Atheists have feelings too

Atheists have no sense of morality and their main goal in life is to indoctrinate good religious children, or at least that’s what some people in this community want me to believe.

There has been a lot of anger from the religious right about California’s new sexual education policies, which has caused many of them to use religion as a motive for their opposition. In the heated conversations between community members, there is at least one thing they all seem to agree upon, that nobody wants to discriminate against anybody based on their religion.

Even though community members and politicians claim they do not want to discriminate based on religion, when you look at their rhetoric it is clear that discriminating is exactly what people like her are doing. When a member of a public school board gets in front of large groups of people and warns them about a secular humanist curriculum she is only feeding into the hurtful stigma that atheists deal with.

Humanity has always had some form of religious identity, and trust me, I have heard that “everybody needs to believe in something,” but maybe I just don’t, and I don’t think that makes me any less of a person than my peers. There seems to be this idea that because atheists don’t believe in god, that inherently makes them incapable of interpreting morality.

I say this not out of a place of anger, but out of hurt. I’m tired of having my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) as being used as a false conspiracy for far-right religious leaders to oppose more inclusive curriculums in school. Most atheists don’t fit the stereotype of a smug late night TV host who constantly has an aura of superiority, they are humans like the rest of us. Just like all humans, atheists want to fit in, make friends, and get along with people.

My opportunity to decide who I am and what my religious or spiritual beliefs are should not be infringed upon by people who may have contrary ideas. I am so tired of the feeling of not being included, because when people say we accept “all religions” it always feels like the caveat is that they only seem to want to accept those with a religion.

I’m not naive, I know a lot of people will be angry or resort to gross personal attacks, and I certainly know that no matter what I say some people will shut themselves off and resort to their intolerance, but I hope that my message resonates with those who have open minds. I want to respect people’s views that are so different than mine, but I struggle to listen when they are preaching intolerance of me.

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