So I went to church and I went to Sunday School because.....I don't actually know why. Because I was told I had to. I'm going to ask my mom next time I'm talking to her why she made me do that. My family should just consider themselves lucky that I hadn't discovered and started making my way through the Seven Deadly Sins back then, or the fire department would still be putting out the flames that would have broken out the second I walked through the church doors all those years ago.
I don't remember much from Sunday School beyond the words to every song they made us sing about sunbeams and mangers and how Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, and that's why they don't mind when land mines blow them into smithereens, because even though they are in 137 individual pieces, they are precious pieces.
(I'm going to stop here and make it clear that I am NOT picking on religious people or people who go to church. I respect your beliefs just as much as I assume you respect my lack of them. You're cool with me not believing the same things that you do, right?)
I think most of the people I know who have faith do respect that I'm not a religious person. It's not like I prance around all "lah-de--dah, I don't believe nuthin'!" but it's not really a secret that I'm a non-believer. I do not believe in god. Any god. I'm not just ambivalent about it, either -- I. Do. Not. Think. Any. God. Exists. Not being a dick about it, it's just how I feel. We can have differing opinions and not hate each other. Oh, wait -- I forgot that people live on this planet. I meant to say "we can have differing opinions on things, and should try to convince people who don't believe what we believe that they should believe it, and if they refuse, they should be hit with sticks and called bad names and shunned and you know what, just set the fuckers on fire." Not ALL people are like that, but way too many are. (One person qualifies as "way too many," by the way.)
And finally, we come to the point of today's little story: Why the hell is it so bloody important that I believe what YOU believe? Do you get a prize if you change my mind? Is it like a country fair, where god gives you a shitty little pencil-topper in the shape of Generic Big Bird if you recruit one person, and a giant stuffed ape wearing a cowboy hat if you get 50 of us to switch sides? Is heaven like Amway? Are your profit margins bigger if you can get me to sell cheap hair conditioner, dietary supplements made out of wet cardboard and your message of Peace and Love? (Peace and Love not available in the Middle East or Africa. Offer void in California unless they fix this whole Prop 8 thing and keep those darn gays from getting married.)
Here's the thing, folks: You don't want me in heaven with you. I'm not saying that just because I don't believe in heaven -- I'm saying it because I don't want you to make a horrible mistake. Have you ever had a party at your house, and invited your neighbour just so you wouldn't seem rude, even though you really don't like that neighbour because he doesn't have a job and he walks out to get his mail in his bathrobe without bothering to tie it closed and you're pretty sure you've seen him piss off his balcony on more than one occasion? But you invite him to your party to be nice, and he lurks by the chips and dip double-dipping and drinking really cheap beer while leering at your wife and scratching his nuts and then throws up on your cat? Well, in heaven, I would be that neighbour. It doesn't matter where or how I end up, if I'm anything more than bug-food, you're not going to want me there. I don't feel like behaving myself while I'm on this planet, and if it turns out I'm wrong about the whole after-you-die thing and I don't end up just rotting in a box, I'm not going to feel like behaving myself when I get to wherever I end up.
I say this not to the people I know who have faith and leave me be to not have mine -- I say this to people who will never read this anyway. I just want the words out there: Leave the rest of us alone. Stop trying to convince us we are wrong because you are right. Stop trying to save us sinners so we can go to heaven with you when we croak (hopefully while doing something hilarious and naked that will give the emergency responders a wicked-awesome story to tell for the rest of their lives.) Stop knocking on our doors to talk to us for a minute, or putting signs in our faces and lobbying for bills and laws that are mean and hurtful to the people you hate. (Yes, you hate them. Don't feed us your bullshit about how you love everyone, and you're just trying to save them. You are trying to keep them from being happy, and that's something you do to people you hate.) Mostly, I want you to ask yourself why you need to change our minds. Why isn't it enough for you to have your faith and love your god? It doesn't make it any less real to you that I don't believe it, and it won't make it any more real if I do.
Also, I was in the middle of watching some totally awesome porn when you knocked on my door, and you've totally harshed my mellow, so fuck right off.