Editor’s Note: The views and opinions in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Mississippi Humanist Association. The author would also like to note that this piece is about religious extremism and does not represent all people of faith.
I’ve met god.
Well, not personally. He’s never come over for dinner or stopped by to watch the baseball game, but I’ve met him.
To me, god is not a spiritual being. He’s not some omnipotent force that rules over the land with an iron fist and an (allegedly) warm heart.
I’ve met god through his followers, and often, what I’ve seen has been ugly.
It was a former friend’s version of god that made her tell me she couldn’t hang out with me because she didn’t support my “lifestyle.” This was moments after my 19-year-old self finally mustered up the courage to tell her I’m a lesbian.
That same god reared his judgmental head when a “friend” wrote a blog post about my wife and me, talking about the sin of our love. He thought so little of our relationship and feelings that he sent it to us before posting it online. Apparently, he was proud of piously condemning us to hell and wanted us to pat him on the back for a job well done before publicly shaming us.
I’ve seen the awful side of god through my wife’s eyes, too, when her closest friend in the world decided that she couldn’t continue the friendship because she wasn’t comfortable around gay people and thought our marriage would lead to the degradation of society. My wife knew this woman for most of her life, and I will never forget the look of pain she wore for weeks or even months. She was paying a price for finally living as her true self.
Yes, I’ve met god, and he did not make a good impression.
I’ve met him when I’ve seen Christians who think the Bible verse about turning the other cheek means ignoring refugee children locked up in cages.
I saw him firsthand, in all his glory, when a sheriff’s deputy and pastor in Tennessee took to his pulpit to urge the government to put LGBTQ+ people to death.
Yes, I’ve met god, and I’m not impressed.
I’m not impressed that no matter what I do, I will always be on the losing end of his judgment because of my DNA.
I’m not impressed that 13 years of being with the same person isn’t enough for this man-made god to realize this is not a phase. It is who I am.
I’m not impressed by how quickly this god changes his mind on a whim. I see his gaze in his followers’ eyes when I approach them. Their eyes are initially warm and welcoming, believing that I am one of them. As long as I am like them, they will love and accept me. I will belong.
But then, I talk about my wife, and that gaze changes. Instead of welcoming, their eyes build a wall that lets me know I will never be good enough for them. I do not belong. I am not worthy simply because I am honest with myself and others about my sexuality.
Happiness is my sin, and it’s punishable by ostracization.
Yes, I know that god, and I do not trust in him.
I do not trust him to keep me safe in a country that is becoming increasingly dangerous for LGBTQ+ people.
I do not trust him to feed the poor, help the needy, or even show compassion to human beings.
I do not trust him to act with the same decency that many of my atheist and agnostic friends display every day.
I do not trust this god, and I’d prefer not saying I do on my license plate.
But that’s what I am supposed to do in Mississippi. Our standard license plates now display those four little words that are also found on our currency.
In God We Trust.
Has this god earned my trust?
Am I supposed to give my trust when his followers tell me I am not worthy?
Is my trust to be extended when Christian protesters choose to fight for the unborn while ignoring the needs of the born?
Maybe my trust was supposed to come when, after watching my father and father-in-law battle cancer (one successfully, one not), a street preacher yelled that my sin was the cause of their suffering.
Forgive me if I don’t trust in this god.
Forgive me if I expect more out of people that are supposed to be moral.
Forgive me that I’ve met god and I would prefer to not meet him again.
Am I angry? Years ago, the answer would have been yes.
Today, I am tired.
I am tired of defending who I am and who I love.
I am tired of promoting science and explaining that so-called “sins” do not cause cancer or other diseases.
I’m tired of telling people that vaccines are safe and religious exemptions are a public health threat.
I’m tired of trying to prove that I’m worthy.
Yes, I’ve met god, and I would prefer if he stayed off my license plate.