A woman walks through the garden
Golden roses with fiery edges,
Periwinkle forget-me-nots, pink hydrangeas, and yellow daffodils.
You can barely hear the gravel crunch
Under her black and brown cowboy boots
As Prayed for You by Matt Stell
Flows through the speakers
Slithering into every crevice
Of the hearts of their guests.
She crosses the old wooden bridge
Over the pond,
Notes her reflection in the water,
A mature yet young angel draped in lace,
The sunshine making her glow
Like god’s divine light shining down.
Her gaze falls on her lover
With a smile on her blushing face
And glassy happy eyes.
There he stands with a goofy smile,
Wearing a navy vest, cream shirt,
Blue jeans, and brown dress boots,
His brothers by his side
And her best friends waiting for her,
Her daddy wearing a suit, aging blue eyes,
And whitish hair that once was fiery red.
He holds her arm, leading her to the gazebo
To give her away.
The moment is here as she and her love
Stand in front of her pastor.
He reads 2nd Corinthians and Song of Songs.
They tie the knot—gold and red,
Read their vows, and finally he
Slides a titanium band on her left ring finger
Complementing the diamonds shining
On her engagement ring.
She, in turn, slips his tungsten band
On his large sandpaper rough left ring finger.
Love wraps his arms around her
And they kiss as they melt into one with God.
Another love song fills the crowd as they recess
To go take photos for lasting memories
As if they could forget this emotional day.
Later she dances with her daddy as he leads,
Far more confident than she is as she shakes
And resists the urge to look at her feet.
He holds her and twirls her
Like he did when she was five
Until the song comes to an end.
Her husband joins her on the dance floor
For I Swear by John Michael Montgomery.
Everyone who knows them knows they practiced
Because they both usually can’t dance
Unless it’s silly make fun type dancing.
He spins her round and round, dips her,
And steals kisses when he can
As if they can’t wait to be alone
Or are rather proud of this new privilege.
Dancing, food, and speeches consume the rest of the
Night until they cut the cake and smear some
On each other’s noses,
Laughing in silliness as he takes his finger
And licks it off as she blushes
Red as clown makeup.
She throws the bouquet,
Which is caught by her cousin,
Who is to be married in a year.
Her husband removes her garter,
Which is thrown and caught
By his younger brother.
Eventually, they leave ready to be alone
And live their lives together
As lifelong loving partners.
I am 9 years old with long curly brown hair.
I am three foot tall, weighing next to nothing
With giant burnt brown eyes.
I’m on the playground sitting on the cross
Of the ship made of giant Lincoln logs
With a tearstained red blotchy face
And rosy nose snotty and swollen. Take me home.
I am dull and unable to read or write,
But good at math though slow.
I was once happy friends with everyone,
Considered a positive “happy” girl,
Despite being stupid.
I am persecuted by adults and later children
Who were once my best friends.
I am an outcast among my peers, family;
Even those who should protect me, take turns stabbing with spears.
I smile in church,
Singing “I am a flower quickly fading, Here today and gone tomorrow.” If only… Take me home.
In the recent aftermath of the bombing attacks that gripped the areas surrounding Austin, Texas, many have been asking why? Why did the Austin bomber do it, and why did he pick the victims he did? Many have said that there is nothing that links the victims together, that they all came from very different places and backgrounds. Except many seem to be forgetting one important detail. The three targeted victims were either African-American or Latino, but this seems to be largely ignored.
Mark Antony Conditt has repeatedly been described as “quiet, respectful, and reserved.” Almost any online article will describe him as such, as if those traits somehow excuse what has happened, or mitigate the damage somehow. He was a white, conservative, Christian terrorist, regardless of how you try to spin it. His quiet-ness or respectful-ness does not excuse or remove the fact that he terrorized a community for weeks and killed two people and injured several others. Yet, many seem to want to almost ignore that fact in exchange for making the Austin bomber an almost tragic figure. His religion is being used to make Mark Antony seem like an upright citizen, yet if he was Muslim, then virtually everyone would be saying he was a terrorist because of his religion.
