I can’t talk about other countries or even other faiths because they did not have the kind of overwhelming effect on my life that Christianity did. It exists everywhere in my life and I can’t believe I never noticed it before. It doesn’t bother me all that much (although, as time progresses I find myself more and more irritated with the behavior of Christians). The only time it ever becomes noticeable is when I am speaking without thinking.
The funny thing is, after I say the Christian word or phrase that feels so familiar to me, my stomach lurches. It knows that it’s wrong. These expressions are such a large part of my “conversational” speaking that they fly through my mouth without stopping at my brain to check-in. Things like:
“I’m going to hell”
“Jesus Christ” (in surprise)
“holy shit”/ “holy crap”/ “holy cow”
“oh my god”
“for heaven’s sake”/ “for christ’s sake”
“lord have mercy”
“amen” (in agreement)
They all have Christian undertones and are usually used when I am reactive. Every time my husband hears me say a phrase like this, he gives me a sideways look. He’s not the only Christian that treats me this way since they’ve known of my conversion. Apparently I am not allowed to use those words and phrases now that I don’t believe in a god.
And honestly, it makes sense to do it that way. Using these kinds of phrases in everyday speech just reinforces the presence of the god idea in every day life. I never thought about it when I was a Christian- that these phrases could be off-putting for somebody who does not believe in my god.
I’m starting to understand that Christian = egocentrism. It’s hard to see it when you’re inside the beast of religion. When you push your ideas onto non-believers, you are “saving” them. When you recite the bible verses about God’s love, you are “educating” them. As a Christian, I never stopped to think that maybe I wasn’t doing the absolute best thing for everybody when I tried to convert others. Even if Christianity was a sure ticket to a real place, it’s annoying and difficult to convert someone who is unwilling to listen. That doesn’t make the non-believer wrong. I’ve never actually had a non-Christian ask me to help them convert to my religion. But when men who claim to speak to your creator tell you that you must help educate the world or they will burn in hell, you just do it. Especially if you’re a good person (notice I didn’t say smart person). A good person wants everyone to go to heaven and nobody to suffer. I wasn’t wasting time asking silly questions like “where’s the proof that heaven exists?”
I went to dinner with the in-laws a couple of days ago and the waitress sang to me for my birthday. She had a great voice. My in-laws asked her what church she went to and she replied that she didn’t go to one. They spent the next 5 or 10 minutes trying to tell her all of the best churches in the area, and how to get on a choir, and all the stories they had heard of people being “discovered” through the church. This conversation happened right before tip time so the poor waitress nodded politely and stayed engaged in the conversation. I could practically see it in her eyes that she wasn’t a Christian. My in-laws didn’t. They just knew that this girl was blessed by God with a talent that she could use to bless others. They didn’t think about her own beliefs. They were doing the “right” thing by encouraging her to use her gift as a service to others.
I was mortified and tried unsuccessfully to quiet them in a neutral manner. I would like to say that I stood up and told them to stop assuming that the girl had any interest in God and that they shouldn’t go to a woman’s workplace where she is forced to put up with people and make her listen to you tell her she needs church. But they were my ride home and they still scare me too much to tell about my own atheism.
I know they won’t ask me why I decided to leave the faith. They will insist on telling me endlessly about how good God is and how much I need him and that I’m purchasing a one-way ticket to hell with my soul. Because they are Christians; they really don’t see me as a human being with worldly hopes, strong personal morals, and a bright future ahead. They see me as a future friend in Heaven. A lost soul in need of saving. A new project. A testament to God’s will.
Christians really are egocentric.