Jun 11, 2010 What's Going On
This morning, after getting my kids to school late with my daughter dressed in the wrong clothes for a field trip and then burning my breakfast, I sat down with my laptop to check email and see what was happening on twitter. I saw this tweet from the always interesting Liz of Mom-101:
My mind immediately went to an email that was sitting in my inbox, signed “God loves you.” Every time I see an email signed that way, it annoys me. And I’m sitting here asking myself why? It’s obviously meant in a loving way, just as “blessings” is meant in a nice way. Am I just a horrible person to be annoyed by something so obviously meant as a gesture of good will?
I’ve spent hundreds of Sundays in a church, singing in a choir. The people who attend the church are fantastic, and as a visitor in their space I would never get annoyed if anyone told me that God loved me or gave me blessings or told me they’d say a prayer for me – I’m in their space, and it makes sense for them to assume that I’m religious. But outside of church, in listserv emails or in passing on the street, is it oversensitive to bristle when someone tells me to have a blessed day or proclaims God’s love for me?
As with most things in life, it’s not what’s being said to me that’s bothering me, it’s what I’m doing – or not doing – that has me bothered. I’ve never been one for bumper stickers, or their 21st-century equivalent, the customized signature line, where beliefs and attitudes are summed up in a snappy saying or a mini morality lesson. I could end every email with a pithy “God doesn’t exist – live your life well, it’s all you have.” But I don’t, because I don’t want to purposely and unexpectedly smack people with a statement that might stab at their core beliefs. I don’t feel the need to throw my beliefs – or lack thereof – in the faces of everyone I encounter. So why do so many religious people seem to lack that sentiment?
Not too long ago an atheist group ran an ad campaign in NYC subway stations, with posters posing the question “One million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?” In an AMNY article a mother worried that she teaches her children to believe in God, and if they see the posters they’ll think she’s lying. And yet I can’t enter a subway car without seeing an ad with a bible quote. I can’t walk through Port Authority without passing tables filled with books about religion and having to walk around people trying to stop me in my tracks and convince me to believe what they believe. Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on my door. Christian ladies pass out flyers on the corner outside of my subway station. Do any of them stop and think about what I’m trying to teach my children?
My annoyance is not about what other people believe. My annoyance is rooted in the fact that I would never sign an email “God doesn’t exist.” I would consider it rude to blithely throw something like that around the same way someone else might end an email with a quote from Sam Kinison or a list of favorite TV shows. I am happy to go toe-to-toe with anyone who willingly wants to debate God and religion and separation of church and state, but I’m baffled by people who need to wear their religion as a badge. And I’m puzzled as to why it’s OK for Christian propaganda to be ubiquitous but a few atheist posters cause an uproar.
I can’t remember the last time I was offended, by anything. Other people’s beliefs don’t offend me, and someone wishing me well doesn’t offend me, no matter what words they use. People throwing their religion my way doesn’t offend me, it annoys me, on the same level that I’m annoyed by the very existence of Heidi Montag and the fact that Rush Limbaugh has found four different human women willing to marry him. But I do wonder how much scorn and derision would rain down on me if I ended every email with a polite “God is not necessary to live a full, moral, rewarding life. Love yourself and others.”
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and the NYC Moms Blog.