All of the bombers targeted victims who were people of color, yet no one, be it law enforcement or the media, wants to even entertain the idea that his motives were not racially motivated, simply because he did not explicitly state so in his taped confession. This bomber’s race and religion is being used to make him seem like a sympathetic person, when with any other race or religion everyone would be jumping to use them as a motivator. People often like to act like white privilege is not something that actually happens, that it is not real. But what do else do you call it when a white domestic terrorist is treated like a misunderstood child rather than the menace and monster he is?
Energy vampires are people who suck the positive energy from your being, whether they do so consciously or not. They can be friends, family, or even people you have just met. Energy vampires tend to focus on people who are easily suggestible, have low self-esteem, and wish to drain their victim of all positive energy. Most energy vampires are unhappy themselves, and in some cases, their subconscious is at fault. The energy vampire, themselves, can’t control the energy they create or take away.
Victims of energy vampires see improvements the second they have detached from the vampire, when they have left the room or cut them off them off completely. Energy vampires usually use fear as the gateway into stealing your positive energy, but if you protect yourself from these types of people with spiritual techniques, they can’t take advantage of you.
My girlfriend had an event at her church called the “Soup and Sandwich Luncheon,” which by the title, you can guess what it entailed. On our way there, we both had a bad feeling about what was to occur, seeing as she left her church two years ago after attending for 16 years, having been done with dealing with a fire and brimstone type of environment. However, her parents wanted to see her and we felt obligated to go.
The second we walked into the building, people my girlfriend use to call friends all turned and stared at us, going as far as rolling their eyes at our presence. I immediately felt this heavy weight on my chest and my stomach began to hurt. My girlfriend started to cry because of the way they treated her, judging and whispering as if we couldn’t hear them.
After the initial feelings we experienced, we got our food and sat down next to her parents, unfortunately, leaving me to sit at the energy vampire’s table. They didn’t speak to me and I didn’t speak to them, but I could feel their eyes on me, trying to intimidate me and make me feel embarrassed or unwelcomed. I tried my best to ignore them and listen to a different conversation.
Later on, after the energy vampires had left, I felt very tired, as if I had just worked an eight hour shift, or took a six hour road trip. I couldn’t explain the way I was feeling without connecting the dots to the energy vampires. I had never believed in a concept so much until I encountered those people. I felt so sick and tired, and those feeling came out of nowhere. It had to be the energy vampires, and I truly hope I never have to go back to that church.
After leaving the church and driving around in an attempt to calm myself down, I began to feel a bit better. I didn’t feel as tired and my stomach stopped hurting. I knew it was because I had put enough time and distance between myself and the energy vampires. I know now that if I ever have to go back there, I need to protect myself and learn to fight off their soul-sucking energy. Energy vampires don’t have to steal your happiness away. All you have to do is learn how to protect yourself, or simply, refuse to allow those people into your life. It’s your choice.
If you haven’t seen the crazy Westboro Baptist wannabes standing by the Heth clocks with their children, consider yourself lucky. This group comes to campus almost weekly to spread the word of the Bible in the most insane, cult-like way. They specifically target Radford University because they’re behind a couple years and think we’re still the out-of-control party school we once were. Dear Westboro Baptist wannabes,
On Thursday I, along with my fellow students, stood in the rain from roughly 2 to 5 p.m. We were face-to-face with your group, which seems to be unnamed, as you spewed your religious bullshit by word of mouth. Along with the three adult men of your group, there were a number of small children, a wife, teenage girls, and a newborn baby. It was about 50 degrees outside and rainy all day, which made the conditions unfavorable for such small children to be outside for hours on end.
You held your signs, listing the groups that would be thrown into the imaginary lake of fire. You held your little black Bibles with the word “REPENT” printed in plain white. You yelled at students, including myself, whom you called a “Jezebel.” Virtually any woman who spoke up to your ringleader (the short chubby guy with the anti-porn hat) was called a Jezebel and told to get in her place. Although you claimed that you “loved us” and were only here to save our sinners’ souls from a horrible eternity, we all see straight through your facade.
