Do you feel as though you’ve lost your faith?
Did you ever have it to begin with?
Are you an atheist in a family of devout believers?
Are you confused, scared of being ostracized, and in need of some helpful advice?
Well look no further.
OK, I’m poking a little bit of fun, but there is a serious need for this kind of service for people who are anywhere in the spectrum of belief from self-acknowledged atheists to religious folks who are beginning to harbor doubts in an environment potentially hostile to independent thought. What do they do? How do they tell their family? Do they tell their family? Their pastor? How do they field the questions that will come up? What do they do if (or when) their family, loved ones, friends, or clergy react negatively? How can they get the support they need?
Recovering from Religion, which has about 40 support groups in the U.S. and Britain, plans to launch a hotline that will offer doubters an anonymous place to ask difficult questions and find communities of like-minded nonbelievers.
The group plans to staff the help line 24 hours a day and is modeling it after services like suicide prevention hotlines. Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering from Religion, told CNN that the mission is to help people, not convert them to atheism.
“A lot of the times they just need someone to talk to,” Morehead said.
This, of course, hasn’t stopped some people from saying the exact opposite, claiming that this is a ploy to start converting Christians to atheists. I guess they’re afraid we’re going to start taking tips from their 2,000 year old modus operandi? Come to think of it, that’s actually a good idea. I guess that means that within the span of about a decade, we can start taking over Christian holidays like Pentecost and re-“christening” it Richard Dawkin’s Birthday (Observed).
Anyway, back to the hotline. It’s goal is to be active by this holiday season, and they’re currently trying to raise $30k to cover setup cost and get up to 40 counselors on call. They specifically say that the phone operators are going to be specifically trained to not engage in religious or philosophical debate – since that’s not the goal of the hotline – but simply get some background on the caller’s experience and upbringing to formulate a plan of action. Whether it’s to re-join their faith, find another one, or abandon it entirely is ultimately up to the caller, but the goal is to help them find the right path.
I guarantee that within a week of going live, there are going to be enough prank calls on the part of supposed “believers” to temporarily shut it down. I hope I’m wrong, but as I said yesterday, my experience to date suggests that this is an inevitable step in the process of getting the project off the ground. If you want some idea of the kind of static is going to come along, I suggest reading about the project on The Blaze. The article itself was pretty neutral; the comments, not so much. My consistent favorite is a guy called “Slap the Left”:
And how does one “recover from religion?”
Does that mean you start to give in to all of your sexual desires? Start using illegal, illicit drugs? Start lying, cheating, and stealing? Do you do everything in violation of the ten commandments? Do you start to believe your ancestors emerged from a pile of prehistoric dinosaur crap?
Whats to recover from? In their quest to project their intellectual elitism on the world, the atheists just come off as arrogant twerps.
In their rush to prove God as a fairy tale, they put money in the pockets of a fraud.
Nothing is more disturbing than the kind of believer whose only apparent motivation for being good and moral is based on the threat of punishment from an omnipresent, omniscient being is watching his every move and ready to condemn him to hell for the slightest misstep. It sounds like he doesn’t even accept the theory of evolution, either.
If Christians like him believe that individuals will act the way he describes without the carrot and stick of God, then it’s likely that that’s the very thing he would resort to if he ever lost his faith. In general, if all it takes is the knowledge that you “won’t get caught”, then you’re not a good person and you might want to consider the log in your own eye before commenting on the beliefs of others.
Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of people who have abandoned religion have realized that they don’t need the divine mandates of a god who promoted murder, rape, genocide, and slavery to provide them with a moral compass for the 21st century. People can be good because they have a well-established sense of empathy, and the understanding that acting in a way that demonstrates mercy, compassion, kindness, and charity helps society as a whole. We, being social creatures, understand that a cohesive society that operates on such principles flourishes much more than those in which greed, violence, and jealous self-interest dominate the moral landscape.
Thankfully, people like the example I gave above do not represent the mainstream Christian population. They are, unfortunately, likely to be the ones to want this project shut down. In the end, I believe it will thrive because I think the overall population of non-believers, especially in the South, is woefully under-reported. This may be a way for them to finally get the support they need to come to terms with their lack of belief in a safe and productive way.
Here’s the link to their website if you want to donate.