Tuesday conversation: why do you fight religion?

For those of you who are actively anti-faith like myself, what made you that way?  After all, few of us go straight from not believing in god to being thoroughly anti-religion.  And many of us who were raised secular often see people happy in religion (note I didn’t say “religion making people happy”) and think “eh, what’s the harm?”

So what moved you to fight it?  For me, it was Sam Harris.  My mother bought me his first two books for Christmas one year.  They were good reads.  I love Harris’ style and would be lying if I said it didn’t greatly influence my own.  But there was a single sentence in The End of Faith that changed my life forever.  Paraphrased (but probably very close, as I read it over and over again) it’s…

We live in an age where someone can have both the resources and the intellect to construct a nuclear bomb and still believe they’ll receive paradise for detonating it.

He was right.  From that moment on, I realized that faith was an immense problem, responsible in equal parts for Muslims who commit violence in god’s name and Christians who actively fight the rights of normal people.  All they want is to obey god, when all they should really want is to make others happy.

From then on, because I want to leave the world a better place than I found it, I have been a vocal and mean atheist – mean to the force I see making monsters of otherwise good people.

What moved you?

Texas bill would require fetuses with birth defects to be carried to term.
Huckabee says SCOTUS can't overrule god on same-sex marriage.
Alan Keyes: pro-equality SCOTUS ruling would be a cause for war.
On bigots becoming the minority.
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson

    I am moved to fight religion as I know what it can do to a person, first hand. Religion can take a good person, a compassionate person, and twist those qualities.

    In short, religion robs people of their humanity. It robs the believer of their own humanity. And those believers then treat others as less than human for defying their rules.

  • pjmaertz

    Science classes in college. I was a physics major, and realized pretty quickly that the only answers worth anything were the ones that you could prove with evidence. I was raised in a pretty Christian household, but 4 years of science made religious claims seem silly.

    After that I read Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Pharyngula, which turned me into someone who actively opposes religion. Even if religion had a net positive effect on the way people behave (it definitely doesn’t), it is still demonstrably false, and not a good thing to embrace.

  • Nick

    Religion makes people ignorant and stupid.

  • Loqi

    I’ve been an atheist since my early teens (I reasoned that omnipotence was self-contradictory, and nothing could have such a characteristic), but I didn’t become anti-faith until I started paying attention to the news. After a few news stories about people killing each other over whose imaginary friend has a bigger dick, I spotted the common thread. Add in the oppression of women, gays, racial minorities, etc. and the systematic attack on the separation of church and state, and you’ve got a raving atheist who people avoid at dinner parties.
    (Last part of that is an embellishment – I’m social phobic, so I’d never actually show up to a dinner party)

  • http://spaceghoti.blogspot.com SpaceGhoti

    I followed a slightly eccentric path: I became an anti-theist before I became an atheist. For a while I bought into the false notion that organized religion was the problem, not belief in gods. I asserted that God was unknowable and mysterious, not an intercessory god but still out there watching over us. It wasn’t until much later, after a great deal of study and introspection that I realized that lack of knowledge gave me no reason to believe at all.

    • ganner

      I followed a similar path. I was anti-religion, anti-dogma long before I came to be atheist. I believed in God, but never trusted those who claimed a sure knowledge of his will.

  • khan

    Jephthah’s daughter.
    Judges 11:31

    Read when a teenage female.

  • STS

    I grew up pretty much nonreligious. When i realised that religion (in my case creationism) opposes science, i decided to fight it.

  • SparkyB

    When my parents divorced there was a religious divide in our family that was a struggle for me. That along didn’t make me anti-religion, but it was when I started thinking logically about religion and let me to be nonreligious (neither of these beliefs is any more likely to be right and they conflict, if I have a 50/50 chance at being wrong, why do either, why not just focus on being happy). But still that was mostly in my own head and I wouldn’t have even said I was non-religious.

    The process of really owning my lack of religion as well as realizing we’d all be better off without religion was a slow one. I don’t think I can pinpoint one moment. There are 3 I can think of that helped quite a lot.