We don’t know what makes you think we’re an open audience, or that you’re going to change anyone’s mind. If you haven’t realized, it’s 2015 and people aren’t easily scared by threats of hellfire and brimstone. College students these days are more like likely to be atheists now than in the past and therefore, your shouting and threats are going in one ear and out the other.
The people I feel for the most in this situation is your poor, brainwashed family. You use them as an example in order to push your shitty agenda. At one point in your protest, you allowed your son to stand up on a footstool and spew your religious nonsense. Students were just about as kind to him as we were to the adults. The youngest adult male in your group openly admitted he hadn’t gone past the third grade. I’m assuming, since your children were present on our campus during typical grade school hours, that your children are homeschooled. I can only imagine their curriculum doesn’t include a drop of factual science.
At one point as your ringleader stood on his footstool, his wife came and whispered to him. The ringleader then announced to the crowd, “See, men, this is the kind of woman you need– a woman who will submit to you.” I can only imagine the amount of brainwashing that had to take place for that woman to be okay with someone talking about her like a dog. You also told me directly that I needed to find a “Godly” man, but that I would have no luck here at Radford–poor me.
Since World War II, women have been taking leadership positions in the home. When their husbands were away, they took up jobs to keep the family afloat. After their husbands returned, they realized they didn’t mind working and being breadwinners, and many men allowed and encouraged their wives to keep working. Women in 2015 aren’t submissive dolls for you to order around and impregnate every chance you get. Marriages these days aren’t defined by a man and woman in a relationship where the woman is expected to keep quiet and do what her husband says. Marriages these days consist of same-sex, mixed race, heterosexual and various other identities combined with one simple commonality: love and respect for one another.
I don’t know why you’re so insistent on coming to our campus. It’s your First Amendment right to come here to talk about whatever you want, but don’t be offended when we talk back unfavorably. The thing that’s so unique about Radford’s community is that we stand up for each other. When you called me a Jezebel, there were several young men around me who would have loved to step over your (illegal) barrier and knock you down from your footstool. By the way, you essentially calling me a whore doesn’t make you a saint, which you claimed to be several times.
If God were real, and I don’t believe he is, he’d probably not be too happy with you. Believe it or not, I used to be a good, Bible-obeying Christian who walked through life afraid to make a wrong step and displease my overlord. As I recall, the Bible calls good Christians to bring people to God. Your group is doing nothing but making people turn from the church with their middle finger in the air. Groups like yours, you Westboro Baptist wannabes, are the reason so many have chosen to turn their backs on the “kind word of the Lord.” Also, I think you missed out on the bit from the Bible that says “only he who is without sin may cast the first stone.” Because you’re not a saint, I don’t believe you have the right to invade our campus with your hate-speech to judge us for having sex and drinking beer.
You repeatedly say in your rantings that you’re here to save us, yet how many people have actually approached you seeking the Lord? I’m guessing that number is an absolute zero. Obviously your methods aren’t working, and no minds are being changed. There isn’t a place for you here, so why not move on to another audience who will be more captive?
So, please keep returning to Radford. Keep spewing your bullshit and watch as it pours in one ear and out the other. We’ll all be here with our signs in hand, holding pugs over our heads and chanting obscenities. You’re doing nothing but creating a day party for us, where we will continue to support our fellow students, be proud sinners and applaud at your departure.
Recently, HBO aired a controversial documentary which criticized the church of Scientology. Many Christians have used this documentary as a scapegoat for their own crazy religion, mocking different aspects of the church and overall using the documentary to claim that Christianity is the superior religion.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked about his views on the church in light of the documentary, and managed to say what everyone’s thinking. Tyson refused to make any negative commentary on the church, eloquently stating that it’s a free country and everyone can believe what they want. However, my sass radar went off at one particular quote. “So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy?”
