I knew today would be hard. The anniversary of 9/11 always sort of hangs like a dark cloud over my head, although this year seemed to be a little harder than most. Since my deconversion, my utter anger at the stupidity and violence committed in the name of religion is stronger. When I was a Christian, I saw the 9/11 attacks as a holy war and I was convinced I would eventually become a martyr for my side, and now although I still see it as a type of religiously-condoned war act, I can't help but be angry at the ignorance of people and fearful for the future.
But what was hardest for me today wasn't remembering the horror of what happened in 2001 or seeing flags at half-mast. It was what happened on Facebook, as lame as that sounds. Late last night (early this morning), I posted a picture that has become somewhat famous in nonreligious circles: the Twin Towers, still standing, with the words "Imagine No Religion." I copied a verse from the song "Imagine" to go with it, as my way of memorializing the day. I expected to get some flack about it as I always do whenever I make my thoughts on religious matters known, but I didn't expect it to go as far as it did.
The first response I got was from my sister, who early in the year "re-converted" to Christianity after several years of dabbling in Wicca and other New Age types of spirituality:
Thinking that this is it... All there is... No afterlife... No divine intervention... That is what makes me wish I were never born. Reiligion (sic) isn't the enemy. Crazy people that think they are religion - that's the enemy.
My answer: There is so much to this universe and this life...believing there is an afterlife seems selfish and unnecessary. The very fact that we are here is amazing, and I don't need to buy into a bunch of weird spiritual woohoo to see that.
Sad thing is, religion is the enemy. Demanding that we respect the unqualified and outrageous beliefs of others is exactly what gave those 19 young men the ability to do what they did, as they believed they were commanded by their god. If there is a god, which is highly unlikely, he is a bigger asshole than Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot could have ever hoped to be.
Then I got more comments from my sister's mother-in-law, who is a former pastor (now retired) and my best friend who is also an atheist:
Mother-in-Law: Religion is defined as man's attempt to reach God, so whatever you believe is your religion. This being so, how could anyone else's beliefs, religion, affect you? It is their ACTIONS which affect us, and also show the world what our true beliefs are. It has been the actions of hateful people who have caused the hurt and anger in the world, but if we believe in LOVE, then we our actions should show this to the world.
Best Friend: Lets be open to ideas. Careful not to turn atheism into its own form of militant religion. I ♥ you! And a side note....they weren't following their religion....and what they believed they were doing and why is very complex and something man made, not religion made...
To which I quoted a few verses from the Quran wherein Allah calls for the destruction of non-believers. My sister, who I also consider my best friend, replied with this:
And yet all believe in the 10 commandments more than a few verses. Which includes, thou shall not murder. It's not the religion it's the people. You are so up in arms about religion you are becoming a bit of a bigot.
I was dumbfounded. My own sister called me a bigot? That hurt a lot. And not only that, but as the day progressed she said she's finding it harder to be my sister (as if she has a choice...) and that our relationship is strained because I'm so adamantly against gods, religion, and the supernatural. It is not in my nature to hate, and I do not believe in discrimination of any kind...so where does she get off calling me a bigot? Why is it so hard for her to agree to disagree with me and just have a debate without name-calling? Her mother-in-law was a lot more open to me and seemed willing to disagree but still keep the discussion civil.
I knew that being openly opposed to religion wouldn't get me any easy friends and would probably turn a lot of people against me. I expected that, just not from my sister who I love so much and who has been a wonderful friend to me. I don't want to lose my relationship with her. I just don't know what to do. I feel lucky that some people from here and another forum I'm on answered my call for help and came to back me up...but now she thinks that my "friends" and I are attacking her. I feel really alone...and now I don't know if I can ever come out to my parents, because if this is what I'm getting from my liberal Christian sister who lives thousands of miles away, what might my conservative, evangelical Christian parents, with whom I live, do?