I want to thank Salman for his post last week! And for being so open and forthcoming with his answers. I found it both interesting and informative.
We have a new post for this week! Please welcome Char. Char is an Atheist and I think you will find her journey quite interesting!
Here is Char's Introduction:
I'm a 45-year-old mother of three amazing teenage boys. I've also been married to the same wonderful man for almost 22 years now, and I believe the honesty between us, and our passionate mutual interest in growth and change are what has kept us together--and happy--for so long. I work part time as a medical laboratory technologist, but my passion is writing. I am a widely published erotica novelist and my work has definitely had a hand in broadening my horizons and opening my mind to possibilities. To me life is an adventure to be fully explored and savoured. My work can be found at www.nikkisoarde.com
1) What religion do you practice?
None. I am an atheist…or rationalist, for the more discerning.
2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
For the first thirty years or so of my life I was a committed and fairly diligently practicing Mennonite (Christian). I believed heartily in the church and the good it could do. However after several years of questioning the Bible’s inconsistencies and searching my own beliefs, feelings and capacity for rational thought I abandoned the church and my belief in religion, God, or any supernatural being. I have never felt happier, more free, or more at ease with myself than I have since the day I made that decision.
3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
Umm….I am quite firm and adamant in my beliefs. And I will discuss my viewpoints quite passionately if given the opportunity, however I am hardly a militant when it comes to broadcasting my beliefs. Beyond that, since I practice no “religion” I guess this question is not applicable.
4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
5) In your opinion, what makes someone conservative? What makes someone moderate?
I’m really not sure “conservative” is the right term here. By giving “moderate” as the alternative I’m equating a conservative to someone who practices their religion fervently and “to the letter of the law” so to speak. So, perhaps “orthodox” would be a more appropriate term? At any rate I would differentiate between the two, according to the level of devotion with which a person follows the laws and rules of their given religion. And by the degree to which it distinguishes them from the common culture around them.
In the Mennonite faith, these differences are quite apparent. i.e. you can easily pick out a Conservative Mennonite walking down the hall at the mall. But would be hard pressed to find a moderate one in the crowd. ;-)
I also think it depends a bit on how fervently one “preaches” or pushes their faith on others. A moderate believer is satisfied to pursue their personal faith as part of their own community, and will only speak of their beliefs if asked. A more conservative or, dare I say fanatical, believer is much more aggressive about spreading the word because they believe that it is their duty to “save” those around them. And they are much more dangerous.
6) What's your heaven/paradise like?
Don’t have one. I’m not saying I believe that when we die we, and all that we are, *POOF* ceases to exist, but I cannot say with any degree of certainty what does happen. The only thing I know for sure is that I won’t know until it happens.
I do believe that who we are lives on in the memories of those we have known and loved, and that we should live our lives with that in mind.
7) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
As per my previous answer, I guess the answer is no. I don’t believe anyone does. I do believe, however, that it is very sad that so many people live their lives and make their decisions based on the fear that they may not make it to heaven if they don’t do, or say, or believe the right things. Contrary to the “spin” that many believers choose to put on it…in my opinion—and that is an opinion based on 30 years of experience—that is the ultimate basis for almost every organized religion, with the exceptions of Pagans and, perhaps, Buddhists. In my opinion, a life based on fear, guilt or obligation is not much of a life at all.
8) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
The fact that it is wholly and completely mine.
9) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
I celebrate Christmas in the secular and conventional sense, but would not, of course, consider it a “holy” day. I see all the standard holidays as good opportunities to rest, renew and spend time with family and good friends.
10) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Of course! The wider the variety of faiths, cultures and opinions I can expose myself to, the better! I have friends who are Wiccan, Buddhist and Christian. I also have friends in the gay, lesbian and BDSM community. These do not, of course, represent religions, but as part of my old church I could never have really embraced these people as good friends without reservation or judgment. AS it is I think their lifestyles are fascinating, cool and I love them for being exactly who they are.
And this was another criticism I had of my old life in the church. The church community while very “close knit” to a degree was also very exclusionary. Oh, they preached the importance of going out “into the world”, making friends and spreading the word, but the truth is they were not actually very successful at it. And how can you truly befriend someone who practices a lifestyle that you disapprove of? For many the church community is the ONLY social network that they have. And in my case, that community was extremely homogenous and had very little room for differing lifestyles or opinions.
11) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Certainly. If it was a good friend and they wanted me to be part of it, I would attend. However, as a good friend, they would understand that I don’t share their beliefs and they would feel no need to ask me to take part to a level that would make me uncomfortable.
12) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law? Honestly, I hate them. As I hate any religious beliefs that oppress or exploit another group.
13) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
I think the current policy is outdated and ridiculous, as is the Catholic Church’s policy on birth control. It is merely a manifestation of the Church’s phobia of change and their love affair with power and bureaucracy. It’s also self-defeating for a church that is struggling with its membership and its leadership. I also think priests should be allowed to marry. Maybe then it would attract a different caliber of men. You know….non-pedophiles.
14) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel? N/A
15) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I would definitely say my lack of religious affiliation affects my opinion on these things. I believe in live and let live, and a person’s right to have autonomy over their own life and their own body. Does my neighbour’s decision to marry a gay partner affect me? No. Unless it’s to the degree that I might get double the free decorating advice! lol
16) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
If one of my children decided to marry someone with fervent or conservative religious beliefs…I would accept it and hopefully not let it affect our relationship. Although I confess it would concern me, but only to the extent that I would be concerned about the level of commonality that they shared and how it may affect their future. If a child of mine decided to join a religion, again….it may concern me, but would not affect my love or acceptance of them. My only true concern is for my children’s happiness. And my biggest hope is that I have instilled enough self confidence and self-knowledge in them for them to know how to achieve that. i.e. I will trust them to marry someone they love and trust, and that’s all that really matters.
17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
Of course not. However, I just feel the need to mention that this was a rather large factor in my eventual abandonment of my faith. The notion that anyone who has just not been fortunate enough to have heard the message of Christ—the masses in China, for example—will be relegated to hell simply for their ignorance was abhorrent to me. That is not the kind of God that I would choose to worship.
18) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
There are many public figures who share the atheist viewpoint, and for the most part I agree with them. George Carlin, Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher to name a few.
19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Just the opposite. I feel quite empowered.
21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Very much so.