    1) There was always a tension for my siblings and I around my dad who still practices orthodox judaism while we don’t, but it didn’t see the harm in it until my sister got engaged. I always respected my dad and didn’t consider his religion a flaw, but I lost a lot of that respect based on the way he treated my sister, the first of our generation to get engaged, just because her fiance wasn’t jewish. I thought his compassion would overcome, he’d handle his disappointment internally, and be happy that she had found someone to be happy with, but that wasn’t what happened. He didn’t want to share it with his relatives, he said he wouldn’t come to the wedding and wouldn’t invite our family, and he and my sister nearly stopped speaking. It eventually got worked out, but my dad who I trusted should know to love his children unconditionally for a while put his faith above his daughter and really hurt her in a way that can’t ever be completely healed.

    2) When this past election cycle started to heat up with the Republican primary and I started to care about and follow politics for the first time, I griped that I didn’t really have a choice of parties. I don’t think I’d be a fiscal conservative, but I’d at least like someone reasonable to try and convince me so that I can make a real decision. However, what I saw was that fiscal conservatism in American politics seem to now always come with the indefensible social policy that’s a complete non-starter for me. Following politics and realizing that religion was the primary source for this toxic anti-intellectualism, bigotry, etc was a big part of seeing the harm that religion causes.

    3) Finally, it was finding this blog about a year ago, and reading all of these accounts of injustices committed in the name of religion, that really caused me to think about these other issues in my own life that I’d mostly looked at in isolation, an realize that there was a systematic problem, religion which we’d all be better off without.

  • Art Vandelay

    I just think that humanity is capable of so much better and so much more and I think any form of totalitarianism being imposed on society attempts to stunt human progress…morally, socially, scientifically, technologically…you name it. In most cases, this comes in the form of religion. There is nothing more obvious to me in this world than the fact that humans created religion in an attempt to control other humans. At the end of the day, I just want to leave this world a better place for my kids. For everyone, really. For that reason, I feel obligated to express my disdain for religious faith.

  • Minneapostate

    Because Christian Dominionism (or Talibangelicalism as I often call it)is a very real threat to liberty in this country. I grew up in Western Minnesota, my parents were Lutheran and we went to church almost every Sunday. Even as a small child, when I tried to wrap my head around how God was more real than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, I thought it was weird. When the minister would explain how we’re all sinners bound for hell without Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I thought, “I’m just a little kid, and I shouldn’t be punished because a talking snake convinced Eve to eat an apple.” Around confirmation time, we had a pastor who was really pushy about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and witnessing to others. I thought he was fucking loopy, and refused to participate in youth groups that he led. I commend my parents for not pushing me on that one. By the time I graduated and left home to attend PZ’s place, I wanted no part of religion, but I would still go o to church with my folks if I was visiting for the weekend, and go through the motions. We’d say grace before Sunday dinner, but otherwise never discussed religion at home.

    In short, religion never really caught on with me, but I never felt the need to be an outspoken critic about it or publically proclaim my agnosticism. Around the 80′s, I noticed guys like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell seemed to become a little more prominent, but after 9/11 it seemed like everything changed. At baseball games, we now had to have God Bless America after Take me Out to the Ballgame, during the seventh inning stretch. It seemed like God was being thrust on us as a nation from every direction. Then, about 5 years ago, I came across a link to the story on PZ Myers and “Wafergate”, and I thought it was so refreshing to see somebody call this bullshit out so brazenly. I started following him regularly, and started devouring stuff by Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and found my appetite pretty much insatiable. Then I started learning about Christian Dominionists, got turned onto Jeff Sharlet and his expose’s of The Family. With every election cycle, the Republican rhetoric became evermore steeped in religion, and I became convinced that it was very important to be open and outspoken about my atheism, and how religion is consistenly used to justify harming people. I consider my brother to be a better man than I am. He’s gay, and has been in a commited relationship for over 30 years. Between opposition to marriage equality, the war against Planned Parenthood and women’s rights, the constant push to teach (un)intelligent design in classrooms, and the desire by Barton and his ilk to rewrite our history as “founded as a Christian nation”, it pretty much steeled my resolve to fight them and their message. And that’s just the Christians. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a woman, or a non-believer in an Islamic or Orthodox Jewish society. Religion is evil, more and more people are recognizing that, and we damn well better keep the pedal to the metal, until religion is properly marginalized in the public realm. 15 years ago I considered myself agnostic; 5 years ago I considered myself atheist. I now consider myself a humanist, a feminist, and most definitely, an anti-theist.

