Friday, March 19, 2010

One God Further...

"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. [Zeus, Apollo, Hermes etc…] Some of us just go one god further." Richard Dawkins

When I was a teenager, I was very sheltered in my limited Christian world. I went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night (For visitation; another word for harassing people and trying to get them to come to church). I went to the school that was part of the church, every night we had “devotions,” we prayed before we went to bed and we did not have friends who were not part of the church and school. The only exposure to the outside world we had was when we went to the store, or visited “unsaved” family.

The summer I turned eighteen our family took a trip to Massachusetts to see my dad’s side of the family. It turned out to be the last time my dad saw his father. We were having a good time: I played with my cousins (“unsaved” of course) we swam in the lake near their house and we got to see family we didn’t even know we had. We were there for about two days when I heard my dad and his dad in an argument. The argument went something like this: (very simplified version coming from my memory at eighteen, so it could be a bit flawed)

My Papa: So, if I leave you money after I die, are you going to give it to the church?
My Dad: I will give 10% to the church.
My Papa: Well, I am not going to give you any money then, I don’t want it to go to the church.

After some yelling back and forth, my dad told us all to pack our bags and get ready to leave. It was very disappointing to leave early! My dad was angry for a very, very long time and I remember we tried really hard not to annoy him on the drive home. I felt his anger was like a time bomb.

I remember thinking that my cousins were cool and nice people. I remember my aunt telling me she felt sorry for me that I was so sheltered, and I agreed with her. But mostly, I remember thinking: Why the heck are they going to hell? What made us so much better than they were? Were we being a bit arrogant and mean-spirited?

Most of them were catholics, and my parents belief was that anyone who does not believe the way they do is going to hell. I really started thinking about this. What made my parents think that my cousins and grandparents were going to hell? I could see that my parents did not know everything, obviously at age eighteen I thought I did. (haha) I did not dwell on this thought much, but it was there, swimming around in my thoughts, along with all the other ones. As the years went by I could not reconcile these thoughts. Wasn't I a disbeliever of Allah? And didn't they talk about how wrong we were? So I was an Allah atheist! (haha)

Didn’t the crazy people who flew planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11 believe that their religion was the only right one? Didn’t the pope feel strongly that catholics had the religion thing down pat? What about Jews? What about people who had a different doctrine than the one my parent’s church had? I started to wonder why they ALL felt they were right and EVERYONE else was wrong. There was something wrong with that! The more evil I saw coming from the church, the more I was convinced. They were all wrong! All of them! Not one of them had the right and true religion/god!

Of the main churches we attended growing up we had one pastor burn down the church to get insurance money, one who went to jail for molesting young girls (I was one of them) and one who died in prison while awaiting his trial for molesting who knows how many kids. I saw Ted Haggard fall from grace (a man who was so hateful toward gays and then had sex with a male prostitute) I saw Jim and Tammy Bakker fall off their god pedestal and I I saw so many hypocrites in the churches I attended that I knew christianity was not going to work for me.

I remember being told how silly the stories were that other religions told about the story of creation. Then I began to think that ours was pretty unbelievable too. Watch this funny video by a very funny youtube atheist comedian to put the creation story in perspective

The thing that bothered me the most was when Baptists would say that anyone who did not believe in [their] god was going to hell. If you asked for details, this meant innocent children, people in the jungles of Africa who had never heard of their god ( I was told this was why it was necessary to send missionaries out to save the lost souls) and, as I said, catholics, methoists, muslims etc… What kind of god would send innocent people to hell because they did not get to read “his” bible in their lifetime? Not the kind of god I wanted to worship anymore! I remember when my Papa died my parents said he was probably in hell. This was disturbing to me. Would god really let a person die in a lake of burning fire for eternity because he did not worship an unseen, unproven, useless god who had never done a damn thing for him or his family? Who would want a god like that? Who would be gleefully happy and smug knowing someone was in hell? Who would choose to spend their life worshipping this god? I knew I did not want to waste my life like that!

As this video by The non-stamp collector shows, no god is the right one. The concept of god is wrong. Religion is wrong and people who force it down the throats of others are wrong!

