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Ask Teen Atheist, #1 April 13, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, friends, issues, school, teen angst.
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Hooray, somebody finally wrote in to ask me for advice!

I would have answered this sooner, but my PC frickin’ ate my thousand-word response. Spurred on by the promise of a love letter (yay!), I finally got my lazy ass around to writing a new one. Feel free to give your own input to help Luke out.

Hello, My name is Luke(Kinda obvious). I’m 17, and I currently live in the USA. I guess this fits under personal problems. I’ve been an atheist for awhile now…about 4 months I believe. Before I became an atheist I was a Lutheran, and basically attended church every Sunday. One day I realized that “God” is hurting this world, people fight wars over Religion ect. I finally came out to my mom about a month ago, funny thing is, she said as she grows older she’s been having some atheistic thoughts as well. She basically agrees with most of my ideas and beleifs on religion. I don’t care to tell my dad, since he’s a Lutheran yet he never attends church. I guess my family life is ok, it’s school that is a bitch.

My school is basically very stereotypical. Almost every student in my high school is either a “Red neck” or an extremely religious teenager. Since I don’t care much for trucks or country music I tend to befriend the religious types. I’ve came out about my atheistism to my best friend, he accepted it, didn’t think less of me, told my other two close friends, and they accept it just fine. It’s everyone else that I tend to care about that is a problem. A few days ago I was talking on AIM in a buddy chat room with a few other friends. We were all talking for awhile, and some how Gay Marriage and Religion came up. Of course, all the people were against it, I for one, am for it. I gave them my reason which mainly came out something like this. “You’re against gay marriage because the bible says it’s a sin? Well, the Bible also says a parent is allowed to stone their child if he disobeys, maybe the bible doesn’t have all the answers”.Not sure if that whole stoning thing is actually in the bible, my mom told me, so eh. After a few more statements, they asked if I was an atheist. And being the honest bastard that I am, said I was. Every since then, they’ve all been ignoring me, seeming to look down on me. One ever said I was going to hell, to bad it doesn’t exist eh? They all seem to think I’m a bastard who has no morals what so ever.

So, I’m kinda stuck, basically the whole group of people who I used to consider friends (Besides the 3 I mentioned earlier) Think I’m “evil” or a “satanist” of some sorts. Funny thing is I used to respect a lot of these people and thought they were more intelligent then this. The one person who doesn’t think this way is this one girl, who says she doesn’t hate me or anything for me being an atheist, but she acts like it so the rest of her friends don’t ignore her. I guess I can’t blame her . So I guess this is my real problem, do you think I should just fake being religious again. It would probably be a lot easier on myself if my school didn’t look down upon me. And my best friend’s girlfriend lumps in this crowd, so it’d probably be easier on him since he’s whipped as hell. Or do you think I should just stand up to beliefs, and fuck them all. Funny thing is, I don’t hate or look down upon them for their beliefs. I don’t try to shove my atheistic ways down their throats. I don’t talk behind their back either. Even if I did become their friends again, I’d probably wouldn’t ever respect them the same way again. Damn, looks I’ve rambled. Well, thanks for reading.

First of all, Luke, I admire you for being so honest about your beliefs, even when faced with consequences like that. It definitely takes balls. Hell, you’re more forthcoming than I am — I wouldn’t lie to people and say I’m still Catholic, and I do sign the “Religion” portion of application forms with “Atheist” (that might be technically inaccurate because atheism is not a religion, but whatever), but I practice a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and I tend to avoid joining in discussions when they turn to religion. So, good on you for being out and proud.

Being in an environment like that is definitely tough, and I hate that prejudice is still so prevalent, even among young Americans. You say that you like these people despite how they’ve treated you, and that’s all well and good, but…are they really worth keeping as friends? Because if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t bother trying to pander to people who don’t like me anyway. Why would I want to be friends with someone if it meant that I’d always be wondering in the back of my mind if he secretly hates me? Things would be great if you got to be friends with everybody, but real life doesn’t work that way (at least judging from my experience).

