I had an interesting social media conversation recently about faith, or no faith, and adoption. There have been a few church-related threads going on where people have been talking about fitting their adoptive families into their churches. This caused one person to wonder whether atheist adopters were quite rare in comparison to Christian ones.
There certainly are a lot of Christian adopters on social media - at least among the group of people I regularly converse with. I tend to know who they are because mostly they announce it in their profile. I do. And others announce other things they consider to be significant features of themselves - single mum, single dad, a particular job, LGBT, and, yes, sometimes atheist.
It was an interesting and respectful conversation. A few other atheists weighed in so I felt glad that the original wonderer didn't feel alone. It was good - adopters sharing experiences and thoughts about beliefs. Adoption is what has brought us together. In many ways some of us probably have very little else in common. And yet we have managed to form a respectful community where differences can be explained and discussed. Pretty mature of us, eh?!
There was only one comment that didn't fit for me. It was a comment made by a person I don't know, and who is not part of regular adoption community conversations I have taken part in - a person who follows one of the participants but is not known to any of the others.
It was this:
"When I was on the panel, I always had concerns about the god botherers."
It's not the phrase "god botherers" that concerned me. That's so ... whatever. Like 'Bible bashers' it rolls off the duck's back.
No, It was the "When I was on the panel..." part. What panel? An adoption panel? Have I basically just read that a person who has responsibility for making recommendations about whether someone is suitable to adopt has blanket suspicions about all "god botherers" for no other reason than that they are religious people?
I let it go. Because you do. Because there's no point getting into a row with someone you don't know at all on the internet. But I do wonder that it's apparently fine to just casually say something like that. And the commenter didn't retract the statement upon realising that I was, in fact, a "god botherer" myself. (Actually he followed it up with a comment about my "imaginary friend" - so old hat, heard it all before mate.)
Don't get me wrong. I'm not offended. I didn't need to go to my 'safe space'. This is not a post about Christians being oppressed - I'm really not oppressed. This guy has an absolute right to think that what I believe is a load of old tosh and to say so on social media.
But when anybody lays themselves bare before an adoption panel, awaiting the judgement of strangers as to whether they might be permitted to become parents, they deserve a fair hearing based on their individual attributes, not coloured by anyone's blanket "concerns" about a particular characteristic they might happen to share with millions of others. I would hope we would all get that.