  • drax

    A very long, convoluted story about getting divorced when I was stationed overseas, which I won’t tell. When I was directly affected by the amount of religious rationalization that led to events. I couldn’t believe that people, especially my beautiful intelligent wife, could do the mental gymnastics required to come to the conclusions she did, and then make the choices she did. In connection with that I am glad to take any opportunity to help destroy the image that Mormons are very moral and ethical people.

  • Michael Busch

    Because I have realized that religion is often used as an excuse to ignore reality. And reality matters.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      This! This is why I am against religion too.

    • Kodie


  • Katet

    Watching Brother Jed Smock preach on the MSU campus was what really drove home for me how religion could radically warp a person’s good intentions.

    What inspired me to actively oppose the religion behind it was seeing how he was handled by the audience: JT Eberhard and Doctor Dave turned that man into the laughingstock he deserved to be. I saw them doing and saying things I wanted to and felt like I shouldn’t because I still thought I had to respect their ideas.

    JT and Dave showed me I wasn’t alone. That was my turning point.

    • John Eberhard


  • Andrew Kohler

    Many great posts here :-) A somewhat desultorily constructed of my story is below.

    Christopher Hitchens really helped me to go from being an atheist to an anti-theist under his definition. I don’t like be anti-things in general, being a very sensitive person and knowing so many wonderful people of faith (as do we all, I have no doubt). After my dad read God is not Great, I took it up and, curious what he’d say about my own religious background. (I’m Jewish on my mother’s side, and was very serious about Reform Judaism for a few years as a teenager; I think it was largely the music and the Hebrew language, as well as feeling connection to the Jewish grandfather whom I take after but never got to meet.) I was most curious what he would say about circumcision, a practice I’d heard questioned and about which I had already come to view with some misgiving. Well, if you’ve heard the Hitch talk about that subject, you won’t be surprised to hear that I became implacably opposed myself.

    Forced bodily modification of any kind (male, female, intersex, genitals, other body parts–not all practices cause the same amount of harm, but I oppose them all equally) encapsulate for me what is wrong with the collectivist mindset. George Carlin as usual hit the nail on the head in his posthumously published memoir, Last Words: “At New York Hospital I also survived circumcision, a barbaric practice designed to remind you as early as possible that your genitals are not your own.” You belong to the tribe; if this isn’t done to you, you are not really part of the tribe (threats and bullying); your happiness is not important; your free will is nonexistent. Speaking more broadly, these days I don’t think people see it as “your happiness is not important” so much as “You WILL be happy with the religion in which we’re indoctrinating you.” (A more benign version is the assumption that no one would be unhappy as a member of the club.) And there are so many attacks on autonomy in religion. Libby Anne’s analysis of the gruesome show “19 Kids and Counting” is a superbly written explanation of how this operates in the “quiverfull” movement, and the fact that children are forced to seem happy at all times reinforces my point above. Is not this the essence of totalitarianism? (“That’s a GOOD thing you did, Anthony….”) Many of Libby Anne’s other posts are equally cogent examples of the stifling nature of patriarchy in fundamentalist Christianity–this is scary stuff!! I know someone raised Catholic who was actually made to feel guilty for masturbating: this is rebarbative. The fact that contraception is actually seriously controversial simply defies belief. We’ve recently discussed in this forum the totalitarian nature of sexual repression (the post “Why are only pleasurable things sinful,” or some title to that effect). The laws of Islam about death for apostates and what women suffer under Sharia are absolutely intolerable (and it’s not too nice for men, either–it’s vitally important to remember that patriarchal structures are bad for everyone). What do these things all have in common? A callous disregard for the individual, and a belief that someone we’re all better off if The Greater Good is served when we have as little freedom as possible (the movie Hot Fuzz really isn’t too far off).