Faking being religious may seem like a good idea at first; I did consider it myself for when I go to college. But the more I thought about it, the worse it seemed. If you’ve read even a few entries on this blog, you’d know how little I think of my family, and how my atheism changed their perspective of me. I could have pretended to “find Jesus” again to get back in their good graces (or just get Mother Dearest to stop bitching). But I didn’t, because I realized it would have been pure torture for me, and it became clearer and clearer to me that it just wasn’t worth it. What I did instead was seek solace in my friends, who, no matter what their religions were, accepted me for who I am. I learned to stop caring about what my family thought of me, and once I did that, I finally felt happy with myself. That’s the key question, Luke: What is more important, that they like you, or that you like yourself?

Stop caring, I say, and find better friends. Even that chick who only pretends to hate you isn’t worth hanging around, because she clearly values her reputation over her friendship with you. How popular we were in high school doesn’t matter in the long run, anyway, at least from what I can tell. I’ve got co-workers who used to be high school cheerleaders, and are now just bitter, pizza-faced hags, having retained only their rancid personalities. The totally-out-of-it stoner dude who always zoned out in class and was made fun of by the other, “smarter” kids? He’s now my boss, Mr. McKenzie, well put-together, smart, and hella sexy, with ladies all falling over themselves just to get to talk to him. (Not me, though. I’d do him, but only when offered. :P)

If you really want to repair your friendships with these people, though, don’t lie to them. That shit will get tired, eventually. Instead, try to prove that despite your differences in beliefs, you are still a good and compassionate person. As they would say, “Turn the other cheek.” Hopefully, they’ll warm up to you and figure out that not all atheists are vicious, ill-intentioned demons.

I hope that despite everything that’s happened, you’re still doing well in school and in your personal life. Always keep in mind that what they say doesn’t dictate who you are. You’re still awesome!

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Comments»

1. Chicken Girl - April 14, 2008

For the record, Luke, you were right about the Bible saying to stone disobedient children:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

2. Teen Atheist - April 14, 2008

Chicken Girl: *cringe*

3. John - April 14, 2008

I dunno, I can think of some disobedient children I’d like to stone.

Two of them sat behind my wife at a restaurant last night…

4. Karen - April 15, 2008

I’d also add that people get ostracized in high school for damn near anything. If you are on the receiving end of it, the pain can be really severe. I committed the triple sin of being smart, shy, and fat. I had only one real friend in high school, and had to work really hard not to rely on her so much that she would feel smothered.

Luke, your primary job right now is to figure out who you are, find out what motivates you, and where you want to go after high school. Your second job is to learn enough to get yourself on the path to your goals. (Adults who whine about how much free time teenagers have don’t realize they’re holding down these two full-time jobs even before they go out to find a part-time job on the side!)

Pain relief: the best thing you can do is expand your circle of friends outside of school. Take a part-time job. Volunteer with some charitable or political cause that interests you. Join a volunteer trail-maintenance group or help with an event that benefits the community (locally, there’s a Beach Clean-up Day, where people go out and pick up trash on the beaches). You’ll have more fun than you expect, accomplish something worth talking about (or at least having some cash to spend), and meet lots of new people. Some of them might be in your age group; if not, its okay to have friends of many ages.

If you go to college, you’ll find things get much better there. But I expect that seems like a couple of lifetimes away right now, and isn’t much help. Think of it as a light at the end of a very long tunnel.

5. Jersey - April 15, 2008

Was ostricized for being fat, for being lesbian (turns out, I am bi, not lez like I thought), for being evangelical Christian, for being Buddhist, for being Vaishnavist (aka a follower of Vishnu)…in high school, in college, in real life.

Luke, my main man, we’re young and stupid. We hate and fear that which is different from us.

I keep my atheism and agnoticism to myself, because I do not see the reason why I have to be out and proud of my beliefs lest someone asks me. When religion comes along, though, I find it actually better to play the ignorant fool than to play the atheist-who-knows-better when it comes to matters of the bible. It gives the elders a high when they think they know better, and no is the wiser.

