Easter Weekend: You Really Believe That?

dyed Easter eggs

Many atheists enjoy Easter weekend. And why not? We could all use some time off work and an excuse to get together with family. There are plenty of ways atheists can have fun on Easter. I have noticed that one common activity many atheists enjoy during Easter weekend involves mocking various aspects of Christian belief. Obviously, this is not limited to Easter weekend. My point is that I have noticed more of it taking place on social media than I recall from past years. I think that's a good thing.

The story of Easter in which many Christians claim to believe is bizarre enough that mockery seems like an appropriate response. Social norms discourage even mild criticism of this and other religious belief systems. This is unfortunate. Shielding these belief systems from criticism prevents believers from thinking too deeply about them, and this makes it easier for these belief systems to persist. Belief systems that are both irrational and harmful should be questioned, criticized, and even mocked. The hope is that this will help to stimulate some believers to question at least some of what they believe. I'm sure we have all had experiences of not questioning a long-held belief until we hear how it sounds to someone else.

My Twitter timeline has been full of Easter-related content for the last few days, and I have been happy to see it. I realize it will upset some Christians, but I find that a small price to pay for the good it can do. It provides a way for ex-Christians to connect by recognizing that some of the nonsense we used to believe is nonsense. I don't know about others, but I find it helpful to be humbled by having to admit that I used to believe some of the garbage I am now seeing others mock.

Mocking some of these religious holidays is also a way to plant some seeds of doubt in the minds of at least some Christians. Even though it was a very long time ago, I still remember what it was like not to realize that not everybody was Christian or that others found the idea of having a personal relationship with a long dead (and probably fictional) person quite strange. Had I been pushed even a little bit to consider these things earlier, I suspect that it might not have taken me so long to discard Christianity.

Those who criticize atheists for mocking religious beliefs often have difficulty distinguishing between beliefs and people. We can (and should) mock religious beliefs and traditions without mocking religious people. I used to believe some thoroughly stupid things. This does not mean that I was (or am) a bad person; it means I was wrong. If I still believed these things today, it wouldn't mean I was stupid. Once again, it would mean I was wrong.

Whether you prefer to label it Easter weekend, Zombie Jesus weekend, or something else, I think you are doing something helpful when you expose some of the ridiculous beliefs on which the whole thing rests. Hearing how an unquestioned belief sounds to others who do not share the belief can be powerful. So mock away! I'm sure Zombie Jesus will forgive you.