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Faith is like a life vest

By Brandine ~

I submitted a testimonial about two years ago called "Losing My Religion." This is kind of a follow up of my post-Christian observations.

I have a confession. I’ve been a bad Christian. All the years I spent in church, I felt nothing. Even the times when I wanted so bad to feel something, anything, even if partially manufactured; I felt no authenticity. As a consequence, most of my church time was spent in pursuit of boys. I was probably a worse Christian when I was one than I am now that I’m not. It’s that kind of ironic quirkiness that could end in my public stoning or at the very least multiple snobby side-glances at the grocery store. The bottom line is it’s a problem to be non-Christian in the south.

What most Yankees take for granted, we few non-religious Rebels experience daily. What church do you attend? Join our on-line group to prove God isn’t dead. Send this text to ten other friends or Jesus doesn’t love you and you’re surely a heretic. If it wasn’t covered on Fox News then it didn’t happen. What in God’s name is wrong with people? Whatever happened to judging a case, each and every case, on its own merit? As Chris Rock said, “Any person who makes up their mind before hearing the issue is a fucking fool”.

One would think these random questions of no consequence, but in the south these are life staples. No one wants you to keep their children if you’re numbered among the faithless. Why, I could molest their children, seduce their minds, or at a minimum skew their thought process. I could cause innumerable damage just by being me. How dare I? The answer is I dare not. You see being a believer isn’t a choice in the south; it’s a given. God himself help you if aren’t part of the system.

Regardless, it is what it is. If my loved ones, few and far between as they may be, weren’t here I’d be gone in the blink of an eye. As it is, they all congregate in a community that would make the Protestants from the Salem witch era feel as at ease as in a warm bath. Oh yes, the dirty South or as I like to call it, God’s toilet. Shit on us and we’ll keep coming back for more.

We get shit on, but we like it! We must because nothing ever changes. My kin hails from what might possibly be the worst of the worst America wise. Oprah and Elvis may have grown up here, but that was a long time ago. Even they chose different hometowns once they were influential. Yes, Mississippi is one of a kind. This great state has the distinction of being the poorest in the union. Occasionally, Arkansas switches off for that title, but we enjoy it more often than not. We also hold the bragging rights for being the least educated and most overweight state. A bulging one out of four people in these parts are morbidly obese. Pretty words I know, but try not to pack your boxes and sell your houses immediately. Surely, there’s no correlation between these statistics and the fact that we also hold the honor of being the most religious state in the nation…OR IS THERE? What’s most disconcerting to me is that few seem to even realize there might possibly be a connection between the two.

Forget specific demographics, I live in a country where upwards of 85% are religious. Yes, that includes non-Christian religions and those who say they are religious whether or not they practice. Either way, I’m screwed. Even the most back-sliding Christian would shun the idea of theocratic freedom. Most Northerners even subscribe to religion. They may not want to lynch me at the end of the day, but that’s only because they’ve become accustomed to being around those which make them uncomfortable.

Therein lays the bottom line, I think. The thought that a person may not believe in a solid afterlife makes people uncomfortable. For whatever reason, people can’t stand it. One of my favorite lesbians once told me, “I just don’t trust an atheist”. This same person has been so ostracized by her own family and faith that she can never go home. However, I’m the outcast. Atheists and Agnostics are more feared and reviled than any other minority group in this country. All of this bigotry, in my opinion, boils down to one belief. Most folks think non-religious people are immoral psychopaths.

We are brought up from the moment we are born believing in one dogma or another, and therefore it’s never even questioned. I must admit myself that I was a zealot before reaching my own “age of reason”. When you are raised from birth observing a predetermined set of guidelines each and every day, the thought that a person could possibly rely on their own inner-self to judge right from wrong seems ridiculous. We are so brainwashed from our birth to believe we are evil and prone to wickedness that it disables us from recognizing that certain innate morals lie within most people.

One of the lighter moments for me is when people talk about Satan attacking them. You wouldn’t believe how goddamn rudimentary the Devil is. “Satan is trying to get at me today. First I overslept, then my right front tire was half flat, and to top it off I pulled into town right behind the slowest tractor trailer carrying a wide load on its bed.” It’s almost as if Beelzebub spends all his time creating mildly irritating situations in which Americans are affected. It’s a good thing they’re not mostly white Christians in Africa. They might experience long lines at Starbucks and fewer choices at Wal-Mart instead of the rampant AIDS and crippling poverty they do now. Those lucky, skinny bastards really have it made.

To most Christians, their faith is a life vest that they wear at all times. It’s a kind of “In case of emergency, pull here” type of device. It’s not really useful in every day life, but if the shit hits the fan, well it’s already right there around your neck – just waiting for the moment you’ll need it. This is truly the most embarrassing and cowardly form of faith, in my opinion. Unfortunately, this kind of mentality prevails in my neck of the woods. If you don’t believe me, just ask a few southerners. Ask them why they believe in Jesus. Ask them why it’s wrong to be gay. Ask them why a loving god would send his children to burn for eternity in hell. Ask them any question you want, but the answer will always be the same: because it says so in the Bible. So why is the Bible true? Well of course, because the Bible told me so…circular logic at its finest, my friends.


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