Reader asks why it’s so hard to accept differences

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2007

I am an atheist. On Jan. 29, I had the privilege of reading a letter sent to you telling me to get out of the country. I do not feel like arguing about the justifications of such a notion, but I do not feel it is right that my lack of religion should be used as a scapegoat for crime in America.

Like most people who are stereotyped, I find it unfair that my lack of religion should be accused of such a thing.

Alice Shannon is entitled to her opinion, like anyone else. She has had experiences in her life that made her hate my lack of religion and me as a person. Yet, she does not know me. In my defense, I would like to explain a little more about my life. I can only hope Alice has the same privilege I had and will read my words.

I am 16 years old and have three brothers in the military, one of which is serving in Iraq right now. I do not blame the religion of the good Christian men who wished to wage their war that has forced him to be on the other side of the planet. I do not blame God for anything bad in my life, nor do I credit him for the good. I am not full of hate and I do not look down on people with a religion. Events in my life have caused me to believe in human ability rather than the will of God. Alice would detest this, but there is no denying that our own actions make our lives.

I feel no higher power moving through me when I do something right, just content in myself. When I do wrong, I do not feel the need to repent, only a natural sense of guilt. These are my own judgments. I have my own reservations about people, but I do not take their religion into account. My lack of religion allows me to hold no one religion in greater respect than any others and I do not view any religion as beneath me. I merely do not believe.

I am given the right to this choice. Even Alice agrees, but only if my choice involves God. To quote her directly, “You can believe in God any way you want (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.), but you must believe.”

Actually, that is all her argument really amounts to. She pointed the finger at atheism when she meant to blame all other religions. If anyone were to really look at the words she wrote, they would find nothing about any other religion; her list of examples only names different renditions of Christianity.

It is sad to see this kind of self-righteous attitude. There are such a wide variety of people with their own beliefs, so what makes Alice’s beliefs better than anyone else’s?

I’ll never understand why it is so hard to accept the differences in others. Maybe some day in my blasphemous life, I’ll find the answer.

Nick Swain


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