I Hope You Get More Tolerant Soon Rechelle…

March 4th, 2010

Okay…

So…

Where exactly should I focus this tolerance?

Should I be more tolerant of people that are extremely close to me calling me every other day and telling me that I need…

a.  therapy

b.  a complete medical exam  - because there must be a physical malady that is causing me to be an atheist.

c.  psychotropic medicines.

d.  lab tests

Should I be more tolerant of the people who call and ask me if they can contact my kids about church events even if I no longer believe in god?

Should I be more tolerant of all the letters and emails that say they are praying for me to come back to god?

Should I be more tolerant of people who are extremely close to me who ask me if they should ‘mourn the loss’ of me.

Should I be more tolerant of the Baptists that show up on my door and want to save my soul from hell?

Should I be more tolerant of the christian ideology that seeps out of everything from posters on walls in local highschools to the songs my kids sing in their public school choir to a speaker that managed to talk more about her personal god than anything else during a presentation to my eight year old’s class on Kansas Day? 

Because I have to tell you.

I am tolerant of it all!  (With the exception of the Baptists who came to MY DOOR.)

I am not only tolerant.  I am kind.  I am polite.  I am respectful.  I don’t hang up the phone.  I don’t slam the door.  

I respond the same way to people that I have always responded.  

I listen far more than I talk, I answer carefully and as thoughtfully as I can. I don’t get angry.  I don’t protest, I don’t yell, I don’t scream, I don’t assault, I don’t mock, I don’t debate, I don’t complain, and I don’t mimic these people in a high pitched old lady voice  (although that would be my protest of choice).  

All I do is write a blog.

A blog that you can choose not to read if you don’t like what I have to say.

An honest blog that really expresses how I feel about what is going on around me.  

I am sorry if what I say makes you uncomfortable.  

But I am not running for office here.  

I am not trying to create a world where everyone feels good about themselves all the time.

I am not interested in pandering.

I am interested in figuring out the truth.  

I am interested in understanding reality.  

And I am interested in doing what I can to make this world better.

Through a change in my beliefs.

Through a change in my attitude.

And through taking positive actions that make a noticeable difference.

You don’t improve by ignoring problems.  

You don’t progress by pretending everything is okay just the way it is.

Sometimes you have to look at things squarely and let it get to you.

This is what causes true positive change.

I am up for some change.

Way up.

Comments

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    Go Rechelle!
    Game on! :)
    Pass the popcorn…

  • Anna:

    I don’t think you have to change a bit, Rechelle. You are doing fine.

  • You are so right! If you don’t like what we as bloggers have to say then why do these people keep coming to that blog to read them? Not sure that was all grammatically correct, oh well….Kind of like if you don’t like the channel then change it….not forcing you to read is she?! Wierd how these people think a personnal blog (journal) has to be all PC and make everyone happy. Have you noticed your traffic increasing? Funny…they think they are hurting you but actually helping.

  • I think it’s great what you’re doing! Keep it up, and soon you’ll have a different audience here that appreciates what you have to say without bemoaning the fact you’ve been “lost” as they say.

    No my dear, you’ve found a different path and are using your voice to express yourself. Nothing wrong with that!

    It just makes people uncomfortable, I suppose. And it sounds like they’re trying every tactic in the book to get you to change your mind.

  • You rock. Stay strong.

  • Stephen:

    Having been there myself a number of years ago now, I can tell you that in a few months your family loses interest.

    And I can only agree about the religion seeping out all over the place – I’m in Australia where things are not nearly so bad, but we still have “optional” (you can opt to sit in a room by yourself instead) scripture lessons in school and “optional” easter services at schools and so on.

    Anyway, rambling a bit, but don’t let them get to you. They’ll get bored eventually.

  • I hope your relatives and other bumpuses around you can be more tolerant of you. Just please be tolerant of your old readers that choose to stick around. I don’t want to change you now and I didn’t want to change you when you might have been a Christian. I’m just reading your blog like always. You don’t need to take it out on Christians. Just use your brain. Positive actions do make a difference.

  • Kathy J:

    I was raised a Baptist, like a regular one as opposed to the whack jobs that seem to migrate to Kansas! My Mom still goes to the church I was raised in. Anyway the mostly white congregation voted to hire a black minister when the last one retired. While my Mom does say that the services are not the same as they used to be she kind of likes the pot stirring that goes on. I do think there is hope with having some more racially mixed churches but I also think it will be a slow job for many of the reasons you mention.

    I do know what you mean about religion seeping in everywhere. Until recently I taught Biology and you really had to tip toe around the teaching of evolution. Why folks will go with science when it comes to medicine for example but the same methods and mind set that brings you solar power, cancer drugs, hybrid cars, and cheap food is all wonderful but the minute you use the same methods and mind set to figure out what you can about the origin of the planet, life etc. you are an agent of the devil. SIGH

  • Kristin:

    You go, Rechelle! It’s your blog, for pete’s sake, & I am appreciating your passion & honesty. But I still hope there are more England & Paris stories…but you know, there’s a lot of painful honesty & passion in those too!

  • Ronda:

    For someone who doesn’t seem to have a religion, you sure do talk about it a lot.

    Isn’t there something more interesting about which to write, or is this all you’ve got?

  • Marti:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, but rarely comment. I just wanted to say…hang in there. It gets easier.

  • Jay:

    AMEN!!! erm,… I mean… ROCK ON!!! xD

    Let it all out, its your blog and you can use it as you like. I’m always biting my tongue and going with the flow in ‘polite society’ as well. We all need our outlets, our drawing boards, our chance to vent! If people don’t like it, they don’t have to read it.

  • RetroMeg:

    If you can’t have this one tiny little corner of the interwebs, what the heck can you have? I tell ya, that would be the day that I would go to a blog that quotes scripture and touts homeschooling and tell them to stop writing about it because it offends me. If I read a blog where the writers attitude irks me, I’m not gonna give them the benefit of my readership, but I will not harass them into changing who they are to accommodate me. That’s kinda nervy, don’t ya think?

    I guess that may be the main difference between Christians and atheists – Xtians just can not let someone else have differing beliefs without telling that person why they are wrong and trying to save them. When I read a blog about Christianity I just close the page and move on not educate them on evolution and gay marriage.

    The internet is a big, huge, gignormous place and there should be room for all of us and plenty of things to read that DO interest and please us. If this blog ain’t it, why not move along instead of browbeating Rechelle and those of us who do enjoy it?

  • Martha in Kansas:

    You go girl! I’m still reading!

  • Jadehawk:

    kudos to you!

    like I have repeatedly said on here, some people seem to confuse tolerance with the right to not ever have to hear someone disagree in any other way than being utterly deferential, if at all. You know, don’t be “uppity”.

  • Maria:

    Rechelle: “I don’t mock, I don’t debate, I don’t complain, and I don’t mimic these people in a high pitched old lady voice”

    …um, well, you kinda have been…I’ve seen mockery, debate and complaining and mimicry…altho I can’t tell about the old lady voice…you could try video for that though…;)

    But I’m ALL for asking hard questions and having dialogues. I don’t want to bury my face in the sand, and I don’t care if blogs/people/whatever challenge my worldview. It should be challenged. I should always make sure if what i”m thinking/believing stands. And I think you are doing that. It’s why I’ve been coming back.

    You have a valid point that you are not running for office and you can say what you want on your blog. But people don’t have to like it and CAN leave, but they should be able to say so in the comments…that are open. You should expect to hear from people who disagree with YOUR views, too. That’s part of looking at things squarely. That’s part of not pandering on the side of the commenter too. Wouldn’t it be boring if everyone said “Right on Rechelle!”

    My only issue with your “voice” right now, is that I can’t see the points because what I view as mocking and personal attacks get in the way…I have to fight through the emotion that brings in order to understand and evaluate your points. The same with the comments. I try to sift through the banal jibes at each other and try to get to the essence of what they are saying to get something constructive out if it.

  • Becky:

    Maria, I couldn’t have said it better!

  • A.D.:

    And if you could or would truly focus on being a resource for like-minder readers interested in discovering the truth and finding reality, in a respectful, tolerant and intellectual environment, what a wonderful asset you and your blog could be to the cause of tolerance and enlightenment. But, as with any new divorcee’, the old bitternesses are right on the surface, and, while it is likely cathartic and part of the healing process to release those feelings, releasing them doesn’t do anything to enhance your credibility with others or your ability to clearly sort through things on your own behalf. If you could just focus on going forward and not attacking what is behind you, your message will be more credible, your thinking would be clearer, and it seems like your opportunities for your own personal growth and for inspiring personal growth in interested readers would increase exponentially. I know, it’s your blog, you can say what you want. But how you say it can make all the difference between creating an inviting place for thinking minds vs. repelling people who are thoughtful but kind. My second and last comment ever, but just wanted to weigh in. Peace to you.

  • Darlene:

    You just keep going. I’m always amazed at how we are called bitter or intolerant or patted on the head and humored just because we point out the festering biogtry and idiocy that can be the religious portion of the world.

    “But why do you have to be so mean. Can’t you just play nice?”

    No. Because churches don’t play nice. And the religious fanatics that go to them don’t play nice. They belittle and condesend and pretnd this is just a phase, and then they whine about how everyone picks on them.

    I don’t think you are bitter or hateful, I think that when you take a step back you see how ridiculous and biased and weird religion can be, and those still caught in it’s web don’t realize what they look like from the outside, and they don’t much like having the mirror turned their way.

    Much like recording your drunk friend singing karaoke, they don’t appreciate the truth about how they behave :)

  • mom:

    Thank you Rechelle. I agree that getting some counseling will help you sort out your feelings. If you need to talk to me I am here to listen. I know who you are Rechelle. I know you are trying to find where you want to fit.

    Rather than fighting with everyone go and get a physical. Get some counseling and I would say since you are married to a Christian man get some marriage counseling. Then you can tell us all that the doctors and counselor found nothing wrong.

    By some of the comments left by your readers they really do not know you and do not care about your physical or mental health. All they see is what you want them to see. They do not know the real Rechelle.

    I know you like to air your feelings for the world to see but it is not helping you any. It driving you down further I saw it when I was with you this weekend.

    If you are so happy why do you not even speak to your relative this weekend? Why did you disrespect a young relatives School? They do not do that to you. If you have done nothing wrong and if you want the relative to understand why you are so angry then why not talk it out. You are not telling to whole story. None of us understand.

    None of your readers will be there when you need help. But I will be there.
    None of your readers love your family like I do.

    None of your readers love to go off to adventures with you like going to New York. I do

    Rechelle since your first breath when you were born until my last breath you are a gift God has given me.

    My sister and I would talk about you, before you were born what color hair, color of your eyes, who were you going to take after. My sister even named you. We were sitting on the porch of my first home in Scott City when she said your name needs to be Rechelle Renee’.

    After you were born she adored you. She would tell people you were her little girl. When my sister was killed I was so glad that God had let me have you. If I had not had you then I would have really been lost. You were my saving grace during that time of grief.

    You would stand beside in the car next to my shoulder and sing Jesus loves me, A Sunbeam, Climb, climb up sunshine mountain, we would go and get a DQ and get a milk shake. I would let you order. Sometimes we would walk to the warehouse and share a candy bar or help your daddy load his truck.

    My mom and dad thought you were the sunshine of there lives. There was nothing that they would not do for you. They even took you on special grandparent trips.

    There has never been a day that you are not in my thoughts and prayers. There is not a day that goes by that people here in town ask about you and what is wrong?

    Years ago Rechelle on a Sunday morning we went into the sanctuary when no one was there and I gave you back to God and he has not turn his back on you and neither have I. I know this with all my heart, soul, and mind.

    I too Rechelle am not good at fighting. I am a stuffer. But when I was going through a really tough time I went to counseling it has helped me a lot.

    Since you are questioning about if there really is a God. I have been listening to this site. http://www.drdino.com/ Ask your husband to join you in watching this site.

    I read and listen to what you said and your readers.

    Will you please listen to what the Christian have to say on this site?

    I Love you with all my heart, mind, and soul.

