The Happy Atheist
This is all quite simple... an atheist does not believe in God, does not believe in heaven and hell and does not live life in fear that God is going to punish them in some way. An atheist believes in the here and now and prefers to depend on science to base their decisions as opposed to a mythical being. Atheists are not bad people... on the contrary, they very much believe in doing good and living life to the fullest as there will be no reward in heaven. Their reward is in the here and now!
Sadly, there are many who are too timid to "come out" as an atheist for fear of the consequences. We have all heard of atheists who have been shunned, disowned by religious family members, lost jobs... you get the idea, and unfortunately, it is still true, even in this day and age. And this is the part I do not understand. How is my disbelief in a god (and exactly which is the "real" God?) of any interest or any threat to you, who believes in a god? Must we all be alike? This is a big world we live in and there are many different beliefs in the world. Why can't we get along even though we may believe differently? Is that really too much to expect? I will respect you to believe as you choose and you will respect me to believe as I choose.
Even though I do not believe what you believe, I do respect your right to believe as you wish. And furthermore... I would not come knocking on your door pushing my atheist beliefs in your face as some "good Christians" have done to me. We each come to our personal ideology through a long and sometimes tortuous path. And let's face it... most people are brought up to believe as their families believed. Life leads each of us down different paths and along the way we find what is meaningful in our lives.
The tug-of-war between the Christians and other people of faith as well as atheists is playing out in our little city of Rowlett. In fact, this should not be a tug-of-war at all, but rather a respect for each other's core values. We can all be good people whether we believe or do not believe in a god. We need to live together and work together for the good of all people.
It seems that Rowlett wants to be seen as a Christian community as that is the majority here. We do not have temples or synagogues and the atheists are in the minority. That does not mean that we do not have Jews and Muslims living amongst us or other religious sects. Before each city council meeting there is a prayer... a Christian prayer. The local atheists have requested the right to give a Humanist invocation at some time during the year but we have been refused. It seems the mayor is intent on denying us the opportunity. Exactly what is he so afraid of? Shouldn't our city government stand up for all the citizens in the community... minority as well as the majority?
Quite frankly... I am very much in favor of separation of church and state and would prefer they do away with a prayer/invocation and simply get on with business or have a moment of silence.
Chad Aldridge who heads up the Atheists of Rowlett explains the present issue:
"The city of Rowlett has rejected our request for a local atheist resident to give an invocation at a city council meeting. They're now hiding behind Liberty Institute, a far right Christian pro bono legal entity that defends religion sponsored by the government. This rejection flies in the face of the Greece NY vs Galloway Supreme Court decision last May that legalized sectarian prayer to open government meetings, as long as there is no discrimination regarding who gets to give the invocation. Greece NY has allowed non-Christians to give the invocation, including an atheist since this case was ruled on."
So... on September 16, 2014, the Rowlett Atheists with the support of the Metroplex Atheists staged a protest outside of City Hall prior to the city council meeting. There were several news organizations there as well.
Following the protest we sat through the meeting until it was opened to public comment. You may see what was said by the atheists as well as an irate citizen who felt that... "if they (the atheists) do not believe in these Christian things, they have no place in society. They have no morals. They have no character." It is quite obvious that this man has no understanding at all of who we are and what we stand for. I challenge him to sit down with me and tell me that I have not done good ethical work in my lifetime with integrity and respect for my fellow man. His comments come from ignorance and total lack of understanding.
I thank Ms. Ann Dotson, a minister from a local church who spoke up on our behalf saying that she hoped she would not be excommunicated by the Christians for saying that she believes we do have a right to deliver an invocation. Thank you Ms. Dotson for your fortitude in supporting us and accepting our quest to give an invocation on behalf of those with a different belief system.
Another local minister was so irate that he was nearly yelling to get his points across. He was so loud that I wanted to cover my ears as he spoke. This just shows the anger in our community and why many are so reluctant to verbalize their true beliefs due to the intolerance of some.
To hear the comments by the atheists as well as others, click on the link and then click on "Citizens' Input".
And you ask why this is entitled "The Happy Atheist"? Because I am a happy person. I choose to live life joyously, and to reach out to those in need and to celebrate each day. I am just a speck of protoplasm on this huge beautiful planet called Earth and my time here is ever so brief. I am quite fascinated by the things that make us different... different cultures, different beliefs, different customs. This is what makes each of us a unique human being and if you cannot accept me for who I am... so be it. That is YOUR issue and not mine!
I can only hope that with time, non-believers will be accepted into our community without hostility and retribution so that we can all come together in peace and in support of each other. That is the kind of world I choose to live in. Reach out and get to know your neighbors without the labels that may skew your viewpoint and let's make Rowlett a role model of good will to all. Imagine all of the citizens standing in a long line, joining hands... believers and non-believers alike... young and old... showing our community support and tolerance for each other's differing viewpoints! How far might that line stretch? What a powerful image that would make, and we would all be better for it!
Keywords: Atheist, Christian, Humanist, Rowlett, city council, democracy, discrimination, invocation, non-believer, peace, prayer, protest, theocracy, tolerance
Thank you so much Debbie for your comment! It means a great deal to me. This is the only way I know to live my life and feel that it is genuine. I simply ask respect from others even though I may believe differently than they do. It is a very personal choice.
Very nicely said, Fay. I am amazed at the people that don't understand that sometimes people will do the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do. Not because of a belief in a reward in the afterlife. :)
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