Full disclosure, I’m writing this as I’m listening to a sermon about how Christians need to target sinners and those without belief for salvation.
The world still isn’t safe for people who don’t have religious beliefs.
There are places where people can be executed for not believing in deities, as one example. Extreme conditions aside, there are still many ways in other countries where people who don’t have faith get singled out for mistrust. In many evangelical churches, non-belief is either an enemy or something that needs to be fought against.
Outside of my blog here, I’m quietly non-religious. Even when asked, I’m more likely to say that I’m non-religious rather than my actual non-belief in deities. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it; it’s that I want to avoid awkward confrontations. Saying I’m non-religious is dangerous enough without having to also explain why I don’t believe in invisible things.
At times I realize how slanted this state of affairs is against people and ideas that don’t embrace religion (Christianity in particular where I’m from). On the other side of things, I’m constantly bombarded with messages asking me if I’m saved, what church I go to, or trying to make me feel guilty for being a dirty heathen sinner. The people who promote that message don’t always worry about the effect it has on others. In fact, the goal is to be persuasive in returning people to faith. As a result, I live in an environment where many Christians are socially allowed to bully people into a church, but defending against that is not acceptable.
I want to change that, but it raises ethical questions.
I’m still struggling to deal with people who seek to push their faith in a place that is dedicated to the exploration of healthy living without faith. If I dealt with them exactly as they deal with me, by rights I should simply delete their comments and move on. These people are not looking for conversation or even to represent their faith; they’re trying to mark my blog as territory they can violate.
Policing comments like this is a difficult task. It entails me having to look at a comment and determine the true motive of someone writing something. Dealing with the petty “Jesus loves you” comments are one thing, but sometimes people do mistakenly think a conversation ought to begin with passive-aggressive shaming. The latter group needs to work through that to figure out why it’s not a good thing. The former group is just looking to pick a fight.
The other problem this raises is that I don’t want to prevent people who doubt their faith from feeling comfortable here. Engaging non-religious people can be a difficult task when you’re raised to distrust them. For a lot of people who would otherwise leave an unhealthy faith, they might not be able to because all they do is pick fights with non-religious communities. Silencing them would prevent them from getting the help they need.
I’m probably asking too much of people.
Conversations are the best when they’re disciplined, but too many people don’t know what that entails. There’s a reason why there are arbitrary cutoffs in court proceedings and appeals; people would raise objections and arguments into perpetuity if you let them. Such is the nature of the human animal. We will sometimes just try to use brute force if it gets us what we want.
I’m struggling to maintain an ideal here. I want people to arrive by consent, read of their own free will, and make decisions on their own merits. However, there are people out there who will want to spoil that. It’s important because disparaging non-religious people and doubt is unhealthy.
Until I get a better handle on things, I will tread slowly and painfully.