    I’ve done quite a bit of work in LGBT rights, including with organizations that worked closely with allies in the faith community. I’ve met so many pro-LGBT Christian and Jewish leaders (I can’t recall any Muslims, but I’m sure they’re out there) that I don’t really equate religion with homophobia axiomatically. But, if it weren’t for religion homophobia would have no patina of respectability any longer, at least in America, just as there would not be uproar over the recent court ruling in Cologne that cutting the genitals of little boys is bodily harm. And while the liberal area in which I live has many people of faith who are wonderfully accepting of gay people, we still have atrocities of the kind that are ongoing in Uganda.

    Religion is not the only source of the collectivist mindset, of course (nationalism comes to mind, as well as political ideologies like Communism), but it the most potent source because of the respect it is accorded. And I know people who, as Hitchens often said, never would be motivated to do harm to others who allow their agency to be taken from them with disastrous results. See Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon’s film Cut for a stunning admission from a what seems to me a very sweet and gentle Orthodox rabbi. Rather than engaging in the awful casuistry of the Reform rabbi interviewed in the film, he honestly says: “It’s painful, it’s abusive, it’s traumatic, and if anybody does it who isn’t in a covenant ought to be put in prison…I do abusive things because I’m in covenant with god.” I didn’t want to be alienated from my religious tradition, but when I read things like that how can I not be? And what exactly is this covenant? Being part of a “chosen” tribe: I’ve always found that obscene, even as a child–I even demanded a prayer referring to the special status of Israel not to be read at my Bar Mitzvah, “Atah echad,” one of the various Sabbath prayers. And, of course, killing the Canaanites (who were ALL evil so it’s okay, I was told; I didn’t buy it then, either). I don’t want the benefits of being “chosen” (or the alleged medical benefits of circumcision–I’ll take the increased risk of a UTI, thanks), just as I don’t want anyone to have made a sacrifice to atone for my sins. I have no right to ask for either of these things, and I find refusing them the only honorable course of action. But am I given a choice in this matter? No, I will appreciate these things or suffer excommunication or eternal torment. Who offers to help someone and then threatens him/her if (s)he doesn’t accept the help? This is NOT compassion.

    I have decided to dedicate my life to two things: increasing access to knowledge and information (religion generally hasn’t been too amenable to that) and making sure that the dignity of the individual is honored and celebrated. No one should be told how to live their lives or what they should believe, so long as they don’t encroach on anyone else’s rights. We have to stand up to bullies, and assert that they have no power over us, and indeed no power over anyone else. I know many people for whom religion really doesn’t seem to have these awful effects, and so long as people decide the welfare of their fellow humans is paramount and base their actions on compassion and empathy, I don’t care what they believe. But, as JT has often noted, our actions stem from our beliefs, and whenever I see beliefs leading to harmful actions, I will oppose those beliefs, religious or otherwise. I assert my autonomy, and assert the right of everyone else to do the same.

    And similar to what Katet says above: when I see the Hitch and Matt Dillahunty and so many others articulate my values with such beautiful moral clarity, I think “Oooooh I wanna do that!!” (Not to flatter myself of course!)

  • iknklast

    I was moved out of apatheism by a conversation with a good friend who was working with me on a job in southeastern Oklahoma. We had to travel regularly, and while we were in the truck one day, he had me help him on Bible verses. I agreed, because I didn’t want to drive, and that was my only two choices. So I was reading him some of the nastiest verses in the Bible (you know killing all but the pre-teen non-virgins, and taking them for yourself stuff). I asked him how he could accept such terrible behavior; he wouldn’t act like that himself. He said it was good behavior, because it was doing God’s will. No matter what we might think, God knows what’s best. I asked him, so if God told you to kill me, you would do it? He didn’t even hesitate or flinch. He said yes. If God said he needed to kill me, he’d do it instantly (which was a bit scary, considering my life was in his hands at that very moment, his hands being on the wheel of a very large truck).

