. People should be free to believe as they believe. We may disagree with people, but referring to them as EVIL? People like Isaac Asimov were evil? People like Tesla? Some of the greatest scientists of our time and beyond were atheists (Hello, Stephen Hawking). Some of the world's greatest contributors to the arts, philosophy, and literature, such as Picasso, Kurt Vonnegut, and so on. All of these people.. are evil? What about George Orwell? Are they worthy of discrimination? Persecution? To be called evil? No. They are not evil just because of this, and their lack of belief in a deity should not be grounds for discrimination.

In short, atheists have been screwed time and time again in this country. Politically and culturally, atheism is seen as a belief (or ideology, almost) filled with rot, not worthy of trust. When just 57% of Democrats and 43% of Republicans have favorable views of atheists, and about less than half of Americans are willing to vote for an atheist candidate, that is a problem. Hell, we still have issues with families allowing one to DATE or be FRIENDS an atheist. It is reprehensible. We MUST do better as a society. If we are to disagree, we can at least be tolerant.

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A Letter From God To Help You Finish The Semester

God sees your struggles and He's here to give you strength and motivation.
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My Child,

The lack of motivation towards the end of the semester is normal. You are mentally and physically tired, but you are almost at the end. Don’t stop walking down the perfect path I have for you. When you’re going along and you come upon a speedbump, I want you to go over it and keep driving. The paper you have to write and the test you have to study for are just small speedbumps I have given you to make you wiser. You can write that paper and you can gain motivation to study for that test. I am here to give you strength, and am here to open up your mind and give you motivation.

You are so loved. You have such a beautiful mind. The light of Jesus shines through your eyes and your smile brings comfort to the world. There’ll be times you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. There’ll be times you feel like the task I have given you is impossible to perform. But remember this: I would never put anything upon your shoulders that you cannot carry. If I put you in a certain situation, it’s because I know you are strong enough to go through it.

When you feel like crying, cry to me. When you feel like a failure, remember how much I love you. You are not a failure and you are not going to give up. I will hold your hand through every second of your life. I will seek your heart through your darkest moments. I see you, I see your heart, and I see your burdens. And remember that I have your heart which means I also have your burdens. Follow my footsteps and you will be free from the doubt. Remember Mark 4:40-41: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I have the power to calm any storm and wave. I have the power to calm YOUR storms and waves. Set your doubt, anger, and tiredness in my hands and simply be patient.

Romans 8:14-15 says,“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Nothing can separate you from my love. Not even your lack of motivation. You have no motivation because you do not feel good enough. You are more than good enough. You were perfectly made by me and when I look down at you, I think of how proud I am of your heart.

Throughout the last few weeks of this semester, you will stumble upon speedbumps. But hold the hand of my son Jesus and you will be able to go over that speedbump with ease. Go write that paper, go study for that test, and go get an A in that class. I know you can because I have given you power.

Love,

God

Cover Image Credit: Margaret Carnes

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I'm An Atheist, But I Wear A Cross Every Day

I don’t celebrate Jesus the prophet or Jesus the Son of God. I celebrate Jesus the man.
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I was born into a Roman Catholic family. As is the norm, I was baptized as an infant and, as he did for all of my siblings and cousins, I was given the gift of a golden cross necklace from my grandfather in celebration of it. Fast forward twenty years and I proudly wear that cross around my neck today. Only thing is, I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in Catholicism at all, actually.

See, I went through baptism, communion and, with a good bit of coaxing from my mother, even confirmation. Hallelujah. From the time I first started thinking for myself though, I never really believed in any of it. I mean, the morals obviously are still something I agree with. I still think “thou shalt not kill” regardless of if it's written on one of the stone tablets Moses didn’t smash or not. The idea that these commandments were given by God, and all the other spiritual teachings were, are where my beliefs part with widely held Christian teachings.

My beliefs only got stronger as I grew up, getting to see and experience more of the world. I’m not going to get into my reasons behind why I believe what I do or even my qualms with Catholicism in particular as a whole, but I am going to answer one question that I’ve gotten a lot. If I’m an Atheist, then why do I still wear a cross?

The reasoning lies in the story of Jesus Christ. Now, nobody disputes that Jesus Christ did at one point live. We have proof of as much. Whether or not he was a prophet, or a demigod, or anything with divine powers is debatable, but we know that he was, in fact, a human being that existed at one point. Most know the story of Christ and why the cross is a powerful image in the Christian religion.

To very very briefly summarize a long story, Christ was condemned by the Romans, tortured, humiliated, and ultimately crucified, which is where the cross comes in. Now, I don’t wear the cross in gratitude for Jesus dying for the sins of all mankind, or in respect for the religious beliefs that he both shared with and inspired in others.

I wear the cross as a symbol of the unwavering conviction of Jesus Christ in the face of death.

I wear the cross as a testament to the strength of the human condition.

Divine or not, Jesus was a great man. He was horribly tortured, being whipped and forced to carry the tremendous weight of the very object he was to be executed on to his place of death. He was mocked and humiliated, made to wear a crown of thorns and purple robes to make fun of his reputation as “King of the Jews.”

He ultimately was crucified, which was a common practice of the Roman’s and a brutal one at that. Christ’s own crucifixion was even more severe than most, as some were tied to the cross, and others had only their hands nailed to the wood. Christ had each hand nailed to the cross as well as a single nail that went through each of his feet. He did all that in defense of his own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others.

I don’t celebrate Jesus the prophet or Jesus the son of God.

I celebrate Jesus the man. I keep the cross around my neck as a constant reminder to never compromise what I believe in when facing adversity, and as a symbol attesting to the overall strength of mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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