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.
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.