I totally agree with Tyson on this. When you compare Scientology to Christianity, the two are both relatively equal in insanity. Think about it: the Bible claims that a magical being floated down from the sky and impregnated a virgin with a magic baby who was born on a pile of hay. The baby grows up to be a wizard who can heal the blind and walk on water. Don’t forget the angry God who needed a blood sacrifice to right his own wrong because he created imperfect people who he hated.
In order to better understand Scientology, I went to the belly of the beast. Okay, actually going to a Church of Scientology would have been more impressive, but I attempted to grasp an understanding of it with what tools I have. Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer. Hubbard was rumored to be schizophrenic. However, reading and listening to the ideals of Scientology, I believe he was bipolar and on a manic when first creating his religion.
Watching the videos on the official Scientology website, I can’t help but notice how cryptically it’s displayed to the public. Scientology is extremely mysterious because few people leave it, and those who do are often forced to remain silent about their experiences within the church. Many ex-Scientologists remain anonymous as they share their experiences because of threats they’ve received from the church.
The church has been widely criticized for using hypnosis, abusing members and even holding members hostage. Many members of the church have attributed their successes to the church, in a way which resembles the Law of Attraction.
From the outside, the Church of Scientology seems to be a bit more practical, acknowledging new ideas such as science and physics. Unlike the Christian church, which breaks its members down and forces them to acknowledge their mistakes, Scientology focuses more on building up its members and helping them grow as a person to be the best they can be. As much as I agree with that sentiment, the church seems very cult-like when you listen to the accounts of its former members.
Overall, I think Scientology and Christianity both have their flaws. I don’t believe that one is crazier than the other, although I loathe religion. Tyson’s thoughts on Scientology sum up perfectly what many atheists are thinking: all religions are relatively insane.
For us agnostics and atheists, the Bible has a lot-and I mean a lot- of fallacies that make us shake our heads. I used to be a Christian — so yes, I’ve read the Bible. I never had the desire to read it cover-to-cover, but I’ve read a majority of it. Since I left the church, I often find myself reflecting back on those readings and thinking, “Wow, God’s a psychopath.”
Before you assume I’m a God-hater, remember that atheists don’t hate God; we simply don’t think he exists. However, assuming the God described in the Bible were real, by today’s standards, he’d be a complete psychopath. Think about it. How many times in the Bible does it mention that people were made in “His image?” Often one of the biggest confidence-boosters for Christians suffering from self-esteem issues is to be reminded that they were made in God’s image, and to accept their flaws and imperfections.
This is where the Bible begins to contradict itself. Of all the evil-doers and wicked human beings in the Bible, God personally executes way more people than any mortal. God repeatedly commits mass genocide for crimes such as disobeying Him, worshiping other deities, and doing things that are considered evil in His sight. According to the Bible, God also killed innocent children as a way of punishing their parents for not obeying him. Remember the Holocaust, when Nazis killed children in front of their parents to punish them for being Jewish? That sounds strangely similar to what God does in the Bible- killing innocent babies because their parents weren’t followers of the Lord, or even for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Lord also sicced two bears on 42 children simply for mocking an old man’s bald head (2 Kings 2:24)
So if God created man in his image, why does he create them to be bad enough that he feels the need to kill them? Many argue that God gave man free will, but those are usually the same people that accept horrible diseases killing innocent children as”God’s will.” I can’t help but think of the episode of “Criminal Minds” where a serial killer captured, tortured, then released his victims–only to hunt them down. I feel that God and this guy would get along really well. God creates these people “in his image” just to put them on Earth and smite them if they do anything he deems punishable.
As a woman, it’s hard for me to understand how so many women can be so devoted to a deity that created them imperfectly, then punishes them for being imperfect. Many times women are regarded as property in the Bible. Women are considered property of their fathers until they get married.Once they’re married, they’re the property of their husband. If a woman is raped before marriage, the rapist, whom I’m assuming God created, is supposed to be stoned to death. Although this may seem fair, the logic behind it is a little strange. The rapist isn’t stoned to death for violence against a woman. Instead, he’s punished for “stealing” the father’s property. If a woman is raped when she’s married, the rapist is put to death for stealing the husband’s property. Not only is the rapist punished, but the woman is also punished for adultery against her husband.
