One Family: 14 Catholics, 1 Atheist.

Sonia

17-year-old Sonia Ponce is the only atheist in her family.

Many atheists share similar stories, but unlike Sonia, we don’t all have twelve religious siblings in addition to our two religious parents.

Sonia shares her story on New York Public Radio.

The link also contains a transcript of the radio story.

We are from Mexico, and we were all raised as Catholics—mom, dad and all 13 kids. I’m the only witchcraft-practicing atheist.

So I’m the weirdo’ in my family—all 14 of them are like geese together flying in a V. I’m the only one going my own way, and I’ve flown on a lot of different paths: vegetarian, agnostic, atheist, witch, wizard, anorexic, bisexual, lesbian, vegan, activist, honors student and head banger! But my parents refuse to hear about it…

Sonia’s sister Beatriz talks about their mother’s reaction when Sonia told her she was an atheist:

She was like oh my God! You believe in the devil! You cannot be an atheist, because I raised you as a Catholic. I baptized you, I gave you communion, your confirmation and you do this to me! How dare you!

Things got pretty bad with the family, and Sonia ended up living with her boyfriend. Her parents essentially disowned her. Sonia was “dead” to them. For six weeks, Sonia didn’t hear from her parents.

… it was kinda’ of weird but I even missed going to church. I didn’t miss the ashy incense smell or the old ladies singing. I missed sitting next to my mom and whispering and poking her face when she falls asleep.

She eventually went back home. Her parents were glad– her mom had been praying for her. Though Sonia says she didn’t come back home because of the prayers. She came home because she missed everyone.

I still believe there is no God, and that evolution made us who we are. But more and more, my parents and I are agreeing to disagree. My mom doesn’t call me a devil worshiper any more, instead she calls me Brujita, little witch. And I’m thinking about getting a tattoo of my mother’s name—Isidra– with a cross and rosary beads in the background. Just to show everybody that I love her, and respect her religion and beliefs.

It’s a touching story of how hard it is for some people to come out as an atheist in a religious family and how much of a negative impact those false stereotypes have.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Sonia Ponce, New York Public Radio, Mexico, Catholic, vegetarian, agnostic, witch, wizard, anorexic, bisexual, lesbian, vegan, activist, God, devil[/tags]

  • Logos

    cool girl, I hope all goes well for her!

  • Brendon Lake

    Personally, I believe we all need to make a choice for ourselves.
    Believing in God just because the rest of our familly does is pointless to me, our faith needs to be real, not obtained ‘second-hand’

    I do think, that the statistical way of chatagorising people according to beliefs is extremely misleading, so many ‘Christians’ will leave God out of their everyday lives (I’ve done this plenty), and so many I’m sure say the ‘Atheists prayer’ not believing in God but appealing to him anyway.

    Finally I want to say that at the heart of Christian belief there is unconditional love, rejection of a familly member because they have different beliefs only happens because we’re all human, and therefore have flaws.

  • Miko

    many I’m sure say the ‘Atheists prayer’ not believing in God but appealing to him anyway.

    That’s kind of like not having a cell phone, but paying the bill for it anyway, isn’t it? I’m sure that lots of people do that too.

  • The Unbrainwashed

    I always hesitate classifying people who believe in the supernatural, but not God as atheist. Yes they’re atheist, but for me, atheism usually corresponds with a need for empirical and verifiable evidence. It always seems odd to me that someone could dismiss religion, but still believe in the equally absurd witchcraft.

  • Logos

    Well, some Wiccans say they do not belive in the supernatural. They feel that they are connecting to nature and honoring the ways of their ancestors. It’s not as crazy as it may seem, after all i have heard of people calling themselves atheists for Jesus.

  • http://atheisthussy.blogspot.com/ Intergalactic Hussy

    I can relate… I come from a much smaller family (and Jewish)…but I can relate. I almost became Wiccan when I discovered organized religion and the Judeo-Christian god was not up my alley. But I’m also into Zen Buddhism as a life philosophy (brings balance to my annoyances in the world).

    Logos, I’ve heard that too. I think it means live like Jesus, reject god.

  • Maria

    It’s not as crazy as it may seem, after all i have heard of people calling themselves atheists for Jesus.

    I have heard that as well.

    As someone in a family of Catholics who herself is tending toward Deism and away from organized religion, I can kind of relate to what this girl is talking about. I do hope things work out for her. I’ve largely kept my beliefs to myself to avoid arguments. Members of my famliy have no problems living near or being friends with people who don’t share their beliefs, it just seems to become a problem when someone in the family actually has different beliefs.

    Btw, can someone tell me is there a name for someone who does believe in God but not organized religion (does it depend on what type of “God”?). I have several friends who define themselves this way but don’t know what to call themselves……..

  • http://www.rekounas.org rekounas

    My parents and family are Orthodox. I never really discussed it with them and they just assumed I was going through some kind of phase. I met their priest a couple of weeks ago and he asked me to attend church. I just responded “Oh, maybe someday.” Like most religious people, I only go to church for weddings and funerals. Both of those ceremonies piss me off. The funeral more then the wedding though. I went to two funerals within the last year and they were done by the same priest. One funeral was for a 28 year old girl who died of cancer. The other was for two parents that were killed by a drunk driver. The priest infuriated me because the entire ceremony was about god and Jesus and about 10 minutes about the deceased. And in both ceremonies he talked about Gods calling? WTF? If there was some guy out there that could push some button and something magical would happen like the two cases I speak of, the guy would be considered a terrorist.

  • Ash

    Btw, can someone tell me is there a name for someone who does believe in God but not organized religion (does it depend on what type of “God”?). I have several friends who define themselves this way but don’t know what to call themselves……..

    how about theists? you could stretch this to non-denominational theists, but it seems a bit long winded…

  • The Unbrainwashed

    Btw, can someone tell me is there a name for someone who does believe in God but not organized religion (does it depend on what type of “God”?). I have several friends who define themselves this way but don’t know what to call themselves……..

    Inconsistent

  • Maria

    what’s inconsistent about it?

  • Logos

    Nothing is! They should just say they are spiritual but not religious! At least thats what people say in the personal adds.

  • Maria

    that makes sense, thanks

  • The Unbrainwashed

    It’s inconsistent because those that deny religion usually do so for rational reasons. But, belief in God is an irrational stance. Ergo, inconsistency.

  • Mriana

    That is sad. :( I can really empathize with her.

  • http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ludtke/prof/ cautiousmaniac

    my most favourite quote from the young woman:

    A while ago he asked me who made the world, if it wasn’t God? I told him that I believe in the big bang when the sun exploded

    Good, good, she’s very good at explaining science.

    My second favourite quote:

    witch, wizard,

    I didn’t know there was a difference between one fake thing and the other. I was going to say that a person can only be one, but apparently one can only be a warlock or a witch.

    (sigh) She might call herself an atheist but her willingness to believe in supernatural mumbo-jumbo means she’s as theological as her Catholic family. Maybe without her family’s religious convictions, she won’t massively over-reproduce like her mother has.