Hiding your Tribe – Part 2
The same day I posted this blog entry about the difference between assholes and atheists, I read this story over at The Friendly Atheist and I wondered who would look at this kid as an asshole and who wouldn’t.
His school, which is located in the bible belt, had a “come dressed as your favorite fictional character day” and he chose to come dressed as Jesus.
Now before any of us start to debate whether or not it was a good call, you have to admit that was pretty ballsy.
So, was he being an asshole because he was saying, publicly, that he felt Jesus was a myth or was he simply being confident in his own beliefs?
Reading through his story, I see evidence of regular harassment by the religious members of his school. When he confronted a science teacher who said that “evolution was just a theory” he got sent to the Principal’s office where he needed to explain that a science teacher who believes we all descended from Adam and Eve is probably in the wrong line of work.
Read how his fellow students respond when he says he’s an atheist. They tell him that he’s possessed or basically ask him “what’s wrong with you?”
It sure seems like he takes it all extremely well and good for him.
Given that kind of treatment, though, was he being a jerk when he chose to dress up as Jesus?
Keeping in that when he was told he’d have to remove the costume if it was any sort of disruption, he chose to remove it right away?
My own response is to think that anyone who is secure in their faith should not have been threatened by his costume. As he rightly said, it is responsibility of the teacher to deal with classroom disruption. If a bunch of students in math class want to talk about how offensive his costume is to them, shouldn’t the math teacher point out that the conversation is not one for a math class because they are there to learn about math?
All he was really doing was putting his own perspective on display and it is pretty clear that perspective is something others in the school would rather ignore.
As I say to religious friends – I don’t personally think they are stupid because they believe in god. I do think they are wrong. I think lots of people are wrong about a lot of things. I don’t dislike them, I just don’t agree with them.
Now, if those religious people are being honest with themselves, they will admit that they believe I am wrong as well. We have a fundamental disconnect because they believe in god and I don’t.
Would I dress up as Jesus on imaginary character day? No. Would I be offended if a Christian dressed up as a caveman because they believe the Earth was created too recently for there to be cavemen? No.
There was certainly a possibility that the choice to dress up like Jesus was going to offend. Yet, it seems there is no reciprocal acknowledgement that asking an atheist what is wrong with him is also offensive.
If you are going to tell one student to take off his Jesus costume, you need to tell other students to stop with the preaching and let the atheist be responsible for his own nonexistent immortal soul.
He was true to himself and to what he believed. To me, that’s not being an asshole. That’s just being honest.
The line I like best is the one where the school administrator says they had hoped he was dressed like “Zeus” or other ‘mythological deities.’ First, of course, he IS dressed as a mythological deity. Second, the administrator was being a complete dick because there are people who still believe in Zeus (look up Jamil Said’s “I Still Worship Zeus”) just as fervently as this guy’s science teacher believes in Jesus.
It is an interesting phenomenon. I think an awful lot of religious people are sincerely offended when non-believers express their position on the matter. It shoes just how deeply ingrained their biases can be.