Before I start in on the subject of this post I want to say that I love all my friends and family whether they are religious or not. This is my personal belief and thoughts and I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me.
Nick and his mom got into a religious debate last night. It all started because of this. Basically, in Southern California (where Nick’s family is from) there is a 43-foot-tall cross on top of a hill that is visible for miles. It’s supposedly a war memorial. Now a U.S. district judge is saying that is has to be taken it down because “it has been found to violate a constitutional ban on government endorsement of religion”.
Nick’s mom is infuriated by this. She grew up seeing the cross and she doesn’t believe that it should be taken down because she, as a Christian, does not find it offensive in any way. Nick got in an hour plus long debate with her about how it could be viewed as offensive by Athiests, Agnostics, Jews, Islamics, basically any religion that does not support the idea or symbology of the cross. According to her (or at least how I personally interpreted what she was saying) she can’t start a stink about “terrorist churches” or the “gawdy Mormon temples” (which my personal opinion on Mormon temples is that they are beautiful) so why should people be starting a stink about a giant cross on a hill. Now, there is no church next to this cross and we tried explaining to her that there is a difference between building a church and putting up a symbol of your religion on a random chunk of land. Then she brought up the fact that it is a war memorial. Which, yes, it is, but, according to Wikipedia (oh Wikipedia, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways) “The cross was initially understood as a signal that Jews were not welcome in La Jolla.” And it wasn’t until the 1980’s, after it was challenged for being there, that it was designated a war memorial for the Korean War. I don’t know if MIL knows all of this, she isn’t the type to Wikipedia every little thing like Nick or I am and I just found this all out while I was researching, but the point was brought up that maybe it’s offencive as a war memorial also. Not every soldier is a Christian. Soldiers have the freedom of religion just like the rest of us and having a memorial that is a Christian symbol could be viewed as offensive.
Anyway, I don’t want to go into too much detail about the argument and away from where I want this post to go. It eventually boiled down to Nick telling his mom (for the millionth time) that he is an atheist and that he understands how it could be offensive. Then her reply is “Judge not unless ye be judged” and then insulting Nick for being an atheist and insulting other religions. And this is the issue I have with religion.
I can tell you the exact day that I lost my religion. November 4, 1998. The day I lost my mom. I grew up being told that God is all knowing and all loving. On that day my questions started. Why didn’t God love me, my brother, and my dad enough to let my mom live? Why, if this is a challenge in my life, is he doing to when I’m still a kid? What does a 10 year old need to learn from losing her mother? Why does my dad, who has already battled drug and alcohol addiction, have to have this challenge thrust upon him from God?
I don’t think that there is just isn’t a God or higher power. I WANT to believe, but I can’t. I want to believe that my mom is in some wonderful place waiting for me. That she is now sitting with her parents, one of her brothers, and my dads mom watching over me and enjoying themselves. But I just can’t do that. I still have those questions floating around in my head. I’ve had people try and explain and answer these questions for me, but it never makes sense.
I have friends who are religious and I have no issue with that. I have an issue when I’m being told that I’m wrong because of my lack of belief, or that person A’s religion is wrong because it’s not what person B chooses to follow. I was always under the impression that religion also taught tolerance. To accept people for who they are. This seems to be a difficult thing for some religious people to follow. In fact I’ve seen atheists and agnostics follow this better than some religious people. I don’t understand why it’s so crucial for one religion to be more important, more understanding, more right about God, Buddha, Allah, the Giant Spaghetti Monster, or whatever you want to call the big manifestation in the sky.
Why is it that you can preach love and tolerance and then turn around and look at a Buddhist and tell them they are doing it wrong? Why is it okay to try and convince an atheist that there is a God just because you believe in him?
I realize at this point this post is just turning into a rant, which honestly most religious debates do end up being, at least to me. I’m just going to end this now before I become delirious and start not making even more sense. I will end with this though, we should just be nice and understanding towards each other, not judge each other for what we choose to believe about the afterlife and the existence or nonexistence of God. Maybe if more people were able to just let go and do this the world would be a better place.