Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Religiously motivated abuse helped prepare me for life among the Fundies
Recent comments I got on two editorials have made me think about this topic more than usual. I've gotten hate mail and death threats as well as many unpleasant comments on my atheist writing. I even named my blog after what a particular Internet "critic" called me - That Atheist Bitch.
I knew what I was in for, writing about atheism. I grew up in a small religious town and got the shit beat out of me by schoolmates after I was outed as the child of a non-theist. I was physically and emotionally abused by students and staff ever after, only not quite so severely. So I grew up knowing exactly how some American Christians feel about atheists. I'd seen it written in my own blood and bone and reinforced in words, kicks, and punches.
Even when I moved 90 miles from that small town, I knew enough to keep a low profile. All I had to do is listen to hear bigoted sentiments aimed at non-Christians in the workplace and even in the casual conversations of strangers overheard. So it came as no surprise to me when people reacted like screeching, scat throwing monkeys to my atheist writing. I already knew that people burst out of their civil veneer when they feel their religion threatened and behave in ways they'd otherwise never consider.
If I'd grown up in a slightly more civilized, slightly less religious place I might not have been prepared for the anger, venom, and hatred. Other people I've conversed with have been blind sided by the reactions they have received. So, in a way, I'm glad I grew up in one of the "bad pockets" without the illusion of a rational populace.