“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi
I posted this status update on Facebook:
I just realized a bunch of people deleted me as a friend from Facebook. Pshh What was it? That fact that I am bisexual and speak out for gay rights? Or wait.. maybe it was the post about not beating your kids? No? Ohhh It was the fact that I am not a Bible thumping conservative? Oh well. No big loss! If you dump people who have been your friend that long because they think differently, you are more close-minded that I thought!!
Now, I am all for people stating their opinion and disagreeing with me. But I DON’T appreciate people telling me how to feel, how to believe, and what kinds of things I should or should not post on my OWN Facebook page. Here are some of the responses I received:
3) Friend Step Up: I ♥ this post! Keep being you!
4) Friend Eric Ragle: Florida sounds just as backwards as Tennessee. Stay strong! You're awesome.
5) Friend Laura Caton-David: As a native East Tennessean (now in FL), I can tell you that in many ways it is just as backwards or even more so!
6) A friend and former boss: Lenroy Jones ...can't get rid of me that easy :-) much love coming from Lexington! You’re still the beautiful person that I met in Jacksonville Florida! Awesome Lady!!! ..and highly intelligent. Me back: Lori Graham Atkinson Thanks Lenroy! :) That made my day!!!
7) Former student Kelsey: Love you, Ms. Atkinson :) You've always been one of my biggest Role-Models ♥
8) Cousin Jennifer: Hey You, Lori! I won't leave you...I am totally the proudest sister of a gay man and am very grateful to have an open mind! I love you, cousin of mine :)
9) Cousin Jim: Lori, there is a God as I know deep down that even when things are not going right as they rarely do, God is there. I can't prove it anymore than I can prove the existence of infinity. The God we all hoped for and believed in as a child has been replaced by the God of mercy who lets us learn from our decisions. Pray for mercy, be merciful, and you will see God act in your life. I'll keep you in my prayers.
10) My response to Jim: Hi Cuz, I respect your right to believe in a god. I like things that can be proven and I like evidence. I don't like blindly following something because of a vague feeling or because of a deep down feeling. When I see some evidence of a god, I will believe it. Thanks for your input though.
11) Cousin Jim’s response back: I understand Lori, I'm an Engineer and have studied science my whole life and still can't find evidence for many of the theories that have been put forth. Get under the stars for several hours and keep looking, if you don't believe in God after spending several hours looking at creation and trying to imagine that it was all created randomly from nothing with no beginning, you must be looking at something else. There is nothing vague about the feeling you should get when contemplating the vastness of the universe. Maybe a bottle of wine will help?
12) My Response back again to Cousin Jim: Cuz Jim, I live way out in the country with a lot of trees and an acre of land. My son and I love to lie out on the hammock and look at the stars. We love to name them, talk about them, etc... The feeling I get is one of amazement at the beauty. I don't give credit to a god for the beauty any more than I give credit to a god for my awesome son! Just because something is awesome and beautiful and can't be explained by science, does not mean we have to "fill in the blanks" with a god.
13) Cuz Jim back to me: Not just "a god" the one and only God; Jesus Christ as taught and preached by the only institution revealed to preach Him, that, of course, being the Catholic Church Lori. Set up by God himself to teach us. He's as real as it gets and unlike a lot of scientific ideas, Jesus Christ has stood the test of time. Look into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and what truth they teach before you listen to all the "modern" ideas, most of which will be gone with the wind before you know it. Truth; whether it be scientific or religious can never be contradicted by truth, there is nothing to be afraid of.
14) My response back to Jim: I don't agree with you, Jim. But I respect your right to believe the way you do.
15) Cousin Jim’s final words: I love you Cousin Lori, hope to see you soon! It was a lot of fun getting to know you the little bit of time that we did while you were here. By the way, you don't have to agree with me Lori Graham Atkinson, I'm just a flawed guy trying to make my way in the great big sandbox.
I think you're awesome, Lori!
Not me lady!!!! We haven't even met but I respect you and you stay on my Facebook!!!!!!
For what it's worth, you're still one of my favorite people.
AMEN SISTER!! Good for you! If someone doesn't like who you are or your thoughts, they can go piss off. :)
17) Ex sis-in-law, Myrna: I'm not dumping you! God isn't dumping you, either! Love yourself enough so that it doesn't matter if those you think should love you, don't. I miss the happy, joyful Lori with a great sense of humor. Reading angry posts all the time makes me want to sign off FB. Just my thoughts! Love you!
