Openly Secular Day

There is a Spartan Beast recap in the works, I promise, but there is something I want to say and it just won’t fit in a Facebook post on my personal page.

Today is Openly Secular Day.

It is a day for ‘coming out’ as a non-religious person. I am already out. I don’t hide my atheism, but I’d like to share my story in hopes that it could open someone’s eyes to the fact that non-religious people are all around you and that’s not a bad thing.

I was born and baptized a Roman Catholic. I went to Catholic school for Pre-K and Kindergarten. I went to catechism classes from 2nd grade through 10th grade. I received communion and was confirmed Catholic. It was all to make my Grandma happy. My Christian beliefs went out the stained-glass window at the ripe old age of seven. Like many in my shoes, I thought the bible stories were outlandish. Women turned into salt, talking snakes, sentient flaming shrubbery, and Noah’s ark? As I got older, the deeper things irked me- like original sin and the lavishness of many churches and the Vatican.

From confirmation through adulthood, I tried to find a religion that worked for me. There had to be one, right? Everyone had to have a box to check on the census forms, right?

I read the books on Wicca. I studied all the Eastern religions. Buddhism, as a philosophy, seemed to fit. I listened to the Dalai Lama and thought his ideas and the teaching of the Buddha made complete sense. Church of Satan felt like a right fit, too. (No, not devil worship- do your research) Most of Anton LeVey’s theories fit my own ideologies- one of the principal ideas is ‘Do unto others as they do unto you.’ Nice people are treated nicely, and douchecanoes are treated like douchecanoes. Sounds fair to me.

Then I realized that I already had a pretty firm set of ‘beliefs’ and convictions all by myself. I know right from wrong. I know that my ‘purpose’ in life is to be happy and live in harmony with everyone and everything in our awesome universe. I didn’t need a messiah or a flying spaghetti monster or a priest or a rabbi to tell me that.

Although I do enjoy a good pile of spaghetti, I am not Pastafarian.

 

I learned that there are plenty of other people that are like that. There is nothing wrong with not having a box to check.

Actually, there is something wrong with not having a box to check. The majority of Americans, and probably humans in general, still think that atheists are less trustworthy than religious people. Atheists (and humanists, secularists, etcetera) have a perception problem. Openly Secular is trying to change that.

When I was a teenager, I had a perception problem. I wore black and listened to the rock and/or roll music <gasp>. I had a friend who was questioning Catholicism. He borrowed a book on Wicca from me. His mom saw it and from then on I was that evil girl in black who tried to turn her son into a heathen. At the same time, unbeknownst to her, I was her daughters’ camp counselor. I was the super-fun girl who did all sorts of crafts with them and volunteered my time to the children in our village. It wasn’t until years later that she finally put 2 and 2 together realized that I was both the evil girl in black AND the upstanding young woman playing Red Rover, Red Rover with first graders in the park.

I hope that Openly Secular Day will help people like her put the pieces together to see that the perceptions and the realities don’t always match up. Hmm… seems like a good idea for more than just religion. Like maybe race, gender, and whether or not that book over there will be any good.

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One thought on “Openly Secular Day

  1. I didn’t know there was such a day, but I guess there is for everything. By public polls, there remains a frustratingly low tolerance of atheism, but it is rising. And I believe the numbers are probably higher, as some would refrain from speaking aloud their disbelief, and just respond with their default answer (i.e. how they were raised). There are openly secular members of congress, even if they are afraid to use the “A” word. Religious shifts require generational change, and surely when our little ones are grown the landscape will be vastly improved.

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