Truth is, most of these doochbags are assholes who pretend to be your friend. Dump them, and hang with the cool cats who are your friends for real. It WILL NOT be easy being the outcast, but years after hs is done, you may feel better about just hanging with your friends and ignoring the asses. I know. Three years have passed sine I graduated and was finally glad to get over what others thought who meant zilch to me.

6. stresshead - April 16, 2008

Luke
To be honest you shouldn’t care what others (especially idiots like that) think of you.They can stick it 🙂
To be honest i quite enjoy offending people with my atheism 🙂 it’s quite funny. If you have these open minded friends you have nothing to worry about

john

7. John - April 17, 2008

Hey, TA, here’s a book I think you would find enjoyable, if it’s out yet in [secret country]:

http://www.amazon.com/Age-American-Unreason-Susan-Jacoby/dp/0375423745/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208366245&sr=1-1

Reminds me a lot of your POV when I read it.

8. bostongraf - April 19, 2008

John: I’ve just finished reading Age of American Unreason. Definitely an interesting book, although (IMHO) quite long winded. I guess I enjoyed thinking about the book more than I enjoyed reading it…Just thought she spent a little too much time showing off her knowledge instead of analysing the problem/trend.

Luke: Screw ’em. They are the one’s losing a good person in their lives by ignoring you. I agree with TA that you’ll never please everybody, and if you spend all of your energy trying to appease those that you don’t agree with, you’ll find that the payoff isn’t worth it.

You obviously have some cool friends with soild heads on their shoulders. Honestly, I can’t say there’s much more to ask for than that…

Be well.

9. bostongraf - April 19, 2008

(Sorry…that should read “I CAN’T say there’s much more to ask for than that…”)

:p

10. Luke - April 21, 2008

Hey all, Thanks for all the great advice. I’ve actually been doing some of the stuff, basically I said “Fuck this” and just ignored em all. These two people key on bothering me about being an Atheist, I admittedly, snapped at them. Basically I said “You people have been ignoring and bothering me about my atheism, I have never once bothered you about your Christianity even though I’m atheist, and even before I came out about my atheism, I never thought of you differently. Now that I am an atheist, why are you treating me so differently based on my beliefs in religion now when it didn’t matter before?” Something like that, then I stormed off.

I’ve read over a lot of this stuff, and thank you TA and everyone else for your response, I decided to just turn the other cheek(Besides what I did above, lol). Honestly, I usually stay quite about my atheism, unless someone asks what my religion is, or pushes one of my buttons . These buttons include people who use the whole “It’s a sin, it’s in the bible” for gay marriage, people who tend to shove their religion down other people’s throats, and a few others. Usually when I fight back in those type of arguments it usually ends in the question “Are you atheist”
Once again, thank you all, it’s helped, I meant to type out my response earlier but I haven’t had the time recently, I’ve currently in all the honor’s classes in school, and every teacher this week decided to give me a long ass project to do, and I’m only done with like half of them. Top it off with SAT prep and a big english paper, and my relationship of a year going down the crapper, I’m busy as hell.

PS: TA, I promise I”ll get to your love letter eventually, like I said, I’ve been busy as hell this week, and it isn’t looking up, if I don’t get to it this week, or frankly the rest of this month or may, I’ll do it my first day of summer vacation, which is June 3rdish.

Once again, Thanks all!

11. Luke - April 21, 2008

Also, I visit this site once a week, so I promise, I won’t forget!

