Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Get Your Religion Out of My Face

The biggest reason I signed up for service in the U.S.A.F., after wanting to get the Hell out of ma's house and a small town that didn't have enough action for me (but now is perfect) was because I have always been in love with the idea of defending freedom.

That freedom, in this country, means you get to worship whatever entity that you choose, or none at all.  I like that.  It's comforting to know that we can choose our own invisible men to praise or choose none at all.  Along with that freedom definitely comes some ruffled feathers, especially if somebody just believes you are entirely "wrong" in your beliefs, morally or factually.

I had somebody close to me send me her 5 millionth e-mail forward about Jesus a few years back, and it pushed me over the edge.  It wasn't any dislike for Christianity--it was my knowledge of her behavior as she preached the gospel.  I won't say any more than that so as not to give away any identities, but let's just say that it was like being sold Christianity by somebody who had never yet lived by the principles it taught.

So, I had had enough, and I grabbed my American flag and waved it about for a while before sending this response out to her and a few other people so there would be no confusion, and it worked.  It was very clear.  I was upset that I had to break it down into so much detail, but here's my advice to you--say it once, say it with love, and leave no room for interpretation if somebody is doing something that drives you insane on a regular basis.

In my message to her, everything I stated is still accurate as far as what I believe except that I'm a full-fledged Ignostic now.

My message follows:

"Hey Jane Doe,
     You know how much I love you, right?  Ok, well I went ahead and read this e-mail you forwarded.  And this e-mail is pretty much for you but I'm sending it to Jane Doe 2 and 3 as well so I can try to make my position clear here and live a more peaceful life, and hopefully to get the same type of cooperation from them as I hope to get from you. 
     I've told you that I'm Agnostic (although lately I've been considering adding a little "Ignosticism," in with it... it's a bit of a different creature...), that I always will be, and that I hoped you could respect it.  I think that you semi-acknowledged my request, but that in your heart, you believe that if you can just throw enough Jesus at me, it'll finally stick.
     Each time that I get something like this from anybody, after I've made my position known to them, hurts a little.  It has a ring of dominance to it, as if the sender is saying, "Yeah, ok, you aren't so sure my religion is the right religion (if any one necessarily is) but I'm just going to keep dunking your head into the toilet filled with my brand of Holy water until you believe."  And, as you imagine going through such a gross analogy, you are feeling what I feel when I get these e-mails (and these e-mails can come from different people I know, but don't worry--all will get this response from now on). 
     I love you very much, and I'm thankful for you and all of my family, and everything that my family and friends have done for me.  I am committed to our pact of the elimination of negativity, and it is in that spirt that I'd like to politely request, again, that you try not to send me religious e-mails, especially of the type that suggest any one human being might be closer to God than any other, or that some kind of "love," or "blessings," have been deposited into some imaginary bank account. 
     I've read the bible, cover to cover.  I've read more than my fair share of the al-Qur'an, the Veda, the Analects, the 5 classics of Confuscianism (Book of Rits, I Ching, Book of History, Book of songs and one other), the Talmud, the Upanishads, the Tao-te-Ching, and the Bhagavad Gita among others, and we aren't even into the real African and Greek gods yet, with those books.  We haven't even touched on alternative religions or even pagan ones that lasted for centuries and millenia.  And how many religions were never recorded, but were practiced?  Believed?  Religions that people lived and died for--that shaped their daily decisions?  It's a large, large number. 
     Normally, I wouldn't go into so much detail to try to explain to you why I'm a dedicated, committed Agnostic, who has lately also become a staunch defender of Agnosticism.  Again, in summary, I am a man who believes every human being, sane and insane alike, should be able to both choose and exercise their religion as long as they are not physically endangering anyone else or negatively affecting the general public good in their worship rituals.  
     Moreover, I'm not willing to tell any single religion or theism (including atheism) that they are wrong, are going to Hell, are mislead, or are right.  That includes you and Christianity--I'll give my life in a split-second to defend your right to pray and to try to heal people and everything else, because that freedom is automatic for Americans (and I think most of us would die to protect that freedom).  In return, all I'm asking for is that you not push your religion on me, because I don't see your religion in the same light as you--I see it as a practice, which was created by man (by Divine guidance or otherwise) and represents but a speck of beliefs that all humans before us and those alive among us, believe.  It's your speck--I respect that--but it ain't mine.  And of course you could be dead-right in your beliefs--I don't know--what I do know is that I will not commit to any religion until I am certain it is positively, absolutely, the only correct one nor will I rule any out as legitimate until I can find and equally dis-empowering argument against it.
     The truth is that I'm not going to live my life with any reward in the after-life as a goal (nor will I live in fear of an eternity in Hell).  If that costs me, please, let it cost me.  I am your [family member], Kevin A. Kierstead.  I'm not a fence-post Christian, nor am I a Christian who pretends to be one when it's convenient while routinely behaving in ways that would make any saint cringe (this is the bulk of my disgust for many religions, from al-Qaeda claiming to be doing Allah's work to the American Sunday Christian, who's normally breaking those commandments up like crackers every day but Sunday--or so many "priests," who saved their "best work," for Sundays, when they could get alone with the altar boys...)...nor am I a Satan worshiper or a whacked-out Wiccan.  
     I am Agnostic, and I have the right to be Agnostic, because I'm an American (it's automatic).  I will not routinely e-mail you anything trying to talk you out of Christianity, nor will I try to convince anyone in this world, including those from every practice I've written about in this e-mail, to see things from my point of view.  What I will demand, however, and what I am demanding now, is the right to not be bombarded by presumptuous messages from any of those religions (I know you don't come up with most of these "forwards," but I've seen soooooo many, and this is one too many).
     I really hope you don't take any offense to this.  I just know that I'm gonna be stomping around this old brown and green ball for some years to come, and I'd like to be able to peacefully dodge the flying carpets that tend to be zooming around regarding invisible deities and testaments that only the dead can validate.  I was talking to [my child] one day, and ever since she was old enough to talk, I've encouraged her to explore religion and that if she believed in a God (or anything else) and she wanted to "immerse" herself or get involved, I would get her to every single meeting needed for her to live that commitment.  She knows that, too.  And you know what she said to me when she was visiting two summers ago?  We had been talking about how many different religions there are, and that most people around here believed in Christianity.  And I told her that lots of people base everything they do in their lives on the Bible.  She says, "Well, Dad, it is just a book."  I said, "Huh?"  She blinked, looked at me like I was stooopid, and said, "The Bible.  It's just a book."
     She will not be punished for that (I will make sure of it) just as she would not have been punished for saying that the Bible was all that mattered in life.  But I will say that I'm proud of her.... not because she has somehow demoted the Bible--we all know there are some good moral lessons in there, and that even if nothing else, those are good lessons for the kids--but because she was/is willing to open up her mind and think for herself, not to be corralled into some cattle pen where the Christians are saved and the rest set ablaze.... she's free.  I'm free.  You're free.
Love ya.
Thanks for understanding."


  1. I agree with you. I believe in God, but I have a very love/hate relationship with religion because I grew up in a cult (Don't get me started!). I hate when people shove their beliefs down your throat. People can believe what they want to, but don't try to make me believe it. I had a really good friend who stopped talking to me because I told her I was pro-choice. She's very strict Catholic. I even tried to explain my point of view - "No one should have the right to tell someone else what to do with their body." She decided my opinion was "sinful." Whatever! Good for you for standing up for yourself.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I hate that people push you into a corner and make you get stern about it.