If you have a respectful comment, I would love to hear from you! I welcome all points of view. I do not welcome hate or disrepect and those kinds of coments will be deleted!
I LOVE getting comments, it makes my day! Thanks!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One More Brick

Many ex-Christians get questions from baffled people still immersed in religion about how they became an “ex.” What led them to decide that they were no longer Christians? I have heard varying answers and they are all as different as the people answering them. For me, it was not one thing, as you can see from this blog, but more of a journey in steps. Every step I took away from Christianity though, I felt a bit more light and a bit more free. Ironically, this is how Christians say they feel when the find god. I found that the more I learned the truth about religion, the more relieved I became that the little voice of reason has always been right; I was just not paying attention. I found it liberating to let go of the guilt, worry about after-life, worry about being "left behind" and all the other things that go along with Christianity.

I like answering questions with one quick, easy answer. Maybe I got that from being a Baptist: “The bible says so” or “humans are not always meant to know god’s plan for us” or, along those lines, “We just have to have faith that god knows what is best.” These sound like answers if you are not a questioner, but after a while they sound like NON- answers and I began to think they were lame when I was a teenager. So, I began to see a few things wrong with religion, which made me wonder what else was wrong with religion. For a long time, while I was raising my kids, I did not have time to think about god or religion; I just knew that I was NOT going to church anymore. (Later, in another blog, I will tell a story about how I attempted, one last time, to get back into the church) However, I did not label myself agnostic, atheist or anything really, I just did not think about it.

One of the many events that I witnessed in the good old bible-belt that gave me a huge push away from the chrisitian church and everything it stands for was the story about the Fleming Island High School senior who was not allowed to wear a tuxedo in her yearbook picture At the heart of this story is homophobia, discrimination, intolerance and outright arrogance.

Read Story here:
 Short Version of the Story
 Longer More Detailed Version of the Story

Unfortunately, I know Sam Ward, the principal of this school very well. I worked there as a teacher two years after this happened. He firmly believes that his religion is the only right one. He runs the school like a Nazi camp and he is one of the most evil, rude, close-minded people I know. The only reason he would not allow this girl to wear a tuxedo in the picture is because he KNEW she was a lesbian. Even though 200 people showed up to support her, Kelli was not allowed to have her picture in the yearbook. I was working for a newspaper at the time of this story and I was asked to write about it for the paper. I naively believed I could write a story in support of Kelli Davis. I found out I was wrong. So, I quit my job at the newspaper. The editor of the paper wanted me to say that students nowadays need to know how to conform and how to follow dress code (as you can see from the article, there was no written dress-code for senior yearbook pics, just a tradition). I refused to write anything like that. I always taught my kids (and students when I taught at Fleming Island High School) that changes cannot be made in the world by conforming. If something is wrong, we need to stand up and say it is WRONG!

While this story was big in the Clay County news, I heard so many chrisitians run their mouths about Kelli and how she needed to be saved, turn from her “evil” ways, repent, dress like a “girl” etc… Even though I had seen Christians become evil first hand, I was blown away by how much they bullied Kelli because of her sexual orientation and the fact that she stood up for herself. I was proud of her! She had to deal with so much hate, arrogance and meanness, not just from her classmates, but from the principal of her own school, someone she should have been able to count on to protect her!

Many people saw Kelli as a rebellious teen who was just trying to break the rules. One woman, Karen Gordon, was quoted saying "When uniformity is compromised, then authority no longer holds." I have no doubt that this woman is a christian, the kind who tell their church members, “We cannot question god or the bible, but submit our wills to him.” In this extremely religious area, where most people just assume you are christian, Kelli had to walk the halls at school and be called “dumb fucking dyke” and I am sure many other rude comments by students who had heard their own “christian” parents bad-mouthing Kelli.
When are we going to learn that questioning things that are wrong is a GOOD thing? When are christians going to stop being so judgmental, evil, rude, hateful and intolerant of others? Although I had thought that perhaps the churches I had grown up in were extreme, I found that most christian are NOT good, kind, loving people. So, for me, this incident added one more brick to the wall I had building between me and “god.” If this was what god was about, I wanted nothing to do with him!

P.S. Sam Ward still sits his big fat ass in his cushy office at FIHS. I am sure many teachers and parents will jump for joy when he is no longer spreading his poison to high school students.

Disclaimer: I purposely do not capitalize religious words. I don't think of them as proper nouns. Whatever!

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