    Love and Prayers

    Mom

  • Brian:

    All you do is write a blog and dump on the people who care for you, your husband, and your sons. You say you want to write “an honest blog”, yet you are dishonest with your readers regarding communications you have with others. You are dishonest when you speak of the diversity of your public school in a 96% caucasian community. You choose to hide behind your computer instead of engaging intelligent people face to face. The truth your readers never hear is that the people of your community care for you enough to find out why instead of honestly disagreeing with beliefs, you choose to denigrate the community and the people in it. Your readers see your community as some bible-thumping backwater hick town filled with, what was the word, “bumpuses”? If you were truly honest, you would travel to an orphange in Brazil to help give medicine to babies that may not make it to the age of two (oh wait, that is sponsored by churches – scratch that). You would continue to help raise funds for Community Health Ministry that fills in the holes left by health insurance by getting wonderful professionals like your husband to donate time to make sure poor, elderly, and disabled people get health care. Oh crap, another churchy thing – never mind. It is so easy to bitch about things like a lack of ethnic diversity or the ways churches spend money (on buildings, jobs, orphans, elderly who have no one esle to help them). So far, it seems the only action you’ve taken to improve the world is type (oh, and travel to New York, where I am sure you helped someone in need, right?). Have you broken a sweat since converting to intellectual elitism to actually help someone? Have you helped a town rebuild after a devastating tornado? The people in your community do this and more every month of every year. Yes, most do it through a church affiliation. I have yet to see the local intellectual elitists get a group together to go out and serve. But they sure do type good!

    If you were being honest, you would rid yourself of the trappings of wealth that come with being married to a physician, like a beautuful house and acreage so you could give your husband’s hard earned money to someone in great need. You would move to a truly diverse city to expose your kids to what you feel is a proper ethnic mix. You would volunteer to work at a shelter where abused women and children find shelter, and maybe hope. As it stands, you see people drowning around you and you’re describing the water. I am glad you are enjoying talking about intellectual elitism with all your new IP addresses, and that you feel you are being honest and being “interested in understanding reality” (reality through spiritual tips from Ricky Grevais and writing a blog…I love the 21st century). If you truly want to improve your world, it would seem the place to start is not a blog post that uses “I” 43 times. Roll up your sleeves, put on your big girl panties (yes I said panties), and get to work. If you truly are honest, I am up for some change. Way up.

  • canadian person:

    Assuming the above is from Rechelle’s real mom I won’t pick apart her post out of respect for a parent who loves her daughter.

    Rest assured there are plenty of atheists in the world and a lot us live in Canada! It is no big deal to be atheist up here. It is actually considered very weird to be focussed on religion and jesus and all the right wing Christian stuff. We just shake out head at these odd American right wing folks and hope they keep their inward gaze focussed on their own navels so they do not bug the rest of us. Really, that’s what we think. Athiests, come to Canada, no one will judge you for being an atheist. I assume everyone is. Always have, and when people mention jesus or god it just seems so, very weird.

  • canadian person:

    Do not worry Brian – good works can come from non believers. All new ways of thinking require time to come to fruition. you may well see an atheist helping someone in your town in the future.

    Most of my friends are in the helping professions ( social work, medicine, legal aid, teaching) and all are atheists. They worry about people, help them, care about them and do not have to believe in God to do so.

    There is room for all in this vast world.

  • Potco:

    I think people who are calling you intolerant or belligerent, or any of the other negative things, they are just not use to someone speaking up. These are the same people complaining about the billboards that say non offensive things like “Are you good without God? Millions are.” Do not fret over these people. They are so used to being the only one’s speaking that anyone disagreeing would offend them. They are the people who feel the need to force you to pray, or try to convert you, place religious symbols anywhere but get offended at one simple word, atheist.

    Keep searching for the truth and speaking your mind. Being honest and true to yourself is the best a person can be in this world.

    Potco

    PS. I hope the person who referenced you to Dr. Dino was not serious, since almost everything he has said has been refuted, (see thunderfoot on youtube), his “PhD” is literally from a shack, and he is in jail for tax evasion.

  • I am with you Rechelle. There is nothing wrong with you. Nothing at all.

    We are all allowed to be angry when we feel betrayed. It took me years to stop ranting about how pissed off I was that I was lied to about the existence of a god.

    I finally learned that the reason most Christians (and others) try to convert you, or say they will pray for you (which is really condescending, FYI religious people) is because they have to perpetuate the bubble. They have EVERYTHING resting on their beliefs, and they have too much to lose if they accept even one kernel of doubt in their mind.

    It is why when you try to debate apologetics, they use circular logic, moving goalposts, cherry-picking, etc. They mean well, but they HAVE to keep their fragile bubble in tact.

    So rant all you want, you will eventually find your equilibrium. Over time, people will either learn to accept you as you are, or they can hit the road. The rest of us will be your new friends!

  • Revyloution:

    All those people seem to be missing the point of tolerance.

    It means, to accept people for who they are. I don’t see you failing to accept anyone, but I do see a large community of people who fail to accept who you’ve become.

    Another perfect example of projection.

  • Brian:

    Canadian Person -

    I agree that you do not have to believe in God to help people. And its not that atheists in this town do not help people. It just seems that the people who pool resources and manpower to truly reach out to make the world a better place (as Rechelle puts it) from our community are faith based organizations. Even locally, the needs of those who need health care but struggle to pay for it have been in existence for decades. It was local churches and the people that support them that actually acted to change it.

  • CJ :):

    Everyone who went from a religious position to an atheist position has been where you are and done what you are doing. Perhaps listening to those who have gone before you and come to terms with the religious world around them might help.

    It won’t be as much fun, though.

    You can’t change others if they don’t want to change. It’s that simple. All the snarky comments and sarcastic positions do nothing but alienate those around us who we have to get along with, like it or not. We are the minority to end all minorities. Atheists and the mentally ill are the last acceptable groups to dump on.

    If we profess to live by reason and logic (as most atheists do – we don’t believe in a god because it doesn’t make sense and can’t be proven logically) we have to exhibit those traits in our actions as well as think them in our minds. Intolerance is not a logical nor a rational trait from anyone, including atheists.

    Your family will eventually move on and your emotions won’t burn as brightly as they do now. One truism of life, however, is that if you display your feelings in public you are giving consent to be criticized. My impression (and this is, admittedly, only my impression through this blog) is that you don’t take criticism well. If you don’t want the critique don’t set everything out to be critiqued.

    I don’t know if you read Pharyngula, but if you don’t you might take a look at it. Contrast it with the Friendly Atheist and decide who’s going to have more of an impact on the world as a whole. I suppose PZ has his purpose and his place, and holding a PhD in Evolutionary Biology certainly gives his words some authority when he is discussing ID or science education, but as a rule he is nothing but inflammatory. He recognizes and accepts that he will be argued with, and he knows that a lot of atheists would rather he shut up. I rarely agree with his methodology – I think it harms the situation more than it helps – but he accepts the consequences of his actions and moves on.

    If you want to take positive actions through your atheism, that’s great. Time to start.

  • brightmom:

    Rechelle, You are doing well – keep it up. I’m amazed at the condescension in the above comments. Reality is rough but it is all there really is. You are a wonderful writer and I’ve enjoyed your blog. It’s your life; you can choose to think for yourself. You do not need therapy except possibly for advice on dealing with your mom. She sounds just like mine. Enjoy your freedom.

  • Darlene:

    Wow, if that’s what your family and friends are like…just, wow.

    I adore my father, and he adores me back. Even more, he respects me. I mean, really, in a meaningful way. He respects my decisions and allows me to live my life. He will sometimes ask a question, but once I assure him I’ve thought about it and have made a decision, it is done. He doesn’t point fingers or use emotional manipulation or guilt in an attempt to mold me into what he wishes I could be, instead he allows me to be me, and loves me without condition or reserve.

    One lesson he taught me: those who cannot love and accept you for who you are today probably don’t deserve you anyway. Emotional abuse is still abuse. Guilt is toxic means of control.

    Best of luck creating boundries. I would be much less tolerant then you. For me, and this is just a personal position, as soon as someone trys to manipulate, especially something of this nature; as soon as someone doesn’t respect my right to say “No”, they lose my respect and friendship…and me. They lose me.

  • Carol:

    Oh Brian Brian Brian, you are so cute. Physicians Without Frontiers – not faith based. UNICEF – not faith based. Amnesty International – not faith based. UUSC – not faith based. The problem with MANY faith based organizations is that at the same time they may be addressing actual needs they are also evangelizing. Not cool – there are Christian organizations now saying that they won’t stay and offer aid in Haiti if the people there don’t give up voodou. And let’s not talk about Uganda, please.
    Religion isn’t the basis of all evil, but it is not the basis of all good either, and its ignorant to make claims like that. There are tons of nonsectarian grassroots organizations doing exactly what you are talking about (Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, for example.) If you are unfortunate enough that one can only receive aid from people who expect an eternal reward, then I am sorry.

    And I for one hope to heaven it is not Rechelle’s mother writing above.

    Rechelle, I see this blog as your place to vent after wearing a mask all day long. And I for one am glad you no longer believe that those that disagree with you are condemned to everlasting torment, which is about the most hateful thing I have ever heard.

  • mom:

    Thank you Mr Potco I know you did this out of concern for my daughter. I appreciate that very much.

    I have pasted a link so you can see the truth. He does not hide that he is in jail. you need to read the rest of the story like Paul Harvey use to say.

    http://www.drdino.com/speaker.php?s=3

    I have copied and pasted part of his BIO

    His keen interest in math and science throughout his high school career prompted his enrollment at Illinois Central College as a science major. (NOTE ILLINOIS CENTRAL COLLEGE )
    sorry about the caps but I cannot highlight on this blog

    After two years of undergraduate work there, he felt God calling him to full-time Christian service and completed his bachelor of religious education at Midwestern Baptist College of Pontiac, Michigan in 1974. NOTE: MIDWESTERN BAPTIST COLLEGE

    For fifteen years, he taught high school math and science, during which time he completed his master’s degree in education. While researching and writing his doctoral dissertation on the subject of creation vs. evolution, he saw the tremendous need for exposing evolution as a dangerous, religious world-view, and for arming Christians with scientific evidence that there are no contradictions between true science and the Bible.

    In response to these needs, shortly after finishing his Ph.D. in education, he began the full-time ministry of Creation Science Evangelism.

    He does not hide the fact of his prison sentence you may read that at this link.
    http://www.drdino.com/legalupdate.php

    He ask any one that wants to prove what he is saying is a lie a reward.

    God bless you Potco and thank you again for looking out for my daughter

    Blessings
    Mom

  • bPer:

    Hang in there, Rechelle. The naysayers are employing well-known, transparent psy ops in an attempt to silence you. Greta Christina has a great post about this: Atheism and the “Shut up, that’s why” arguments.

    Don’t let them shut you up, please.

    βPer

  • Cate:

    I’m sorry, but I’m leaving your blog. I understand people going through life changes, etc, but yours has changed your blog so dramatically. I’m not a religious person, even though I grew up in a very Catholic family – so a blog that is so uber-focused on religion is just soooo not interesting to me.. I know you claim you are an atheist but you still seem so focused on religious themes (or why people don’t have them) – honestly, the only people interested in that are religious conservatives or atheists…. Sorry the middle is no longer interested!

  • brightmom:

    Dear mom,
    Re: Dr Dino
    Just so you know, two years of undergraduate science does not even qualify you to teach science under the No Child Left Behind Act. He would not have been teaching in a public school. I know you capitalized it – but these are his qualifications?
    If this is really your mom Rechelle – my apologies – but I doubt it.

  • bPer:

    brightmom, Rechelle can see who is posting as ‘Mom’, and I’m sure she’d delete or call out any comment that wasn’t actually from her mother.

    So Mom is a Young Earth Creationist and has been sucked in by the slimiest of those hucksters. Kent Hovind is a fraud, an willful ignoramus and a convicted tax evader. You’re quite a judge of character, Mom! My sincerest sympathies, Rechelle.

    I have to say that I appreciate even more than ever the way my family took the news that I was an atheist. I revealed it to them when my girlfriend and I told them we were getting married and it would be a civil ceremony because I could not in good conscience take the religious vows of a church wedding. My father was a minister in the United Church of Canada and my father-in-law was the senior lay leader of my father’s congregation. Despite the obvious risks to their livelihoods and reputations, they all accepted our decision with grace and love. That was 26 years ago and we are still a fully-participating part of our families. Rechelle, I hope that, despite this rocky start, your families find a way to accept you as you are.

    βPer

  • Jadehawk:

    *reads “mom’s” post*
    *jaw hits floor*

    Oh.My.FSM. :-/

    Just in case you didn’t know, Rechelle, but the DSM-IV does not list “sudden onset atheism” as a symptom of any mental illnesses. :-p There is nothing wrong with you. Stay strong, and maybe eventually your family and “friends” will get used to it

  • Jadehawk:

    two more things:

    1)Kent Hovind is a transparent fraud who bought his “PhD” from a degree mill. I’ve read parts of his “dissertation”. it starts with “Hi, my name is Kent Hovind”. High-schoolers have better composition skills than that. He’s a liar, a fraud, and a criminal. And none of his inane rambling can hold water against real science.

