"Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves...I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK."
- Ben Stein***
"Should we be so surprised that schools have become such a place of carnage? Because we've made it a place where we don't want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability...that we're not just gonna have to be accountable to the police if they catch us but one day we stand before a holy God in judgment. If we don't believe that, then we don't fear that."
- Mike Huckabee
In the light of the recent tragic events, there has been a lot of talk about the role of God in this all. Ben Stein's piece has been widely circulated in social media, with people commenting about how beautiful, great and true his words are, and Mike Huckabee's piece might come across as more radical, but if you read those two excerpts, they are saying the same thing.
I, for once, am deeply offended. I am an atheist and I don't believe in God. I never read a Bible and I never went to church. Just because I don't believe in God, you can't say that I "...don't want to talk about life, what responsibility means, accountability...". You can't say that I "...have no conscience, don't know right from wrong, it doesn't bother me to kill strangers, classmates, and myself." You have no right to say this for a very simple reason - it is not true. I know very well what is right and what is wrong. I know very well what responsibility and accountability mean. I love my neighbor and I don't need a Bible or a preacher to teach me this. I teach my child not to steal, not to kill, love, and remember that all he has is today.
I live my life without a promise of eternity. I make my decisions knowing that they may be the last ones I make, without a second chance, without a promise of forgiveness, without a rewind button that could somehow be triggered by a prayer. I wake up every morning knowing this might be the last day I have, with the responsibility of making it the best one I can, with the accountability for others feelings and needs. I go to bed every evening aware of the failures that I can only blame myself for, waking up the next morning with the faith in myself that I can fix them.
I respect all people who follow their own religion, as long as they don't deliberately hurt others in the name of their God. I respect the communities they create, I respect the church they find solace in, I respect their bumper stickers with Bible quotes, because I am a good, sensible, loving person.
I am not a rare breed of an atheist. I am one of very many good people who don't follow any religion. For that reason, reading the articles that claim world is becoming a place filled with malignant people, children with no conscience, teenagers that don't know right from wrong, all because they don't talk about God in schools and don't read Bible in schools - well, they equal to a knife you stab in my heart, because you are talking about me. Only you are terribly wrong.
I would like to ask those of you who respect my choice to not believe in God, and to be the best person I can, to share this the same way you are sharing Ben Stein's piece - whether you are an atheist or a person of faith. Because this is not about religion, faith, God, or the lack of. This is about respect, tolerance and understanding. Isn't that what we all agree we need the most?
***ADDENDUM: I was notified today by my friend that Ben Stein's Confession for the Holidays was about observance of Christmas. The excerpt I am referring to above was added in 2006 and NOT written by Ben Stein. It's very important to me to make clear it is a hoax. However - I will keep the excerpt in my blog post, because it is the fact that it resonates with so many people, the fact that they find it meaningful, that made me wrote this piece. As always - I appreciate your comments.
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