My parents found God (He’s lost a lot for an omnipresent being, wouldn’t you say?) when I was around 14. Seeing how important this was for them, I tried to foster that “perfect” family image by taking God into my life. For 8-and-some years I was part of youth group, and later baptized (by choice) as an Evangelical Christian. I did all of this with a deluded belief (not only the God one) that being part of this would bring my family closer. Only a teenager could think that healthy relationships could be built on lies…
In that time I never stopped asking questions; enough questions to attract the attention of the Youth Group Leader, a minister’s wife with a touch for making delicious chocolate-chip cookies. I think she always knew I’d end up on the dark side, far from her cookies. She was determined on showing me the life stories of men and women, atheists them all, that had found (again, His Almighty Ass is lost) God and repented from their sinful ways. I thank God (figure of speech, people) for attending this group though. Out of the 13 teens that attended, 7 are now strong atheists. I’m pretty sure our conversations led to this in one way or another.
My parents have become more and more involved with church, and I’ve grown farther apart from it. They hold prayers before every event, church group on Thursdays at home; my dad has even been invited to give sermons at church. It’s not that sweet a deal for me, you’d say. We grow further apart in our ideologies, but thankfully our relationship as a family has grown somewhat stronger. I’ve yet to tell them my (dis)belief because it’s what they stand for. God easily makes up for half of what they do on a daily basis. My brothers and I have had talks, but not blunt ones. Little by little I do away with their blind faith, in a soft-spoken manner, like when the dentist tells you gently that something’s not going to hurt. They look up to my parents a lot, so confrontation is in my interest, just not at this stage in their lives. But it’s coming quite soon.
My country’s another obstacle for free thought. There are some small communities that foster this kind of thinking, but as a whole the Dominican Republic is made of devout Catholics. You might not be a church-goer, and there’d be nothing wrong with that, but as soon as you express your atheism clearly, you’re an outcast of the (theoretically) healthy community.
I could give a hundred reasons for my atheism, but they’d all boil down to basic curiosity. Asking enough of the right questions will, in my opinion, eventually lead you down to atheism’s (or at the very least, agnosticism’s) door. Why do the good die young? Why is there poverty? How does Fox News still continue to exist? 42?
I wish, from the bottom of my heart that this war, one of attrition, between rationality and irrationality (and not that good vs evil crap) would be over. My atheism is one part of me and it doesn’t entirely define who I am; my way of thinking brought me to atheism, not the other way around.
Thing is, I hate being angry because some loud-mouthed evangelical is riding a 60-feet-tall “high horse” and judging people as if they were God. I hate being angry at basic civil and human rights being discarded for groups that are object of God’s wrath in the years before electricity. I hate listening to religious folk forgive, in theory, those who cross them, but then turning around and siccing God upon their enemies as if He were their very own, private avenger. I hate being angry at the stupidity that surrounds me, but until it’s dealt with I don’t think I’ve got much of a choice.
And these people are sometimes funny to watch (in a Crocodile-Dundee-wild-animals-let-loose kind of way).
Elias Ahmed Serulle