When my daughter was 12, I took her to the thrift store to fill her wardrobe. She was growing faster than an anti-vaxxer’s risk of measles. We were buying new clothes more often than Trump lies, and she’d outgrow them before the end of the week. So, we were a frequent sight in the thrift stores around town. One particular afternoon, we’d wandered into one such store and found a gaggle of elderly ladies mulling around, buzzing about town gossip and greeting new customers. As soon as they saw my daughter, they gushed and started suggesting items of clothing they’d seen come in recently. It was all in good fun until one lady, aglow with delusions of god-zombies, told me I had been blessed by our Heavenly Father with a daughter like mine.
Normally, if someone says things in my life are blessings from god for whatever reason, I don’t really care. I laugh inwardly at how ridiculous it sounds, but I usually say nothing or thank them politely. I’m not out to change every stranger’s mind, and I really don’t care what some nobody thinks about me or my family.
However, on this occasion, I was miffed, and here’s why.
My daughter is my stepdaughter. I was not blessed by god with her. I was lucky enough to meet her, to choose to be in her life, to open my heart up to her, and to have her do the same for me. As any step-parent knows, these relationships are hard work. They are a big challenge, and they take commitment, unconditional love, compassion, understanding, and determination. Even if there were a god, he would have done none of that for my daughter and me. We did the work. We chose to stick by each other. We are responsible for where our relationship is today.
At the time, we were fighting with her mom to have her live with us and considered her home life when she wasn’t with us quite dangerous. This was a touchy subject, and I was offended by this woman’s idiotic comment in so many ways. No fucking god put this child in my life. I have fought for it harder than I can aptly express in words, and it chipped away at my sanity, at my relationship with my husband and at my ability to just basically function. I felt like telling that old blue hair to take her tiny, unimpressive god and shove it up her ass.
But of course, I didn’t because it’s a small town, and it would be all over the Facebook groups before I could make the 2-minute drive home. I kept my mouth shut and silently fumed all the way home.
Things like this get said all the time, and most of the time, they are no big deal. But sometimes, they’re just going to strike a nerve. So, if you’ve got any interest in being considerate towards atheists, or if you’re partial to not making a complete ass of yourself, here are a few things you might want to avoid saying to those of us who have no belief in god.
7 Things You Should Never Say To An Atheist
#1 You’re going to hell
Hell is said to be eternal torment fueled by the neverending anguish of tormented human souls. This scintillating idea is one that only believers find heartwarming. It is your fantasy, not mine. From an atheist standpoint, this is a made-up story. It’s as real as Magrathea or Romulus and has about as much effect on our lives as Sauron’s indigestion. Trying to convince an atheist that they’re going to hell is like bequeathing your dental practice to your cat with every expectation that he will carry on treating your patients between naps.
#2 You just haven’t found the right religion yet
Here’s something you may not have considered: we don’t need religion. Sure, you do. I get it. You need the comforting lie that you’re going to meet up with everyone you loved at some celestial dance club in the sky and just feel good for the rest of time. It’s scary to think that the nothingness you experienced before you were born is the nothingness you’ll experience after you die, and you need that proverbial security blanket to keep going. But we are not all that way. I am fine with life being finite and the idea that nothing comes after. I feel quite good about being able to tell right from wrong without a deity threatening to torture my soul. But you need it. You need to be threatened into behaving, and that’s fine. Whatever gets you there, right? But the point is not everyone needs a religion. So, whether I’ve explored them all or not, I am an atheist, and the only thing anyone thinks when you say something like this is that you seem to be less able to cope with that than me.
#3 Atheists have no moral compass
When you say this to an atheist, we can only make one deduction: You are admitting that you need that guidance from a higher power to understand right and wrong. Now, we know that there are good and decent atheists out there, and that means they’re decent human beings without the guidance you admit you need. So, who’s doing a better job at being good? The person who can be good without being told that they should, or the person who needs to be scared into submission with threats of eternal hellfire? When you tell an atheist that they have no moral compass, you’re really just telling on yourself.
#4 You’re just angry at God
I think you might have missed the part about atheism where we don’t believe in a god. I am as mad at god as I am at Daffy Duck, Zeus, or that girlfriend you had in high school that no one ever met.
#5 You’re immoral or evil
If your religious morality is based solely on whether or not you believe in your god, I want no part of it. This is why it’s crucial to be able to question any moral position because your god doesn’t seem like such a good dude. He’s certainly not the type of person I would want to have anything to do with. He threatens people into submission and punishes them if they fail to believe in him despite the fact that he refuses to show his face. It’s kind of abusive if you ask me. If failing to follow this questionable example of morality makes me evil, then so be it.
#6 You’re going through a phase
I’m 40-something years old, long past the age where you actually remember your age, and I have been an atheist for every single day of all of those years. That there is a long-ass phase, homeslice. When do you s’pose it’s going to end?
#7 You just need faith
Suggesting that atheists lack something essential or that their lives would be better with faith is presumptuous and disregards our autonomy and ability to find meaning without religious belief. So, you’re deliberately choosing to be rude after you’ve been on your high horse about your morality being so great. Here’s a challenge: why don’t you show us why your god, your faith, and your moral compass are so amazing? You’ve told us about it long enough, and now it’s time to show us. Show us how good and kind you are, and you can start by keeping this bullshit line to yourself. I am fulfilled. I need nothing more in my life. I have a career that I love, an amazing family who loves me unconditionally, and a wonderful relationship with a beautiful man. My parents are still alive, I live in an idyllic small town on a lake dotted with vineyards, and I have good friends. And to top it all off, Tears of The Kingdom just came out, so, honestly, I don’t have room in my life for anything else, especially empty faith in a vengeful and angry god.
What are some of the things that believers say that drive you crazy as an atheist? Let me know in the comments!