‘What’s wrong with your [atheist] son?’

1012322_10151523519214327_1746269383_nI was informed that last night, at a graduation party my mother attended, a woman (let’s call her Jane) approached my mother and allegedly said to her, “What is wrong with your son?”

Jane was allegedly saying nasty things about me because I publicly identify as an atheist and am vocal about church/state separation issues [Jane was complaining about activism as far back as 2009 concerning a courthouse nativity scene which was taken down and later integrated into an inclusive display!]. Amidst Jane’s complaints about me were phrases like ‘Wait until I see him’ and statements like ‘I don’t approve of what he is doing.’ By the way, since ‘Jane’ is a neighbor, she’s free to ‘see me’ at any time and chat.

Since 2009, some people — including cousins, aunts, and uncles — have said nasty thingsĀ about me to my mother and father. Rather than speaking directly with me, they talk to my mother and father…and in almost all of these cases they never talk with me about their complaints despite their knowing how to reach me either online or in-person/telephone. Rather than having conversation with me, they are nasty toward my family members who have nothing to do with my activism, are largely uninformed about my positions, and do not identify as atheists.

I feel sorry for these religious individuals who miss an opportunity for conversation and understanding and instead are hateful toward others and family members of atheists. This is just another way, it seems, that religion can be so harmful and divisive. As always, I welcome discussion with religious individuals. I’ve had open-to-the-public debates and discussions. My social networking sites are open for comment. People can even comment anonymously.

Remember, people who are so bothered by the fact that I publicly challenge religion, 1 Peter 3:15, “If anyone asks the reason for your faith prepare a defense and do so with gentleness and respect.”

P.S. I don’t really sweat it. I understand that with activism comes people who will hate me. I do my best to talk about the issues in a respectful manner although I realize the message can sometimes be provocative (especially since it challenges peoples’ cherished beliefs). Discussion is welcomed, but if people are going to be nasty and immature I cannot do much about that. I take pride in who I am and will not let a neighbor whom I really do not know undermine my self-esteem or interfere with my activism.