Eschew all fellowship with the ungodly

Over the weekend, Stephanie’s mom held a welcoming ceremony for Kaylee up at her house in Maine. There is no real analogue in the Bahai faith for the Christian ceremonies of baptism and Christening, so this event was organized, in part, to fill that void. It was also, to an even larger extent, a gathering organized to allow relatives who had yet to meet Kaylee to meet her for the first time, and to allow those who had only seen her once or twice to see her again. All in all, it was a smashing success and a wonderful afternoon. You’ll read more about the wonderfulness of it tomorrow, in my weekly letter to Kaylee. Right now though, I’d like to take a moment to address one aspect of the ceremony that troubled me deeply.

In the weeks leading up to this event, I made it plain that I wanted nothing to do with the organizing of it and that I wanted to know as little as possible about it. As the lone atheist in an extended family full of believers, I have come to the conclusion that it is best that I not participate in conversations having to do with God and/or religion. Things get messy if I do. So I kept out of it. When members of my own family asked me for details, I referred them to Stephanie. I didn’t know and I didn’t want to know.

For the most part, Saturday’s ceremony and the gathering that followed it proved to me that I needn’t have worried. It really wasn’t all that religious, at all. It was about family and community and morality. But there was one song, in particular, which bothered me. One line of the song, really. And that lyric was, “eschew all fellowship with the ungodly.”

I believe I was holding Kaylee when this line was sung, or else I was looking at her. And it hurt me deeply to hear all of these people suggesting to my daughter that she should have nothing to do with people like me. All of the old scars were aflame again. Anger was the emotion that I expected, and anger did come later. But what I wanted to do at that particular moment had nothing to do with lashing out. What I wanted to do was laugh. Even this religion, supposedly based upon the ideals of tolerance and acceptance, was preaching prejudice. There is no tolerance for the non-believer, none at all.

I often think that the people around me view my atheism as a cop-out, or else as some sort of phase that I’ll grow out of. I get the feeling that I’m supposed to come to accept that my daughter will be raised as a Bahai, or at the very least that she’ll be raised to believe in God. It’s my understanding that ungodly little me is supposed to stay out of the religious education of my child, that I am to allow her to be duped, to be misled, as I feel all believers have been. I am to remain alone, here on my island, kept at a distance until I’ve come to my senses.

Since the day we discovered that Stephanie was pregnant it has always been a hope of mine that Kaylee would choose my side, that Stephanie would impart what she believed and that I would impart what I believed and that, in the end, Kaylee would decide that she didn’t need the crutch of God and spirituality to get her through life. Listening to the family sing that song on Saturday afternoon has shown me the light. It will never be allowed. It’s me against the world on this issue, and there’s no question I’m going to lose.