I was baptised in 2008. I still don't have the certificate - need to get onto my minister about that - but I'm sure it's enough for God.
That's right! I'm still a Christian!
There's a campaign running arouns various corners of the Internet to tick the "no religion" box on the UK 2011 Census, as opposed to putting "JEDI" or even an arbitrary "LESBIAN" in the "other" section. Because, apparently, not ticking "no religion" means you are counted as religious, and this is a Bad Thing, apparently. I'm ticking "Christian".
I don't have anything against atheists, same as I don't have anything against black people, or gay people, or women. If one is going to accept people as people, then one shouldn't give a toss about what their religious beliefs are, whether or not they have any. What I have a problem with is people's attitude towards Christians if they are militant atheists, and this is becoming more prominent over Twitter and, worryingly, within the sex blogger community.
Christian evangelists are annoying. I've never agreed with evangelism, as it's essentially a form of bullying; plus, if you want to being Jesus into the equation, he said a lot of stuff about acceptance - "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eyes, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3) - and I've always tried to live by that doctrine. Not because I think it's going to grant me acceptance into Heaven... but because I'm just nice. Christian evangelists - the ones that walk around in my town centre with "ask me about Jesus" T-shirts - are the type that will tell you you're going to Hell immediately. I don't believe in Hell, but even if I did, I wouldn't be saying any of that stuff. That's going to put you off Christianity, right?
But however irritating Christian evangelism is, and how much I feel a little ashamed of my fellow Christians for not considering verses like "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" (John 8:7b), atheist evangelism can be just as annoying, and even a little more insulting if you are on the receiving end. A good friend of mine had once known me for two years without knowing of my Christianity - I didn't bring it up in conversation. Not deliberately, but because there were much more important things to talk about. The response I got when I did casually mention it was something along the lines of...
But you seem so clever!
Why, thank you.
That's exactly the problem, though. Religious nutjobs garner a lot of portrayal because they are nutjobs, whereas in the public eye, you get people like Stephen Fry being an atheist. On Twitter, you have Mitch Benn. And in the sex blogosphere, we have the high-profile Abby Lee being a particularly vociferous atheist "voice", and Furry Girl actively seeking out atheist quotes, while dismissing religious ones as "woo-woo". Much as I admire Furry Girl and her crusade for more accpetance of sex work, I find the "woo-woo" bit hurtful. But this is the thing - atheists are clever. And it shows. It's portrayed well. Even Richard Dawkins is considered clever - because he is.
But religious people are rarely considered clever, especially by atheist crusaders - and this I find mystifying. I've never tried to shove my religion down anyone else's throat and therefore I'm considered, by my friends, to be smart - because I am. If I started conversations with things like "you're going to Hell eventually, but how are you?", that might cast some aspersions on me which wouldn't be particularly favourable. Yet atheist campaigners will dismiss any religious mumbojumbo with their assertion that there is no God, and therefore when you die, you cease to exist. It's a biological process that has a definite end. And that's such a bleak prospect, I have trouble with accepting that!
But I'll defend to the death your right to say it.
This isn't a conversation about how I attempt to reconcile my sexually liberated attitude with my religion. I have that sort of chatter with other sexually liberated Christians at Spiritual Space. But I'd like less attention paid to how you expect atheists to act, especially if you are an atheist. I frankly don't care if you follow Scientology. It doesn't matter to me whether you have any religious beliefs or not. I have mine and you have yours and let's leave it at that!
But in the whole climate, especially circulating the communities I tend to watch and occasionally participate in, of the assumption that intelligent, rational people are not religious, and people of a faith are to be cautioned, it's made quite clear that I am in a minority here...
...which is why I wish some people, who claim to have have no divine guidelines to follow, would be more tolerant! Why? Well, because it's just being nice.