I Cannot (Easily) Trust Religious People
Why atheists must constantly question the motivations and actions of all theists.
The United States of America is a democratic republic. That's a fancy way of saying that we elect people who think like us, or as close to it as possible, to write laws and carry out the daily duties of our government. That's their full time job that we pay them to do. We all get to participate in this system, which is a beautiful thing that we all seem to take for granted. Where the distrust part sets in is when I start to think about who my fellow Americans are voting for, and why. Specifically, the Christian Americans.
The fundamental difference between atheism and theism is faith--specifically the faith in the existence of some kind of god. Faith, is the belief that something is absolutely true without requiring evidence. Faith, is the ability to trust in someone or something never having seen, or heard, or experienced it yourself. All religions require at least that, the belief in some thing that cannot be, and is not attempted to be proven or demonstrated. So all theists have at a minimum that much in common with each other. There are countless religions and sects but they all ask as the first act of the their followers to make that leap of faith. And it is there that the problem begins.
Theists have already demonstrated that they are capable and willing to believe the words that other people say with zero proof or evidence. The reason that I cannot trust them to make rational decisions is this: how can I tell if they will take something on faith AGAIN, something that they get to then vote on, something that will directly affect MY life and MY freedoms? Personal religious matters are none of my business or concern, but it is the same people making the decisions on real world issues that have chosen that leap of faith in their private lives. In this way, religion is inseparable for theists from their daily lives and decision making; they will always be the same person that chose once to believe something told to them with out a scrap of substantiating evidence. Why would the same group that believes my very existence constitutes an act of willful malice against their own beliefs and god figure defend my rights and liberties?
A religious person, and I'm talking about the Christians in this country specifically, will not value the liberties and equality of non-believers over his own faith when forced to make that decision. No debate or discussion will ever be equal, because in their eyes I am already inferior to them. Gone are the days of the inquisition when atheists and others were tortured or murdered; today's Christians dismiss outright the words of unbelievers and pigeon hole their ideas and input--no Christian sees an atheist as an equal, it is impossible. The atheist is going to hell to be punished eternally; the Christian will be rewarded with eternal life for his service. That is as far as they think. This is as far as they are required to, according to their faith.
As an atheist you must always question the motivations and actions of a theist. Christians especially often make decisions based on the teaching of their faith, and nearly all will carry these beliefs and prejudices into the voting booth. Motivation is an important thing to understand. In a democracy it is vital to know what is motivating a person to have the ideas and stances they have. Are they based on observation of empirical data, or are they arbitrary moral code prescribed by their holy texts? All theists are guilty of choosing the latter at least once in their lives, and many form their entire political career on doing it. These people will not protect you or your liberties, so you had better look out for them yourself.
Trust must be earned, even from other atheists. The crucial difference to see is that while atheists begin with a blank foundation to build your trust upon, the theist's record begins marred by a nearly irreparable hole: their faith.