Recently, I was reading an article about Bernie Sanders being asked whether or not a President needs to believe in God. While he has been praised for his humanist answer, it wasn’t the part of the article that stuck with me. It referenced a study where it was discovered that 53% of Americans didn’t believe an atheist could be President, and, more so than that, was the most negative quality a candidate could have, even lower having an extramarital affair.
Never have I been so legitimately terrified of living on this planet.
We can debate the authenticity of online article statistics if you want, but it’s not the point. Regardless of what the exact number, I know how many people in this country feel this way, and hold God in such high esteem. What I don’t think these believers realize is that they are the luckiest, most overprivileged and spoiled people on the planet. I don’t know if they can even comprehend how insanely good they have it.
Believing in God should be a personal choice that means something to you in a way akin to how we feel about our favorite musicians, authors, and artists. While it’s true that my personal hope is to eliminate belief entirely for hope of a more connected, loving, and evolved society, I ofttimes have to admit the crushingly close-minded nature of this, and many atheist’s mindsets. If you want to go home and pray to God so that you can have a genuine moment of comforting solace as I might feel when listening to a Nirvana record, who am I to say you can’t?
Here’s the problem: living in this country as an atheist is similar to being forced to be a Nirvana fan, or being forced to be a fan of any artist for that matter. Were I to start screaming how a President should be able to appreciate Kurt Cobain’s lyrics to be effective, or that children should be reciting ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ lines before class everyone morning, or even that I wanted Mr. Cobain’s beautifully scruffy mug on the one dollar bill, I would be laughed at and told that these were absolutely ludicrous things to ask for.
Yet, as an atheist, I’m forced to buy my drugs with money that says I trust in God, have him mentioned in our national pledge, and have to deal with the fact that an overwhelming percentage of my fellow humans think believing in the sky man is one of the most important qualities a Presidential candidate could have.
Honestly, how would you feel if 53% of Americans thought a President needed to be able to vibe to The Doors instead of thinking of Jim Morrison’s lyrics as disposable pseudo-shaman garbage? Can you really tell me you wouldn’t be agape with horror over the planet you’re living on?
‘But how could you possibly compare dead rock stars to God?!’, you may cry. And therein lies the problem. Kurt Cobain has easily meant as much to me and given me as much inspiration as God has given to any believer, and yet you guys get to have your personal savior as an intrinsic building block of this country. You get to have him be ingrained in our collective conscious and held in such high regard that some people ‘Put God first’, even before their own children. You get to walk into the supermarket and buy a candy bar knowing that the government who controls everything has decided God is real enough to be on the pieces of paper that limit every facet of our existence.
Yes, I am a douchey atheist. I feel that believing in God is a weak, idiotic act that indicates such a gaping antithesis of logic at its core that it’s mind-boggling. I fret over seeing otherwise intelligent, capable adults cling to fairy tales with a white-knuckle tenacity while ritually dismissing Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, convinced of cloud palaces and fiery pits of hell a loving being made for his creations with a certainty that is horrifying. I want to destroy him in the mind of every person and have them put that worshipful energy into their fellow humans instead. I am aware that none of these thoughts even come close to approaching a place of originality and are the same old tired atheist arguments. But they are not the point.
Despite this hate, I do, as I said, concede you may as well be able to pray to God to feel better. But when such a large chunk of our species actually thinks a President needs to believe in such things to be effective, I can’t help but see it as the most blatant indicator of the dangers of belief ever. A President’s only concern should be the wellbeing of the people. His belief should be brought up maybe once or twice as a nicety, like finding out what kind of books Obama likes reading, but to have God be of this much importance to what people want in a leader is truly a scary thought.
Believers often get mad at how hard we go at them. Once again, it is douchey in its unchecked aggression. However, decades of intense atheists protests wouldn’t even come close to matching the stranglehold believers have on this existence of ours. We could fight for years and still wouldn’t be as ingrained into society as the concept of God is.
So all you believers should get down on your knees and thank the big guy that what you chose to get you through the day is so nationally validated, because living in this country as someone on the other side is, simply put, fucking terrifying.
Now, can I get ‘Light My Fire’ played every day before kids start school, please?