    2)Pharyngula is both one of the largest science blogs and one of the largest atheist blogs out there right now. it’s having influence, whether the accomodationists like it or not. at the very least, it’s pulling at the Overton Window so that the accomodationists get to look moderate. They wouldn’t without the Ebil “militant” atheists of Pharyngula and similar sites, and the freakouts over billboards with such mild messages as “don’t believe in God? you’re not alone” pretty much prove that the mere existence of atheists already offends, and no amount of accomodationism is going to make that go away.

  • Dear “mom”,

    You may mean well, but wouldn’t it be more respectful to have such a private conversation in, well… private?

    You mention a very painful thing that everyone is now privy to, and while you don’t see the oxymoron of praising “god” for your daughter after supposedly the very same “god” ended the life of someone dear to you, you put your daughter in an extremely unfair position. She does not agree with your opinion, but most certainly, she does not want everyone attacking you.

    Don’t use your genetic carte blanc to try to guilt her into changing her mind. As her mother, you should support her first, and respectfully disagree second. While you can’t make someone believe what they don’t believe, you could extend the olive branch offline and objectively discuss with her why she left your religion without injecting copious amounts of “god-speak” and proselytizing. You might be surprised what you learn.

    I just hope you will respect her enough to not continue to mercilessly and publicly pummel her with guilt and inferred disappointment with a vault full of family memories that she did not give permission to share. Forcing her hand will not only disappoint you further, but could tear you two apart.

    Also, make me understand why becoming an Atheist requires one to need counseling? Just because she is angry doesn’t make her troubled. Anger is a healthy emotion. She isn’t doing crazy things, like cutting herself, talking about suicide, or getting into fights. She is typing out her feelings on a blog, and trying make sense of everything. I venture a guess that almost every de-convert does something very similar, whether in conversation, blogs, diaries, or going to Atheist meetings.

    I do have to say, that no matter what my own mother feels about my lack of religion, she would never air the family laundry in the manner you just demonstrated, even if I posted the most offensive, heinous thing I could muster for the world to see. She knows that I am my own person, I make my own decisions, and my opinions deserve to be heard (even if they are disagreeable). She would call me on the phone first.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    “But I am not running for office here.”

    Rechelle FTW. Again.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    Oh Heather, thanks for that. Perfect. I felt so uncomfortable — like a peeping tom — reading mom’s submissions!

  • Ted Powell:

    Rechelle, regarding “Dr.” Dino, here is a Pharyngula article, Kent Hovind’s Doctoral Dissertation. Although the link from the article to the thesis no longer works, you may enjoy reading the comments.

  • Ted Powell:

    mom wrote: sorry about the caps but I cannot highlight on this blogThe blog software doesn’t make it easy, and the lack of a Preview button is daunting, but it can be done!

  • Joel, you’re welcome :)

    I think everyone feels uncomfortable reading her post. Anyone who blogs has a line that they don’t cross as far as introducing personal information, and there is a good reason for that. We are never sure who is truly reading our blogs, and some personal information can be detrimental to our safety. Not to mention some memories are really painful and private, and using it against another person is, well, unconscionable.

    I also think it was unfair to play the “Omnipotent Mom” card in a volatile discussion. We want to respect her as Rechelle’s mother, but she also said some very hurtful and untrue things we just can’t let fly. So, I tried to talk to her as if she were my mom. My mommy still loves me, godless and all.

  • You know what’s interesting? I found you through a link on unreasonablefaith.com. I go there frequently. Let me clarify that I’m a Christian-I know, a Kikuyu, Kenyan, African Christian!-but I have been questioning why I believe what I believe over the past 5 or so years.

    I went through your archives and loved your earlier articles, and love it when on occassion you are not talking about atheism. Of late your blog seems so focused on being anti-religion that it can be a turn-off. But I understand, you blog about your life, and this is the phase you are going through right now, so I’ve got to be patient. I’ve also read on time.com that some women will want to do something drastic around the time they turn 40.

    The thing about tolerance is that sometime, most of the time, ideally all the time you need to respect people for their belief, or lack of it. And I’m sure all those close to you sending what appear like crazy suggestions even to me love you, and that’s just their way dealing with the choice of someone they love. Imagine where you were a while ago, absolutely believing that everybody who doesn’t believe what you believe is going to hell.

    You may actually be positioned to show them the way of tolerance here, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to come through. From where I stand, at least.

  • Isabel:

    As far as I know, you haven’t murdered and threatened people or bombed buildings, you haven’t hanged an elephant or stoned an orca, you haven’t denied anyone to marry, you haven’t burned crosses on children’s arms because of what you believe or don’t believe in. I’d say you’re tolerant. :o)

  • Am I the only one catching the irony in this? People who are intolerant of others beliefs, or lack thereof, asking you to be tolerant?

  • Alex:

    Rechelle, you’re okay, keep going.

    I know pretty well where you are, after reading the posts of friends and family here. It sucks, for sure. But it’s freedom. Some will get it, some won’t. Some will always hate you, some will love you but won’t be able to talk to you without crying over your lost soul, and some won’t. A cherished few will be able to separate themselves from YOUR choices regarding religion, whatever their own beliefs. It will take a long period of churning and misunderstanding on both ends before that’s all clear.

    I think I said it once before– this is life and death for them. You’re either one of them or you are trying to kill them. It’s all projection. Remember to love them even when you want to strangle them, because they will probably never, ever get it, and you all have to live with that somehow.

    For the readers and callers who feel it their duty to do a daily group reprimand of this woman: People, I don’t think you get how huge this is. This is major upheaval. If you want light and airy, go find a blog about adorable Christian homeschooled puppy dogs. Sometimes a blog is a business and a smokescreen, and sometimes a real person is at the other end of the keyboard, and sometimes people really do feel anger and bitterness, and it’s not always BAD to feel those things. Give her a freaking break, it’s obviously hard enough as it is without your condescending pious disappointment.

    There’s a reason people don’t interject their pity and prayers and solemnly announce their departure from, say, a cooking blog when a writer switches from cooking to baking. Or stops talking about fluffy kittens in favor of cuddly guinea pigs. Because in those instances, it is obviously rude and way over the top to tell someone else to change their behavior to better reflect their own preferences, so that they can protect their own identities which are so deeply aligned with their choices in life.

    Rejecting religion is not a freaking mental illness, no matter how religious the people around you are. It is a highly personal choice. And as attacked as you feel by Rechelle’s vocal bitterness, imagine how she’s felt, standing in the middle of her choice for so long, which she knew was wrong for her. For years. Perhaps the reason the famous diversity dolls got under her skin was because she knows, first hand, how it feels to be different and for nobody to say a word. Well now she is saying something. Let her say it, for pete’s sake. It is disruptive and difficult but it will not kill you, and it has to happen.

  • Jill:

    Rechelle has stated herself that she knows she’s being intolerant, so it’s not solely a matter of people accusing her of that characteristic.

    Go your own way, Rechelle, but the one thing I wish you would stop doing is expressing your atheism by denigrating and mocking Christianity. That being the brunt and focus of your cynicism is getting tiresome and shows absolutely no respect for people who embrace that faith.

    I’m a Christian, I haven’t disrespected your point of view, I still like you, but I’m getting tired of the disrespect for my faith. Surely there’s more to the enlightened atheist viewpoint, and I’d like to hear it. You don’t have to build up your confidence in your opinions by tearing down another belief system, do you?

    I hope you can move beyond the reactive stage, mature into your beliefs and discover the strengths and joys of your own convictions without them being expressed or defined by ANTI anything else.

  • Alex:

    And one more thing: to her family members. Just because she sees things differently, does not mean that everything she feels, thinks, says, and does is wrong, mean, and horrible, no matter how emotional she gets. What makes you think this process *wouldn’t* be emotional? She has two choices, I guess: 1. stop doubting religion or 2. stop doubting religion and calm down.

    And likewise, and I address this to Brian, we are not stupid. The people reading this blog are not idiotic empty vessels, drooling and nodding, hungrily awaiting the next tidbit so that we can form an opinion about Rechelle’s life and town, our only true joy in life. We read because we have something in common. We are all blessed with common sense and a notion of context, even those of us in the intellectual elite (btw, what a terrible thing to be!)

    Put on your big girl pants and learn to love someone who disagrees with you. If you can make the effort to be a snippy little girl here on her blog, then you can make the effort to discuss your problems with her to her face.

  • Wendy:

    When someone leaves the faith that was their entire life…it’s an adjustment (boy howdy is it). Shoot it’s like the five stages of grieving….anger, sadness, etc. I was in the anger stage for a LONG time. Dealing with the lies, the outright hypocrisy… (kid of an evangelical preacher, love my father HATE religion). To say that she needs to “tone it down, be less angry” is denying her a part of the process. Don’t like it…don’t read it. It’s her freakin blog.

    Now mom? Good FSM. My first thought was “Is R sick? Why does she need to go to a doctor?” Then I realized WHAT kind of doctor you were referring to and I got an eye strain from the rolling. REALLY? I live in Texas so I deal with a whole lot of close mindedness but daaayyyyum. The rest of the post? Can we say awwwwwwwwwkward. Wow talk about inappropriate.

    And right on Heather and Alex

  • Alison:

    This is YOUR blog. You may write whatever YOU want. Everyone else be damned.

  • ann:

    I think you should go back to closing your comments. This whole thing is getting really awkward and bizarre. It’s like a train wreck. I know I shouldn’t read (the comments) but I can’t stop myself.
    I don’t agree with much of what you say these days but I enjoy looking at your point of view and I like your writing style but the comments are just out of control.

  • Marilyn:

    The first response to this post was: “Go Rechelle! Game on! Pass the popcorn…” Well, THIS IS NOT A GAME! It’s a life. It’a a person that is a wife, mother, sister, daughter that is struggling to find answers.

    Rechelle, you can replace your spouse, you can replace your friends, you can replace your god; but, you can never replace your relatives. Do your best to love them, forgive them, and communicate with them in kindness. They will be there for you long after your blogreaders are gone.

    • Marilyn – If you don’t mind – I disagree. I don’t think friends are anymore replaceable than family. Friendship is much more valuable than family in many, many, many ways. My true friends are still my true friends. They always will be. We chose each other based on having things in common, enjoying each other’s company, weathering a few storms together. Family is not a choice and this is often disastrous and devastating for people. Take for instance the abusive alcoholic parent. Should a person maintain a relationship with someone that brutalized them as a child?

      This forgiveness thing is overrated. If someone wants to earn back the respect they have lost by being a jerk – that is one thing – but granting forgiveness because Jesus tells you to only creates a scenario for a person to get hurt over and over again.

  • km:

    Rechelle, I think the only way you can live with yourself is if you write the truth. Blogging may be a form of therapy because it seems that it is the only place where you are free to air your views. Here in the NorthEast religion is pretty private so we don’t get the same social fabric seep. I can’t even imagine being a non-believer in that kind of environment. Counselling is fine and therapy is fine. I think every mother and wife should have some. Our society demands us to shrink to fit ourselves and sacrifice a lot of identity as wives and mothers. I don’t necessarily think it should have anything to do with your belief system change. However it might be nice to have a neutral party to talk to as it seems that your day-by-day life is very much a pressure cooker of soul savers. Can you find someone neutral in your neck of the woods???

  • I think the comments are wonderful! (Well, they can be pretty awful, but the discussions they generate are pretty great.)

    When someone tells you that you need counseling, it can be pretty offensive. Especially if it isn’t done in a quiet and respectful way. Basically that person is saying, “There is something wrong with you and you need to get professional help to fix it.” Rechelle, if you decide to go see a counselor to appease your family (or just to figure out things for yourself) please don’t go to a religious counselor! The only way you would get close to an unbiased opinion/perspective would be by visiting an unaffiliated professional that is not associated with a church. (You probably already know this, but I just wanted to point out that not all “counselors” are the same.) Much like Dr. Dino, the education and qualifications of religious counselors need to be researched before one trusts them as a professional.

