From Point A to Point B, and how I got there September 18, 2007Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, issues, rants.
Tags: atheism, atheist discrimination, Bill Maher, religion
Let’s get one thing straight: I wasn’t born this way. I was actually born and raised Roman Catholic, but my family isn’t one of those incredibly controlling types that make children want to rebel. Atheism was a choice I made for myself. I didn’t stop believing in God just to spite my parents; come on, I’m not that shallow.
There was a time when I used to believe, when I used to turn to God for everything. This was, of course, was when I was much younger and more naive. Slowly, I realized that leaving my fate to some unseen deity was kind of foolish (to me, anyway), and I began to doubt. It wasn’t just one defining moment when I decided “Bam! I’m atheist!” — a long thought process was involved.
My family used to go to Church a lot when I was younger, but a few years ago those visits stopped altogether, although we would still pray before meals and celebrate Catholic holidays. I’m not sure I could give you a straight answer if you asked me whether or not my family had something to do with my decision to become Atheist. They probably had some influence. I’d give more credit to Bill Maher, though. I worship the guy, and I agree with most of what he says. Hell, he could tell me that the world was made entirely of fire and I’d be inclined to believe him.
There were a lot of things about my former religion that I was unhappy with. Firstly, I hate how my religion proclaims itself as one of the most “accepting” and yet my parents are so quick to bash other religions. Once, I went with a friend of mine who was Protestant to one of their worship sessions. I had a great time. It was so enjoyable and uplifting compared to the admittedly dull Holy Mass that we Catholics went to every Sunday. When my parents found out, though, they forbade me from ever going with my friend again, out of fear of my possibly getting converted. They also talk ill of Muslims, which I highly disapprove of. This doesn’t only apply to Catholics, though. I think all religions may be guilty of seeing other religions as inferior. Of course, it depends entirely on the individual. I’m sure there are people who show an equal level of respect to religions different from their own. Unfortunately, I find that people like these are rare.
Secondly, Catholicism is homophobic by nature. (And I love gay people. I’m a fag hag. I’m practically a PFLAG mascot.) Which is quite hypocritical, because didn’t the Bible state “Judge not lest ye be judged?” I refuse to be part of a religion that discriminates against people based on the gender of whom they choose to fuck. Again, I understand that there are exceptions to the rule, but there just aren’t enough.
Thirdly, Catholicism is sexist. If you asked me why they won’t allow women to be priests, I couldn’t give you a good answer, be it now or even back when I was a practicing Catholic.
Yet of all the groups that Catholicism bashes, I sympathize most with, unsurprisingly, my fellow atheists. While Christians see people of other religions as merely misguided, they assume that being an atheist means that you are of poor faith and that you follow no moral code. Basically, worshipping no god is even worse than worshipping a god of a different name.
I made it a point to catch the episode of Morgan Spurlock‘s 30 Days where an atheist had to live with a Christian family. While I won’t touch on the actual experience of the atheist herself (since I’m sure a lot of heavy editing was involved, and both parties came off as asshats anyway), the part of the episode that sticks out in my mind the most were the facts that Spurlock provided: a recent survey revealed of all social groups (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion), atheists were found to be the least trustworthy, and that in elections, most Americans would not vote for an atheist even if s/he was qualified and competent. This is probably a corollary of the “atheists have no moral code” theory that I touched on in earlier posts.
The whole “atheists aren’t trustworthy” thing was quite apparent in an episode of — and I can’t believe I’m about to admit that I watch this — Tyra. It featured a social experiment called “Tyra’s Teenville” where 10 teenagers from various social classes and ethnicities were supposed to create a mini-community where they have to do various tasks such as assigning designations such as “mayor,” “police chief,” “banker” and “prostitute” for each other by vote, creating a town flag, pairing up for marriage (why am I not surprised that the “mayor” married the “prostitute?”), and voting off one of the community members.
Several of the kids were racist, most notably this one obese white girl with a lip ring (watch her at her worst in this Tyra show clip, and this one) who made the black boy a “garbage man” because “[he looked] like [he was] uneducated,” and the black girl a “thief” because, as Racist Fat Girl said, “When I think ‘thief,’ I think of black people.” She then chose a white Texan male as Teenville’s mayor because he had a Southern accent. This is your future, America!
Needless to say, Racist Fat Girl annoyed me the most. As for the kids I did like, the black “garbage man” was actually a very smart kid, as was the “religious leader” of an ethnicity I can’t quite place right now (his name is Shant, in case you might be able to help me out). The one that stood out the most for me, however, was the white/mixed-race girl who was named the “banker.” I liked her not just because she was an atheist like me, but because she was very open-minded about everyone. She chided Racist Fat Girl on giving people their designations based on their races and the way they dress. She then “married” the only gay guy (“convenience store owner”) in the group over the racist “mayor” because they shared the same ideals and would get along better — and yeah, they were the only two non-virgins in the group. Basically, if I were a part of Tyra’s Teenville, I would speak and act most like the “banker” girl (yes, I do have a propensity for chasing after pretty gay boys, why do you ask?).
When the time came for the teenagers to vote out one of the community members, I was certain they would kick Racist Fat Girl to the curb because she was bigoted and annoying. To my surprise, they instead voted out the “banker.” Why? As the teens themselves admitted, they voted her out because she was an atheist, and her beliefs (or lack thereof) clashed with theirs.
That’s pretty much my story, in a nutshell. I’ve only recently begun life as an atheist, and even now it’s already difficult. I feel like I’ve been “voted out” from my family. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, I still live with them and all, but nothing is ever going to be the same again. There is now an invisible wall that divides us. But my family only serves as even more proof that Catholics do discriminate against people of other religions or of no religion.
I don’t like discrimination in any way, shape, or form. I don’t like being on either the receiving or giving end of it. So I gave up my religion, because I refuse to be part of a group that looks down on others.
Now, you might be thinking, “Well, aren’t you discriminating against Catholics?” My answer is no. I don’t look at a Catholic and think, “Wow, you must be an asshole.” I wouldn’t treat Catholics with any less respect than I would other people. 99% of my friends are Catholic. I am merely stating why I chose to leave the fold — because aside from having no tangible proof that God exists, I respect gay people, and Muslims, and Buddhists, and single mothers, and while some Catholics may feel the same way, I know most of them would disagree with me.