"Yeah I know, at the Methodist church. How'd you feel about it?"
"Well, it's not Catholic, but at least they believe in something."
We hear that kind of thing all the time. "Well, at least they believe in something. 1"
Even leaving aside the condescending nature of the phrase what really floors my wife and I is how widely that sentiment is thrown around.
In the interest of full disclosure, we're atheists. Not in your face, religion sucks, my-Nothingness-shark-ate-your-Jesus-Fish atheists, but mind our own business, keep our lack of faith to ourselves, mention it only if it comes up in conversation, atheists.2
"Hey, you wanna watch the Red Sox game?"
"No thanks, I'm an atheist."
So maybe that phrase rankles us more that it does other people. Or maybe we get to hear it more often than some. Mostly though, it feels like a widely held belief in our area of the world. Like automatically, just the act of believing in something makes everything better. Like that's the important thing. Faith itself. It matters little what people believe, as long as they believe in something.
"Tiny beanies and magic underwear they have to wear all the time? And they can't eat bacon like, ever? Holy shit. But you know, at least they believe in something."
"Jesus's Non-existent American vacation and Hebrews in America thousands of years before BC and no archaeological proof and magic spectacles and Utah? That is weird. But you know, at least they believe in something."
"Mind control and cutting you off from your family and threats and evil space aliens? And the Tom Cruise?! Freaky but . . . at least they believe in something."
"Hell fires and horned demons? Crazy tall hats? Magic cannibalism? And no sex at all unless it's between a clergyman and a little boy3? That 's pretty fucked up but well . . . at least they believe in something."
It almost feels like as long as a monotheistic God4 is involved it doesn't matter how a person worships. Human sacrifice, bestiality, worshiping at Carl Jr's, calling Jesus "Mr. Jeezle." Whatever. As long as a person believes in something, they have a shot at the presidency.
If you're going to believe in something, then believe in it. And when someone believes in something different, good for them. We'll find out who's right eventually. Until then though, a little respect please. If we can't drop that sentiment from our culture altogether then just once I'd like someone to say, "You believe that death is it, no greater power has its hand on the steering wheel, Michael J Fox was once upon a time one of comedy's greatest treasures, a good beach day is better than a day at the spa, Moonlighting never gets it's due as a classic, and if you just keep eating ice cream and pizza you'll eventually emerge through a cholesterol wormhole where on the other side those things are actually good for you? That is some dumb shit. But, I mean well, at least you believe in something."
1 Maybe this phrase is some sort of attempt at religious tolerance. I doubt it though. I'm pretty sure when people start lining up for Holy Wars, you don't really get a lot of "We'd kill you as a heretic but you know, at least you believe in something.
2 For those who've read here before and are wondering about our quest for religion, or at least a temple we can go to for some good, clean, Passover fun, no, we haven't completely abandoned it. We've visited a couple temples and it still comes up in conversation. It's just a big commitment for us in terms of my wife converting. Also, we haven't found a temple that feels right yet. Maybe the feeling of pursuing religion doesn't feel quite right either. I'm not sure. Either way, Homemaker Family and the Quest for Guilt continues.
3Possible cheap shot.
4 And white. Or at least followed by lots of whites. And vaguely Christian. Probably, someone who practiced voodoo or believed in Santeria could not be elected president in this country. Unless they were running against an atheist.