  • As for family relationships–I remember when my close friend told her family that she and her boyfriend were going to live together (unmarried). Her father called our house almost every night to check that she was home and if she was, to talk to her about how her family thought what she was planning to do was terrible and even threatening that she wouldn’t be able to see her younger siblings because she was such a bad influence. Their argument was based around their religious beliefs. They tried to bribe her into changing her mind, and when that didn’t work they started threatening her with excommunication from the family. Her father even drove over two hours to our school and met up with my friend’s boyfriend to “talk” about the situation. I can only imagine how that went. Through it all my friend was an emotional wreck, but she withstood it and is now very happily living with her significant other and at peace with her family.

    This has to be hard for Rechelle, but as long as she wants to talk about it on her blog she will have people offering support twice as much as those people condemning her.

  • Wendy:

    Wanted to add.

    Please don’t shut down the comments. As you can tell by this thread, there are more supporting you than aren’t. I was bummed when I first came onto your blog and you had the comments closed because I wanted to post RIGHT ON SISTER!!!

    You have to do what’s right for YOU. Once that is done and you’re comfortable with where you’re at in life…the other stuff can be dealt with.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Rechelle, love: You are fine.

    Like Wendy says, losing your religion is like the five stages of grieving. She’s absolutely right about that.

    I don’t even know if I’m through the angry stage yet (and it’s been several years). Maybe it’s good to stay a little angry. Maybe, like Rosa Parks, we don’t want to be quiet and move to the back of the bus.

    I get the impression that your Mom loves you like crazy, and you know that she’ll always be there for you. To come down on your Mom would be disrespectful of me, because I don’t know the lady. (She must’ve done something right: she has a couple of bright daughters, after all!)

    It was easier for me to “come out” to my family, because we weren’t particularly religious to begin with. Actually, the more I discussed how irrational religion is, the more my Mom and sister came around to seeing my point of view. (My sister still cautions me to “behave myself” around her Catholic friends, however!)

    It is obviously harder for you, since your family is pretty evangelical. Okay, so maybe you’ll be the “angry black sheep” of the family for a while. Meh. You could probably take on the title with pride.

    And if you find this journey has been difficult enough that you need to seek professional help, then that is not for us readers to decide.

  • just a farm girl:

    I am growing tired of the angry atheists too but just can’t look away. I stumbled in here a few months ago and laughed out loud at the post about her husband pulling weeds in the pond. I have been told I should hang out at the Friendly Atheist instead…you know they have ALL the answers FOR EVERYONE. :) I see that mom loves her and friends who know Rechelle want to speak their truth to her so she is loved no matter what. That is more than many searching people in the world can say. It’s her blog and she can say what she wants but I defend her mother’s right to comment. WHAT? This is the format…….why must mother respond in private or be judged??? And why not give mom some respect…do you have to mock her because she doesn’t know how to highlight in here? sheesh Some of you don’t have enough to do.

  • Wendy:

    I don’t see anyone mocking her mother. Just respectfully disagreeing. I will stand by my “being an atheists=needs counseling” is utter BS comment

  • jen:

    “Isn’t there something more interesting about which to write, or is this all you’ve got?”

    Um, really? At least in my experience, when religion used to be a big part of your life, and now it’s not anymore, it takes some time to find things to fill that space. Not to mention, it takes time to figure out what you do believe in – what’s truth under the religious fripperies, and what things you’ve always assumed to be true are actually just religious tradition.

    While you’re going through that process, yeah, you do talk about and think about religion a LOT. You’ve got to figure out who/what you are without religion.

    Along the way, hopefully you find something you can be as passionate about as you ever were about religion. But it doesn’t happen quickly. Think of it like divorce. There’s a period there when your friends are SICK of hearing you talk about the ex. But you’ve got to figure out who you are without this person before you can think about whether you want to be with someone else, much less figure out what you’d want in this hypothetical other person. Jumping right into another relationship because your friends are sick of hearing you talk about the ex is not healthy and isn’t likely to end well.

  • Cheyenne:

    Wow, cathartic post, Rechelle. It made me feel better. Though, wow, reactions like that from those close to me are what keep me in the closet, hiding behind the heavy winter coats! If any therapy is needed, I would think it would be to deal with these family/friend situations. But, then again, maybe this blog is your therapy. If what you write seems extreme to some, it’s probably because you do have to hold it all in during your day-to-day life.

    As for the comments, holy sh*t! Mom, your comments just totally made Rechelle’s point. And the personal stuff does come across as awkward and emotionally manipulative. Brian, your comments make you out to be a condescending, arrogant @sshole! Where in the hell do you get off, dude? As Carol said, there are many secular organizations that do good for others without an underlying proselytizing or “spiritual” agenda. No, atheists are not as visible when we do good, but we don’t have churches and the like to trumpet what we’re doing and why. Although, there is a new atheist/agnostic organization called Foundation Beyond Belief (http://foundationbeyondbelief.org) that is “a non-profit charitable and educational foundation created (1) to focus, encourage and demonstrate the generosity and compassion of atheists and humanists, and (2) to provide a comprehensive education and support program for nontheistic parents.” I think it will be a good thing for the wider world to see that atheists are generally really good people, just like everyone else.

    Rechelle, keep doing your thing. Sure, you may be admittedly intolerant right now, but there are many, many places for people to find tolerance if they’re looking for it. Just because you’re pointing out the problems that you see, doesn’t mean you always have to qualify it by pointing out all the good things people get from their faith. There needs to be a time and place and people willing to get fired up and outraged by all of the b.s. that goes on in a society that panders to the majority religion, but that has double-standards when it comes to anyone else, especially nontheists. Although I can understand how your criticism and vitriol can sting to your religious readers, I think they need to understand that you need to deal with this (in your space on the internet) right now, and that religion is inherently ambiguous, contradictory, and the inspiration for a lot of sh*t that has occured throughout history, and even currently, and they need to not take it as a personal attack on themselves. If they want to support you, but are upset by some of the things you write, I’d suggest they skip reading those things, and stick to your other posts until you cool off on this a little bit.

  • Cheyenne:

    @just a farmgirl,

    Angry atheists, really? Ok, so Rechelle is a little angry, and I got angry at Brian in my last post, because I thought that was uncalled for, but overall? I’m an atheist and I think everything I’ve said so far has been nice, as have many others. There have been some like Jadehawk and Twin Skies (I know I’m leaving out lots of people here) that are more than willing to take on bad ideas and debate, but no one is being angry or rude. Or, if there are, they are few and far between. I’ve seen way more hurtful, hateful, condescending comments from the theist side, though it could be that we are both noticing the offenses of the other team way more than those of our own. As for the Friendly Atheist, it’s not that they have “all the answers for everyone,” it’s just a good place to go if you’re looking to interact with atheists who are putting forth the nice side and trying to be patient and fair.

  • Rechelle, I can handle (or choose not to read) things I don’t agree with or which seem hateful. My point in my comments has been what A.D. has said. Now if A.D. is who I think he is, I really hate to admit that, but he is right.

    There are millions of opposing viewpoints in this world, many about which people are quite passionate, and the only way we keep from killing one another over them is through tolerance and even respecting the rights of others to hold those opposing viewpoints. As you have pointed out, we don’t always do so well at not killing one another over such things, but we have to realize that it starts with each one of us. Each of us can only be responsible for our own actions and reactions. We have to be aware of what is motivating those actions and reactions and keep our motivation pure to be fully in control of them.

    I am not saying your motives are evil, but I think they are clouded right now. That’s understandable. You are working through a lot of things now and you are angry and probably hurt as well. I think we all struggle through times like this in our lives, whether it is over faith or something else, and I think you have reacted the way most of us do at first. It’s painful to experience, and it’s also painful to watch.

    Yes, I’d like to see you become more tolerant, but I’m more concerned with the hurt and anger that seem to be behind the intolerance. There are many people who care about you and are concerned about you right now. I don’t think that concern is based solely on your rejection of God. Your mom’s comment tore at my heart. I think your family really does love you a lot and they will continue to love you even if they do not agree with you, but right now they are understandably concerned by the way you are lashing out.

    I get the need to work through your feelings and I hope you are able to do that and find peace. A blog can be a powerful tool to that end. Just be careful not to alienate the people who love you most. The suggestions they make are only because they care about you, whether they are right or not. (I am in no position to say whether or not they are right since we really do not know each other beyond one weekend and some blog posts.) Marilyn is absolutely right. This is not a game or entertainment. This is your life, and there are people in it who love you beyond what you believed yesterday or believe today. Don’t take that for granted. Work together to find healing and peace for all of you.

  • Wendy:

    You’re right this is no game. It’s HER life. And I’m getting the idea that just because we’re some random blog readers that we don’t care about her. Which is true for some but I guarandamntee not true for all.

    I WAS her. My ENTIRE life in an evangelical church. The separation from that was hellish and I still struggle with it. The support of others that went through the same thing help tremendously.

    She’s going to alienate people. Sorry, it’s gonna happen. Even if she wasn’t posting here, her friends and family would still be saying this stuff that she needs counseling and help. This blog helps her by (hopefully) making her realize she’s not alone.

    I have no doubt her family loves her and they will need time to adjust. Hopefully they will

  • Sue UK:

    Rechelle,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and never commented but I just thought that I’d say that it’s difficult to understand the depth of feeling underlying this issue to some Americans. I know it’s regarded as a cop out but I think of myself as an agnostic. My son doesn’t believe in God, which is something I only found out the other day, although he has obviously been an atheist for some time. It just wasn’t important enough for him to mention and when he did it was a passing comment which no-one commented on.

    Even if I had disagreed with him I would not have tried to change his mind, he has a right to his own opinions and to live his life the way he thinks fit. He, and you, are not harming anyone by their beliefs. I abhor the terrible acts committed in the name of religion, throughout history, and Christians are just as culpable as any other.

  • Inga:

    Rechelle, I know your daily struggle dealing with family who believes/feels/thinks differently than you is a difficult one. I hope eventually they will be able to accept who you are not just “tolerate” who you are.

  • Rechelle, this was a great post. You have to be true to yourself, and finding that truth can sometimes be hard not only for ourselves, but for the ones who love us too. I hope that your family and friends can, over time, realize that while you may not share their same religious views, you are still the person they have always known and loved. Keep being honest, stay strong. Atheism is not a mental or physcial defect, it is a powerful enlightenment of the human mind. For me, the most profound moment of my life was the complete realization that my life is not guided by an invisible spirit in the sky, but by my own hand. Since then, I have been the happiest, the most peaceful that I have been in my entire life. I’m glad to know that you are finding that, too.

  • Rhonda:

    Just like you hate to see your children hurting, your mother is feeling the same for you. She loves you unconditionally. Why should she not comment? Everyone else has that freedom.

    Anyway- I feel as if your problem is not, and never has been with God- it is with people.

    Anger is a great mask for fear.

  • Wendy:

    huh? What should she fear? Other than pissing off her family.

    Has she ever said her anger is with God? Kind of hard to be mad at something you don’t believe in. She’s been damn forthcoming about her anger at people. People who have been telling her she needs “testing” etc. She SHOULD be angry.

    Why is anger necessarily a bad thing?

  • Megan:

    How does this affect any of you? Really? Even Mom, Rechelle’s personal choices about religion have no bearing on your life whatsoever. None. Religion is personal and none of anyone else’s business. Love on the other hand should be unconditional.

    Is it really that hard to let someone have their little corner of the internet? This is a big, huge, ginormous place and if what you read here doesn’t please you, why not go somewhere that does? A blog is a personal place where the blogger is allowed to have her voice. I go to plenty of blogs where the blogger quotes scripture and sings the praises of homeschooling. I don’t like it, so I close the page and move on. I would never tell the blogger to stop writing what they feel because it offends me. How obnoxiously presumptuous. Who are you to tell a blogger what to blog?

    Does it really offend you so much to that you can’t let this woman have her tiny little blog on this tiny little corner of the interwebz? This is exactly why many of us are so critical of Christians because they just steamroll everything and everyone. You wear your religion around you neck, plaster it on your car, splash it all over the internet and elect MY public policy makers based on YOUR religion. Exactly when is enough enough for you? You won’t be happy I guess until everything is your sanitized, lily white, Christian right wing version of reality. Can’t you just for once let someone else have an opinion in this world?

  • jalf:

    @Ronda: As an “outsider”, religion *is* a very interesting subject. So why not blog about it?