12. Teen Atheist - April 21, 2008

Bostongraf: Fixed it for you. 🙂

13. Teen Atheist - April 21, 2008

Luke: That’s great to hear! No matter what happens, just don’t let this affect how you see yourself, okay? Do well in school and show ’em up. They’ll be sorry. 😀

14. atheistgirl - April 22, 2008

The thing about Luke’s mom reminded me of me and my mom. Only we agreed on changing our last name, not religion (bummer). Anywho. I loved this. I live in America too and I go to a catholic school so pretty much everyone discriminates against me. Oh yeah, and when people talk about gayness being wrong “because the bible tells them so” I always pull the old “It also says shellfish is wrong, bitches” on them. And I’m just loving the whole “The world is ending this i know. For the bible tells me so.” thing that’s going around lately. okay, getting off topic. bye-bye

15. John - April 23, 2008

> I’m just loving the whole “The world is ending this i know. For the
> bible tells me so.” thing that’s going around lately.

Bible-thumpers have been predicting the end of the world since it began. When I read the New Testament, the first thing that struck me was how it’s clear by the tone the apostles expected Jesus to return within their lifetimes. That was over 2,000 years ago….

16. atheistgirl - April 24, 2008

hey john, i knew that. but at my school it’s going around because they all think the world is ending in 2012. haha

17. Matt - May 2, 2008

I must say I enjoyed reading this blog. Every once and awhile I go perusing the net to read various people’s opinions and such topics.
I sort of feel like going on a large rambling rant on religion and it’s affect on people, but I’ll stay my ground. This is your blog, I’ll graciously accede and hold my tongue. Or try to. Congratulations on your ‘awakening’, as far as when you came to your current conclusions on widely accepted religious beliefs. Religion can make some of the nicest, most rational, intelligent people be extremely dense and narrow minded. Among other things. But I must say, atheism has been one of the most attacked mental states, up along with middle-eastern terrorism, and serial killers, and rapists.

But that’s an exaggeration, although not far from the truth.
but it is rather disconcerting when you go somewhere and there’s a little plaque that says:

“There is no God.”
– A fool.

Of your personal tenets, the reference to god on the dollar bill and such IS very rude. The US tries it’s best to accomodate every type of belief, substitutiong the ‘swear to tell the truth bible’ for court testimony with whatever scriptures are preffered by who is being sworn in. I dread the day if I have to go to court and I refuse to swear on religious text.

I can’t help but wonder if they’d then refuse my testimony at that point. Keep fighting the good fight.

18. John - May 4, 2008

The God reference didn’t used to be on a dollar bill, FYI. Check out any paper currency before 1963 and you won’t find it. It has no business being there, either. As for me, I’d swear on a Bible or any book you want, including Playboy. I wouldn’t lie simply because I am a moral person and I don’t need a book of myths and superstitions to make me behave. I question the moral fabric of those who do, the so-called “pious” people.

19. Ask Teen Atheist, #2 « Diary of a Teenage Atheist - May 15, 2008

[…] As I’ve mentioned before, I follow a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to my atheism, except when the person is very close to me and I can feel that he or she wouldn’t turn on me upon finding out. I’m not ashamed of my atheism, mind you, it’s just very annoying to have to be armed with counters to various inane arguments all the time (”Then where did you come from?” “That’s just a phase, right?” “Why is this world that we live in so beautiful?” and other fun crap). And there’s also the risk of making your relationship awkward with whoever it is you’re talking to. Even with people you’ve just met, like what happened with me a week ago at a movie premiere: […]

20. telcontarrulz - July 17, 2008

The Bible is a book of Hebrew oral culture, and I would never use anything in the Bible to justify anything else. Many of the beliefs (especially those determined by the apostles and early Christians-i.e. St. Paul- are outdated and debatable. They are only men.) It’s a book of symbols; I’d rather use science and reason, even if I am semi-religious.

21. Vance - October 10, 2008

I just wanted to add somthing in about the “in god we trust” crap on money in the U.S.(sorry im so off topic) but the new gold dollar coins that feature the faces of a few presidents no longer have those words printed on them, and i didnt realize this untill i recieved a piece of junk e-mail that was trying to pursuade me to protest the gold dollar coins because the words were not on there.

22. Teen Atheist - October 10, 2008

Lawl. Awesome.

Thanks for the heads-up, Vance! (LOL lame pun.)


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