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Feb 12 2012

Why I am an atheist – Michelle Rochon

I was never raised religious. For most of my youth, the concept of A Big Daddy In the Sky ™ never even existed to me. At my public primary school I was in a class called “morals”, the alternative to catholic teaching class. There was 4-5 kids in there… We were taken out of the classroom and put in another to talk about inane things I don’t remember to this day. Mostly topics about general public behaviour. The big line they would tell us though is that we are learning everything they’re learning in catholic class without the jesus part. That would make me laugh later in my life, but as a child I just didn’t think about it. Jesus was some naked dude on a cross. I had a vague idea that he was something about Christmas time… But since that it has the vague name of “Noël” in french, I didn’t see the connection. Noël’s mascot was Santa, and was about turkey dinner, a pretty tree and new Nintendo games. Especially new Nintendo games.

There was only a couple events in my young times that I remember coming into contact with the religious, besides a boring as hell wedding and christening. One time was in 5th grade, when a substitute teacher asked us to pray before class. I gave her a blank stare and said “But I’m in morals class! I don’t pray, it’s not on my school curriculum!” and the teacher answered “But you don’t have to be in catholic class to pray. Just do it and you’ll see God will be happy.” I don’t think she realized that the concept completely escaped my mind. So I closed my eyes really hard realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I opened my eyes and saw the other kids where mumbling over their folded hands. It didn’t look like a healthy practice so my mind started wandering off. After a couple minutes or so the teacher said prayer time was over and smiled at me. I smiled back. I was a couple minutes closer to going back home to play Zelda on SNES and I was not scolded for daydreaming in class. Excellent.

The next one was on the last days of class before Christmas vacation. I think it was on the same school year or the next. The school decided to take us to church. Yet again I objected, saying I was no supposed to go to church. Every other year, I stayed behind and did christmas time artcraft instead. Teacher said I was going. So I went. It was some sort of christmas time play with the priest dressed up as some dude called Saint Nicholas. He sternly spoke down to us saying that in his time children were not getting video games at christmas and instead were getting fruits an- oh wait, I stopped listening there. Screw that guy. I never told my parents. It looked trivial and I didn’t wanna scare them off into buying me fruits.

Up until that point I never considered myself an atheist. I was just nothing. Religion was not a care in my brain. Later on I would think about all that happened to me and I would be aghast at this happening in a public school but that wasn’t here nor now. Highschool went on with nothing happening besides me getting beat up like any other nerd.

The day I started calling myself an atheist was sometime in the year I turned 18. It was rather silly, but it was thanks to a person I met online, a girl my age who was running a Mega Man X fansite I was helping with. Then one day I started wondering she put God before everyone else in the site credits. It didn’t make sense to me that one would put God before her parents, sibblings and friends. She started explaining to me that God was a jealous but loving God and that he went before everyone else… Even those you love. I genuinely started wondering about that. What do I know about God? I don’t know anything, never bothered to learn. Am I wasting my life? What if I die tomorrow, was I going to the great barbecue? So I asked her to teach me what she knew. She gladly spoke to me about praying, the ten commandments and most interestingly that accepting Jesus as your personal savior would automatically wash away all the wrongs you did in your life… It didn’t make much sense to me. But it looked convenient, considering I fucking cuss a lot. I also pointed out that the Adam and Eve thing looked a bit silly and that, as an amateur astronomer, I sorta knew the Earth was pretty old. She denied it all, speaking about the young earth, Noah and that Darwin didn’t know jack according to the Bible. I knew the Noah story of course, I wasn’t that much of an idiot and I knew it came from the Bible, but it was just that… A story. Therefore I asked her “What proves that your God is the One True God? Why aren’t you a buddhist?” she meekly told me to read the Bible, and that all would be made Holy Clear and I would see the Light…

So I went to the library and borrowed a Bible. I then proceeded to read the full thing from cover to cover over a couple weeks…

And today I’m an atheist! Thank you, Bible!

Michelle Rochon

24 comments

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  1. 1
    petejohn

    There’s a reason the religious try to get people when they’re kids. If someone grows up without religion as a part of their life, then they probably won’t pick it up later. It’s all absurd after all, particularly the more one learns about it.

    I too tried the Bible once, got to the part where people lived for 800 years and begat someone else who lived to be 648 and so on and so on… That was about all it took.

  2. 2
    jjgdenisrobert

    Je devine que tu es quebecoise… Mon experience est plutot similaire, mais comme je suis un ancien du College Mont-Saint-Louis a Montreal, j’ai ete sujet a plus d’education catholique que toi. Mais il m’a toujours semble que l’education religieuse que j’ai recu avait une attitude defensive, comme si les profs avaient l’impression qu’il devaient justifier leur presence.