    During that same job (it was an internship), I was trapped in a corner while one of my friends, one I’d always thought of as a kind, gentle, decent man, described in lurid detail the tribulations in Left Behind. He was practically drooling with delight at the thought of the horrors that awaited people who didn’t agree with him (to be fair, he had no idea I was a non-believer; I felt it wiser not to discuss religion in this particular office). A friend of mine with a master’s degree in zoology not only denied evolution, he expressed his horror that I didn’t believe in the reality of demonic possession.

    I began to realize what religion really did to people. These were intelligent, well-educated people, who were for the most part very nice individuals, and good citizens. But they practically wallowed in the idea of terror and torture when it was someone not Christian, or not Christian enough. I realized what religion could do to people. I also realized that maybe the problem with my family wasn’t that they were inherently crazy; it might have just been the fundamentalist religion that permeated our lives. I was glad to escape that…now I’m glad to fight against it.

  • Niel

    Just commenting since it was Sam Harris who also first really opened my eyes. I forget the context but I was pointed at an audio recording of one of his talks from the early 2000′s, with his talking points from End of Faith and some that would later appear in Letter.

    Before then I self-identified as agnostic, but I thought religions were all acceptable, interchangeable avenues for achieving internal peace and happiness, and a framework to hang their morals from. I.e. I had the mindset of a religious moderate. It was Harris’ line about how religious moderates give cover to religious fundamentalists that rang me like a bell. How moderates shield from criticism the basic project of indoctrinating children in faith, and how moderates don’t understand that fundamentalists Really Believe their religious dogma is true. That was all me too.

    The talk didn’t completely change me on the spot but it worked it’s way through my mind pretty fast. Within about a week I was seeing the world with a new appreciation not only for how irrational religious faith is, but how dangerous it is, and that it matters.

    I definitely recognized Harris’ lucid style of arguing in your earlier blogging, JT. I’d say you’ve incorporated other influences (including your own voice) since then too. My compliments either way!

  • ben porter

    the ideology of freedom moved me. i believe in the freedom of people to do what they want to do when they want to as long as they do not harm anyone else. religions make this impossible by enforcing their roles on other people since i was about 12 i have not believed in god, and since i was fourthteen or fifthteen i have fought against those that do pushing him onto others

  • ben porter

    oh yea i was in a christian school at the time to. it just shows that its true the bible is a great help for turning people into atheist

  • Democratic Republic of Dave

    For me, 9/11. That woke me up to how religion can be a force for evil.

    • Andrew Kohler

      Christopher Hitchens said that the fatwa against Salman Rushdie was his 9/11: everything he loved against everything he hated. Of course, 9/11 itself was a turning point for him as well (a turning point in which he wound up aligning more with the Bush administration than I’d have liked, but he was hardly an unconditional supporter).

  • Rikitiki

    A number of factors: growing up in a Catholic school, it was the nuns;
    by the age of 19, it was disinterest; reading Dawkins and Harris, they
    fired me up; reading and ‘seeking a spiritual path’ finally showed me
    ‘the man behind the curtain’. Couldn’t/wouldn’t go back after all that.

  • Kodie

    I had an atheist grandfather who was quite vocal at times, and had financial control over our family. My mother still thinks it works this way, which is weird. He’d helped us out and I found out he would have cut us off if we were brought to church services. Religion wasn’t otherwise talked about in my nuclear household so I still don’t know what anyone believes, honestly. So I wasn’t exposed to a whole lot of religion at home. They hate “bible-thumpers” and we got George Carlin on the HBO.

    Outside of home, growing up in the Northeast US, I knew people had religions, but they also didn’t talk about it very much – like, what they really believed and how deeply, etc. I sometimes missed having a religion to fit in and fantasized about certain more romantic aspects, like the “soul,” the ancientness, the decorations – I think it is much like others’ fascination with fantasies involving wizards like Harry Potter or archaeologists like Indiana Jones – the layer of mystery over humanity, the relics and magic, and the quests. But I remember a time when I became shocked to learn what it was really about, and how personally and deeply and seriously religious people took their beliefs.

