I happened to find this community and decided to give it a look. Normally I would avoid such a community but it seems like you guys are an intelligent group. I'm often scorned and ridiculed for my methods of thought, especially in the Atheist community; thus why I generally avoid these things.
My name's Sam and I'm currently located in Southern California. I was raised Catholic and attended corresponding schools for most of my k-12 life. After giving it some serious thought and some soul searching, I decided at a relatively young age that I did not believe in the existence of the higher power known as God. Throughout most of my Catholic school career, I resented my schools and spent most of my time brooding.
After a few years, I brought myself to the conclusion that Catholic school was a very positive influence in my younger years and I'm grateful to have gone. I do feel that my sense of morality and the classic "right from wrong" mindset would not exist or at least have developed to what it is now had I not been raised as an individual of faith.
In addition to that, I've also developed a strong sense of respect for people of religious belief. For one thing, I've come to the realization that many of the more beautiful aspects of life would not have come into existence without the inspiration of faith throughout history; Just look at the poetry of the Romantic period (many of the most memorable sonnets were written about religion) or the art of the Renaissance (just look at one of the most admired sculptures in history, Dante's Gates of Hell).
Before you scorn or begin to rage at my post, I want to explain that I am far from blind to the negative aspects of religion. We're all aware that Religious belief has lead to some dark areas in history and still today causes many undesired conflicts, but I feel that it's ridiculous to only focus on those negative aspects and at least award some respect to what faith has brought us.
As a community, I think we, the atheists, tend to put too much blame on religion for the bad in the world, using it as a scapegoat for the problems in our lives. Religion has started wars in the past, yet so has greed,the quest for superiority, and the general lust for power.
While I'm on this note, I have a few questions for my fellow atheists that's always made me somewhat ashamed of belonging to this specific statistic:
Why does it offend your ears to hear the words "One Nation, Under God" in the pledge of allegiance? If God is but a fairy tale to individuals like you and I, then isn't it the equivalent of swearing allegiance to the Tooth Fairy? If anything, in saying it we are respecting the views of our founding fathers when they established this country...a country made on the principle that one should be free to believe as they wish. Instead of petitioning to have it removed, why not ignore it? It's not as if the word burns you as it leaves your lips.
Why does a nativity scene drive you into such a rage that you'd go as far as to sue someone for putting it up? Personally, when I see a nativity scene during the holidays, I simply disregard it and move on. It doesn't drive me into a fit of anger nor do I have the desire to make sure it's removed. I suppose I live on the idea that if it brings a smile to someone else's life, then it's doing some good for the world. I may not believe that Jesus Christ was some deity, but who's to say the next person driving by doesn't, and for that matter, why should we disrespect them for it?
Why is it that we seem to desire calling war on Religions? It seems like as a community, we, the atheists, seem to want to abolish any form of religion in some fashion I can only imagine under a dictatorship. What's so horrific about the idea of coexistence? Why can't Joe the Christian and Amy the Atheist unite as human beings rather than children of God? Yes, there are a few wack job Christians/ect out there that will push their religion on you until the day they die (there are extremists in every group) but for the most part, the general faith based populous is hardly like that at all. When we try to remove their right to belief, we're no better than the zealots that started the crusades or flew two commercial airliners into the twin towers. I personally think that everyone has a right to believe in whatever they wish and I firmly feel that if we tried to accept such an idea, the atheist community would get more acceptance and respect from the rest of the world.
Long intro post, eh?