Have you seen these? These billboards?
Myself, I have not driven by them, but I follow 9 News on Facebook, and they posted a picture, along with a link to the site, and the question, “Have you seen the atheist billboards? If so, what do you think of them?”
Predictably, it sparked a fiery response. Many fiery responses. The majority were from outraged Christians, but some were from scathing atheists or agnostics. And do you know something?
It broke my heart.
It was like we were animals, at each other’s throats. We became beasts. Division bred hatred, mockery, and condemnation.
“GOD will judge them!!!!!”
“They better HOPE they are right……”
“We need to destroy religion before it destroys us.”
“They are sick. They are lost souls.”
“It’s time we fought the ridiculous religious beliefs that slow our growth as a society and poison the minds of the young.”
“What a bunch of FOOLS!!!!!”
“Stupid atheists. Have fun burning in hell.”
I honestly felt like crying.
Is this who we are?
We say that we love God. We say that we are willing to live and die for Him, for His commandments. We pretend to be loving and merciful. Tolerant. We tell each other that we are the lights of the world.
But all I can see here is hatred.
An atheist tells us that our God is not real, and we immediately snap into a blind, primal rage. How dare they. How dare they. Suddenly they aren’t our friends any more. They’re not the same as we are. Their rights aren’t worth protecting. Their arguments aren’t worth hearing. Suddenly, they are animals, animals to be hunted and destroyed.
Demonize and dehumanize.
Divide and conquer.
It’s always worked before.
You’re going to Hell for that.
You can say that about my God? I will tear you apart. Idiot.
They have become the enemy. And it’s not just the atheists. We’ll do it to anyone.
Buddhists? They’re evil.
Mormons? They’ll burn too.
Gays? Damn them straight to Hell.
Is this who we are?
We’ll all do it. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we believe. Atheists are no more tolerant of us than we are of them. We are all fighting each other in this war of beliefs. And as long as we operate under this influence of instinctual hatred, nobody wins.
I won’t pretend to be a pacifist. There are some people and ideologies I will fight until I draw my dying breath. But it’s only worth it if people are being hurt. Crime hurts people. Tyranny hurts people. But atheism? At best, it’s stupid. I’ll argue with it. I’ll debate with an atheist or an agnostic. Maybe I’ll try to get them to see my side of the story. I believe with one hundred percent certainty that God exists, and therefore that atheism is an erroneous belief. But that’s all it is. Erroneous. It’s not evil. And by extension, atheists are not evil simply for being atheists.
They are not the enemy.
They’re just people trying to get along in the world, the exact same as I am. As you are. They’re not hurting anyone. Why are we so intent on destroying everyone who believes something different from us? We don’t just want to destroy their belief systems. We want to take down the people. We want to watch them burn.
I’ve seen this.
I’ve lived this.
And it’s terrifying.
I don’t understand it. Where does this come from? Is this who we are?
Please tell me it’s not. Please tell me we are more than this. Humanity is more than this. We don’t have to be animals. This isn’t a message to Christians. It’s to all of us. Starting with me.
And I just want to apologize, right now, for who I have been in the past. I’ve been as guilty of this as anybody, perhaps more so. Maybe even on this blog. I don’t know, but I’m sorry. I truly am.
I’ll fight evil. I’ll protect those who are being hurt. But I will not demonize those whose crime is nothing more than an error of thinking, if even that.
I won’t pretend to be the light on the hill here or whatever. I won’t accuse all of humanity of being slavering beasts. I won’t even claim to be part of a minority. But I see this mindless hatred, and I just want to say something, you know? I’ve said it now, I suppose.
Just one last thing: remember, if you do believe in the same God I do, that He is love. Please don’t condemn those who are different from you. Nobody wins when that happens, least of all you.