Atheist Alliance of America President Mark Gura and Blog Director Sarah Mills debate trends within the atheist community and constructive approaches.
by Sarah Mills and Mark Gura
Like many people who were once involved in religion, and for whom the experience was less than positive, I became eager to distance myself as much as possible from it. Religion, for me, was synonymous with conformity, mind control, repression, stunted creativity, guilt, and a community that was only as good as your unwavering, unquestioning commitment to abide by its stringent rules. In hindsight, I can appreciate that I might have leapt a bit too far to the ‘other’ side–a reaction, one could argue, that was understandable circumstances considered. Leaving religion meant I could more fully embrace humanity. Where I once excluded people from my life on the basis of faith, I now included them, forming relationships and friendships that were grounded in mutual compatibility and genuine love, rather than perfunctory duty as members of a shared belief system. Where I once formed ties conditional on uniformity of thought, I could now love unconditionally. I could become politically involved, I could stand up for the rights of those I had previously thought sinners simply because of whom they loved, I could occupy myself with the here and now, living fully in the present without self-flagellating in penance for arbitrary sins and in anticipation of an afterlife.