Something Else

Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Would you describe yourself as spiritual, religious, or something else?

Something else… as in none of the above. I have no faith in god and little in man. I’m not a huge fan of defining myself with one-word terms, but society generally demands it.

These are some brushstroke summations that often define me: female, Caucasian, citizen, registered voter, organ donor, employed or unemployed, graphic designer, never been convicted of a felony, never served in the armed forces, no preexisting medical conditions, born in Detroit, mother’s maiden name… for security purposes, we’ll leave that one out. If I’m asked to provide a religion, I usually just put “none” as the answer. It’s a nice, simple, four-letter word.

These things are so often asked that I don’t even have to think about them, I just answer. I think a lot of people are that way with religion. When asked to fill in the blank, they just put whatever religion it is that their parents believed, whether they are practicing or not.

But, I have thought about it a great deal over the course of my life. I’ve written about it at length, too. I just wrote a post about Church the other day and another one about the formation of my non-belief in the post Semantics & Isms a few months back.

My lack of beliefs haven’t changed over time, but my attitude has. The older I get, the less tolerant of organized religion I become, particularly in government. That the wall separating church and state seems to be crumbling has me greatly worried. When public buildings are overflowing with religious sentiment and crèches, when the currency in my wallet still has “in god we trust” written on it (did you know that phrase was only added during the communist scare in the 50’s?), when my tax dollars are given to churches, well, that, to me, is a problem. It goes against the spirit of the constitution. It goes against the first amendment and that is something that shouldn’t happen. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It goes both ways. No religion shall be hindered nor placed on a higher pedestal than any other.

Say, for example, the first amendment was abolished. What if it wasn’t your religion that the government chose to propagate? What if, instead of celebrating the life and death of Jesus in public buildings, it was the life and death of Buddha or Muhammad or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? The first amendment exists so that no one is left out. You can choose to practice, or not practice, any religion your heart desires and the government cannot stop you, but the reverse is true too; it cannot financially support nor endorse a religion either.

Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I just helped a friend sort out his mother’s affairs after she died. She left no money to bury her and she couldn’t keep up the payments on her mortgage, but we found folders containing ‘thank you for your donation’ letters from various religious organizations. Even after all those donations, my friend had to pay out of pocket for the church funeral. When a religious organization convinces you that you will go to hell, or some equivalent thereof, if you don’t donate money, and you donate money irrespective of your own financial hardship, well, that seems wrong to me. She would have been better served putting that money towards her own burial or her mortgage.

In this day and age, when we are positively dripping with science, that I am a minority in my non-religious belief leaves me dumbfounded. This isn’t the Dark Ages. We know that the Earth isn’t flat and it revolves around the sun, not the other way around. We know what germs are. We know what atoms are. We have explored space. Humanity has come a long way, but we still haven’t evolved past superstition.

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