    Merci, Quebec…

  3. 3
    Janey Q Doe

    Ah, it was the bible, too that made me an atheist. Although I found the whole thing too tedious to read cover to cover. For me, the hilarity of Leviticus was enough. There is a serious obsession with testicles there.

  4. 4
    'Tis Himself

    I read the Bible cover to cover three times. I then knew I’d never be a Christian again.

  5. 5
    komponist

    And the bible is very badly written, to boot. If god is so great and infallible, etc., why the hell did he never learn to write a sentence that didn’t begin with “And”? He badly needed to take Composition 101!

  6. 6
    micheltrottier-mcdonald

    Hey! French-Canadian here too with a very, very similar story. I was in the morals class too, and there was maybe 12 of us in the whole school. The funny thing is that my sister and I were the only ones in there because we had no religion. All the others were mormons, jeovah’s witnesses, etc. It’s easy to grow up not giving a fuck about religion in Québec, but that also makes it hard to defend yourself against dogma when you encounter it. I have a few friends who got their minds hijacked by baptists and the like. They are now giving 10% of the salary to their church. They also support the Conservatives, and they are anti-abortion and anti-contraception. It makes me sick.

  7. 7
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    From québec too, and from your story (especially the nintendo part), I’m guessing I went to public catholic school in approximately the same time.

    Since my parents were catholic, I had to endure the jeebus talks though. Boring though they were I always felt bad for the few kids who would be singled out and get out of class to go to “morals”. At that stage of life, any difference you had from your schoolmates could be and was the subject of teasing. Especially if religious teachers or parents denigrated those children from non-catholic parents (I’m a bit ashamed that my relatives sometimes did this), indirectly encouraging children to do the same.

    In high school though things changed. Being religious was definitely uncool. All the religious education teachers I had were either batshit insane or near mental breakdown from confrontation with some raucous students (one of the worst was my own cousin). Most of us were content to sleep, read or doodle on our desk during R. E. but sometimes it would get entertaining when some students would get into an argument with the poor teacher.

  8. 8
    Koshka

    Tis Himself #4,

    It took 3 goes?

  9. 9
    Don F

    GOOD post, Michelle. But now I’m jealous as hell, no make that fucking jealous, that I wasted all that time with Sunday school and church services and bible study for all those years but if I’d had your upbringing I wouldn’t have had to do all that.

    Oh well; that’s the way it was and it can’t be changed. I’m just glad I figured things out in time to have a substantial part of my life lived free of religion.

  10. 10
    humanape

    I was never raised religious.

    That’s not fair. Everyone should have their entire youth wasted believing in idiotic bullshit. Everyone should be told repeatedly, at least ten times a day, for at least ten years, that the dead Jeebus died for our sins. Christ died for your sins. Christ died for your sins. Christ died for your sins. Fucking nuns.

    Off topic: A judge in the UK decided Christian retards can no longer pray to their dead Jeebus at the start of local council meetings. Atheist victory on council prayers

  11. 11
    humanape

    Whoops. I screwed up that link in my previous comment. This should work: Atheist victory on council prayers

  12. 12
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    I thought they could pray if they wanted, they just couldn’t have it on the agenda.

  13. 13
    Thomas Lawson

    After reading the Bible from “kiver to kiver,” you must confess that you have either become a liar (clergy), a lunatic (Ken Ham or Benny Hinn), or an atheist. Those are your only choices.

    .

    Nice entry, Michelle.

  14. 14
    lago

    ” I opened my eyes and saw the other kids where mumbling over their folded hands. It didn’t look like a healthy practice so my mind started wandering off. After a couple minutes or so the teacher said prayer time was over and smiled at me. I smiled back. I was a couple minutes closer to going back home to play Zelda on SNES and I was not scolded for daydreaming in class. Excellent.”

    That’s pretty much what I did whenever I was made to ‘pray’ as a child. I wonder just how many of the other children actually force themselves to ‘feel the presence of God’ in such a situation, how many just pretend for life, and how many see straight through the bullshit. More study is needed.

  15. 15
    Michael

    You reminded me of an incident at my school when I was around 10 or 12. There was an advertisement in the neighbourhood about Ernie and Bert appearing at our school. So my younger brother and I went to check it out. Yes, Ernie and Bert puppets were there, being operated by a pretty poor ventriloquist, and we quickly realized it was put on by the church that used our school for meetings on the weekends. We quickly grew bored and left.