    @Jill: She’s not “mocking” or “denigrating”. She is pointing out real actual problems with Christianity: From what it preaches to how it has historically caused people to act, to it actually being true. None of that is “mocking”, any more than I mock MacDonalds by saying their food is unhealthy. It might be unpleasant to hear for someone who loves and adores them ,but it is a simple statement of fact, not mocking. It might be unpleasant for you to hear of all the bad things Christianity has to answer for, or that what it teaches as the truth just plain doesn’t make sense, but ultimately, that’s your problem. No one is mocking your religion. You’re mocking your own intellect if you refuse to face up to these valid criticisms of the faith you build your entire life around.

    “I’m a Christian, I haven’t disrespected your point of view”
    You just did. You just disrespected her point of view by saying it’s insensitive and mocking and basically that she should really just have the decency to keep quiet about it. Look in the mirror, and you might see why she felt this post was necessary. This unthinking arrogance, that “Christians are the true people, the ones you have to be considerate of, the ones who have feelings. Non-christians are only tolerated as long as they’re nice to us” is what’s disrespectful and intolerant. Others saying she “needs healing”, or “is clouded” is just so condescending and disrespectful it’s painful to read.

    And what’s even more disrespectful is that this attitude is apparently so ingrained that you can’t even see it yourself! That someone can honestly claim that they’re being tolerant, while at the same time not tolerating someone pointing out a few *facts* is just mind-blowing.

    “You don’t have to build up your confidence in your opinions by tearing down another belief system, do you?”
    Well, yes you do. That’s what atheism means. You can hardly have confidence in yourself as an atheist if you’re unable to point out why religion doesn’t make sense, just like I wouldn’t have much confidence in a Christian who can’t say why it’s likely that God exists. If religion is taboo, atheism can’t exist. No hard feelings, and no personal attacks, of course, but criticising a religion is perfectly fair game. Just like criticising atheism, or movies, or scientific theories or political ideologies, is fair game. Why shouldn’t it be? Why should Christianity, alone of all things, be exempt from criticism?

    If you’re truly interested in her viewpoints as an atheist, then listen. Don’t ask her to “be atheist without criticizing my religion”, because that’s not possible, and it doesn’t make sense.

    If you just want to live in your own little bubble where your faith is never challenged, and it *doesn’t matter* whether you’re right or wrong, don’t read atheist blogs.

    Dear Christians, if you are truly as tolerant and accepting as you *pretend* to be, act like it! Don’t pretend that you PERSONALLY are being insulted every time someone says “so this Haiti thing is pretty bad, eh? Why would God do something like this?”, or just “We know for a fact that the theory of evolution is true. God did not just wave his hand create us all as described in the Bible”. It’s not about you, it’s about the religion you happen to follow.

    The fact that you feel personally persecuted by factual observations and questions like these says a lot more about your own open-mindedness than it does about Rechelle

    @PKW: “The thing about tolerance is that sometime, most of the time, ideally all the time you need to respect people for their belief, or lack of it”
    Not at all, you got it upside down.
    All the time, not most of the time or sometimes, but *all* the time, you must respect people *regardless of their belief or lack of it*.
    We should certainly not respect *anyone* for being Christian. What we *should* do is respect Christians for being human. Just like we respect buddhists and atheists for being human. Every human being is worthy of respect. Regardless of their belief. And not *for* their belief.

    And just because we have to have respect for other human beings does not mean we have to respect their beliefs. Hitler believed it was a great idea to kill millions of jews. That was his belief. I don’t think that is worthy of respect. Christianity teaches a dozen things we know to be lies. It is only possible to believe in the religion in the first place, by creatively reinterpreting the Bible to carefully avoid the bits that aren’t culturally acceptable today, or which have been turned out to be false, and it teaches a lot of unpleasant things. I don’t respect it, and people who believe it don’t earn any “extra” respect from me. But I do respect the people who just so happen to be Christians. Not because they’re Christian, but because they’re people.

    But once we start automatically respecting people’s beliefs, we’re pretty screwed. We’d have to respect serial killers, because they believed it was the right thing to do. We’d have to respect racists because they believe non-white people are inferior. We’d have to respect pretty much every unpleasant point of view imaginable.

    No, I’ll respect *people*. But the things they believe only get the respect they deserve. I won’t pretend to be ok with murders just because I’m talking to a convicted serial killer. And I won’t pretend Christianity is great just because I’m talking to a Christian. People get the respect they deserve as people. Beliefs get the respect they deserve as beliefs. Let’s not get the two mixed up.

  • Wendy:

    @jalf….”You can hardly have confidence in yourself as an atheist if you’re unable to point out why religion doesn’t make sense, just like I wouldn’t have much confidence in a Christian who can’t say why it’s likely that God exists.”

    I love you…marry me.

  • Mindy:

    This post makes me so grateful to my mom. Literally bringing tears to my eyes. I never realized how supportive she was being by just letting me find my own course and not trying to stuff me back in that box.

  • If you are going to be believe in God, then do it. If you’re not going to believe in God, then don’t. I use to really enjoy your blog, but, Lady, you are stuck on one subject and need to move on to more interesting topics. Have an interesting day, PLEASE!!

  • Wendy:

    Jo–don’t read it. It IS interesting for people who have gone through it, who ARE going through it and definitely for those who might go through it.

    Wow–telling a blogger what they should and should not blog. I find it rude

  • Brian V.:

    Thanks for blogging, Rechelle. Like Wendy and many others, I have been harmed by Christianity and survived. I no longer expect believers in the sky-god to get-it. My mom speaks in much the same voice as your mom, in fact I shuddered when I read mom’s post. I am sorry she does not respect you. Many Christians like your mom and and the scorn-heaper Brian from an earlier comment, know the real you. I would laugh if I could stop crying. Keep telling the truth, dear lady and know that it is a joy and support to many of us.

  • Noelle:

    I happen to agree with your stance on just about everything, but I do think none of us – religious or not – can do as you say you want to: figure out the truth. We’ll all find out what the truth is in the end, and until then, the best one can do is follow his gut, without falling into the trap of egotistically believing they own the truth.

  • Megan:

    Brian, really? The idea that intellectuals (read: atheists) don’t serve the world and their community is ridiculous. The fact is we are not busy serving god, so we can devote our energy and time to charitable endeavors. The fact is when we do reach out to our community, or the world at large, we expect nothing in return, and we don’t force people to convert to our world view in exchange for our help and generosity.

    I am an atheist and have been my entire life. I have never once believed in god. Yet I adopted a child from Africa, continue to support a family of three boys there that have lost both parents. I am part of a community group that does outreach to charities and families in need in my community. In the past seven months we have donated our time, money and supplies to eight different charities in my town. I delivered Meals on Wheels faithfully for three years before moving to a city that doesn’t offer this program. We are always on the lookout for ways to help and improve this world and somehow we manage to do so without god.

    Yes Brian, even without god people can tell the difference between right and wrong. Even without god we can see someone who needs our help and reach out to them. Helping another person should be more than just throwing some money in a collection plate or forcing your beliefs on someone in exchange for your help.

  • Cheyenne:

    Rechelle,

    I just have to say that my coffee cup and I have spent way, way too much time most mornings hanging out with your blog and the comments. It’s so much fun, I just can’t drag myself away. And days like today, I just *have* to hit refresh one.more.time, because the comments, OMG! I’ve found several people who are my new idols, lol!

    BTW, though (note to others who are interested), I just discovered that I can subscribe to the Comments RSS (top right)to keep up on everything, which is great b/c I’ve found some gems in the comments of older posts, but I never can keep track of the number each post had to know whether to click on that one again or not. So, score!

  • Christine from Canada:

    Jaif: Right on, about the not respecting other people’s faiths bit!

    People (atheists and believers, alike) bandy that expression around — “I respect other people’s religion” — not understanding what it MEANS.

    Frankly? I’m embarrassed/infuriated by all things religious in the 21st century. Such a waste of our brain, time, money!

    I “tolerate” religion is the best I can do.

  • Darlene:

    To all the “but do you have to be so angry?”

    Yes. When a decision, any decision, is met with such toxic and abusive manipulation, a thousand times yes.

    When you realize that most of you life has been a lie, that you were supporting people and ideas that caused pain and harm, a million times yes.

    And to all the “but why do you have to mock our beliefs? Can’t we all just respect each other?”

    First, if you don’t want your beliefs mocked don’t have such mind-numbingly ridiculous beliefs.

    Second, neither I nor anyone else have any reason to respect a belief. I ridicule flat-earthers; birthers; big footers; and UFOers all equally. Silly, stupid, dangerous, illogical, irrational, and/or harmful ideas do need ridicule, if only to bring them into the light and expose them.

    Third, what the heck do you think all the religious mutters are doing to Rechelle? If you think for one second that are showing her any respect then you need to check a dictionary. What they are doing is abusive and cruel. They are treating her like a child throwing a tantrum instead of a grown woman who rationally and painfully made up her own mind instead of blindly following with the rest of the sheeple.

    That is more then mere mocking, it is mean. They have lost any rights to respect or courtesy. My FSM, to even think that Hovind is qualified to do anything but quack along suggests the level that these people are operating at.

    They aren’t doing this out of love and concern for Rechelle, they are doing this for selfish reasons: to maintain their cognitive dissonance. If she can walk away, it suggests that they may not be right, and they simply can’t face the thought that could be wrong. They have too much of themselves invested into this fantasy to let it go.

    So if someone disagrees, that someone MUST be crazy or ill or haz the EBIL in them! Because otherwise, well, maybe, just maybe, what they think is so might not quite be as they think.

    If it wasn’t about them, if their egos were separate from Rechelle’s (as it is in healthy relationships) they could just accept her decision and move on. There might be some adjustment, but it wouldn’t create this level of bile and abusiveness.

    No, this level of anger and fear comes from a threat to the self, and that is what her “family” and “friends” are reacting to. It isn’t because they love her, it’s because they love themselves much more, and she must be brought into line, or marginalized (oh, she’s just nuts), or shunned. But to respect her is too great a threat.

    So, no, there is no reason to be tolerant, or kind. Rechelle is fighting for her life here, with those closest to her trying to drown her.

    Like crabs, dragging each other back into the pot, lest one escape.

    It is vile behavior, and unbecoming of anyone, let alone someone who is supposed to love you. Selfishness of the worst kind, and it should not be tolerated, ever.

    Rechelle, believe it or not, family is an accident of fate. You have mo greater obligation to family then you do to anyone else. I would tolerate disrespect from a stranger, and certainly not anyone else. That is crossing a line. You can find people who are willing to respect you for who you are rather than who they wish you to be.

    Good luck, and stay strong.

  • JJ:

    You’re right to believe whatever you want to believe – totally respect that. But I think this is beyond that. It is not about being an atheist or being a christian – it’s about trying to find yourself and maybe even more. Yes anger is NOT a bad thing , but what are you truly angry about? You can not make peace with being an atheist ( or anything else – Christian, Muslim, etc.) until you are at peace with yourself. What are you angry about Rechelle? It is easy to point fingers and be mad about the Christian lie, idiocy, intolerance, etc. but something else is going on. While I don’t know you personally I recognize the frustration and turmoil – there is always something deeper under the waves. Maybe that is what your family sees – that your turmoil is greater than what you say – and of course they are going to turn to their Christian beliefs, that is what they look to. but they are still there for you. Families are there to beat on sometimes – they are there for you to fall on. but they can be bruised too. You can not just seek to be understood, you have to try to understand others too. But I see you are in a hard place right now – it can be difficult when you feel like you have given to everyone and you are looking for someone to give to you.

  • Brian V.:

    Brian, my mom has always dreamed of having a Brian like you but she got me instead…. would you consider being adopted by the mom you deserve? (apologies to mom and Brian- couldn’t resist that one….)

  • Christina:

    I was going to make comments about the public emotional blackmail by “mom,” but Heather and Cheyenne have already said it more eloquently.

    Rechelle, I hope your husband and kids are more supportive than your extended family and local friends. Until there are enough atheists/skeptics/secular people in America so that we can have local “in person” groups and activities, I see nothing lesser in having online supporters and friends. Of course, I also don’t buy into the theory posted about about how your relations are going to be the only ones left “in the end.” You can’t help who you’re related to, but you don’t have to like or hang around with them either. You should chose to surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, regardless of blood relation.

    On a side note, someone mentioned Foundation Beyond Belief above. There is a series called Parenting Beyond Belief. It teaches people how to raise kids to know without being indoctrinated (into anything, theist and non-theist). You can search on You Tube for a series of short videos as an overview. It seemed like a good resource for a “new” atheist.

    I hope you have a great day!

