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By Appalachian Agnostic --

For some time now I have realized that my biggest problem with religion is not whether to believe. Not believing is really easy these days. In fact, I don't think I could force myself to believe the Bible again if I wanted to. My problem is the fact that 99 percent of the people I care about are Christians who see everything from a Christian point of view.

Many on this site advocate speaking out against the harm that Christianity does, and I can see their point. On the other hand, I often see people using their faith to access their own inner strength. These people have been taught that they have no strength on their own so it all has to come from God.

For example my co-worker's husband asked God to take away his desire for cigarettes. The last I heard, he was still not smoking. Another example is my friend who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome. He credits God with helping him to overcome the disorder's more debilitating symptoms.

I would dearly love to get up on my soapbox and rant to these guys:

"You didn't need God to deal with your problems! You did it yourself with your own determination and willpower. You're like the Tin Man and the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. They ALREADY HAD every trait they asked the Wizard for. But he was a fake just like God!"

It scares me to imagine what their reaction might be to such a rant. They probably wouldn't think it was nearly as clever as I imagined it was. Then they would probably feel sorry for me and offer to pray for me.

But what scares me even more is the thought that they might listen. They might even begin to question their faith. And if they did that, would they lose the strength that they imagine it gives them?

There are four people in my everyday life who know I am not a Christian. My relationship with those four is relaxed and open. With everyone else, I keep my opinions to myself. When the talk turns to God, as it does on a daily basis, I keep quiet. Someone on this site asked if we should try to take away Linus's security blanket. Maybe I'm not giving all the Linuses I know enough credit, but I am not willing to attack their blankets just yet.