I grew up in a Baptist church. I thought of the congregation as an extension of my family, and I’m sure they thought the same. I remember the hymnals the most. Every Sunday the worship hall was a sea of voices, echoing southern-tinged melodies and filling our hearts with the spirit of God. If you had asked me then, I would have said that God was real.
I attended youth group meetings every Wednesday. These were designed to tackle the tough subjects of teenage Christianity: our wicked sexual desires, the existence of free will, and how to build a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father in an ever-expanding secular world. I loved diving into the scriptures and drawing from God’s wisdom. He always had an answer. However, the second question from Inspired Walk’s video helped the dye on the wool begin to fade.
Hurricane was a modest town in Southern Utah. Summers were long, and the temperature moved into the triple digits without hesitation. We held youth group in a tiny mobile trailer that could easily be mistaken for an oven. Our skin glistened as we soaked in brine and fellowship.
During what felt like the hottest night of the summer, one of my friends raised her hand,
“Why do atheists care if people worship God,” she asked.
We all took a moment to let these words steep in our minds. It was a difficult question to process. After all, wasn’t Christianity the religion of love and acceptance? The Youth Leader paused, making eye contact with each of us in the room. A warm smile spread across her face.
“Well, 2 Timothy 3:12 teaches us that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted,” she said. “Religious intolerance is on the rise, and as living examples of Christ, we need to stay strong and steer our nation back to God.”
Everyone’s head bobbed in agreement, but I felt a tinge of guilt in my stomach. It was a dull ache, creeping through every inch of my abdomen. I felt doubt for the first time as we ended in prayer.
To people of privilege, equality can feel a lot like intolerance. The narrative that atheists are persecuting Christians is as old as it is false. After the youth group meeting, I began to realize that there wasn’t a war on religion in America; there was a war on discrimination.
Atheists care about a belief in God because that belief affects everything else. Religion is obsessed with the end game, and there is no flexibility on the road to Heaven. Consequently, the rhetoric and mythos of Christianity has tainted every facet of our culture. It’s in our politics, our entertainment, and our education. Instead of adapting to culture and the modern age, Religion is steadfast in its bigotry. Churchgoers preach God’s love and acceptance but turn a blind eye to basic human rights. Their sacred texts are touted as infallible, yet criticism is met with cries of persecution rather than divine evidence.
If religion were saved for Sundays, the question presented by Inspired Walk wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, Christians can’t let sleeping dogmatism lie.