I find it amusing when any religion argues that their deity is a loving, peaceful god. If those deities really did exist, I would have a lot of questions and would likely not worship them anyways. I see no logical reason to worship a god that punishes his people for being who he created them to be. When people do good, they praise God or Allah for helping them . They may even be revered by their friends and family as good men or women of God. In the eyes of the religious, doing good means you’ve been blessed by God. However, when they do bad, friends and family blame the person. How is that if God is this good, all-knowing, all powerful deity that he still couldn’t override the bad thoughts and feelings people have? Why didn’t he just make that person good? Or does God actually create bad people?
Even for those rooted tightly in their faith, these are important questions to consider. It’s important that we question our beliefs and the way we think. Even as agnostic, I find myself thinking, “maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there could be a God, but I need solid evidence.”
In the debate over whether or not gay marriage should be legal, I’ve often seen Christian right-wingers cry that marriage is a religious act. Although many marriage ceremonies involve religious text or traditions, marriage didn’t form from Christianity by any means.
There’s plenty of archaeological evidence of ancient marriages. Marriages were once considered a contract between two families. Fathers would often marry their daughters off to someone whose family was deemed valuable or powerful. The families would enter a sort of alliance, wherein the families would support each other. Women in the ancient world were often considered property and their importance was found in the title of being someone’s “wife.” Women were considered vessels in which men would grow their offspring and spread their genes, therefore spreading the family’s “empire.”
In ancient times, men would often have multiple wives to produce more children and make the family more powerful. Polygamy also served the purpose of fulfilling duties. For example, polygamous families who lived on farms never had a shortage of hands to get work done quickly and efficiently. In ancient Greece, wives were meant to be baby-making machines and housekeepers. Men in Greece were often expected to have sex with courtesans for pleasure; the wives were simply child-bearers and kept the house clean and safe.
Wives weren’t for emotional support. Ironically, in those times, the most ideal situation was for people to marry someone of the same sex. The most elite members of society who had no need to reproduce, or could afford servants to keep up with the housework, often married someone of the same sex. It was understood that people of the same sex could understand each other’s emotions and provide support.
Early Christians believed that celibacy was the most ideal thing for a person to commit to. Marriage only became acceptable because its purpose was procreation. Early Christians believed that sex was evil, but was tolerated for married couples who wished to spread their genes. Thus came the idea of abstinence before marriage.
Only in recent centuries did it become ideal for people to marry someone because they were in love. Marriage has become a symbol of great affection between two people. Married couples often support each other emotionally and financially. To think that marriage is only for procreating and that men and women have specific roles is sort of barbaric. Humans are much more advanced than that these days.
In Franklin County, Virginia, an atheist couple who wanted to get married in the courthouse were turned away by one judge-appointed officiant. The judge agreed with the officiant, and sent the couple to a different officiant. The new officiant agreed to marry the couple. Although the problem was easily solved, it just goes to show that religious discrimination of married couples still exists.
Marriage is a legal right of everyone, and the fact the officiant turned the couple away because of religious bigotry should have been enough to get him fired. He’s a public servant, which means he should serve every member of the public and leave his personal beliefs at home.
Christians who want to claim that marriage is specifically a religious act need to crawl out of the rock they’ve been living under. Many couples choose not to have children, or simply can’t have children. Many Christians may argue that marriage is for procreating, but with the world quickly running out of resources and facing overpopulation, it’s a good thing that marriage is evolving out of the old idea that it’s meant for making babies.
Couples in the United States are embracing the idea of religious-less marriage ceremonies– and instead focusing on the love they have for one another. If they choose to turn that love into a human being, that’s ultimately their choice.