18) My reply to sis-in-law Myrna: Myrna, If you were in my situation, you would be angry too. I have LOST MOST OF MY IMMEDIATE FAMILY because of religion and ignorance. Please DO take me of Facebook if you can't handle the good, the happy, the angry and the rest of me. I am still the same Lori that you helped with birthing Angie. I am the same Lori that loved and took care of Helen when she was ill. I am the same Lori that laughed and had fun with you and Chuck when I was still with Joe. I am the same Lori- only more outspoken and I WILL NOT be silenced by people when I am having a difficult time. I keep Facebook as a way to stay in touch with friends and family. I also feel that MY page is MY page and I can vent when I want to vent. If people do not SPEAK UP and STAND UP for injustice and ignorance than it will continue. I LOVE MYSELF enough to speak my mind. Sitting by quietly is not the way to accomplish change. I love you Myrna, and I will always see you as my sister-in-law, but please know I will understand if my FB posts upset you and you delete me as a friend. p.s. I no longer believe there is a "god." If there was a god, so much injustice would not be going on in the world. If this "god" is all powerful, then he/she/it needs to step up and start doing some good in the world!
The same day of this exchange, I came home to find my 14-year-old cat, Casper dead. So I was not having a good day anyway. But the point I would like to make here is this: Please don’t tell people how to feel when they are having a difficult time. Also, trying to cram your religion down someone’s throat is NOT going to make them post more positive and happy Facebook statuses. For the record, I don’t think my posts are very negative. When I am going through a tough time (Like a recent breakup with my girlfriend, or having to take my ex BF for to court because he would NOT LEAVE ME ALONE) I was quiet and did not post much on Facebook.
My choices when reading these kinds of responses (the annoying ones) were 1) Ignore them 2) act like I agree with them and not let them know they made me angry 3) Be myself, realize this is my Facebook page and tell people what I NEED to say. Obviously, you see I chose number 3!
Many anti-theists have written about why we are angry. We have a good reason to be! Here is one of the best explanations of why atheists are angry by Greta Christina.
I would like to add a few of my own reasons that I am angry.
1) When I took my ex- partner of nine years to court for harassing me, jeopardizing my job by stopping by, emailing and leaving notes on my car, my father, my very own DAD, wrote a letter FOR my ex. Not only did he, or my mom, not support me, but they wrote a letter FOR the man who has made my life miserable. WHY? Because they don’t agree with my “lesbian lifestyle” and they think I have gone off the deep end because I came out as an atheist. THIS MAKES ME ANGRY. But most of all, it hurts me. Some days I cry every day because I feel a major loss. If my parents had died, it would have been sad. But having them ignore me, and basically disown me is far more hurtful. Anger is a natural stage of mourning. So get off my back!
2) I am angry because I live in the Deep South and I am a minority any place I go. There are very few atheists or bisexuals where I live. It is lonely and I often feel angry when I am in a conversation with someone and they ASSUME that I believe in their god. I DON’T!
3) When I want to put a post on Facebook, I get the above responses. The ones that make the angriest are the ones that, again, ASSUME that everyone agrees with them. Like this: “You were never taught the love of God whose Peace passes all understanding. I hope you will have as open of a mind about that as you hope others will have about your choices and sexuality. There is a lot of ignorance and intolerance about Christianity and relationship with God as well. Be forgiving! Sending you big Hugs and I will continue to pray for you to find happiness and peace.” PLEASE don’t tell people what they were or were not taught! It tends to make them upset, and yes, angry! Don’t tell someone to be forgiving either. I will forgive… in my own time. And, if you want to know how I feel about someone telling me they will pray for me. Read this.
Finally, I feel that I am not defined by my anger. I AM angry sometimes and sometimes I feel at peace. But just because I am angry, does not mean I have to be defined as an "angry person." I am going through the motions and going through the stages in the best way that I can. Please, please, please people who claim to be Christians: If you want to come across like your Christ, then stop judging and start showing love and compassion. Whether or not someone believes the same way that you do.
The longer I am out of Christianity, the more I can clearly see how much of a cult it is. I will NEVER go back and I feel freer every day. Angry? Sometimes. Get over it!!