Dear Almost Every Christian I Have Known,

Don’t tell me you love Jesus and then insult me. Don’t tell me you believe in Christian values and then fuck that girl you met at the bar. Don’t say you love your enemies and then verbally or physically insult them. Don’t gossip, give in to lustful desires, or show me your jealousy. Don’t stand up against politicians or spend your money on frivolous things. Don’t lie and tell me you believe in god. Because you couldn’t possibly.

You’re not a bad person. These things make you human. Some of these things aren’t even bad. The desire to be a better person is one of our species’ greatest qualities, and we do it every day with or without god. But you put your faith in a god of your own design. Sure he sounds a bit like the Christian god, except he’s tailored to accept you for who you are. According to your rules. Because part of you knows that is more right than what the bible says. Or maybe because you are weak. Depends on your “sins” I guess.

What makes you so important that I should follow the god in your head? Pastors and devotional writers might tell you the same thing as a way to get you back on the straight and narrow, but they don’t know the half of it. I’m going to tell you the truth. The truth is that you don’t believe in god at all.

You like that part about Jesus being the narrow way. Accept his free gift and you will have eternal salvation. So why exactly is the new testament filled with so many guidelines? Can’t I just take my prize of eternal life? I’m a good person. There’s the trick, friend. It’s all about faith. Accepting the gift includes believing the gift is real. And believing it is real would do something to you. It would make you live exactly how god requires. No alterations. And you would do it. You would be fucking terrified not to. You would be confessing your mistakes day and night. You would sell your belongings and spread the message.

But you aren’t terrified. You are arrogant and bold in your defiance of god’s laws. So when you say you love him….I know you are lying. Not just to me, but more importantly to yourself. You are looking for a way to cheat death with as little effort as possible. And you aren’t alone. You are the majority. There is comfort in numbers, so you won’t worry about it. I know. I used to be just like you. If I would have told you this then, you would have felt the holy spirit convicting you. We would have prayed together that you might have more faith.

I would have been wrong about that. But now that I am an atheist I cannot be trusted. I am an enemy of god. If god were real, you hate him more than I do. You pretend to be his follower but betray him at every turn. At least I’m honest. I don’t believe because he won’t reveal himself to me. I find no reason to feel anything about him. I don’t hate him. I haven’t betrayed him. I don’t think there is something there to hate or to betray. It’s irrelevant.

Christians like to say that every person is born knowing god, and that atheists simply ignore that truth for a variety of reasons. Maybe so they can justify their sins. Maybe because they have been hurt, or are angry at god. Maybe they have been deceived by the devil himself. But I think the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the opposite being true.

It takes a lot of work to feed the Christian spirit. Faith requires constant attention. Bible study, prayer, surrounding yourself with like-minded worshipers. Having doubts? Feed the spirit! And don’t yoke yourself to the ungodly. Hell, if I post a Facebook status with even the slightest hint of Christian criticism I’m going to be unfriended by at least one religious high school friend. That’s a constant battle for Christians. How do you avoid ungodly people and still encourage them in their faith? What to do? I can’t like them, but I need to love them. The result mostly comes across as, “I hate everyone who is not exactly like me.” Oops. There’s your disbelief in god showing again.

I don’t have these problems. You know why? Because I don’t think god exists. I’ve been there and I’ve been here, and as far as I can see religion is something humans teach themselves. They build a culture around it and feed it to keep it alive. But no one is born knowing god. And among those who are taught to know god, even fewer actually believe it. They only believe the parts they want to believe. They create a version of god- but how can that be real?

Otherwise we would be living in a society of completely insane people. Have you not had a glimpse of what it’s like when religious people attain the goal of complete delusion? And yet you constantly seek it out for yourself. More faith. Faith is simply being sure that god exists, and yet it is a daily struggle to stay strong in faith. You never even get close to it. Perfect faith would change you. Really change you. Most people never get there. You will never get there. Because the truth is that you do not believe in the existence of god. You couldn’t possibly.

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