    I still don’t count the before time as me being an atheist, although I would have defined myself as one. I wasn’t a theist, but I had questions, and more like a middle-road agnostic – live and let live, who knows who is right, it’s personal, etc. When I went to college, I was exposed to some but not a lot of philosophy that touched on the god subject, in the form of something vague that you can assign god-like properties to, and not the biblical god. It kind of got me to thinking it over myself. I didn’t read books about it, I just delved into personal reflection about what possible god or gods could there be, generally. If god is not this, then maybe he is like that, and so forth. I probably didn’t use sound logic, but then I could not logically get god to work either. I don’t doubt that the right book would have influenced me too much, so at a time like that, I’m not sure reading would have been for the best. Like I said, I didn’t know logic like I do now (if I even do now, but I’m more on the watch for it), so I don’t know if I could spot errors if someone made a persuasive argument, and everybody tries. How many potential gods could I sweep away with the question, “but why would he even bother at that point?” or “that just makes no sense.” I don’t have a science background like many atheists do; I like it, but I pretty much learned what I learned in school, and it wasn’t that fascinating then. I had to catch up and I’m way behind. The basics was not a terrible foundation, but there were and are gaps.

    Still later, I finally got internet. Late 90s. I had gotten myself involved in a few forums or message boards where the topic was pretty open to anything. There were religious people and religious topics came up every once in a while, so I got in some arguments and I learned other people’s arguments. Then I got distracted by some other interests, fell out with one blog I used to post with – mostly because I’m too critical. It was similar to religion in that these people’s precious feelings were protected, on the basis they liked something, from criticism, so googled to see if anyone out there agreed with me, and I found an OT post on another blog written by an atheist, and I went to look at his recommended links.

    I should also mention Sam Harris here. I used to listen to one of those online radio stations at work, and chose the genre “comedy”, a lot of Jim Gaffigan, really. Curiously, every day about 1:00, for about 40 minutes or so, they broadcast an interview with Sam Harris. I listened to it once or twice, the first time taking a while to realize this talking droning did not have the cadence of a comedy act. Strange. He was talking about the literal biblical interpretations vs. the progressive gentler metaphorical interpretations with the latter not having the integrity to at least believe what they believe. That was a strong statement for me to realize, since that’s the category of religious person I mostly grew up near. Since I was young, I thought that was at least smart of them not to deny all the science we learned at school, but later came to interpret that category as creating their own religion, demonstrating exactly that religions are created. They didn’t take someone else’s hand-me-down outdated and demonstrably wrong beliefs, they molded it to conform to their experience and reality without even noticing what they’d done.

    So anyway, I don’t know if I “fight” religion, but I became interested in topics that discuss the harms of religion by googling to see if anyone hated the same decorating site with all the idiots who like everything on it. My experience growing up in a secular household and without really being exposed to fundamentalists, I am especially sensitive to liberal Christians’ hackles getting raised for believing something equally ridiculous and wanting extra credit for being modern and perhaps kinder than the Christians that often get noticed and criticized. Yeah, of course those other believers are just silly and extra-violent sometimes, but it’s still all real! Atheists are fundamentalists too! Atheism lacks the fake answers to inane questions that I cling to! Since I had gathered from a young age that we all had moved into a progressive era of tolerance and acceptance, I was about 30 before I realized you could be shunned for admitting to being an atheist in public as I had been online. It’s not considered exotic or interesting or valid like any other religion, if someone asks what religion are you? and you go around in a circle of diverse people and say “atheist”. WTF religions.

  • baal

    Despite my parents being Catholic, I never really believed. Some of my earliest memories (like 5 or so) are of a magic show. It’s probably a fabulation on my part but I remember thinking the magician was just someone who knew more tricks than me. It wasn’t long after that I figured out Santa and became convinced that most folks lie like all the time.
    I’m currently a structuralist (for want of a better word). I think that the structure of systems* has major under appreciated impacts and folks often think they are making choices when in fact they are not. For a long while, I was wishy-washy about religions and half bought the line that some folks can’t get on in life if they think they are in charge of themselves and that the churches did pro-social stuff like feeding the poor, giving out clothes etc. Yeah, I’ve gotten over that.
    Whether it’s the RCC stopping condom programs in Africa or the Mormons plowing tens if not hundreds of million of dollars to prevent gay equality or the various evangelicals spending similarly to get nut job anti-abortion laws out or it’s the dominionists literally plotting to take over the US Military (and getting pretty far along on that plan) or … or … or. Truth of God aside, the social role of organized religion is freaking scary and astonishingly huge in terms of net harm. Throw in examples of what happens where religions gain overall political power (dark ages anyone? fall of Arabic dominance in science and economy (circa 800), current middle east) and it’s clear that religions are a net fail for human flourishing. Further, the least religious places on the planet continue to be among the best places to live (so we know that diminishing religions does not, in fact, empirically, increase harm).

