The events of last Friday were horrific. I can't even explain how devastated I was to hear how so many lost their lives in the Paris terrorist attacks. It's incomprehensible to me how anyone could do such a thing; take innocent life and cause so much pain and heartache. My thoughts are with all those in Paris, all those whose lives have been turned upside, all those injured, and all those who have lost loved ones. It's such a tragic event, and I am full of such sadness and sorrow that we live in a world where things like this happen.
However, I am also so bloody angry by the reaction to such events by YA author Tommy Wallach. On Twitter, he said the following:
He went on to explain what he meant further on his blog, here.I would like to take this historical moment to emphasize that I am a rabid atheist, and the world would be a better place if more folk were.— Tommy Wallach (@tommywallach) November 15, 2015
Before I continue with my feelings on this, I feel I should give some context as to where I'm coming from. I am an athiest. My father is an athiest, my mother is C of E. I grew up knowing both of their views on religion, but neither of them preached or tried to force their views on me, but instead brought me up to make up my own mind on where I stood when it came to religion. When I was younger, I believed in God. I made the decision to start going to Church with my Mum, and was eventually Christened C of E, by my own choice. In time, I went to a Catholic secondary school. In my late teens, my faith struggled against questions I had, until it dwindled into nothing. My whole life, I have had people on both sides of my family who are either C of E, Catholic or atheists.
So now, as an adult, I have no faith. Yet I find Wallach's comments so unbelievably disgusting and repugnant.
The tragic events in Paris on Friday was not down to religion. It was down to terrorists, extremists, who take words in a religious text, and twist them to suit their purposes. The events on Friday were not down to Muslims. Muslims and the Islamic faith are not behind those events, or any other terrorist attack you might think of. So by his very comment (and I know he's not talking about any specific faith, but the fact that the terrorists are distorting the Islamic faith is what his comment stems from), he is blaming the attack on religion and faith. This is so wrong, and just goes towards further alienating Muslims. This needs to stop.
Secondly, for some people, their faith is probably the only thing that is getting them through right now. Faith is a comfort in hard times; people have lost loved ones, and from talking to those in my family, I know having faith makes it easier to get through such traumatic events, to believe that loved ones have gone on to a better place, and that God is with them, by their side, as they grieve. I've recently seen just how important faith is to people when there is a loss of life, and for Wallach to say that more people should be athiests - which basically means he feels religious people should put aside their beliefs - he is basically saying that it would be better if an extremely difficult time should be even harder, as it would be for those with faith to be without it. And I cannot get on board with that. We lost my Nan seven months ago, and my Mum has found it really difficult. But her belief that Nan is in Heaven and no longer suffering, and that God is looking out for my mum has kept her going for the past seven months, amidst her grief. I may not believe the things my mum does, but I know she wouldn't be any better off not believing. The opposite would be the case. And I feel the same for all the others whose faith is comforting them during this difficult time. Removing all faith isn't going to make this situation any better, nor stop these attacks from happening - because faith and religion aren't the cause.My name is Omar. I am a Muslim. I condemn the #ParisAttack. Over 1.5 billion Muslims do. Please remember this.— عمر فلسطين (@WeTeachLifeSir_) November 13, 2015
Finally, Wallach's reasons for writing his blog post are - because he feels obligated to the readers of his book/s, to speak up so teens hear these views as they are growing and working out the answers to "those incredibly difficult questions for the first time", to reject or accept as they see fit - seems acceptable enough. Until he used his blog post to patronise those of faith and make light of something that is so important to them. Even an athiest like me can see it is completely unacceptable to talk about what they believe in as "magical beliefs". It's disrespectful at best, but downright offensive at worst. No matter how you look at it, it's not ok.
And those readers he's speaking up about his views for? He refers to as "the kiddies". So he's even patronising them.
The world would not be a better place with more athiests; we don't need to get rid of faith. Religion isn't the problem, people are.