sent in by Paul
It was a fairly easy choice for me to abandon religion. I've always been an independent thinker. I would (and still) often do things that were against the grain just because they were not what others wanted me to do.
In my early childhood (up to age 7), I enjoyed being Catholic. I liked my little communion book because of the gold edges on the pages. I didn't like the list of cardinal and venial sins at the back of it. There was just too much on the list and if I did any of those things, I certainly wouldn’t want to tell a priest. As for home life, my parents seemed to like each other. They were separated in 1983, but got back together shortly after that. I never liked my parents anyway. They were too mean. I just wanted to do my own thing. I wasn’t much trouble unless I was being told not to do something for a reason that was illogical to me. I loved my grandmother, though. She was, to me, an angel. The nicest person in my world - she always stopped my parents from hitting me.
Then, my grandmother died on Christmas Eve in 1985. I was playing with the toys she bought me when my parents told me. For years, I couldn't even look at a picture of her without crying. I resented god for taking gram away. (Notice that I refuse to give that silly word "god" any sort of validity by capitalizing it.) My parents broke up yet again. Thankfully, I stopped going to Catholic school when I was 9. Unfortunately, I had trouble adjusting to public school. I put on weight, too. I prayed for things to get better, but that never seemed to work. I became disenchanted with school, which lasted until I started college. Most importantly, I questioned the existence of any “god”. I began to think, 'How could Catholicism be right? There are so many other religions in the world. How could they all be wrong?"
Throughout my childhood, my family moved around a lot. I went to many schools and was not popular at any of them. Sometimes my parents were together and sometimes they were apart. I renounced god at 10 because I knew it was a load of crap. I like how George Carlin put it, "superstitious medieval religious bullsh*t", and how Allen Ginsberg put it, "Judeo-Christian-Islamic brainwash."
My parents were pretty much non-practicing Catholics. We’d go to church every now again, but not religiously! The first alternative I tried was Wicca at age 12. Why not? It existed before Catholicism raped the minds of Europe and it seemed to be a little more in tune with nature and the self. I didn't buy into the whole multiple gods idea - mostly just the personal power that is promoted through spellcraft. The most important thing was that I started to believe in MYSELF and realize that only I could make MY situation better - not some deity whose existence is unproven. I was done with Wicca by age 15. It was a bit too superstitious for me. I feel silly when something is too methodical. It made me wonder, “Is all this ceremony really necessary to accomplish my goals?”
Despite my obvious disinterest, I went through one final year of Sunday school. It only served to confirm my distaste for Catholicism. I loved the one time when the priest told us "the Protestant branches of Christianity were not valid because they were not connected with the dope (er...I mean pope)." I found it interesting that two groups that believed in basically the same thing can sit around and say the other one is wrong. Another classic line from him was that "it is sacrilegious to even read a horoscope." I went through with confirmation only because my parents were breaking up for the last time (getting divorced). I clearly indicated that I didn't believe in Christian bullsh*t (and that's exactly how I put it). Mom said that I wouldn't have to go to church any more after this. Wonderful! There was also a party for this, so at the very least I earned around $300 for a good act and could finally move on with my life. Only one relative gave me something other than money. My aunt gave me a porcelain cross because she got off the wrong subway exit in Boston and ended up right in front of a Catholic book store. She thought it was a sign. Blah blah blah...I threw it in the trash not too long after that! I bought myself a TV with the money, so I could watch more late-night soft-core porn movies! I always wondered why Christians were so uptight about sex. What’s the big deal? We are animals – just read the news sometime and that’s plain to see. Sex is NATURAL and not to be ashamed of. The human body is beautiful. I’ve always been attracted to men and women, yet another reason for me to drop the Catholicism. Why should I believe in something that doesn’t believe in me? I’ve had fantasies of both sexes since I was 10 years old. I don't need someone to tell me that's not NATURAL. That IS natural for me. No one forced me into that mindset. I don’t think we even had cable at that point, so let's not blame the TV either (another classic scapegoat).