  • Mom said: “I agree that getting some counseling will help you sort out your feelings. {snip}
    Rather than fighting with everyone go and get a physical. Get some counseling and I would say since you are married to a Christian man get some marriage counseling. Then you can tell us all that the doctors and counselor found nothing wrong.”

    Wendy (and others) responded: “I will stand by my ‘being an atheists=needs counseling’ is utter BS comment”

    Let me suggest an alternate interpretation, here. I’m not at all sure that Mom is suggesting that Rechelle needs counselling because something is wrong with her. I think she’s suggesting that counselling, like the blogging, could be a tool to help her work through this rather large change in her life.

    The second paragraph that I quoted looks like advice for smoothing Rechelle’s transition from a social standpoint, rather than agreement with view that Rechelle should be trying to find out what’s wrong with herself. She’s basically suggesting that Rechelle humor the people who are concerned that this transition reflects some sort of physical or psychological problem. “Then you can tell us all that the doctors and counselor found nothing wrong.” I have mixed feelings about that, because – as others have pointed out – the implication that atheism is a ‘problem’ is somewhat offensive, and people should be called out on that prejudice; but I think Mom is looking for ways to avoid causing social problems that could haunt the family for years to come. She may also be hoping for some personal reassurance that, in fact, nothing is actually wrong with her daughter, medically speaking. Which, given that this is big, unsettling tranisition for her, too, is not entirely unreasonable.

    I mostly skimmed over the rest of Mom’s post, because a lot of it does seem waaaay too personal to be posting on a blog like this; but again, while a lot of it does look like emotional manipulation, it also looks like someone trying honestly to express their love and concern (and not being sure how to do so in a forum like this). Yes, all that could – and probably should – have been said in an email, but if Mom feels like this is where Rechelle is doing most of her communications these days… ::shrug::

  • JJ:

    Uh Darlene – what did your family do to you? I have seen what you have described in families – but not with Rechelle’s mom’s comment. She does seem truly worried about her daughter. She does not see happiness in her daughter and yes she is falling back on what she knows and believes, but it is in response from what she sees coming out of Rechelle. Rechelle is having a hard time and it can be difficult to try to explain or comfort others when you yourself need the comfort and support. It is hard for us moms to keep our mouths shut – sometimes we DO just need to hug and hold on in silence. Don’t bash her for being concerned.

  • Olivia:

    Rechelle, please keep doing what you are doing. You helped me out of my shell, introduced me to a new world of truth and gave me courage to plan my “coming out”, by allowing me to read your blog.

    After seeing how those who supposedly know you are responding, I must admit it scares me, but I feel ready to face my family/friends because of the support you have been getting as well. I now know that there are so many people out there who have been thru what I am about to face.
    You are my hero! :)

  • Christine from Canada:

    Rechelle, tell us (if you care to, that is): Are you are still in touch with your extended family?

    If so, what is the “atmosphere” like?

    I can only speak for myself (an atheist), but I’m making all sorts of assumptions about them, simply based on these blogs.

    Is it as prickly for you to be around them in person, as it seems to be in print?

    If so, is it something that you see as being a non-issue after some time has passed?

    Feel free (or not) to comment. Chin up!

  • Brian V.:

    Olivia, happy outing, Olivia!
    Wow, be gentle with yourself.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    A couple of weeks ago I commented on this blog “tolerance is over-rated” and took a tiny bit of heat for it. I couldn’t be bothered at the time to wade into what I meant. I am so glad to see others fleshing out this notion more fully today, outlining the critical difference between respect for “individuals and their sovereignty” and “tolerance for terrible ideas.”

    I also have to second the motion rejecting anything along the lines of “family is all you’ll have in the end” (read; “watch it, lady!”) You have no way of knowing that! Families break apart all the time, often under the strain of circumstances like the one we’re watching unfold on this blog. My own mother shunned my beloved oldest sister when she began to seriously question our faith of origin. I mean, she literally quit talking to her (although I think it was mutual.) Guess what? My sister died quite suddenly during this estrangement – while talking on the phone to a FRIEND. This compounded my mother’s natural grief exponentially. Food for thought.

    When I quickly compose a short list of folks I’d call in a crisis, family comes in around number 5 or 6. Good friends – what else is a spouse? – can easily outweigh blood relatives. Doesn’t mean you don’t love them, just that they aren’t automatically your best friends, or even good friends.

  • amy:

    Having left the evangelical bubble over 10 years ago, I can say that it takes time to work through everything. It’s extremely difficult to find the line between telling the truth and being respectful of other people’s rights to believe something. Believers will expect you to respect their beliefs themselves, but that is ridiculous. You can’t respect a belief you think is patently false. You can only show respect for a person’s right to hold an erroneous belief.

    Those on your comments who are expecting you to talk of your newfound freedom (and yes, it is nothing short of wondrous to emerge from a stifled and one-dimensional point of view) without offending are expecting a lot. Especially if they are expecting you to give credence to a theology you now reject.

  • JulietEcho:

    Keep posting what you need to post. There’s a tendency (and pressure) to keep a *lot* bottled up while you’re a Christian, including your doubts and criticisms. It’s natural and healthy to feel angry, to experience outrage, to let the feelings flow!

    Who knows where you’ll be in a few months, or a year? Maybe you’ll still have a lot of fiery feelings left to get out, or maybe you’ll be in a calmer place. Either way, your feelings are valid and people who are trying to get you to change the way you’re blogging *really* don’t understand what blogs are.

    Cheers,
    Juliet

    P.S. I doubt atheists would be very interested in religion if it didn’t permeate our culture and try to impose its morality on us at every turn. It might be hard to see things from the other side, but US culture *constantly* reminds non-believers that religion is everywhere and is expected to be the default for “good” people.

  • LucyGolden:

    Although I don’t know you personally, Rechelle, and don’t claim to think I do based on what you write in your blog, your momma is incorrect, in my opinion. I do love you, because you are a human being living on the planet Earth. I care what happens to my fellow man whether I know them or not. It’s called compassion.

    The picture of you that I have in my head isn’t a woman who goes around all day ranting & raving. I can imagine that you feel betrayed for being told fairy tales for all your life. Your online journal is a perfect place to vent. I don’t doubt that your friends are there by your side. For goodness sake, I don’t think everyone would be so upset if you all of a sudden decided to change your political affiliation – this is, *basically*, similar. I’m sure your family will come around in time. Only your belief system has changed; your still the same Rechelle on the inside!

    You go girl!

  • Darlene:

    @ JJ
    My family loves and respects me, and because they allowed me to become who I am rather then mold me into who they wished me to be I see very clearly what is happening.

    If a man does not respect a woman’s right to say NO, it is a crime.

    When others do not respect a person’s right to say NO, it is a violation. Full stop. The only difference is the degree of physical harm, but the lack of respect for personal autonomy is the same; and the viewing of a person as an object rather then an individual capable of making their own decisions and reaching their own conclusions and acting upon them is also the same.

    It has all the earmarks of a stalker, or an abusive spouse: the blame (but it’s you that changed, we wouldn’t be doing this if you did what we wanted you to do; but I love you so much, and that love obligates you to listen to me as I demean and condesend to you; I’m only doing this because I care about you).

    It is a veiled-thinly veiled-threat. If you don’t fall into line, then something is wrong with you. You might be sick. And if you are sick, then I have the right to force myself and my ideas on you because you aren’t capable of thinking for yourself.

    Emotional abuse is still abuse. And like I said before, this kind of abuse comes from being threatened, not from love. Cognitive dissonance: look it up. Classic self-protection.

    That isn’t love. Love frees you to be completely and wonderfully yourself, it doesn’t bind or restrict. My spouse and I support each other, my father and I adore each other and would, and have, dropped everything when in need. We come when called, we give whatever we can, and we do it without needing payback or strings.

    I am loved for exactly who I am, flawed and free-thinking and quirky and fierce, it isn’t in spite of my flaws that I am loved, but because of them.

    My father raised me to think for myself, to be strong enough to do what was necessary to be whole. He gave me tools, showed me how to use them, and then stepped away so I could build my own world.

    I never realized what a gift that was. In school I struggled to do my own projects while other kids had pretty report that their parents did. But I soon realized that I was far better off.

    When I spoke up against a teacher who I felt was wrong, he backed me. When I started a strike against cafeteria food, he backed me. When I married my first husband he gave me away, when I divorced him Dad just asked if I needed anything, and he cleaned off his tux to give me away again for my second marriage. Without ever commenting in any negative way.
    “Is this what you want to do? Have you thought about it? What about this and that: are you prepared for it? Okay then, let’s go.”

    I wish that for everyone, and it fills me with such sorrow when I see how brutal and manipulative parent-child relationships are.

    I see how disrespectful and condesending the people around her are being. It is so clear, and it has nothing to do with love and everything to do with control and power.

    And that’s why they can’t respect her right to say NO. No, I do not want this.

    That ends the conversation. I do not want. NO. To keep going is a violation.

    Silence and a hug is one thing, suggesting your daughter is mentally ill and throwing chains of guilt around her is something else entirely.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    oh DARLENE! Tears. That is all.

  • Jennifer:

    Darlene, I hope Rechelle’s family reads your last comment. Rechelle isn’t broken, and doesn’t need to be fixed.

    I can only imagine the sweet, kind, gentle murmurs she keeps hearing about how she just needs to embrace God again. I imagine it’s deafening.

  • Marilyn:

    Rechelle, you are correct. I have friends that could never be replaced. I do not believe, however, that forgiveness is overrated. I see it as a win/win for all concerned. May you find peace as you seek to find answers.

  • Priss:

    To the people who want Rechelle to write about other things, the sorts of things she used to, I can sort of relate. Not about Rechelle’s current posts, because I am enjoying them, thinking through the points she’s making, and I think she’s doing great just as she is. But I’ve been to Christian sites where the posts are very anti-atheist and the comments are even more strongly worded against those of us who are nonbelievers. I feel physically ill when I read some of what’s said. My head feels like it’s going to explode and my stomach churns. Sometimes I have the fortitude to argue, but more often I just close the site out. I would never ask the blog author to write about something different, so in that way, I don’t really relate to the ones who object to Rechelle’s writing atheist posts, but I do understand the feelings of discomfort. It feels bad to read stuff that is so upsetting. I can guess that some of you are feeling like that when you read what Rechelle has to say about something so important to you as Christianity. If it’s getting to you and you don’t want to make real points about what she’s saying, if you just want her to write the way she used to, or only about subjects that aren’t related to religion, just try closing it out and going somewhere else for a while. There’s a big world and internet out there with lots of places that won’t make you so uncomfortable. And if you want to stay and read and argue, that’s okay too, but seriously, asking her to write about what you want to read is silly and a waste of time. The same goes for the people who just want her to tone it down and be more positive in her atheism. It’s condescending. If you like the writing style at Friendly Atheist better, that’s great. Give props to the friendly atheist, but it’s not your place to advise Rechelle on her writing style unless she asks for it.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    Oh crap, I suck at comments.

    I did not mean to disrespect Rechelle with comment #1. What she is going thru is serious.
    But I knew this post was going to bring on some heated and sometimes crazy comments, and like Cheyenne said, many of us would be spending more time reading the debate. Hence the “Game on.”

  • Rainy:

    You are a great human being. I love the way you have opened your self and put your self out there for every one to see, and to go against the grain that you were following along for so long just because some one told you it was the right way. For some it is, for you it isnt, and they just need to try to understand who you are, and understand that how you feel is not meant to hurt them.

    And thank you for continuing your blog :)

  • Elisabeth:

    But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.~ 2 Timothy 2:23
    (I’m ducking already, but at least we know this passage in the Bible is true)
    Rechelle, I am truly sorry for your struggles.

  • Amy:

    I like your mom! She loves you and cares for you….wether you believe in God is not the issue, but the mere change in “you”….

    be kind to yourself! and to your mother! :)

  • amy:

    @Elisabeth: Deuteronomy 21:18-21

    “”If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death.”

    Is this verse true as well? Is that why you’re ducking?

  • Brian V.:

    I love these verses, Elisabeth…they can be used in any way at all by anybody to support or deride. Very Good!

  • I know I won’t be nearly as eloquent as many of your posters but I’ll throw out a few thoughts.

    I do think you should consider counseling. *Not* because you might be mentally on the fritz. But because, after 41 years, this is huge. And it’s fraught with a great deal of emotion that is hard to work through on your own. That being said, the counseling could be a close friend (or hubby even) who loves you, respects you, and can listen without judgment and help you work through your questions, emotions, fears, and frustrations. Counseling and therapy have been given a bum rap when they are fabulous tools. Being smart enough to seek help proves your sane, not that you’re ready for the loony bin.

