There's a third option, you know. Hear me out.
Until I reached my late 40's I followed the rules and requirements of a strict religion, though it never made any sense. I tried to understand what seemed to be a very arbitrary deity - he cared about football games, helped find car keys, and saved some from certain death, but he also let millions die of thirst, allowed illness to happen to teach lessons about character, hid himself if someone wasn't deemed worthy of attention, and didn't influence the outcome of various college exams. Confusing at best.
I berated myself daily for not living appropriately, although this was, conveniently, defined by the very church I attended. They were right and every other church was wrong - the church leaders told me so, like they tell everyone. I knuckled down and tried harder, but there was no way I could ever live up to what was expected of me personally, financially, and spiritually. It damaged my self-worth almost past the point of any hope. I struggled with depression, worked harder, studied more, and looked to the heavens for advice on every facet of my life. The heavens were silent, always and forever. I knew it was because I was a worthless human being who didn't warrant such powerful divine aid.
When the day came that the proverbial shelf collapsed I was giddy with joy. Not only was it clear the church I attended was a blatant fraud, I realized every religion was wrong. Religion itself, no matter the way it is presented or what it entails, is simply man-made, created to control the masses and explain frightening events in life. Power and control, ceded by the masses hoping to gain divine favor, created a monster that still exists today.
It is bizarre that, in the 21st century, we continue to argue about an invisible sugar daddy in the sky who has helpers wandering about dispensing random help or whispering nuggets of wisdom. It's unconscionable that incredibly wealthy churches, who often refuse to open their books publicly, hold sway over so many lives and abuse that power at every level. It is disgraceful when public policy is influenced by religious leaders, to the detriment of, sometimes many millions of people.
Untold hours are spent in prayer, possibly the most wasteful activity of all time, when, instead, hands could be put to work planting gardens, tending children, adopting shelter pets, cleaning inner cities, creating art and music, reading, inventing, and providing care to those most in need. Hours spent in church pews would be better used studying medicine, traveling, getting educated, participating in local and state politics, building businesses up, and solving our air pollution problem.
Power given to church leaders should be taken back and used to build up one's own self-worth, family, community, and nation. Religion emasculates men and demeans women - we are taught that we cannot solve our own problems without an all-watching father (creepy at best) and that turning over our lives to those in power is the only way to be saved (from what?). The very notion of it all is revolting and dangerous.
Therefore, I am an atheist.
Here's where you'll think it's a little weird.
Freedom from religion means having the ability, the absolute right, to create our own destiny. This is a fundamental and intrinsic drive in all of humanity - the need and desire to live according to one's own dictates. This belief carries over into the political realm - it must.
I know for a certainty that the family unit is the basis for a successful society. By family, I mean the traditional view, with a father and mother, both in the home, if possible, raising children together. Children need love, safety, warmth, nourishment, support, literacy, education, music, art, humor, and physical activity, which are all best when generated from home.
I love the flag, patriotic music, parades, pro-life causes, mom-and-pop stores, privacy, freedom of speech without fear of reprisal, limited government, and people getting off welfare. I love and respect our military and our veterans more than ever - my admiration knows no bounds.
We should be free from tyranny - socialized medicine, forced vaccines, government intrusion, data mining, crushing business regulations, racial pot-stirring, and cameras everywhere. Our food should be clean, and we should be allowed to grow and eat whatever we choose. We should turn away from any type of government dependence, even though it is touted as the key to happiness and success. Personal responsibility and self-discipline are the real keys to success. Euphemisms are used to create attitudes of entitlement, which will be the death of our freedoms.
Capitalism has created a nation that is proud, strong, and prosperous. American values do not include encouraging illegal aliens to suck our systems dry and promoting the notion of "fairness". Nothing is "fair" in America - nothing should be. Fairness requires everyone to be on the same level, which immediately destroys any inclination to work hard and think smart. Without competition we stop the advances in science, medicine, technology, and many other areas. Should we help others? Yes, but only on a voluntary basis.
We do not have to accept deviant lifestyles either. Individuals can live as they choose, unless it genuinely hurts someone else, but we cannot be forced to embrace those choices. Sometimes we are racist in thought, sometimes we are selfish. We are often headstrong. These have been painted as the worst of evils, but they are not - we are allowed to be these things. We passively accept labels and allow those in power to dictate what we think and how we behave, but that is how religion exerts control as well. We are taught that we cannot solve our own problems without an all-watching administration (creepy at best) and that turning over our lives to those in power is the only way to be saved (from what?). The very notion of it all is revolting and dangerous.
Therefore, I am a conservative.
And it all makes perfect sense.