Some Thoughts About Atheists + Christian Friendships

unnamedOh the places this blog has gone. I can’t even begin to tell you (and I won’t bore you with a long list of that shit). But suffice it to say I’ve been busy and euphoric and all of that in the past few months. I know I’ve written a lot about my anxiety and not wanting to be so public, but for now (and probably because so many of you have awesomely supported me in that), I’m better. I’m even posting a self-love selfie to prove that I’m feeling much better and okay with people seeing me/talking to me/etc. I’ve explained this before, but after starting this blog I went into a very dark place and those who weren’t entirely supportive only threw me into a darker place. Coming out against Master’s Commission isolated me even more; so few people from that group would publicly support my efforts and private support only goes so far when it’s you against the world. I got into a big fight with my family over the things I post on this blog: namely being so atheist and so feminist and outspoken about both. It was a really challenging time for all of us and we’re in a much stronger place now (our family has always been very tight) but it hurt all of us. So I took a break from all things politics and I started reevaluating my message and presentation. If being so outspoken and angry about religion was hurting my relationship with my family (and many close friends), maybe there was a way I could still stay close to those I cared about and still be authentic about my anger. After all, my anger is important. Being radical or offensive isn’t.

With anything, there’s always ways to be better so I took that whole situation with my family to reflect on what I really felt was important to say and how to maintain my message without sanitizing it. One thing my brother (who I’m very close to) pointed out was that I was lumping every single Christian in with Master’s Commission. As I thought about it, a professor I had pointed that out years ago. Without knowing it, I was doing that. I definitely didn’t feel like I was doing that, but I looked back at a lot of things I’d said and that was true. In a world with so many good Christians, it was important that I start considering my choice of words more carefully. I also needed to start thinking about how I talk about other religious beliefs. I’m a major fan of some other religions, but I’m not sure that sentiment comes out in things I posted.

friendship editMy beliefs are what they are. Most of all, I think most atheists want to be accepted for our beliefs and not criticized for them. Last night I was talking to someone who is a Christian (maybe even a fundamentalist) and he started asking me why I was an atheist. He and I are in a good place and it’s an important point in my healing to note that I’ve reached out to a Christian as a friend and feel comfortable talking with him about faith. So I answered him and then told him that I don’t believe in a male God (the Christian God). He asked about a female god and I said no. The way I phrased it was passive (like I do–and need to fix) and was “I’m not sure there are female gods either.” So of course he thought he “got” me and said, “Oh you’re ‘not sure’? So you’re not as staunch of an atheist as you think?” (or something along those lines). That was a bit offensive. There should be no “getting someone” or “catching” them when you’re talking about faith openly; especially with those who are different faiths/non-faiths. There should be an appreciation or respect for the person (maybe not the beliefs) and an ability to overlook some things in order to have a strong friendship. That’s what I’ve aimed for in friendships I care about that I nearly lost from being so outspoken about my criticisms of religion. Mind you, I believe much of Christian ideology is abusive and harmful and many ministers and Christians twist it to be even worse, and I think Christians should be able to look past my opinions and still be my friend, but the truth is, that’s not always the case. With most people, I don’t care to remain that close to them, but with a few of my college friends who have grown MORE religious over the past few years, I do care. I want to remain friends and if that means we’re not Facebook friends that’s fine. Or if that means I simply limit my posts to my fan page, or don’t argue under their threads about Jesus, great. Whatever. I’ll take one for the team.

In all this, of course, I feel like it needs to be mutual. Otherwise, I don’t think that’s a fair compromise.