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, three Muslims were killed by a neighbor following a parking dispute.The original report makes it seem like the shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, was just a lunatic who had enough of his neighbors and their disagreements about parking. However, looking at his Facebook page, it’s very obvious that Hicks considered himself an atheist. His profile picture was a red photo with the words“Atheists for Equality.” His cover photo, though, was a banner promoting anti-theism. This leads me to believe that Hicks may have murdered his neighbors over the parking dispute, but was especially motivated realizing they were part of the Muslim community.
Many are running to blame atheism for the murders, but judging by Hicks’ cover photo and photos of his gun, I believe Hicks was an anti-theist. Although many atheists detest religion, that doesn’t mean we’re completely against it. It’s possible to be both anti-theist and atheist, obviously. However, the anti-theist label is an umbrella that not all atheists want to be under.
Being atheist doesn’t necessarily mean you hate all religions and all religious people. It means you simply don’t believe in a higher being or afterlife. Being anti-theist is just as dangerous as being a religious extremist, because it breeds hate. Hatred for anyone simply because of their religion is a slippery slope. Holding hatred for a specific group to the point of calling yourself “anti” whatever can lead to violence, which is what I believe happened in this situation.
I don’t agree with religion if it interferes with my life in any way, but I don’t automatically hate someone simply for being religious. It’s a shame that Hicks displayed himself as atheist, but also anti-theist, because this will ultimately lead people to associating atheism with anti-theism. I, personally, don’t want to be associated with anti-theism because it’s hateful. I don’t hold any hate in my heart for people who are religious and who don’t interfere with my life. I’m not sure if Hicks had any interaction with his neighbors which may have involved them pressing their religion–but even if they did, that doesn’t give him a license to kill.
I’ve had many people press their religion on me, but I’ve never once thought about reacting violently. I’ve thought about replying with an anger-filled, intelligent argument, but I’ve never wished any harm to someone. Being anti-theist means wishing any form of theism would cease to exist. I believe religion can be poisonous if it affects the lives of others, but as long as the religious person doesn’t do harm to anyone in the name of their religion, I see no reason to be hateful towards them.
In the wake of these murders, there are going to be a lot of fingers pointing at atheists blaming them for hating religion, leading to the death of three innocent people. Just remember– there’s a difference between atheism and anti-theism.
Most people think of religion and science as two very different entities that often conflict. Religion is based mostly on faith. The Bible, for example, constantly preaches to “walk by faith, not by sight.” No one has ever seen God, and the Bible does little to try to argue against this. However, it encourages followers to rely on faith and not be discouraged by the lack of physical evidence for the God detailed in the Bible. Although religion and science tend to disagree, many in the religious community try to marry these two entities.
The Bible, or other religious texts for that matter, provide a vague explanation for questions that science has more reliably answered. A family friend of mine recently shared a video of a woman angrily reading a vocabulary assignment for a class, wherein the teachings of Islam were obscurely placed throughout the assignment. The woman argued that the teachings of Jesus Christ would never be allowed in the schools. Ironically, the woman didn’t even have a child in the school or school district. She claimed her husband was outraged by the teachings of Islam being placed in these assignments, but only because passages or teachings from the Bible would never be allowed in schools.
Although I don’t agree with the teachings of Islam (or any other religion) being placed throughout a school assignment, I found it absurd that this woman would take the time out of her day to voice a completely inane theory that Muslims are trying to convert children. I voiced my opinion to this particular family friend that children shouldn’t be taught any religion in school unless, of course, they’re taking a course on religion. Children should be taught how to think, and not what to think. In my personal opinion, I believe teaching science and logical thinking should take precedence over spiritual teachings in a child’s life.
I’m not an anti-theist by any means. I have no issue with people raising their children in a religious environment, so long as the child is raised to be accepting of those who don’t share the same beliefs. If a child is brought up to persecute and demean those who don’t share the same beliefs, there’s a huge issue. However, I find it hard to find a happy middle ground for a child to be a free-thinker and a theist at the same time. Science and religion have no place together. Period.
