Karen, the Non-Believer

Saturday, April 02, 2011
I am not a religious person.  I am, in fact, an atheist.  My paternal grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave every time I say that but there's no denying it.  I'm a non-believer.  It wasn't always this way; at one time, around the age of 10 or 11, I wanted to be a nun.  No fooling, I wanted to become a Bride of Christ.  However, I was not yet in my teen years and I thought astronaut and stripper were also in my future.  Growing up, my family was quite religious.  I think my father only went to church because his mother was quite religious and that's how he was raised, and because my mother ensured that we went to every Sunday (mom in fact converted from Protestantism to Catholicism which was my father's family's religion).  Mom was in the choir, dad read the scriptures and collected donations, and both my brother and I were altar servers when we were quite young; religion played a big role in our lives.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it but at one point I tried to convince one of my friends to confess her sins to me (practice for when I joined the church).  When her parents found out, she was no longer allowed to play with me.  I was devastated.  It was around this time that I began to question my faith.

As I grew older, I became exposed to different world views, different religions, different ways of thinking.  Eventually, religion no longer made sense to me.  I did not believe.  While my biggest problems were with Catholicism (because of my upbringing), it applied to all religions.  Catholicism, to me, was hypocritical as an institution and if Jesus had ever existed, he'd be unable to recognize what the church had become.  Idol worship, rich beyond most people's wildest dreams (a HUGE dichotomy between the leaders and the poor they're supposed to be helping), sexual inequality, and the abuse of children (yes I know this is not specific to the Catholic church).  Funny but when I read the bible and learned about Jesus' supposed miracles and teachings, I don't remember hearing about those things.  Something else I don't believe in?  Using religion to justify war and genocide.  How many people have been killed in the name of god and holy wars throughout our history?  I'd rather not try to imagine thank you.  Proselytizing also bothers me.  If religion is so great, shouldn't it be able to speak for itself?  I don't think that you should have to convince people to join your cause by promising them a golden ticket to heaven, riches, or an excess of gorgeous virgins awaiting them when they die just so they'll join your organization.

I know that this post might upset some people but that's not really my intention.  I have no problem with what other people believe - I respect your beliefs and values, just as I expect you to respect mine.  Unlike some atheists who feel the need to insult those of you who are religious (sorry Bill Maher, I love you but I think this is ignorant of you), I would loudly proclaim your right to believe what you will.  I don't agree with it, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends.  I actually prefer to surround myself with people who have different belief systems.  If we all believed in the same thing, life would be a bit boring.  The world's major religions have some great things about them.  The Bible gives us the 10 commandments, telling us to treat each other the way we want to be treated, respect your parents, don't kill anyone, take at least one day off a week, etc.  How can that be a bad thing?  Most religions also promote charitable work which is very admirable.

I don't think religion is bad (organized religious institutions? definitely).  Yes, its not for me; I don't believe in a higher power of any kind, miracles, or an afterlife but I think for some its comforting, reassuring, powerful.  I don't think you're crazy, a nutter, an idiot, or deluded if you believe.  I hope you all think the same way about me and my lack of faith.

3 comments:

nbrsspot.blogspot.com said...

i hear you there.. I dont know what to believe so you are not alone.. i am switching blog sites and my e-mail has changed.. hope you have a good weekend..

S.M. Elliott said...

I'm a theist but not religious. Though I had the good fortune to grow up in a groovy liberal Lutheran church, I was devastated when I actually read the Bible and realized it was full of justifications for war, murder, annihilation of your enemies, and so on. Then I learned that Luther wasn't the kind, patient scholar of his Catechism but a full-blown sociopath who urged his followers to torch synagogues and execute Jews. It was difficult to part ways with the simple faith of my childhood, but I didn't have much choice. My conscience directly contradicts much of what is taught in the Bible.

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