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What About OUR Feelings?

By Carl S ~

Where is the politically correct law that says everybody is supposed to be sensitive about the feelings of believers, but not the other way around? Why must we be careful what we say, how we express our feelings about the irrational beliefs that offend us and those we revere? What's wrong with this picture? Isn't this a one-sided relationship? Wouldn't many of them say about us the same words I heard many years ago about gays: "I wish they'd all go back into the closet."?

It really hurts my feelings whenever people insist on praying to a caring and loving father before I can eat a meal. ("Thank you, heavenly father," they say. I am tempted to ask, "Does this mean we don't have to pay for the meal?" Of course, this would be taken as an "insensitive" remark. See what I mean?) At such times, I want to take out of my shirt pocket the name of an eleven year old child who was last seen riding her bike. Three days later, her body was found, dumped in the woods. She represents many abducted children, not counting those raped and scarred for life, even by clergy. But, am I allowed to express these obvious uncaring examples to those who meekly bow their heads and pray to this "caring" father? Where is it written I must keep my mouth shut, lest I offend religious sensitivities? What makes their feelings sacred and untouchable, while I must repress and keep repressing, mine?

It hurts to be put down because I "think too much," simply because I question and/or remark on the absurdity of a belief. We thinkers, as unbelievers, are dissed for thinking, as cold and unfeeling intellectuals. Our fact-reports have been disregarded, with prejudice, whenever it involves criticism of the clergy. We're outsiders, ergo our feelings don't matter. Their feelings about their clergy - that's what counts. But it's children who are being harmed and lied to, and these harms are affecting our children too, and we care deeply about those things, don't we? Why, just stating facts about reality is enough to offend the feelings of most believers!

It's painful when I am told I'm offending their feelings, as if that's all that matters, by pointing out things they teach that hurt the emotional development of children. Why shouldn't childhood indoctrination in superstitious beliefs bother me, the father of two children? Why are the typical believers so nonchalant about the needless sufferings of innocents - which hurt us deeply? Why should we be forced to listen to and cooperate by being hypocrites, in order to keep the peace with believers? (Even during the funerals for those of our unbeliever loved ones? Why doesn't it enter their minds that others can find their consolation in mourning over the loss of someone they loved without religion's clap-trap of dogmatic "consolations"?)

Just stating facts about reality is enough to offend the feelings of most believers Once, as I was leaving a local diner my wife and I frequent, one of the (bibled) patrons noticed my "atheist" cap, and stopped me, saying, "Don't you believe in God?" I told him I found no evidence for a god. His next question immediately jumped to, "What happens to you after you die?" I said, "Nobody knows the answer to that." He replied, "I do." And I said, "No you don't." He looked down toward the exit and told my wife to get me out of there. (It's months later now, and I haven't seen him since then.) I'm using this encounter as an overt example of the attitude I have to live with, just from disagreeing with the feelings of true believers.

Can anyone be content with contempt, or tolerance without acceptance? I remember one time fifty years ago when I saw a black man become very angry by being referred to as "you people." Should we accept only being tolerated, even if it's useful to make the believer feel charitable? Shouldn't we speak out and say, "That's a put-down; you're not listening, you're only thinking about what you want to say next?" Shouldn't we say, "When you talk like that, it insults the feelings and intelligences of my friends, too?" Shouldn't you point out, before talking to any who would convert you, that your experiences with them amount not to dialogue but to frustrating you, because they don't care to listen to any other side of things but their own?

Recently, the pope stood up and told the world not to criticize beliefs, or be prepared to suffer dire consequences. He says he believes in free speech, but only on certain subjects. Once again, as in Orwell's fable, "Animal Farm," the ruling pigs declare that "All are equal, but some are more equal than others." This dogma is frequently hauled out as necessary to keep the faith, regardless of the physical and emotional devastations they are causing to human rights. Even as repression and murders are "justified" by an insistence of respect for religious sensibilities are ongoing in our world, we are told not to criticize the poisons of superstition? How much ignorance and irrationality are we expected to endure without speaking out and protesting? Guess what: We have morally driven feelings. If others can't handle them, it should be their problem, not ours.