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8/14/07                                                                                       View Comments

Cartoon-character Gods, prophets, saints and virgins

Sent in by Julie W

I can still pinpoint the exact time and date that I turned my back, forever, on any form of organized religion, whether it be Christianity, or any other. I often wonder if there are any others out there who experienced the same life-changing force, as I did, on 9/11, when I witnessed what humans will do to each other ‘in the name of God.’

That brisk morning in Colorado, happened to be my daughter’s first day of kindergarten at Coal Creek Elementary School in Louisville. It was an exciting morning and she had dressed herself proudly, choosing to wear a new outfit purchased just for that first day. I had turned on the usual morning show on TV, so I could catch up on the overnight news as I fixed her breakfast. As the TV warmed up, the screen remained black at first while voices of panic and disbelief screamed from the television reporter and news anchor. I rushed over to the TV and witnessed the horror, while my daughter walked over to me and slid her hand inside mine, instinctively knowing that something was wrong. I stood in front of the screen, connected forever to my daughter as our hands held tightly, and we watched on live TV as the 2nd plane smashed into the WTC tower and I heard myself say quietly under my breath, ‘that was not an accident.’ I knew at that moment that I was watching hundreds of souls perish, as my daughter also watched in horror. It was that day, at that moment, that changed me forever.

As the days and weeks slowly passed during that monumental time for our country, we all learned the names of the terrorists, learned about their own faith, their cause, their leader and that their horrific act was carried out with the blessing of many others who also followed their particular religion. For several weeks, I struggled with my own internal religious belief system and could not see the difference between a Muslim extremist and a Christian extremist, both factions killing innocents, harming children, destroying our world, in the name of their God.

At first, I became enraged with religion, hating and mocking its very existence. I had been raised as a Presbyterian and had never followed any ridged dogma or rituals, whether it was baptism, regular church attendance, Bible reading, etc. However, I had always believed in God, of a higher presence, but never the cartoon-character of ‘an old man sitting in the clouds, thumping us all on our heads if we strayed’ type of being. And I believed that Jesus was a good teacher, a prophet like Buddha or Mohammed who instilled love and kindness in others. I had even believed that, yes, he could possibly be supernatural, immaculately conceived and possibly raised after death. I believed these things because I never had a reason to question my beliefs. But now, after the horror of 9/11, and religion being the forefront of this event, I was instinctively forced to look inward and define my beliefs, not only for myself, but for my children as well. I did not want anyone, or any religious group, to take my children down a road, that I would not follow myself.

That was many years ago and that horrific event galvanized my core forever. There is no going back to organized religion, for me, and I feel utterly free and strong in my own belief. And I believe strongly that we do not need to send our beautiful, innocent children, to church, in order to raise them to be moral people. On the contrary, I believe that raising our children, free of the guilt-ridden church environment filled with cartoon-character Gods, prophets, saints and virgins, will enable us, as parents, to grow mentally-strong, and independently-minded young people, who will help to change our world for the better.

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