Lesbian author makes her atheism smile
Perhaps the best way to characterize Camille Beredjick is atheism with a smile.
A nonprofit writer, blogger, and digital media strategist, she has written about LGBTQ issues for years for Hemant Mehta’s website, Friendly Atheist. Recently, she wrote a self-published book, “Queer Disbelief: Why LGBTQ Equality Is an Atheist Issue”, available on Amazon.
In the book, Beredjick acknowledges the unprecedented progress LGBTQ people have made over the past decade, but acknowledges that they still have a way to go before they achieve true equality, especially politically. Unsurprisingly, she attributes the main obstacle to conservative religious interests. She thinks atheists could help LGBTQ people in their fight for equal rights. Beredjick, who identifies as a lesbian, was interviewed by the Bay Area Reporter via email.
She wrote in her email that she was inspired to write the book because she and Mehta “saw role models emerge in the relationship between LGBTQ people and atheists, particularly around social activism and policy and alliance “.
“Add to that the big political questions of the moment around LGBTQ rights and the attempt to influence our government by fundamentalist religion, and we decided that the time had come to explore these questions in a book, especially because of the stories about active collaborations between these two groups were rare, ”she wrote.
Beredjick, 27, strongly believes that any abuse of religious freedom, especially to the detriment of a marginalized group, is an atheist problem. In her book, she examines the ways in which atheists and LGBTQ people are natural allies, “the ways in which these groups can learn from and support each other; the reasons why atheists have a responsibility to support human rights issues like LGBTQ equality; and more importantly, why it’s crucial that we do it without delay or hesitation. “
Beredjick is determined to spread the news that atheists are just as friendly as religious people.
“There is a misconception that atheists are cold or indifferent to people of faith, and this is totally wrong,” she wrote. “This is partly based on the assumption that ‘good values’ derive only from religious belief, but atheists and agnostics also have convictions and morals – a morality they have considered and decided for themselves, rather than conforming to a predetermined religion. coded.”
She also rejected the stereotype of the “militant atheist” who seeks to “convert” everyone around her to atheism.
“This may be a goal for some people of virtually any faith (we all know about proselytizing Christians), but I personally don’t care what Higher Power you believe in until you use that belief as a vehicle. of hate and evil, ”she wrote.
Beredjick said she did not grow up in a Christian home.
“My mother is Catholic and my father is Jewish, but neither of my parents was very religious or pushed me to adopt their beliefs,” she wrote. “Claiming my identity as an atheist has not changed my usual routine or my family relationships; it was just a way of saying how neither religious practice nor belief in a higher power had ever been a part of my life, and I didn’t see them as important moving forward. ”
She does not see atheism as a belief system, but the absence of one.
“The absence of belief is not the same as the absence of empathy, morality, community or anything else that people often derive from their faith,” Beredjick wrote. “In fact, for many atheists, not believing in a god makes us more strongly linked to ideas of justice and morality. We are not responsible to a higher power, but to ourselves and to ourselves. our environment.”
Beredjick noted in his book that, according to a 2017 Public Religion Research Institute report on religious tendencies, LGBTQ people are less religious and more likely to be atheists than the general population, with 46% of LGBTQ people not having no religious affiliation versus 24% of the general US population. The report was based on a sample of more than 101,000 Americans from the 50 states.
Another interesting statistic from that same report is that nearly a third of people who abandoned their childhood religion cited “negative religious teachings about or treatment of gays and lesbians” as one of the reasons for which they do, providing further evidence of how straight people have started to care more about LGBTQ issues over time.
For Beredjick, the common intersection between atheism and LGBTQ equality is “that both groups are frequently the targets of faith-based discrimination in this country, whether for the right to marry or to have sex. children or the privilege of certain belief systems over others ”.
“Having said that, I want to be careful not to create a false equivalence between the two; LGBTQ people have faced far more entrenched discrimination and bigotry than atheists,” she wrote.
Beredjick pointed out that laws targeting LGBTQ people – such as companies that may discriminate against LGBTQ customers because of their religious beliefs or religious schools that can arbitrarily dismiss LGBTQ employees – can also be used against atheists.
“Yet even though LGBTQ people and atheists don’t experience the world in exactly the same way, we have comparable goals – as movements and as people – and face the same challenges,” Beredjick wrote. “We want to go to work knowing that we won’t be fired for our beliefs. We want to feel safe walking the streets. We want to build families, friendships and relationships as we see fit. And too often, we are pushed down by people whose beliefs don’t match our own, people who think we’re broken and sick, and people who just don’t understand us. “
Atheism can cover a wide spectrum, so just as there is no such thing as a monolithic LGBTQ community, there isn’t just one way to be an atheist.
“There are atheists who have been brought up in strict religious homes and have had experiences that have caused them to separate from religion, while others have never believed in a god at all,” writes- she.
Beredjick is not anti-religious per se.
“Religion (or the lack of it) is a deeply personal experience,” she wrote. “As long as they don’t harm anyone, I respect and support everyone’s right to believe as they wish. However, there are those who claim they agree with existing homosexuals, but who don’t want to give them any rights This could conflict with their own faith. You often hear this excuse from socially conservative politicians, who might proclaim their tolerance in the same breath as they are announcing sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“No matter what your beliefs (or your non-beliefs), it is still not ‘moral’ to hate LGBTQ people quietly, condemning their existence internally while being considerate and respectful to their faces,” he said. she adds. “It’s kind of like when Christians say it’s okay to be gay, as long as you don’t act on that homosexuality. The reason this argument fails is that you are no less gay if you you abstain from same-sex sex. Telling someone that they may desire consensual sex but cannot have it does not count as acceptance. “
She said that Pope Francis’ famous comment on homosexuals, “Who am I to judge?” falls into this category because he “still presumably accepts Catholic doctrine on matters of homosexuality.” we can practice empathy, kindness and respect towards others, regardless of our individual beliefs about what it means to be an atheist.
Beredjick is not opposed to partnering with religious progressives to advance social issues.
“I write about this at length in the book – many religious progressives I interviewed said they had more in common with atheists than with fundamentalist Christians,” she wrote in her th -mail.
She is not opposed to LGBTQ religious people staying to work for change in their churches, synagogues or mosques.
“It depends on the church and the community around them. Traditionally, people are more likely to be influenced by those they know and trust, such as fellow practitioners, than by strangers,” she wrote. “It’s a laudable goal to try to change hearts and minds in this way, and sometimes it works. That said, some religious institutions are so ingrained in hate traditions that it’s hard to imagine them. will change one day. “
Beredjick said that in the current political climate, the LGBTQ community was at risk of losing their rights.
“These risks also affect atheists, especially when it comes to prioritizing Christian values over all others,” she wrote. “This is also an important time to honor the intersectionality of the LGBTQ rights movement. LGBTQ people are also people of color, immigrants, women, the poor and others targeted by this administration.”
Due to President Donald Trump’s adherence to his evangelical Christian base and the targeting of LGBTQ people, immigrants and others, Beredjick wrote that communities should mobilize atheists (and others) to get angry and take action.
For Beredjick, it all comes down to the power of stories to transform people and create empathy.
“Most of all, I can’t overstate how important it is to listen to a person’s story before judging them,” she wrote. “Each of us comes to our beliefs after a very different set of experiences, relationships, and other forces that shape the way we travel the world. and listen to authentic human stories of how religious beliefs can hurt people … Take the time to understand how you can best make the world a little friendlier to the people around you, and all of our communities. will wear better. “