I grew up loosely Catholic. My parents had me go to my first communion and confession, other than that the only time we went to a church it was for weddings and funerals. I hated going to church every time I went in one I felt I had done something wrong and they were always so cold. This was a problem when I was in the Boy Scouts. If you have been in the scouts you know the laws. I could follow just about everyone of them except one.
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, Obedient ( at the time yes, not anymore), Cheerful (I did my best), thrifty, brave and clean were not such a big deal. The one I had problems with was Reverent. I got picked on alot when after camp at Tomahawk and did not go to church there. I left the troop I think it was the fall of 1987. After that I started looking into other religions the Greek myths, a little Buddhism and cults. I actually did a paper for myself on the Children Of God cult in South America in the 7th grade. That was one sick group they allowed for the rape and molestation of children. I will be honest it this was when I really started to wonder if I believed in a god. The clincher was when I actually read the Bible for the first time, but that was not until years later. To this day I still do not know if I actually ever believed in the Christian god or if I was just believing what friends and family wanted to believe.
In 1994 I joined the Army, on my dog tags I had them list my religion as Agnostic. In Basic training I realized the military was not the life for me. During the initial dusting my glasses fell off and a drill sergeant, who looked like Sergeant Slaughter, crushed them under his foot as I was doing push-ups. I had to wait about a week before I could get my “birth control glasses”, these were so named because if you were wearing them you were guaranteed not to get laid. During the waiting period I could not make things out more than anything more than 30 feet in front of me. That Sunday morning, which was the only free time we had other than sleep, I went to the Protestant Chapel, I wanted to take comfort from something, I wanted to believe in god at that time. That was the only time I went to Church in Basic Training. I did not enter another church until I was in active duty.
This is when I met someone who invited me to their Episcopal Church at Fort Lewis, Washington. That was an experience to say the least. The Church was off base in what looked like a wooden house painted brown on the outside. Inside the walls had brown wooden paneling with a pulpit and chairs in two columns and four rows in the front room and a open room on the side. It seemed like a normal sermon at first then they started speaking in tongues. They encouraged me to join in and I tried, but I guess i just could not feel the Holy Spirit. That was so weird to me, I did not understand a single thing going on I just went with it till I got a ride back to the barracks. This was also about the time I started to realize I was an Atheist, though I stuck with Agnostic because I was worried how others may view me. I did not enter a church again until my Uncle Butchie’s Funeral in 2001. I did however read the Bible in between these two church outings.
When I was first starting to read the Bible I saw contradictions within the first two chapters of Genesis, Specifically the order in which the animals and the first man were created. In Chapter one the animals came first then man, then in chapter two it said that man came first then the animals. Back then this was confusing as hell to me. Now I understand that the old testament is a bastardization of a multitude of other religions, specifically the Torah of the Jewish faith. I was able to make it through Genesis just barely with all the who begot who and other stuff. I eventually made it through it took a long time though. There is one part in revelations that I used to try and de convert a couple of Mormon Missionaries when they stopped by my dad’s mobile home one day, I was confused on how they were able to justify the book of Mormon when in the Book of Revelations states in Chapter 22 Verses 18-19 that “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” This did not work but I got to test my knowledge and gave my dad a laugh in the process. He was in his bedroom when they came over and heard me talking to them for about hour. He just sat back there watching T.V. and heard me trying to convince them to give up their faith in a polite way. That was fun.
I remember my uncle because I was homeless living with my ex girlfriend at the time and her parents in their camper, this was also before 9/11 like about a week or so. A couple of days before I had just gotten off work and sitting in her driveway behind her house and smoking a bowl of some decent pot, I said to myself ” this hit is for you Butchy.” I knew he was not doing well and my cousin b got him some weed so he could eat, his liver was failing and he wanted to eat his favorite food Pizza again before he passed. The next day after my little salute to my uncle my best friend had taken a message for me that my uncle had died that night. He had wanted me to be a pallbearer at his funeral, how could I say no to one of my uncle’s dying requests. So, that weekend I was in the St. Paul Cathedral, I felt awkward as hell going in there even if it was for family, I felt cold shivers down my spine on top of mourning the loss of my uncle. I made it through though. The next time I would step into a church was when I met my ex wife after chatting with her on line.
We actually met a couple days before that, Liz (my ex wife) was stuck near me and needed a ride home. I told her I would help and picked her up and we talked a bit till I got her home. I agreed to meet her again at her church right down the street from me in Sanford, FL. I had told her I was “Agnostic and that I normally would not meet at a church”, but I figured I would try the religion thing again. I went with here a few times when we were dating, I even went as far as almost signing up to the church. Then I went to the house of the pastor for an introductory meeting. When I saw this place I could not believe my eyes. Here this guy is preaching to people who are living modest lives while he and his family were living in a house worth, I would say from $500,000 to $750,000. This was a beautiful home Beige on the outside with a couple of columns at the front door and a three car garage. You walk into the house this place had 20 ft vaulted ceilings all 3 kids had their own rooms plus the master. There was a 10 ft. patio door that you could look out into the backyard, which was not that huge but had a nice view of a pond. Oh, did I mention this was in I think it was Altamonte Springs, FL in a really nice neighborhood, I guess that goes without saying. Since then I have not stepped foot in a Christian place of worship.
About 4 years ago I came out as an Atheist to my friends and family on Facebook. I was tired of hiding who I was for so long. This stirred up a bit of shit with my mom and her husband Rick, little did they know I had came out to his parents a couple of years before. They had no problem with it. Rick unfriended me from Facebook my mom was in denial still thinking I was Agnostic, which I am I do not know if there is a god or not, I just do not believe there is a god. This does not make me immoral I try to treat people the way I want to be treated do I always do so, No. Am I perfect, there is no objective perfection, so No. My Goal in life is to try to help make the world better, not perfect, for future generations. To help bring peace through understanding of other cultures and religions. I am not one of those Atheists who say all religions are bad. Religions are neither bad nor good they are tools to help people. It is how people use religion that matter. Some Pray, Some go to Church, most just want to live their lives in peace. There are those who would and have used religion to subjugate, torture and murder that use religion as a justification for these things. Most of the people I have met be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist have been good people just trying to get by. Who am I to say what they should or should not believe. As long as they are not harming anyone who really cares. Most people in America today hold on to religion as a tradition carried down through there families and will admit they are not sure there is a god or not. Hell, I met an Evangelical Christian that feel the same way I do about the LGBTQ and Muslim communities. That they should be able to live their lives the way they want to as long as they are not hurting anyone. That shocked the shit out of me, I thought we would be battling it out. He even accepted me which was really cool I thought.
My journey with religion has been long and hard, but it has not ended. I will be learning more about other religions in the future and hopefully make some friends along the way. I hope this may help some people understand me better and maybe themselves. The next time you meet someone who is an Atheist try to remember we are not evil incarnate. We are people just like you. We love, we feel pain and we get lonely just like everyone else. We are each individuals and should be treated as such.