    I’d also say, please be lenient and open with your boys. Your opinion and belief toward religion may have changed, but it may not be so easy for them. At their age, church and its functions are more about the social aspect than the doctrine. Let them attend the social functions, but be open about why you don’t agree with what is taught. They’re smart boys. The more information you provide in a non-judgmental way, the smarter they’ll get. And knowledge is power.

    I’d like to say I don’t think your family is trying to insult you or be intolerant, but no one but those who are present truly know. From Mom’s comment, it’s clear she loves you very much and is struggling with your decision. If they continue to read your blog, and if your anger is as present IRL as it has been here, they are probably very confused and concerned that it’s directed specifically at them. The posts attacking a family members chosen school (and their choice to send their kids there) probably hurt them a great deal. (It’s akin to the homeschoolers attacking your choice to put your kids in public school) I hope you can find room to agree to disagree and continue your relationships. You, your mom, and your sister are (were?) extremely close. I’m sure they feels like they are losing a piece of themselves. They are not right in attacking you and saying there is something physically/mentally wrong with you or trying to convince you to reconvert. Continue to be persistent while being kind. You kill more flies with honey than vinegar. I’m sure you have more in common in life than just your faith.

  • kimj:

    Wow! I’d say it’s time for that glass of wine that Jenny suggested a week or two ago!! Looking forward to it…hopefully soon?!

  • Jill:

    JALF:
    It’s evident you’ve not read my former posts or very many of Rechelle’s. You certainly were quick to jump down my throat while calling me arrogant, intolerant, living in my own bubble, etc. “Christians are the true people, the ones you have to be considerate of, the ones who have feelings. Non-christians are only tolerated as long as they’re nice to us” Good lord, you make this statement up, put quotes around it and assign it to me? You think you know what I’m thinking other than what I actually post on this blog?

    If you had read any of my other many posts since Rachel “came out” some weeks ago, you will have seen that they were ALL in support of her. This is the first time I’ve even identified myself as a Christian. I don’t have a SINGLE problem with intelligent critcism or questioning of my faith. I don’t feel the need to convince anyone else of what is, after all, taken on faith. I have absolutely zero interest in convincing someone else their point of view is wrong.

    Don’t lump me in with other Christians who may be giving her a hard time. I haven’t, and I don’t deserve your criticism. Rechelle herself brought up the subject of her own intolerance (and has done so before), and this time I agreed with her.

    Although it doesn’t seem to go both ways, I’ve always defended Rechelle and liked her. And I AM getting tired of the rants against Christianity. Doesn’t make me intolerant. Makes me irritable because it is a deliberate attack against a personal faith and I don’t do that to anyone else.

    Thanks for defining atheism for us as tearing down another belief system. I guess now I know.

  • Beth:

    bdaiss,
    very eloquent and beautifully stated!

  • It’s one thing to “come out” in a big liberal city, surrounded by folks of all different beliefs and backgrounds, with a nice UU church down the street full of people eager to debate you, then share cake and coffee afterwards. It’s quite another to break free of family and community in an area of the country that does not have many like-minded people. It takes a lot of fortitude (powered by anger!) to announce your beliefs. This is the beauty of the internet. It allows Rechelle and the rest of us to asynchronously discuss these topics, to support Rechelle, or not in some cases, and to give her a community that would not have been possible 20 years ago. It’s quite exhilerating!

    This blog is yours. You get to fly your flag, and call out to your “peeps”. Hopefully all this virtual hand-holding will smooth your transition.

  • *sigh* To ‘mom’, and others who think ol’ Dr. Dino is worthwhile:

    Kent Hovind is a two-bit hack whose knowledge of science is both laughable and pathetic. Currently serving time for tax fraud, this lovely fellow has three degrees from unaccredited, diploma-mill institutions, and his doctorate is in ‘Christian Education’ through the absolutely risible Patriot University.

    His high school teaching was done at private, Baptist schools where he was not required to be state-certified, and he started one of those schools himself which practically guaranteed him the job of his choice.

    ‘Dr. Dino’ is a fraudster, using false credentials to ‘lie for jesus’, putting out theories that are the worst kind of pandering, evangelical tripe – utterly devoid of anything even close to any sort of scientific content. He sets up straw man after straw man and neatly demolishes, while not understanding the first word of evolutionary biology, abiogenesis, cosmology, physics, chemistry, geology, paleontology, and more.

    Oh, and by the by – his $250,000 challenge has been answered on mulitple occasions, but he has either abjectly refused to respond or has simply moved the goalposts and refuses to pay.

    But, ‘mom’, if you’d like to say that a tax-evading fraudster is a good source of biblical authority… more power to you, I suppose?

    For anyone that still thinks Hovind has any idea what he’s doing, may I reccomend Thunderf00t’s wonderful series “Why do people laugh at creationists?” that addresses Hovind (in part) and most of his arguments. It starts at the link below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS5vid4GkEY

  • DD:

    Thank you for your input Grimm. He is paying for his crime and we all should obey the law. Just like the bankers and government that get into trouble. But we still follow them.

    But his teaching on evolution is spot on. I appreciate your time in looking up his teaching ect.

  • Kay in KCMO:

    Heavens to Betsy (whoever the hell she is)! As of this writing there are 110 posts and no way am I going to wade through them all – the first 30 or so were enough.

    Rechelle, I’m the one who sent you the article about the German homeschoolers. I’ve been reading your blog for about six weeks after I followed a link from a link at Recovery from Mormonism (now *there’s* a place not for the faint of heart! Jesus lovers cower in the corners) and felt compelled to finally post a comment.

    Someone up top said something along the lines of “…you would have more credibility if you…” To that person I say What the hell?! Why, WHY should Rechelle care about having credibility with strangers while WRITING IN HER JOURNAL? Credibility? Really?? Journals are for recording events and feelings, working things out and, yes, even for venting. Public ones have the added dimension of sharing what’s been written. Rechelle doesn’t need to establish credibility with anyone when all she’s doing is writing about *herself* – *her* thoughts, *her* feelings, events in *her* life. A person who is extremely insecure might worry about “credibility” when writing in their own journal, but what kind of icky, treacly, non-offensive person would that be? Anyone who would be that needy for external validation could have nothing interesting to say.

    I know all this is redundant, but it just seems so obvious.

    Btw, Rechelle, the head lice story is easily one of the funniest thordamn things I have ever read. It’s right up there with “37 Record Store Clerks Feared Dead in Yo La Tengo Concert Disaster” which will never be surpassed for the funny. I started bawling when you marched into P-Dub’s house and announced that the kids had head lice and I was speechless with tears streaming down my face for the rest of the story. Choking. Couldn’t breathe.

    And if two strange women show up on your doorstep never fear – it’s just me and my friend Jill. We’re going to stalk you because we want you to befriend us. And while you’re befriending us would you also feed us? Because we’ll be hungry after all the driving.

  • Forgive me, DD, but.. ‘spot on’?

    No, it’s not. It’s utterly impossible, completely lacking in basis, devoid of anything resembling rationality, and biblically biased to the point of literally ignoring any evidence to the contrary.

    It’s not as bad as the creation museum, but everything Hovind has said about Evolution has been utterly refuted for decades. The man has no idea what evolution even is, and continues foisting off old canards like ‘no one has ever seen speciation’ and ‘the flood accounts for fossils’ – heck, he even says mankind was responsible for dinosaur extinction because we overhunted them after the Flood!

    Reality has no grip upon him – yea, verily, he is either willfully ignorant or willfully false, and I’m not entirely certain a fellow with his proverbiable fingers in his ears going ‘neener neener I’m not listening’ is any better than one who sees the evidence and lies deliberately to line his pockets while preying on the faithful.

    If that’s what you meant, I apologize – but Hovind is a clueless ass, and I really feel I must make that abundantly clear.

  • Beebs:

    OK, I’m too lame to read all of these posts and synthesize them intelligently. I just want to apologize to you, Rechelle, for name calling. I specifically said you were sounding darned intolerant and that wasn’t very nice of me.
    When I sat down to respond to this and went looking back for all kinds of examples, …I didn’t find too many. You maybe have been a little mocking and sassy, but not really all that intolerant. I was confusing you with your many vocal and strident supporters! lol.
    I will say again I can’t believe I’m being sucked into this. I certainly don’t want to argue the existence of God/god/gawd as what do I know? I’ve just taken up residence in your comments section in order to stick up for the “nice” open-minded, do-good churches and for those of us who are trying to be more like Jesus just to keep from screaming at our kids and store clerks.

  • brightmom:

    Listen Rechelle,
    If you don’t believe in MY imaginary friend, it makes me feel bad and then I get angry and that anger has to go somewhere so I project it onto you and call you an “angry atheist.” I think I’ll take my toys and go play on another blog. ;)

  • How people deal with emotions is a personal, individual thing. Sometimes it’s messy, but the messiness doesn’t need to be apologized for. I am seriously amazed at the level of hate I could read in that person, Brian’s, comment. Those things Rechelle and her family do and choose to donate their time and money to are nobody’s business. When someone is truly generous and thoughtful they don’t need to put up a flag and say “See what I did”.
    Rechelle I hope that this blogging is helping you get through what is obviously a very earth shaking experience. So keep doing what makes you happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

  • Kay in KCMO – come over anytime. You will have to wait on the porch until I shove all the debris into the nearest closet though.

  • “Thank you for your input Grimm. He is paying for his crime and we all should obey the law. Just like the bankers and government that get into trouble. But we still follow them.”

    uh, no. to blindly follow authority when its obvious that they’re not fit to lead is a vice, not a virtue. that sort of attitude is why the USA is slowly becoming one of the least democratic of the Western Democracies :-/

    “But his teaching on evolution is spot on. I appreciate your time in looking up his teaching ect.

    nope. Kent Hovind doesn’t even know what evolution is, so no, his teaching is not spot on. His fallacies and strawmen-attacks have been refuted thoroughly, just like every single creationist argument ever made has been refuted, in some cases over 100-200 years ago. The TalkOrigins Archive (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html) has had them indexed for years, and for those preferring video, there’s thunderf00t’s series “Why do people laugh at creationists?” (http://www.youtube.com/user/Thunderf00t#p/c/AC3481305829426D/0/BS5vid4GkEY)

  • Rechelle, I am coming over to be befriended by you as well…. but only if you are cooking.

  • jalf:

    @Jill: No, what I wrote was based solely on that one post. I have read several of your other comments, but when I posted that comment, it was based solely on that one.

    And no, I don’t know what you’re thinking. But I do know that in the very post where you said you were respectful and tolerant, you managed to undermine it immediately with your implicit statements that her beliefs are only okay as long as they don’t contradict yours. That they get “tiresome”, that they are simply “mocking” or “denigrating” your faith. They are nothing of the sort. You’re just belittling her posts, which is not very respectful or tolerant. And your talk about “hoping she can move beyond this stage and mature in her beliefs” is just condescending.
    That was the point I was trying to make. Not that you’re a bad person, or that I even know what kind of person you are, but simply that in the very same comment where you praised your own tolerance and asked for the same in return, you implicitly, without even thinking about it or realizing it, acted in a very intolerant manner.

    And no, none of this says anything about you as a person. I was targeting that specific comment, and the attitude it portrayed, specifically. If you don’t feel it described you, then feel free to disregard my comment. :)

    Of course, to avoid causing more offense than intended, I should also point out that the rest of my comment (including the quoted bit you referred to) wasn’t directed at you specifically, but referring to a good mix of the Christian comments made above (at least the condescending or intolerant ones). Many Christians do seem to feel that their beliefs and their feelings are “special”. It’s fine to tell an atheist she’s going to rot in hell forever, but if an atheist tells you your religion sucks, then it’s rude and “mocking” and “denigrating”. Then she should just please be quiet and talk about something else instead. Many Christians seem to feel that their belief is taboo.

    “Although it doesn’t seem to go both ways, I’ve always defended Rechelle and liked her. And I AM getting tired of the rants against Christianity. Doesn’t make me intolerant. Makes me irritable because it is a deliberate attack against a personal faith and I don’t do that to anyone else.”

    But why is that not intolerant? Why shouldn’t she, or anyone else, be allowed to say what she will about an impersonal abstract belief system. I can criticize the concept of “square root”, or “clouds”, or “continental drift” as much as I like, and no one feels hurt. Why can’t I criticize the concept of “God”? How is it not intolerant to want to shut up criticism of a religion? What exactly is wrong with deliberate attacks on religion?

