ARLINGTON, Virginia. The month of December is a time of peace and goodwill for members of several world religions, but for Alan Macy, it’s a nightmare. “Everybody gangs up on me–Christians, Jews and Muslims,” he says, as he watches firemen put out a blaze on his front lawn. “It’s very ecumenical.”
“You’re just lucky it wasn’t an exclamation point.”
Macy is an agnostic–a person who believes that it is impossible for humans to know whether there is a supreme being. As such, he is the target of persecution throughout the year both by religious believers and by atheists, who accuse his type of being wishy-washy.
Last night, a group of masked men came to Macy’s house and burned a question mark on his lawn, ridiculing his indifference to cosmic questions and religious strife. “Make up your mind!” someone spray-painted across his door.
Other agnostics say they suffer little indignities throughout the holiday season. “I bought a birthday present at a department store and dropped my American Agnostics Association affinity credit card on the counter when I went to pay,” says Ellen Sherman. “The shopgirl said ‘Why don’t you people get your own damn holiday’ and refused to gift-wrap it for me.”
“Sorry–no free gift wrapping unless you believe in SOME kind of Supreme Being.”
Leaders of religious groups say they caution adherents to practice tolerance towards those who have lost their faith and don’t know where to find it. “I tell my parishioners to share God’s love with those who don’t believe in him, since we may be able to convert them someday,” says Father Francis Kaloff of St. Columbkill’s parish in Brighton, Massachusetts. “At this holiest time of the year, I urge my faithful to save their anger for members of competing sects who cut into our revenues.”