    *unless the real decision is being made by a bastard hiding behind a system. This too is under appreciated.

  • neatospiderplant

    It was definitely a process from deconversion to anti-theist. I grew up Catholic. I went to Catholic school. After high school, I never really went to church or participated in any religious activities (Except world youth day 2002). I still identified as Catholic.

    March 23 2010, I deconverted. (I know, it’s weird that I remember the date.) I had been going through a rough time and I had been alternating between praying for god’s help and not praying (in an attempt to show god that I trusted him and left it in his hands), I started wondering what I was doing wrong and why things were just getting shittier for me. After thinking about it, I just had a moment of “OH! That’s why nothing is working! god doesn’t exist! ”

    I don’t really remember why I chose to keep it to myself. I mean, that very evening of my realization, I was working with 3 atheists on my shift. I find it weird that it didn’t occur to me to talk to any of them about it. I didn’t even tell my husband about my deconversion for a few months. Weird, because he commented on how my attitude towards the adversity we were facing had noticeably changed (Of course it had! There was no god to make things better for us anymore. I stopped sitting back and waiting for things to change on their own and started dealing with things proactively). Still I didn’t say anything to him. I guess a part of it was that I wasn’t sure how to put things into words. I was still making sense of it all myself. But when it came to religions, my attitude was definitely still ‘live and let live’. Keep atheism to myself.

    In the months after I deconverted, I started trying to make sense of how I once believed in it at all. I had gone through a period of not believing in god when I was in high school, but it never felt as obvious as it did now, so why hadn’t atheism stuck that time? How could such a crappy argument have won me back to Catholicism? As I started trying to remember things about religion in my past, I realized the negative impacts religion had on my life. One memory in particular deeply bothers me. I was in grade 2 religion class, preparing for first communion, I remember thinking “I don’t get what Jesus dying on the cross has to do with my sins, but it makes sense to my teachers, parents, grandparents and everyone else that’s older than me and smarter than me. Even my classmates seem to get it. I guess I must just be too stupid to understand. I’ll trust those around me that there’s something here that makes sense.” This definitely shaped who I was. I remember disagreeing with others and then deciding they were probably right, simply because I was stupid.

    I wish I could go back and talk to my 7 year old self and say “No, you are not stupid! You’ve managed to figure out that this shit doesn’t make sense! Good for you! You get a cookie!” I can’t go back. I can’t change the person I turned out to be. But that’s why it’s important to me to do what I can to fight religion. If one fewer person decides to indoctrinate their child, that’s one less kid who might grow up thinking they are stupid because they can’t make sense of religion.

  • Tobias27

    As a high school teacher, I am constantly disheartened by how badly christian indoctrination limits the curiosity, imagination, and rational inquiry of my young students. I live in South Carolina and my family is very religious. For a long time, I didn’t concern myself with that too much because they were good people and they truly contributed to the welfare of their communities. But to recognize the crippling effects that their groveling worship put on their children’s finest capacities (to explore & to think critically) was just too much for me to take. The irrationality of supernatural mythology is in direct conflict with the central goal of any educator: to foster critical thinking skills in our students.

    Mankind’s progress is being tremendously hampered by this millstone of abdication and subjugation. When we throw off this debilitating mythology, humans will be able to improve our lives by leaps and bounds. Millions of new, inquisitive minds will be set upon solutions to our most difficult challenges. I won’t be around to see it, but I am confident that we are on our way and I hope to contribute what I can by hastening the demise of this religious nonsense.