    Apart from this, I think it’s interesting you used the words “personal faith”, because there is nothing personal in what Rechelle or the rest of us are criticising. Faith, yes, personal no. I’ll happily criticise God all day long, but I try to avoid criticising people just because they happen to believe something different than me. No one is criticising *your* faith. Many people are criticising Christianity. You’re the only person trying to paint yourself as a target of that criticism. None of us are saying “that Jill sure is a horrible Christian”. It’s not about your personal faith, it’s about a religion shared by over a billion people.

    “Thanks for defining atheism for us as tearing down another belief system. I guess now I know.”
    Well, it’s in the name, isn’t it? A-theism. The concept only makes sense in relation to theism. If no one believed in gods, there wouldn’t be any atheism either. You can’t be an atheist without tearing down other belief systems. Someone who says “I don’t really mind the Christian god” isn’t an atheist. An atheist is someone who says “the Christian god does not exist”. Which, yes, probably qualifies as tearing down another belief system.

  • …..

    An atheist is someone who says “the Christian god does not exist”. Which, yes, probably qualifies as tearing down another belief system.

    Jalf:

    Right on.

    Belief systems approached without thought, without critical evaluation, and without criticism should be torn down, I think.

    If your faith is well examined, and well-grounded, Jill, what would you possibly have to fear from us? On the other hand – if we’re asking questions that can, in fact, tear down your belief system.. shouldn’t you take a closer look at it?

  • Tracie in Washington:

    Oh my, what a fun blog to read. And to those who don’t want to read it anymore because is isn’t fun for them, gaaahhhhhh, sorry I just threw up in my mouth.

    Stay the course, stay mad if that is what you need. I have found that people get a tad bit uncomfortable when a let’s say middle aged anglo saxon female, mother, wife, sister, daughter type of a person shows anger or questions the validity of the bull $#@^ they have been fed for 40 plus years. They prefer you invisible, silent and accepting.

    I personally am having great fun dealing with the same “oh my god you are going to hell” platitudes and just down right screaming in my face from loved ones. As several commenters pointed out we are truly threatening these peoples lives because they so depend on salvation. To question their faith is to question their whole existence and they are not ready to look at the real truth. You pointed this out so eloquently in your Devil in the VCR story. Still chuckling over that one.

    So keep telling your truth and I will keep reading your blog because it is fun and interesting to see different viewpoints.

  • efrique:

    I’ve not had it as nearly bad as you**, but I can really identify with almost all of those things in one way or another.

    **(I live in a place where not believing in the local deities is less of an all-encompassing issue, but it’s still enough of a one that I need to watch quite how clearly I identify myself because it can lead to problems for my kids now and then.)

    Until you’re an atheist, I don’t think it’s easy to even recognize that this stuff happens (which often makes me wonder how much other prejudice I may simply be blind to), or when it is pointed out, to recognize how bad it is.

    > All I do is write a blog.

    (very well, I might add)

    If you’re an atheist, that’s enough to be branded a militant, right there.

    – people might accidently see what you think! (clutches pearls, heads for fainting couch)

    As I am sure you’ll be told in all sorts of subtle ways (and a few less subtle ones), that atheists, if they have the gall to exist at all, are supposed to be neither seen nor heard.

    Keep it up , Rechelle.

  • Wow! Really!? As someone who has been on both sides of this story, this is sad to me. Mom, who I believe to be the real mom is hurting, but she will get over it, because she does love her daughter. They may never ever agree on this one thing, but it will get better over time.

    A year ago my husband told me he no longer believed in God. I was sad, angry, all the emotions that all the Christians are describing. I prayed and prayed and then I noticed my prayers were NOT being answered.

    I then began to listen to what my husband had to say. I will admit at times in the beginning I didn’t know if we could work it out. I had intended to stay a Christian, but after god failed me time and time again, because he’s really not there, I began to do research and just recently realized that I too am an atheist. I don’t need counseling but I’ve vented in anger too, as a christian and now as an atheist.

    Unless you have been through it you WILL NOT understand all the emotions that deconverting brings. Christians you will NOT change her mind she has seen the light and it is her right to do or say as she pleases on her blog.

    One thing I do know for sure now after reading all these comments especially the one from mom is that I will NEVER tell my family. I will keep my thoughts to myself in the presence of my family and friends no one needs to know because I’m probably not going to change their mind and they sure the hell aren’t changing mine.

    Rechelle you are entitled to all these feeling and thoughts. I get how worried your mom is because i”ve been there myself, but she will learn to deal with it. Maybe your husband being a man of science will began to understand as well. And maybe not, but it will not be the end of the world either way. Life will move on because that’s how life is.

    All I can say is I’m so sorry that you are dealing with all of this and you have a whole community of non-believers that support and understand your situation.

  • CH:

    I’ve been following this whole thing for the past week or so, and it is both heartening and depressing at the same time. It is also, at times, very odd.

    Count me amongst your supporters, something I’d do even if you had been an atheist before and suddenly converted to some religion. I wouldn’t understand that particular stance as much as I understand your actual position now, but you’re entitled to believe what you want, even if I disagree. I would not be offended if you began posting quite a lot of material about how atheists are going to hell or how they’re all heathens, because again, you’re entitled to your opinion. I would not mock you, or toss insults in your face about your newly found religion, and if I came to not like what you were posting as much now as I had before, I would simply leave. I would not tell you that you are posting too much on one subject, that you should “move on”, and I would not tell you I was leaving. I do not know you personally, it is unlikely we will ever meet, and in the end, I find it terribly unlikely that you would care one way or another about me reading your blog or not. I might post about the issue on my own blog, and I might not. What I would not do is insult you by suggesting that I have any right to dictate what you say in your space, on your dime, and on your own time. I would not pull the passive/aggressive nonsense that farmgirl is, nor would I post something so horrifically insulting as Brian up there posted.

    I believe you are angry, because it is a very personal realization, a long time in coming, and it is easy to be angry about the perception you have been misled or that you have wasted many years on something you now see as false. What I cannot believe is that some people do not see this is exactly the same thing as someone going through a personal trauma of any sort: clearly you were raised with religion, as your mother makes abundantly clear through her comment (and since you have not called it out or deleted it, I am assuming she is in fact your mother). I am not, to forestall people from thinking so, saying that moving from religion to no religion is the exactly the same as, for instance, someone being killed by a drunk driver. Obviously no one has died here, but a piece of you has died a little, and just like a small crack that progressively grows larger, you have reached the point where the dam has broken, and thus we are reading things that in your prior way of thinking you would never have posted.

    Those who feel insulted and personally affronted by your writing, I cannot fathom. In the same way you do not know me, you probably do not know most of them either, and it amazes me that people feel themselves to be so very important that they take your comments as personal insults. Those of you who have done so have, at one point or another, pointed out craziness in some subset of the population, and not intended that it be applied to every single member of that group. Why on earth would you then expect Rechelle’s anecdotal tales to be applicable to every single member of a particular group, rather than those who walk on the fringes, in exactly the same manner? That the subject is religion, or lack thereof, makes it no different than if it were Mac versus PC, or Yankees versus Mets, or any other subject you care to name. They are all the same, no matter how much more weight some people think should be applied to anything regarding religion. I suspect that if Rechelle had been Hindu and suddenly converted to Christianity, you’d be giving a standing ovation for her having seen the light, applauding such a bold step. Your religion, whatever it is, is simply one of many in the world. People are going to reject it, either in favor of some other religion, or in favor of none. It has nothing to do with you, personally, and if you feel slighted in some way by someone observing the actions of others and commenting on them in a truthful way, none of which has anything to do with you, perhaps you should reexamine your own foundation.

    Rechelle’s journey is her own, not yours. She has elected to share her thoughts on these things with people, because the tale needs to be told, even if only for herself. If you don’t like this one, there are millions of others out there you can read instead, and you can find one that does not disagree with your worldview or that more perfectly meets your standards for writing on a personal blog. You can even check back from time to time, to see if – no pun intended – the flood waters have receded a bit. But if this is the manner in which you treat people you know, even if only through an electronic medium, when they have had an upheaval in their lives and you don’t agree with their change (or worse, insult them for it), I doubt I’d want you back. I can’t speak for Rechelle on that or anything else, of course. That is not my place.

    @Rechelle: in the same way that Ponce de Leon never found the Fountain of Youth, Coronado never found the City of Gold, and no one has found Atlantis, you will probably never find the Truth, capital T. You will find your own truth at some point, and that will be good enough. It is the journey that makes us who we are, and with luck, perseverance, and support, it helps us become the people we always wished we could be.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Agnostic Wife: I hear you; well said.

    I wonder if, in time, you’ll slowly let some people close to you know how you feel. I say that not because this is what you should do — you are the only one who can decide that. But only because being an atheist (in your case agnostic) might be a little like being gay. It’s hard to stay in the closet and pretend, when those around you think differently.

    As you know, we are the most reviled and untrusted group: people would not vote “us” into office, because we don’t believe in an imaginary man in the sky. Sad.

  • I took a few comments down for personal reasons. If you are trying to find them due to a related comment – sorry – they were just a bit much.

    I appreciate the discussion and especially the support. I have to go listen to Dr. Dino now.

  • Martha Jean C.:

    I don’t know you, Rechelle, but I love your blog; I love being an observer to the journey you are on, and I love the way you express yourself. I am not very many steps behind you, if any, so I’m finding your thoughts very helpful in bolstering my “disbelief” and self de-programming. I think it is very hard for people who have been thoroughly brainwashed for their whole lifetime to accept that you are no longer brainwashed too, and that you have rejected the “God” that they still hold as so central to their own being.

    Your blog is a beacon for many of us. I hope you will not be discouraged or disheartened by family or friends who hope to lure you back into the herd. It takes a strong person to “come out the closet” of non-believing or atheism. I admire you.

  • And how did your Dr. Dino viewing go? Inquiring minds want to know…

  • Jimmy-boy:

    All that bothering you is just the believers hiding their deep seated lack of belief. They can’t see it or recognise it. But – as they all have doubts (of course) a public deconversion can be deeply unsettling. After all every faith head is challenged by rationalists pointing out that there is no basis for their belief other than tribal allegience (which just means – being accepted, being one of the gang: we all need a bit of that) and the pain of admitting they have been wrong potentially for a long time and potentially with quite serious effect.

    But that doesn’t make it any easier to listen to their bigotry of course!

  • km:

    Rechelle, Can I send you a virtual glass of merlot? Order up some BlackAdder on Netflix, or a bit of Mr. Darcy. Have a good weekend. I have so enjoyed the blog this week.

  • Ted Powell:
  • bPer:

    km, sounds like a cunning plan, my lady. :)

    βPer

  • A.D.:

    Strange that someone interested in the truth is deleting comments from strangers weighing in on the topic and basically agreeing with her but asking her to exercise a measure of kindness and gentleness so the whole message doesn’t get lost in the hateful approach, but that sort of comment is so threatening it gets deleted. Bizarre.

  • Katherine:

    You are much more tolerant then I. I feel deep anger over how religion is used to manipulate .. how we don’t have true separation of church and state here in the US. How people say to my face that they will prey for me or they wish they could just sit with me and the bible to show me how wrong I am….I’m like…Nooooooo…I do not believe in a God…what part of that do you not understand you stupid F*%k…Religion just pushes my crazy button I guess when people won’t leave me along

    God/s and Religions have had a long run…what say…we do a reset and give the other side a chance to run things?

  • Katherine:

    ooops along = alone

  • Brian V.:

    Katherine, I really laughed when I read the “prey for me” because I have been the prey, so to speak…. when I get upset at the keyboard all kinds of interesting words click out… I’m possessed by George Carlin (I wish)

  • this is how things were right after i announced my departure from faith to my parents. everyone in the world wanted to re-convert me! however after a year or two things died down a bit and most settled into a sort of grudging acceptance.
    i’m just saying this to tell you that it’s the most intense right after you announce your deconversion. it actually does get better, although people never really accept you fully.

  • km:

    bPer,
    Indeed
    :)

  • I will not comment on all the debate, I was loved the post from your Mom. What a blessed girl to have a mom that loves you like that!

  • whoops! You should proofread before posting. The (was) should be (just)

  • Brian V.:

    Keri, like what, exactly? Please elaborate so your comment makes more sense than an observation of the weather today. Please define “blessed” and “loves you like that”
    many thanks…