I Like Cake
Many of us atheists have run into the hardcore aggressive religious people out there. It doesn’t matter what country you live in really, they’re all around. Here in the US, we’ve got the evangelical christians, and even a large spike in the hasidic and fundamentalist islamic sects that are more prevalent around the rest of the world. These are the most vocal and aggressive and flat-out angry of the religious groups and individuals out there. But do you really understand why they’re angry? More importantly, I have to wonder if they understand why they’re so angry?
Do you remember when you were a child and you witnessed some other child your age or close to it, maybe even a friend perhaps, whose parents allowed them to do something you weren’t allowed to do? I know I do. I remember thinking, “That’s not fair!”, and I even said that to my parents on occasion in an effort to plead my case to get to participate in the activities that I was being prohibited from. Most often, my parents did not yield in their prohibition, and quite often this made me fairly angry. Now even though I was angry with my parents for not allowing me to participate, I didn’t lash out at them, instead I lashed out at those who got to do the things I wasn’t being allowed to do. I’m sure this picture is coming together for you already.
I'm Not Telling You Not to Eat Cake
So now we look at the most angry religious extremists and if there is one quality that all these people seem to have, both in common and in abundance, it’s childishness. These are the people who want to impose their religious laws on everyone. They are the ones who want to enact blasphemy laws to keep others from speaking their minds. Simply put, they want to lash out at all those who enjoy a level of freedom that they have never known.
Religion is a burden. It’s a weight that you drag around with you through your life. As a Christian, I carried a figurative cross every day. Jesus was the Gold Standard in my home, and if you weren’t walking the path of Jesus every day, you were failing. That idea turned me into a fairly judgmental and self-righteous ass for a very long time. But it was all out of anger because it seemed as though there was a different set of rules for everyone else.
Take for instance the issue of sex before marriage, in my household that was a big “don't”, but I never understood why. Apparently, god just has a serious interest in the sex lives of human beings. Now, I’m not saying I questioned my religion because I wanted to “whore around”, I questioned a god that gave two shits about such a petty issue. And my questions only grew from there. As I grew up through the 90’s, I was witness to this huge surge in the LGBT rights movement. And as my grandfather who was a minister all his life stopped watching the Andy Griffith Show after Jim Nabors came out as gay, I was questioning why god would care who a person loved. And each one of these questions I asked peeled back a layer of anger. I stopped telling all the “sinners” that they were going to burn in hell for eternity, and I started trying to understand how it could be that some people aren’t people…
Especially in the eyes of a “god” that I had always been told was kind and merciful and loving.
Are You Sure You Don't Want Some of This Cake?
Dennis Leary once said in a stand-up special that hate is taught and I definitely agree with that statement, but something few realize is just how we come to be taught to hate. It isn’t always so simple as being raised in the KKK, and just being taught to hate blacks and jews and homosexuals. Many times we are taught to hate simply by being taught to be cautious or to stay away from what is different or unknown. It is very easy to go from simply abstaining, to outright disgust without ever having any real understanding of the other side of the argument. I wasn’t raised to dislike homosexuals, but I was taught that they are an “abomination before god” and so should be avoided. But from that simple idea came an easy path into calling them “queers” and “fags” and being generally hateful. And why? Because if my “god” hated them, it was okay for me to hate them too, simply because they were different than me and I didn't understand their perspective. And even after abandoning religion, it was a task to retrain myself not to use those old phrases or be standoffish around homosexuals simply out of engrained habit.
So, why are so many of these fundamentalists mad? More than anything, it’s because so many of the rest of us are so damn happy. We unburdened ourselves and threw off the crosses and all the other excess baggage that has been piled onto us for a lifetime. We’ve said that archaic rules and rituals have no place in a modern civilized society where all people deserve freedom and equality. Most of all they are angry because we walk without the crutch that is religion, without the aid of a god, and without the anger that fear of the unknown can bring. But we are most certainly angry at these extremists and fundamentalists, and we have no intention on conforming or catering to their sensibilities. Their gods do nothing to stop us from living our lives and learning to truly love humanity and the human experience, while their own homes fall into ruin. It seems to be ever harder and harder to keep believing in a god who supposedly loves you, but has apparently left you high and dry.