A University of Texas student group called "Atheist Agenda" has begun an on campus campaign they call "Smut for Smut." During said campaign, any persons with proof of ID can exchange any religious texts of their choice for good old fashioned pornography.
Of course Fox News was incensed. INCENSED.
(Ugh, I hate that anchor woman!)
Anyway, as hilarious as I think this is, I'm just not sure how strong the parallel between religious texts and porn is. Sure, there's some porn-y stuff in there, but maybe a "Fiction for Fiction" swap would have been more effective, as some have suggested.
I've been thinking a lot about privileges and disadvantages lately, especially in relation to race, gender, and sexual preference. But I wanted to gently write about what it's like to be an atheist in America. I want to be as honest about this as I can, so bare with me.
For a country with a supposed separation between church and state there's... um... not a lot of separation between church and state. I pick on Christians a lot because I was raised Christian. Also, as a gay man I've been the victim of their religious based bigotry for going on thirty years now. Do I think that all Christians are bigots? Of course not. But as a group the Christian right holds tremendous power in this country and have aggressively used it to impede justice and attack reason.
The radical Christian right has especially gained power during my lifetime (Ronald Reagan and on) partially because religion is off-limits. I know it's not especially nice or anything, but why is it that somebody can say to me, "I'm sorry, but I don't believe your relationship is as real as mine." But I can't retort with, "Well, who cares what you believe. It's not relevant." Because people's religious beliefs are always to be respected, even when they infringe on civil rights for gays or women.
I think atheists are angry and becoming more militant specifically because of the growing power of the Christian right wing. I mean, we just came out of eight years on a fundamentalist president who hired lawyers from Liberty "University" for Pete's sake. But that's just the Christian Right and radical Muslims. And, whether you disagree or not, anger pointed at those sorts of religious people is absolutely justified.
What's harder is religious people that aren't crazy. I have a lot of friends and family (and blog readers... gulp!) who are religious, be they Christian or Muslim or Jew.
Studies show there's a lot of hatred toward non believers. A recent study showed that Americans were less likely to elect an atheist president than any other minority group, dead last under blacks, latinos and even the hated gays. The idea is that non-belivers can't have morals without god, as if the commandments (those that aren't there to stroke god's ego, that is) are anything more than human instinct. I mean, we knew it was wrong to murder before Moses carried that big rock down a mountain.
I'm trying to understand. Because to me, believing in God or Allah or whatever is no different than believing in Zeus. It's just seems plain preposterous. If somebody told you that Shazam was the Goddess of Gold Lame and lived in a city called Shoop-Shoop, you would rightly think they were crazy. Clearly, they made that up. But I fail to see how any of the world religions are any different except by being "legitimized" by time.
A Catholic friend recently made a quip about Scientologists being crazy with their dianetics etc. and I had to balk, "How is that crazier than pretending to eat a dead man's flesh and blood?" I want to respect all of my friends and I'm not trying to tear anybody down, really I'm not. I just want to understand.
Like I said, I was raised Christian (Church of God, actually, which is it's own entry) and I tried so hard to believe. I pushed and pushed and... nothing. I wonder if my Catholic friend really believes. I mean really, really in her secret heart of hearts believes. Sometimes I suspect that she doesn't.
Anyway, in short, being an atheist in America feels like being that dude from The Emperor's New Clothes.
"You have GOT to be kidding me, right?"
P.S. Check out a new study that shows that men who are liberal or atheist or monogomous may be more intelligent than other men.
UPDATE: Oh, snap! That reminds me. Come see my brunch play, "Bitch, Please" about Aphrodite and a riot grrl:
The Gods are coming. And they want bacon.
Five brand new plays inspired by Greek mythology:
ECHO ECHO ECHO by Nikole Beckwith - from Echo & Narcissus
ORSON IN THE UNDERGROUND by Eric March - from Orpheus & Eurydice
THE DRAGON'S TEETH by Anna Kerrigan - from the story of Cadmus
PSYCHE by Lucy Boyle - from Cupid & Psyche
BITCH, PLEASE by Joshua Conkel - from Anaxarete & Iphis
Five brand new plays, plus our fabulous BRUNCH BUFFET of pancakes, eggs, bacon, pastries and fruit and our morally reprehensible, fiscally improbable OPEN BAR - all for just $18!
call (212) 247-4982 x105 or reply to this email
Sunday, March 7
doors open at 12:30pm for the buffet (food goes fast so get there early!)
show starts at 1pm
PLEASE NOTE: We usually have a waiting list, so any reservation not picked up by 10 minutes before curtain time can NOT be guaranteed.
Ensemble Studio Theatre
549 West 52nd Street (bet. 10/11)