Monday, March 24, 2008

An Inferior Morality

"I know you don't claim to be a Christian but even you wouldn't put something like that on your (web)page..." That's how the blow was delivered today - subtle but clear.

This was spoken by my good (?) friend and supervisor who I mentioned in my "Outed at Work" post. We were discussing one of the young girls at her church whose MySpace page had been hacked and terrible things posted. My friend described the very graphic and vulgar sexual innuendo and words that had been used about this little 14 year-old girl.

And then she told me that my morality was inferior.

I doubt she meant it fully the way she said it but it came out nonetheless. I am not a Christian so, of course, I must be less moral than she is. Somehow I am more likely to put up a webpage that is hurtful and indecent simply because I'm not a believer. Why is this?

I wonder if she has really felt this way about me all along? Have all my efforts to prove myself a good person been for nothing? Am I doomed to always be judged by my atheism and never for my character? It surely seems so this week. That this barb came from someone I considered a dear friend makes it all the more cruel.

No wonder so many people never let anyone know that they're atheists - particularly in the Bible Belt! When even your Christian friends think you are somehow less of a person because you don't believe, what hope do you have left? All I find myself thinking these days is, "I really wish I had some atheist friends nearby. If they didn't like me, at least it wouldn't be because of my beliefs."

How sad. How real.

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Oliver said...

On the rare occasion when I do mention that I am not a believer, the first reaction is usually, "You should probably keep that to yourself." It is something that I should be ashamed of.

vjack said...

The idea that you have no sense of morality simply because you are an atheist is absurd. That this would be expressed by someone you consider a friend is truly saddening.

You're absolutely correct that this is why many of us remain silent about our atheism. As you said, we expect to be regarded as less of a person just because we do not buy the mass delusion.

I can certainly relate about wishing I had atheist friends. sometimes, it would be nice just to have a person or two close by to share this sort of stuff with as a way of checking the appropriateness of my reaction. I end up relying on the Internet more than I should for this sort of thing.

Agnosticat said...

My thoughts exactly, guys. Because I've been taught to be ashamed and keep quiet about my beliefs (or lack thereof), I no longer feel that I can reasonably gauge my own responses and feelings. My entire sense of myself is screwed up now - not because of Christian society but because of a Christian "friend."

damestrato said...

It must be tough in a working situation because income is involved. I wouldn't know, because i work for myself (yard service). I'm sorry to report that i have lost friends due to my lack of belief. My brother waited until we were with a group of friends and blurted it out; very awkward. I think in their mind, they think they can scare you back into being like them, because they are scared of the unknown. What's amazing to me is how xtians/friends manage to weasel out of a legitimate debate:) Alot of them raise the volume and get irrational, and just flat out shout you down.

vjack said...

Since moving to Mississippi, it has occurred to me that saying, "I am an atheist" or "I don't believe in any gods" is akin to saying, "I like to eat babies." I'm really not sure that this is much of an exaggeration in terms of the kind of reactions one receives.

The Amiable Atheist said...

Wow, I hope you said something. I agree, in the U.S. it seems like the word atheist just sounds bad. People think you are a terrible sinner, and it is a shame when they can't even change their opinion after getting to know you. When I was younger I thought it was a dirty word and it scared me, so I guess you can see where it is coming from, your beliefs challenge theirs, but for an adult to still hold onto those prejudices is ridiculous.