This family friend that I’ve mentioned earlier argued that she loved science and had somehow found a happy middle ground where she could both be a hardcore Christian and a scientific, logical thinker. This semester, I finally got the chance to take an astronomy course, which I’ve been wanting to take since I first came to Radford. In just the second day of class, my professor took the time to define the requirements for a thoughtful, legitimate scientific theory. He defined science as an, “exploration guided by natural law, is explanatory by reference to natural law, testable against the empirical world, has conclusions which are tentative, and is falsifiable.”
In Dover, Pennsylvania, teachers were barred from teaching intelligent design as an alternative to natural selection. Judge Jones defended the ruling by saying, quite eloquently, that “the breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.” In other words, the judge found that there was no true scientific backing behind the teachings of intelligent design. The defense showed, again and again, that their intentions behind wanting to teach intelligent design were religiously motivated, and not used as a legitimate alternative to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
There’s no plausible way that religion and science can be found hand in hand. The religious tend to reject science and use God as an explanation for many natural occurrences such as evolution, natural disasters, life and death. Science and scientific theories are typically based on observable occurrences. In the last few hundred years, many scientists and free-thinkers have stepped out to publicly reject God. Many religious folk cry persecution as atheists speak out against religious indoctrination. In reality, their empire of thought-suppression is slowly crumbling, brick by brick. I find it hard to accept their cries of persecution when for many years, atheists has been persecuted for speaking out against extremist religious leaders. Even now, I find admitting to being agnostic much more terrifying than when I once admitted to being Christian.
Poverty is all around us these days. A simple drive down Main Street will show you homeless men holding signs asking for food, a job, or just compassion. Going to church as a kid, helping the poor always seemed to be the center of the church. Whether it was through canned food drives or mission trips, helping the poor was always extremely important in the sermons.
Looking around the church a few years ago, I noticed a few things that I always thought were odd. One night, a homeless man wandered into the church. Although he was given a meal, he was immediately asked to leave when he finished. I noticed the fancy, expensive clothes worn by church-goers every Sunday, and I heard the quiet whispers of gossip, insulting those who didn’t dress “appropriately.”
There was an older woman who was very sick who would come to the church by herself and sit in the first pew. She never spoke to anyone, and the elder women of the church would whisper, wondering why this woman was here. She always wore very casual clothes that looked a little tattered, whereas some women would come in big, fancy hats and matching dresses.
I remember a group of church members went on a mission trip to Nicaragua. Before they left, we were all told they were going to be building homes and helping the poor. However, upon arriving back to the church, it was apparent to me that the only “help” offered to the poor was the “Word of God.”
There are many reasons I finally left the church, but the fact that the church masquerades around, preaching to help the poor and taking little action is the main reason I finally decided the church wasn’t for me. These “mission trips” that were supposed to help people were really just a ploy to shove religion down the throats of the needy. Telling these people they need to pray to get out of poverty isn’t helping them. If they really wanted to help them, they’d provide them with food, clean water and shelter, not a book of stories of hope. To really give these people hope, they need to be provided with the necessities to live a healthy, happy life.
Although many churches do good, the hypocrisies I witnessed in church were what finally drove me away from the God I once believed in. I realized more and more as I’ve gotten older that the church isn’t necessary to have a happy life. In order to have a happy life you must do things that will make you happy. I know from personal experience that making other people happy makes me really happy. Providing people with things they need pleases me more than satisfying my own needs.
Through my sorority and in my private time I’ve found ways to lift up others without religious meaning behind it. I love representing myself positively to my friends, family and even total strangers by helping them acquire whatever it is that they need to get by. Giving makes me happy. I don’t feel that I need to give to please some God. I focus on my own happiness and spreading that happiness to everyone around me and everyone I love.
