Things The Godly Say: Just Let People Believe What They Want To Believe!

Sansa RamsayWell, it’s Friday, folks. T minus eleven hours until I can crack a fresh one and shut my brain off. I’m struggling today, folks. I really am. Sleep… she avoids me like I’m Ramsay Bolton with a hard-on and she’s a Brienne-less Sansa Stark.

But I digress, I did not come here to trigger any of you with images of Sansa’s loveless marriage. I came here to talk about people who insist I should just let others believe whatever the hell they want to believe.

The sentiment, at first glance, seems reasonable enough, and yes, I would absolutely love nothing more than to just let people believe what they want to believe. With a moment’s thought, though, it simply doesn’t work.

The unfortunate truth here, is that beliefs inform actions. Actions like the cold blooded murders of the Bangladeshi atheist bloggers. Actions like sentencing Raif Badawi to 1000 lashes. Actions like refusing medical treatment for your curably ill child in favor of prayer. These actions affect those who do not share the beliefs we’re urged to just let people have. They encroach on freedoms and rights; they fuel hatred and violence; they ruin and end lives.

Like Ramsay’s stiff shaft, we don’t have a problem with your beliefs until you start shoving it where it’s not welcome.

There are several things I require before I will just “let you believe what you want to”:

1. You must keep those beliefs to yourself. And by “yourself” I mean literally, “yourself”. Not, “yourself plus your vulnerable children”. Not, “yourself plus your congressman”. I mean keep it to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with telling people what you believe, or discussing it with those who seem to be genuinely curious, but when you’re knocking on our door on Saturday morning at 8am just to tell us about your imaginary buddies, then we have a problem.

2. You must not use your beliefs to harm or abuse other people. if you read an atheist’s blog and it makes you mad, post a comment about how you disagree. Reason your argument out, provide sources. Don’t go getting all Joffrey on our asses and swing your longsword around, lobbing off the heads who dare insult your beloved Allah. Do not murder. Do not murder, or we will find ourselves having a problem.

3. If you see a loving gay couple preparing for their wedding and it bothers you, do what the rest of us do when someone farts on a crowded bus: shut the fuck up. Under no circumstances should you stand up and start shouting about how the fart is gross and it makes you uncomfortable and the source of the emission should be banned from all future bus trips. Sit your ass down. Shut up. Keep your damned discomfort to yourself. This ain’t your bus, and you don’t make the rules.

4. Do not expect the world to share your beliefs or shape itself to them. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. Jehova. Put your fist down and step away from that door. Quit trying to convert people, quit trying to change the law to suit your unfounded beliefs and quit trying to indoctrinate your children. Let people be who they are. Hey, that kinda sounds like what we’re talking about here, doesn’t it? Just let people believe what they want to believe! It goes both ways, my friend.

Let’s have a little review shall we?

Perfectly Fine: You believe gay marriage is wrong.

Not okay: You stop gay people from getting married because you believe gay marriage is wrong. Now I’m going to have to say something.

Perfectly fine: You believe your religion should not be criticized.

Not okay: You kill people who criticize your religion because you believe it should not be criticized. Now I’m going to have to say something.

Perfectly fine: You believe the world was created 6000 years ago by your god.

Not okay: You lobby the government to teach this version of history to children regardless of the fact that the evidence contradicts it. Now I’m going to have to say something.

Perfectly fine: You believe being a Jehovah’s Witness is the right way to live.

Not okay: Knocking on my fucking door at 8am on a Saturday. Now, you had better expect, I’m going to have to say something.

It’s pretty simple, I think. Easy to follow, not difficult to grasp. You can tell me that I should just let others believe what they want to, for sure, just make sure you’re doing the same. If we can’t help but see your god as a vicious cunt, as Tyrion Lannister might say, then let us. It is of no concern to you.

What is your response when people tell you that you should just let people believe what they want to believe? Let me know in the comments.

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  • Sonja Carlyle

    For someone who demands that “religious” people “shut the fuck up” – you definitely don’t follow by example. I am not a “religious” Bible punching extremist who intrudes on others’ privacy. I am a Christian Believer. I have left my kids to decide for themselves. One is a Believer and the other an atheist. Their choice. I just find it extremely hilarious that atheists cry out to “god” when loved ones are at death’s door or when their lives are in danger. . . .Your radical atheism is as distasteful as religious freaks.

    • My family has been atheist for three generations. Not one of us has cried out, “god” in a moment of need. Is this how you feel about your atheist kid? Then you’re not really accepting, are you? You’re why I can’t shut up about it. You think you’re so tolerant, but your words ooze hatred for anyone who doesn’t believe in god, and is open about it.

      • Sonja Carlyle

        There is absolutely no hatred and there is no need for you to question the love I have for my atheist child. We NEVER EVER argue about my faith because there is no judgement. If anything I was questioning your loathing – being totally intolerant of ALL “religious” people. One needs to understand the difference between faith and religion. One cannot paint all faiths with the same brush as extremists. This is where atheists need to draw the line. Question radical cults/religions – you, and they, can have a field day arguing needlessly and leave us to believe in PEACE.

    • John Carmichael

      Sonja, I don’t think there’s any harm in writing stern or even angry critiques of religion–or atheism. I took Godless Mom to be saying “Don’t contact your senator and try to rewrite the law,.” Or “Don’t conduct a physical protest that invades the gay couple’s space.” That’s what “shut up” means to me, anyway.

    • If you are a believer, but you aren’t doing any of the things she complained about, then she wasn’t talking to you! So why get riled up about this, unless some of the things she was talking about hit a little too close to home? Maybe you aren’t actually as tolerant as you claim to be.

      And just how many atheists have you heard “cry out to god” when in distress? Have you spent a lot of time around people who are at death’s door, or is that just something your pastor told you and you bought it?

      She didn’t complain about people writing their own opinions on their own personal blog, notice. Which is what she is doing here. Nothing about her comments here pushed her beliefs into your face, you were the one who came here to read them. If people kept religion to themselves in the same way, there would be very little for us to gripe about.

  • John Carmichael

    I largely agree with this post, but I’m also of the opinion that when religious people do harm, it can be motivated by their emotions primarily, while beliefs come along for the ride. My father is homophobic, but more because of an emotion… it just so happens that he is surrounded by people at church who reinforce this idea, so it has become entrenched in his beliefs, and he refused to attend the marriage of my (female) cousin to another woman. In the U.S. people grow up with tremendous amounts of self-hatred and shame… it’s just freaking unbelievable once you open your eyes and see it. I think that is where the irrational behavior comes from, primarily. This is not to minimize the role of beliefs. I am not a psychologist or sociologist so I can only guess, but my observation is that communities of similar belief systems serve to amplify the irrational behavior (make it more harmful), while the underlying source is still the emotions and woundedness. This emotional pain often motivates people to seek out the religious beliefs that feel “right” to them. And when the pain heals it can lead them to abandon religion or seek a more rational kind.

  • Margaret Tombs

    I think the Red Witch burning Princess Shireen might have been a better analogy.

  • Some guy

    On the one hand, this post wouldn’t have been complete without getting around to Tyrion. Thank you.
    On the other hand, the bus thing is a false analogy. Farting on a bus is clearly a greater threat to society at large than ANY marriage (even Sansa’s).