De-Christianizing After De-Conversion?
One of the things I noticed not long after becoming an atheist was how much christianity and religion is soaked into the fabric of society.
Here are a few glaring examples:
- Taking Sundays off
- Blue States where they won’t sell alcohol on Sundays
- Saying “bless you” when someone sneezes
- Christmas, Easter, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, All Saints Day, etc., etc….
- Common expressions like oh my god, jesus!, jesus christ, damnit, damn, holy anything, etc., etc…
As an atheist, I wonder, is it necessary to remove and de-christianize ourselves as much as possible? My husband sneezed this morning and I said “bless you.” It’s a habit to say it. I apologized and said, “you’re so good looking” instead. (A Seinfeld episode reference.)
Saying “bless you” is a very old superstition. Is it really necessary to say it when we are trying to rid ourselves of this woo thinking?
For holidays, I find that it’s a time to get together with family. Since I’ve gone godless, I wish people happy holidays, not merry christmas, and so on. Most people don’t even notice. But for me, I find that it’s important to de-christianize my thoughts, actions and words. Last christmas, I finally stopped celebrating entirely. While I still went to family functions, we didn’t celebrate at home at all. I’ve been an atheist for 9 years but I’d always decorated a tree to try to be festive. It was very liberating to treat it as just another day.
For some things, there’s nothing we can do. Some states will continue to refuse sale of alcohol on Sundays, the big holidays will always have a christian theme to them for most people. For me, I take notice, but I accept that I’m not going to change those laws or change the beliefs of everyone. But in my mind, I am working towards removing all superstitions, de-christianizing my expressions, and removing religion from the holidays for myself. It’s not an easy process, as I’ve been saying bless you since I learned to talk. Also, some people are hurt if you don’t say bless you when they sneeze.
Which leads me to the next issue. If it can’t be removed entirely, can it be replaced with god-free alternatives? What would those alternatives be?
- The sneeze “bless you”
- expressions like goddamnit, oh my god, dear god
- expressions like jesus christ!, jesus, sweet baby jesus
- expressions like damnit, damn, holy (anything)
I’ll admit it. I swear. I have no problem with it. I’m polite in mixed company, but otherwise I tend to let my language use the full range of words. But taking religion out of swearing is a serious challenge. One that I have yet to master.
How do you feel about de-christianizing your mind and your life? Do you have any good alternatives for religiously toned expressions and behaviors? Or do you feel it’s a cultural thing and that it doesn’t matter?