sent in by Neil Sweeney
I was brought up in a predominately Roman Catholic upper middle class family, we where all Irish (me, my brother and my sister where the only ones born and raised in England). My mum and my mum's mum where the only authoritarian people in my family that weren’t Catholics, mainly because my Nan’s first husband died and she started losing her faith and she divorced again and the church wouldn’t let her back in (not all forgiveness now is it?). My mum followed my Nan and together they became spiritualist - kind of like Catholics but very reformed and more open to ideas and other religions.
I went to a Roman Catholic Primary school; still to this day do not understand, as it was one of the worst primary schools in the area. There I started to question it all when these teachers there never gave me any real support in any thing. See I had meningitis when I was about 10 months old; the doctors though I would die, I came out with no obvious problems; turned out though I had a few speaking problems and could not grasp my English very well, so my spelling and writing speed was very bad. So I went too primary school were the teachers had knowledge I would have educational problems, but did not seem to care. I was put in classes where the teachers would let the other kids call me “slow coach” or make fun the fact that I could not spell, they even agreed with them at times. Catholics and Christians teach to help those in need, no matter whom they may be - “The Good Samaritan”. I did not have a problem like I just been kicked the hell out of me or was poor, just needed help with my English, yet I never got that help. Though I was very young, I came to the conclusion that a lot of the believe revolves around showing off in a physical aspect rather than any sort of metal aspect; my idea at the time being “they don’t get a award, why would they do it?”
I was still religious at the time, and I was soon to receive my first Holy Communion. I was a year late doing it as of I was not sure that I wanted to spend my time learning about the bible because I did start to build some doubt about it all, but I kept on saying I was to please my family. During the whole “training” to revive it for the first time - bit of crap really, I eat this “bread” at home, we call it “rice paper” – I questioned the idea of God building the world in 7 days. I believe in the Big Bang theory; I was told I was wrong in thinking this idea and that God did build the world in 7 days (even though it wasn’t to be said it was “7, 24 hour, days” but they seemed to think it was). Then I said about “why do I have to be Catholic? Can’t I be something else like a Spiritualist because I wasn’t sure I believe in it all or anything at all?”
The priest called my mum in and mentioned what I said. He said something that I may not be ready for it (even though I was a year late), but as of my family wanted me to go through, I was forced to. By this point, I wanted to leave it. I was getting pulled into a system where it keeps people at a status quo of the perfect human; all thinking the same and becoming a drone where my thoughts where the thoughts of a billion others around the world (in a child’s perspective on it all of course).
I then took my communion; I couldn’t understand why it was such an important day. I just ate a piece of rice paper for the first time in church drank some mouldy fig wine and got a free bag of almonds - which I did enjoy to tell the truth, never had sweet almonds before.
The final straw came about a year after my communion. I was in class listen to some Jesus story, all sort of fascinated that I did not need to do any work I sat and listened. When the story was over, I said, “At least there is no devil”. This caused a bit of an up roar first up by somebody thinking I said, “Jesus never existed”. So the teacher pulled me out and made me stand up in front of the class telling me off for being blasphemous, I said I never said that at all, but the whole class was convinced I did. All good little Catholics, they all heard me shout anti Jesus slander, when in fact I sigh out my belief that I do not believe there is such thing as the devil. I stood up and said, “you are all lying” and mentioned what I really said. Now talk about holding a gun to your head, the teacher gave me hell about what I really said and I gave hell back. I got picked up for lunch and went home and I said to my mum in the car “I don’t want to believe in any of it any more”, then I was free. I decided to be that annoyance in the school, that little kid who you cannot program and also went against what they said, even if I did not really believe what I was saying, as long as they said, I would contradict.
My first real clam to fame for being anti-Catholic (even though I was not anti, I just did not believe in it) was bringing in a music tape in to school; The Offspring’s ‘Smash’ album. I played the song ‘Bad Habit’ which had the line “Stupid dumb shit goddamn mother fucker” which I was called up on and told that I should not be listening to such bad music that is offensive. Put on a freedom rant and I was allowed to go, just that I should not be bringing music into school.
But I think has a way of getting to people in the end. A few years ago, I heard about the priest, that gave me my first communion, left the religion and is now an ex-Christian but also a married man. I like to think that it was my influence, but also he saw that the real world is better to live for than something is that force belief (strange he should pick running off with a woman for this (joke)).
I am happier leaving than I was following, being told what to think. Not that I have anything against people with religious beliefs, I have often wondered being a Buddhist (not a religion but a belief). But I come back wanting to follow life as I see it, as I am given. If I see something, I want to see it as I make it to be and not as some dead guy thousands of years ago did. The bible today is taken the wrong way and people ruin it.
“It’s better to have a idea, than a belief” quote Kevin Smith’s ‘Dogma’
Became a Christian: 4
Ceased being a Christian: 6-8
Labels before: Roman Catholic
Labels now: Free thinker
Why I joined: Make my family happy
Why I left: Make my self happy
Email Address: neil at wolfweb.co.uk
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)