As a last act of rebellion, I burnt the sin pages of that stupid little communion book that I so loved as a child. It was small enough to burn in an ashtray in my room, so I did. I also tried to burn this “New Testament only” bible that we were given during confirmation classes, but only the edges were burning and I was getting annoyed. I didn't have a big fireplace to put it in anyway, so I ripped it up and threw it out instead. As I suspected, nothing bad happened to me.
In my later teens I practiced meditation and became interested in Taoism and Buddhism. I liked Eastern philosophy - it didn't preach this or that about afterlife, just told you how to live your own life better. Where is that higher self anyway? I never found him. The Eastern religions, while ten times better than Catholicism, are still a bit superstitious for my taste. I have trouble believing in anything. That's pretty much how I ended up believing only in myself. Catholicism did not teach me anything about self-reliance, only remorse, guilt, and “ask and ye shall receive”. I had to learn self-reliance on my own. I had no self-confidence for the longest time, but I started reading self-help books at age 15. I stopped around age 18 - I figured I was as well as I'm going to be. There comes a point when you just have to start living. I am to the point now where I push myself to do things I fear. I used to have a lot of social phobias. Going to 7 schools, making few friends, and being picked on constantly will do that to you. My thoughts now are that a CONSCIOUS decision to change are so much better than praying, meditating, or any other indirect method. Now I am 25, long freed of Catholic brainwash and in control of my own destiny.
I am lucky to have been allowed to think for myself. Actually, I don't think I would have lasted in my household if I hadn't been allowed to. I've always been a pretty stubborn person and I like to make up my own mind. If other children were allowed to find their own path in life, I wonder how many would actually choose the religious lifestyle? Sure, there are the scared types that need comfort because they can't deal with the unknown. Not me – I embrace the unknown. Bring it on. Who needs an answer? I don't have all the answers and I don't need some childish idea like god to justify my existence. No one knows what happens to us when we die. We'll find out when we get there. I just try to be a good person in my own life. I don't waste my time worrying about what everyone else is doing. But you do have to wonder – if all children never heard of this god idea, especially not in the Catholic ingrain-it-in-their-head-from-birth style, how many would naturally come upon such a notion? I don't understand how a person with even a modicum of intelligence can live with this idea of a god and not question it. It's like the parent who tells you to do or not do something because “I said so.” I never bought that argument from my parents and I certainly won't take it from some fairy tale deity.
By the way, all ye Christians who are appalled by this blasphemy but nonetheless continue to read, don't say something idiotic like “I'll pray for you.” Save your prayers for your Christian friends – I know you sheep like to hang out in flocks. For, if you're dumb enough to believe in god then you probably think Witchcraft is the work of the devil. Yes, you are correct! Ooga booga! I love how Christians demonized Wicca because the god of Wicca has horns and so does their devil. Yet, no one questions that PAGAN tradition of bringing trees indoors in the middle of winter. We just doll them up, slap the word Christ on it (as in Christmas tree), and suddenly it's all OK! Could Christianity be the Microsoft of religions, endlessly stealing ideas instead of being an innovator? I do have a point here, and it's this. At least with Wicca, there was a rule about magick. In Seax-Wicca, spells cast against the will of someone are forbidden. It is considered black magick to do this, even if the spell has good intentions. And all black magick returns to the caster threefold. Prayers are somewhat analogous to spells, though I seemed to get a lot more to happen casting spells than I ever did praying. Nonetheless, it follows that it is evil to pray for people who don't want it and you shall be cursed for it!
City: Syracuse area
Became a Christian: 10
Ceased being a Christian: 10
Labels before: I was a Catholic, but decided to try other options
Labels now: I would say non-religious, but I do like a bit of Eastern philosophy
Why I joined: Catholic school
Why I left: Life went downhill after my grandmother died and no amount of praying made my situation better
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)