When people ask me, "Why aren't you a Christian?" or various other questions of why I am not a theist; I sometimes respond with a curt answer to the inquiry: "I already have a deadbeat dad, I don't need another!" I react like this if they are particularly pushy about their precious faith
For those who are more acquainted with me, my mother raised me, and my father dipped when I was about two. I was never really close to him and considering his alcoholism, and I prefer to keep it that way. I do not know whether he is dead or alive as of writing this piece, and honestly, do not care. Deadbeat loser dads and negligent ratchet moms seem to be more and more common these days and, to the eyes of many, I am just another statistic in that outlier.
Most would not twinge or even protest if I do not have the desire, bubbling from within my belly, to become closer to my dad. Negligent parents (especially fathers) are viewed in a harsh light, here in the good ole' U.S.A and rightfully so. My father would have been called a deadbeat, drunk, dumb, derelict, and any other D-related adjective I can drum up at this very moment.
What does this story behind my single-parent upbringing have to do with the question of theism, as mentioned earlier? These people have no problem casting stones upon my father; they see an issue with someone like me hurtling proverbial boulders against the most notorious deadbeat of them all. Their God. The cruel irony to all of this is that a lot of these same people are from low-income, poverty-stricken, crime-infested neighborhoods. The most faith-based communities are where the very same problem of fatherlessness and single-parent households run rampant. In the ghetto, there is a liquor store on every corner and a church just down the way. It seems residents of the inner-city love to hoot and holler, shaking tambourines on Sunday and then lift a forty oz right after. They love their god but can't seem to make ends meet.
Growing up, it was such a foreign concept to me; these people adore god: Parading, praising, preaching, pulpit-pounding, all to a god who--if he were just a man he would be harangued, harassed, and held-up for missing a child support payment. Whether it is the inner cities of Oakland, to the Barrios of Los Angeles. Or to the trailer parks that litter the South; this same religious fervor reaches a fever pitch that these poverty-stricken parishioners cannot turn away.
The truth of the matter is that if they simply spent a minuscule amount of energy to honestly look at their surroundings; they inevitably would come to the conclusion that their precious god is the biggest deadbeat of all. I remember growing up there was a neighborhood friend of mine. Much like me, he was also a childhood denizen of a single mother household. His family received welfare benefits, and every first of the month, his grandmother would say how the "The Lord provides." In her hand, she waved a check like it was some ticket of salvation for the family.
Praise Uncle Sam the first of the month, and then praise Jesus every Sunday morning. Can I get an Amen?
As a little skeptic, I knew that if anything, it is not the lord that provided but the taxpayer. And now as I have become one of those very same taxpayers, I've seen that the problem has actually become just a little bit worse. This is not an indictment of the welfare system though. (it does have its place) It seems odd that these communities praise god more than they do the workers who put money into the system which support them. If anything, if you must pray to anyone, give a prayer of thanks to the worker. Unlike god, they actually exist and actually provide something of value.
No, I am not interested in visiting your Baptist church on Sunday. No, I will not be kneeling and stating that "God be with you" while a stain-glassed, bloodied Jesus mournfully reminds me that he has died for our sins for the umpteenth time. As for me, I'm going to take matters into my own hands and build the kind of life I want to lead; no deities required. As for you, the poverty-stricken parishioner, do what you want with yours. But take a good honest look at your lot and the lives of those in your neighborhood. Has your god been so good to you? If you are honest with yourself, I think the answer more than speaks for itself.