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"I find your lack of faith disturbing."

It's Sunday. This is the day that many Americans attend church, praising their God in whatever denomination they've decided upon. Worship services run the gamut, from strict conservative to uber-liberal, from "primitive" to modern. There are Christians, Muslims, Wiccans and a whole host of others who worship on Sundays, and several other days of the week, and here in the U.S., it's a very small minority that does not believe in a god, or who lacks faith. I am among that minority.

It's not always easy, being an atheist/skeptic in a world of believers, but I manage. While it's true that there are plenty of religious folks who will try and smother others with their beliefs, up to and including attempts to immerse laws and government within their own religiosity, it should be noted that there are those of the secular persuasion who are just as rabid and rude as their spiritual brethren, often displaying intolerance to those of faith, and with a snarky comment to be made about someone's beliefs.

I've encountered such dispiriting (no pun intended) atheism on Twitter, of all places. When I joined the social network at the beginning of the summer, I tended to gravitate toward some of the people who tweeted a lot of atheist dogma (like-minds, and what not). While I still follow some of them, it has not escaped my attention that many of them are quite... intolerant... of religion. And not just religion, but its followers, whatever denomination they may be a part of. This unsettles me.

Yes, some religious people are intolerant. They hold some frankly bigoted opinions. They are often highly hypocritical when it comes to what they learn & preach, compared to their own lives. But that is just some religious people. Others are kind-hearted, enlightened people who have done -- and continue to do -- much good in the world. Many involved in social justice causes such as the Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement took part because of their religiosity. Some of the greatest architecture in the world (in Christian and Muslim societies alike) was constructed because of a place to gather to pray & worship.

I think it is also important for atheists to understand that the aspect of believers that they mock the most -- that they believe in a god without any evidence -- is the very essence of what it is to have faith. It may not wash with some of us in the skeptical minority, but to mock folks for having faith is to lose the plot. It also misses the point of what it is to be a decent human being (whether you're religious or not), and that is to treat others with the same respect that you would like to be treated with.

If I do have faith in something, it is that while human beings can be influenced by what they hear and read in places such as churches, mosques, meeting halls and within the walls of their homes, it doesn't really matter whether one is an atheist or if they are religious. You can have wonderful and woeful human beings in both camps.

What matters most in this world is how we treat one another, and such behavior is something that knows no faith or skepticism. All that spirituality and secularism can do is magnify who we are, not define us. We would all do well to keep that in mind, and not feel superior to others, whatever side of the fence we happen to be on.


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