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The Intrussion Of Religion A Personal Account

June 23, 2008

In January 2007, my father passed away. at the age of 83. He was a staunch and in many ways strict fellow. He was however not religious. He sometimes referred to himself as a ‘Bush Baptist’, an Australian euphemism for an atheist or agnostic. Anyhow, one of my sisters is a bull headed Seventh Day Adventist, and dad also had a friend who was a retired minister off the local Adventist church. Naturally his friend was given the honours of putting my father to rest, as most of the family is not as strongly opposed to religion as I am.

During the funeral planning, one of my brothers (who was also one of the executors to dads estate), co-opted my religious sister and I, to help with the wording and layout of the remembrance card that would be handed out and placed in the church on the day. This sister of mine is quite artistic, so her input for the task at hand was quite valuable. It went well until she suggested that we put a cross (the Christian kind) inside the card. Naturally I protested this, as our father was never a Christian. My sister prevailed with every disingenuous, rhetorical rationale she could scrape out the bottom of the barrel.

My brother wasn’t backing me up at all, not even when my sister stooped to claiming my father had changed in the past few years. She lives not far from dad’s house and I live in a city two hours drive away. The argument goes, that she had seen more of our father and knew that he was in some way more like a Christian. Probing a little deeper, I uncovered the sanctimonious justification of moral one-up-man-ship. Apparently my father had become more deep and searching (or some utter crap) and not only that, he had grown a heart an become more gentle and morally virtuous also. The opportunity to implicitly raise Christian ethics above secular ones, was passed without question and the cross was retained despite my objections.

Apparently Christians have the right to claim that whenever somebody becomes more conscientious, gentle or understanding etc, it’s because they have become more religious and even more specifically they have become Christian. How arrogant is that? As an atheist I take great umbrage at the suggestion, that religious values in general and Christian influences in particular, accord in any slight way with higher moral standards. On the contrary, I should beg to differ. In any event, this proposition must put Christian values above secular ones. FOUL!! I say FOUL!!

On the day of the funeral, I found myself listening to a long religious sermon, with several bible readings and prayers (the full works), thanks to dad’s minister friend, who couldn’t leave his religious agenda at home. That aside, what really spoilt it for me, was the moment when the minister claimed that my father was not really an atheist, as “No man is truly an atheist”, i.e. deep down inside we are all according to this baseless, arrogant and offensive claim, believers in a supernatural deity called God. Only one short word is needed to describe this claim, ‘LIE’. My father lived as an atheist and died an atheist, yet owing to the belligerent pushiness, of the few religious people who knew him, he was buried as a Christian.

The final scandal, came when most of the family spent about six weeks, organising dad’s estate and cleaning up the family home. The house was set up to become a holiday rental, as it is a beach front property. My brothers (the executors), hired a real estate company to manage the property, and we cleaned it out and set it up with the needed trimmings of a holiday rental house. At the end of this time, my religious sister, decided that there was only one trimming missing. Like a hotel, she decided, that the house had to have a Bible. I saw a very deep shade of crimson red, but i decided that it was futile to engage her, as the saying goes ‘don’t argue with a fool’. Besides, the ultimate decision would only come down to the two brothers who were the executors anyhow. So instead, I protested to them, that having a bible in the house was an unjustified intrusion of one family member with a religious agenda.

My protests were to no avail, as being the family member closest to my fathers property, my sister was an indispensable contributor, as she could keep a watch full eye on the property. Being a loose cannon and likely to storm off refusing to cooperate with the family interests (as it was assumed), the bible was allowed to stay. It would be kept in the top draw of the bedside cabinet, in the main bedroom. I continued to object and demanded that this be put to a family vote. Again the request for a democratic decision was flatly refused. My last ditch effort, was to propose, that if the Bible was allowed to stay, then my copy of Richard Dawkins’, ‘The God Delusion’, should also be left in the house to balance the score. Reluctantly, this suggestion was accepted, and the whole affair might have been put to rest, except for one thing. ‘The God Delusion’, was placed in the bottom draw (one that would most likely never even be opened). I could not be satisfied with this, as the whole point was not to give this blatant attempt at Christian indoctrination the upper hand (or the upper draw).

Before leaving, I checked the room to see how the books were positioned, and discovering the little inequity, I did some re-arranging. I put ‘The God Delusion’, right up in the top drawer, front and center, pushing the Bible to one side, more out of anger than desire to steal the most prominent rank. In the following weeks, one of my brothers, had learned bout my little rearrangement, and decided to renege on the original deal, that both books stay. TGD was removed and handed back to me, with the explanation that ‘we just can’t have it looking like there is a religious dispute going on in the family’ and ‘It’s not professional yadda yadda…’

Some months later, I went and stayed in the house and decided I had finally had enough. So I took the bible out and brought it home with me. Shortly after that, my brother (the one who took TGD out of the house) came around to ask me to give my sisters Bible back. I refused, pointing out that the dispute was now between me and her. I haven’t heard from him since, and there are other family matters still hanging in the balance. No doubt there will be more to this story.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2008 7:11 pm

    I’m very sorry to hear all of that going on. I can’t say much on the matter since I haven’t gone through anything like this. On a slightly related note I’ve walked through cemeteries and wondered how many people buried there where actually atheist. Considering how almost every single grave marker had a cross or some religious symbol on it.

    • June 24, 2008 8:12 am

      Soul Snatchers

      Thanks for your support Deanna. I would rather be buried in an unmarked grave (alive) and forgotten immediately, than have people regard and treat me as a Christian after I am gone. Anyhow the reason I raised this in response to your post on the atheism community, was precisely because of it’s similarities with what you are going through with your mum. These are both attempts at ‘soul snatching’ One of the credos in religions seems to be “if you can’t get ’em when they can disapprove, try something sneaky when they can’t”

      Ps: hope you do try the de-baptism ritual, you have a better chance of that, than me exhuming my dad’s grave and burying him again, this time as an atheist.

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