  16. 16
    Julien Rousseau

    Je devine que tu es quebecoise

    Ok, maintenant je comprend. Quand j’ai lu j’etais bouche-bee que cela ce passe dans une ecole primaire publique. Est-ce que ces idiots qui dirigent l’ecole n’ont pas entendu parler de la laicite?

    Mais si c’etait au Quebec alors cela fait plus de sens.

  17. 17
    Alex

    Mais il m’a toujours semble que l’education religieuse que j’ai recu avait une attitude defensive, comme si les profs avaient l’impression qu’il devaient justifier leur presence.

    Oh, I wish I could say the same of my experiences en allemagne

  18. 18
    trondreitan

    ” So I went to the library and borrowed a Bible. I then proceeded to read the full thing from cover to cover over a couple weeks…
    And today I’m an atheist! Thank you, Bible! ”
    I liked that. I’m currently in the process of reading the bible. (The rant Dawkins made about the Jahve character in the start of the God Delusion is completely justified.) Wish I had done it much earlier, back when I was 10-13 years old and I was struggling with my doubts as a Christian. It would have made my transition to atheism so much easier and faster. Still, I did skim through the first parts of Genesis back then, and it certainly didn’t ease my doubts.

  19. 19
    Alex the Pretty Good

    It’s funny that several people assume that Michelle is French-Canadian while I pretty soon thought that she’s Walloon (French Belgian).

    The parrallels with my experiences in Flanders are pretty striking. I too was one of the few kids in a public school with mostly Catholic students who took “morals” (or “Non-confessional moral education” as it was officially called). For me too, it was Saint Nicholas who brought the presents in December, not Santa.

    And most importantly, I never heard of fundamental Christianity (outside of a historical context) before I went on-line and actually got in contact with US people.

    Anyway… good story Michelle. Goes to show that it is possible to live a life not knowing a lot about that whole God/Jesus mess and not immediately fall on your knees when you hear about them. Eat that Chick-tracts!

    And if Michelle reads these comments, I hope she can settle the question of where she comes from. If she doesn’t mind doing so, that is.

  20. 20
    Lars

    I can relate. I tried to read the bible from cover to cover too, I guess it was an effort to “know what I was rejecting” or some such bullshit, but before I had reached the middle I concluded that it wasn’t worth the time. I don’t need to read all the bullshit to know it’s bullshit. Perhaps I can brag about rejecting The Courtier’s Reply before I’d even heard of it. Thanks to my parents for not indoctrinating me, and especially my father for officially leaving the state church for the sole purpose of helping me avoid Xtianity “education” in school. Some of us are just lucky to be born into a secular (if not non-religious) family.

  21. 21
    Thy Goddess

    Here I am reading this entry while being half-awake and thinking “Wow this person is so much like me!” only to realize midway that…HEY it IS my entry! (I didn’t read the title.)

    I need to wake up.

    Anyway thanks for the kind words folks. I’m not a huge communicator so it might seem like a muddy text. To make the mystery clear to the french talkers, yep, I’m from Quebec. Public schools in Quebec were like that about 20 years ago so we sure recognize our horrible unsecular system. I don’t know when they changed the morals/catholic classes to something else. Today it is a crazy combo class about ethics and religions. You’d think they would learn about religions in a history concept, but it’s sillier than that. I wish I could attend to see the extent of it. I heard they made them create their own religion. Sounds fun if you ask me. Fun but a waste of time that could go in maths or proper english teaching.

    …I learned my english from video games and then the internet by the way. English class was that bad.

  22. 22
    kerryberry

    Morals class? There was no such thing when I went to school. They made me sit through the religion classes…I thought they were especially amusing as well. The only thing they let me out of was confirmation. My french RC buddy was dismayed enough to go to my dad when I told him that I didn’t believe in god….I was 8 years old.

  23. 23
    phoenixwoman

    Speaking of religion and schooling, guess what?

    The Templeton twits are not only being propped up by the Chik-Fil-A people (who being antigay, antiwoman, etc. just love R.J. Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism) — they’re successfully smuggling this crap into academia:

    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/2/3/115239/1178

  24. 24
    David Marjanović

    Comme je suis jaloux !!!

    Mais il m’a toujours semble que l’education religieuse que j’ai recu avait une attitude defensive, comme si les profs avaient l’impression qu’il devaient justifier leur presence.

    :-D

    All the religious education teachers I had were either batshit insane or near mental breakdown from confrontation with some raucous students

    Ours actually once started to cry because we just… sat there and didn’t engage him.

    …I learned my english from video games and then the internet by the way. English class was that bad.

    I know two of your fellow country…people who speak very good English now but only learned it when they went to English-language universities around the age of 20.

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