This is just an interesting side note in my journey to non-belief. I used to go to a motorcycling forum in 2008 (PNW Riders), until I could no longer stomach the unchecked sexism. Not to say everyone, or even the majority, were rudely sexist — it’s just that of those posters who were obviously and insulting objectifyingly sexist, they were also a prolific and obvious presence that overwhelmed the larger and more respectful majority.
Anyway, at one point, I got into a religious debate on this forum, in their off-topic section. I don’t recall exactly what we were arguing, but I do recall my reaction to the debate, because I immortalized it in a livejournal post, reproduced here for you.
February 8, 2008, 22:02
There’s this internet forum I go to occasionally. To be honest, I signed up on it for two reasons. One, my husband is signed up on it and spends and inordinate amount of time there, so I was curious. Two, occasionally several members of the forum meet in person at restaurants or other group gathering. My husband took me to a few of those gatherings, and I met several members of the forum who I quite like. Some of them kept telling me I needed to sign onto the forum, so I did.
The thing is, now I remember why I don’t sign up for internet forums. People are really intolerant. It’s really quite disturbing. The most important precept in my life is tolerance. Honestly, I don’t care how the fuck anybody else lives their life – if they aren’t hurting me or mine, I don’t care about their lifestyle choices. I am sick and tired of running up against intolerant people everywhere, though.
I’m not referring to religious people who try and convert you, either. That’s annoying in and of itself, but what is up with agnostics and atheists who are just plain rude to the religiously minded? Is not believing or doubting the existence of God a free pass to ignoring basic social niceties? What has happened to treating your fellow man with respect and politeness? It seems like everywhere I go – whether it be the internet, the mall, or a restaurant – people are simply downright rude anymore.
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I find this particularly amusing, given that I have become “that atheist,” the one who is considered to be rude. I have found, being on this side of the fence, that it doesn’t always matter if I am actually rude — often, the mere statement — or knowledge/ context — of my atheism is enough for someone to consider me lacking in social niceties or being “rude.”
For instance, as an active mormon, if I had posted a link to a feminist LDS blog or a story about the LDS church and Prop 8, or something about the church (whether positive or negative) from the Salt Lake Tribune, other mormons would have honestly assessed and probably engaged me in discussion regarding the links.
As an avowed atheist who had rejected the LDS church, any religiously-themed links I post are immediately suspect as either anti-mormon or anti-religion. I have actually been asked why I still follow church news if I think it’s all fake, as though my cultural heritage was wiped out at the same moment I realized I did not believe in the church. It’s all context.