Goddamn I hope they don't have lions in Texas.
In any case, I recently came across a very interesting blog through the help of everyone's favorite intolerant intellectual, the Raving Atheist. This newly-discovered blog chronicles the experiences of one Shirley Setterbo of Houston, Texas, who is "coming out" to her coworkers and clients. In this case, however, she is not coming out about homosexuality, or bisexuality, as some of you may have expected. Rather, she is coming out about something entirely different.
She's telling them that she's an atheist, and that she has been for thirty years.
This may not sound like a lot, but Ms. Setterbo is in the heart of the bible belt. Those of you who have some experience with the region have some idea of what this actually means. Despite what must be a constantly confrontational environment, however, Ms. Setterbo has managed to speak with considerable eloquence and wisdom. This is particularly evident when she responds to the common Christian concern that we atheists are going to hell merely because we are atheists:
You know, if I were sitting at the Lord's right hand, and knew someone good, and decent was in the firey pits of hell, I'd try to talk God out of it. You know, reason with him. "Lord, she was good. She never intentionally hurt anyone, she worked hard, she adopted homeless dogs. She just had a mind that was more suited to logic than faith. And Lord, you did create her. You made her that way. You should give her a break". If I'm wrong, hopefully someone will argue for me.
I find it endlessly interesting, and more than a little disheartening, that most of the atheists I know regard the god they don't believe in much as Ms. Setterbo does, while most Christians seem to regard the one they do believe in as a callous, foolish, wrathful being. I also have to admit that her explanation as to why she has chosen to "come out" to her associates resonates with me:
I honestly NEVER had anything against Christians. I liked Christians. They were nice, I was nice, everything was cool. Then everything changed a few years ago. It was the most casual thing, but it changed me forever. I was just watching the news, and there was some protest in front of the White House, and I can't even remember what the issue was, I really didn't care about things like that then. Some sort of seperation of Church and State issue. And I saw this poster some Christian was holding up. It struck a chord in me, that I don't think will ever stop ringing until the day I die. It changed my life. It said, "One Nation, Under God...get it?". I was frozen. The image of that poster, came into my brain, and was etched there forever. It was like I was stuck in a repeat mode, I just kept saying, over and over, what? what? what does that say? what? What does that mean? you mean... "If it's one nation, and it's under God... then if your not under God, your not in the Nation?" "holy shit...they're trying to run me out of my own country". And my eyes were opened. And I began searching for like minded individuals to help me figure out what to do, to stop the madness. I think our government has made many mistakes, but I also think that if we try, we can make it right.
What will happen in the future? There's no way to know, except to follow along and hope for the best. I wish Ms. Shirley Setterbo all the best, and will be following her adventures with interest. I urge you to do the same.