If you’ve never heard of a “pregnancy crisis center,” you’re very lucky. Where I’m from, there are multiple billboards advertising these “clinics”. Pregnancy crisis centers very handy for pregnant mothers who need help acquiring clothes or diapers for their babies, but not much else. A lot of the billboards show women looking distressed with the words, “Pregnant? Scared? We can help” usually followed by a phone number and something along the lines of “know your options.”
The truth behind these pregnancy crisis centers is that they aren’t really giving you any options. For them, it’s “mommy or murder.” Instead of offering real, helpful counseling and assisting women in making an informed decision, they’re usually putting the fear of God into their “patients.”
I use quotes for “patients” because these crisis centers usually try to pose as medical facilities. I recently saw a UpWorthy video of a woman who visited dozens of these pregnancy crisis centers across the country, and in many cases they presented false medical advice. One of these “counselors” even pressed that every time a woman got an abortion, her chance of getting breast cancer increased severely.
One woman, who visited a pregnancy crisis center, had called ahead and asked for a price on an abortion. The receptionist insisted that they wouldn’t discuss prices over the phone and that she needed to come into the clinic. When the woman arrived there, she was brought into a “counseling” session wherein a woman showed her an educational video on abortions.
The woman was then given a free ultrasound, being forced to look at the fetus inside her. When she left, she asked the receptionist why she had misled her into thinking that it was an abortion clinic. The receptionist became upset and insisted that God “wanted her to protect her and her baby,” then apologizing that the girl felt “duped.”
With all of the misleading information and false advertising these places give out, how are they even legal? Quite frankly, if I were ever to seek an abortion and was given a lecture about God instead of the help I was searching for, I’d be pissed. I can’t believe that these places are allowed to slide by, posing as medical facilities. For someone who is facing a real pregnancy crisis, it has to be horrifying to feel for a moment that you are about to receive the help you want, but then to find out it was all a lie.
Even worse, these places are often funded by our tax dollars. Instead of giving abortions to women who can’t afford to support a child, these places are giving a sense of false hope. I’d rather see our tax dollars being used to fund actual medical procedures than to know we’re paying these jackasses to give out false information and to intimidate women.
Growing up, I was never forced to be religious, but I chose to be for a long time. It wasn’t until I started to really get into science that I realized that science was filling a void in my life that I never knew existed.
I often hear people say that those who don’t have Christ in their lives have a hole in their heart; that’s simply not the case. Science, to me, explores the miracle of life. After the countless documentaries exploring theories of how the Earth came to be, and the scientific proof that backs it up, I can’t help but be content with the idea that we, as humans, are miracles of nature, not miracles of God.
For instance, when you think about the sheer enormity of the universe, it’s amazing! It’s so huge, and we’re so tiny and insignificant. We’re just riding around on a dust particle. We’re not even dust particles, we’re on one. When we think of things that are big, we think of houses, cars, mountains, bridges- but when you really want to be amazed by the size of something, just look at earth and imagine that it’s a dust particle in the sunlight. That’s us.
I remember being amazed in elementary school at how teeny tiny earth is compared to the sun. Now, I’m amazed at the fact that our galaxy isn’t even significant. When I think of Earth on a time scale, it helps me to truly appreciate the life I have. We moan about how Mondays are long and how tired we are of being at school or work. When you imagine how short our lives are in the grand scheme of things, you realize that we have practically no time here.
That little moment that we are here is why I’ve turned away from religion. I realized that in the time I’m here, I was spending so much of it worrying about a god that I thought was going to take his thumb and just crush me if I did one thing that displeased him. But I’m here for a brief moment, and I want to learn as much as I can without interruption. I want to try my best to explore what we know about the universe and the last thing I want is someone telling me I’m displeasing a god that we have no proof of.
I can truly appreciate those who turn to god for answers and comfort, because I was once that person. But one day I decided that the voice in my head that was telling me right from wrong was my conscience. I find that way more beautiful than living a life for god, and doing good things because god wants me to. I think the fact that I have so much faith in myself and my own decision-making abilities should be enough.
I’m so incredibly content with myself now, whereas before I was worried that I wasn’t doing things the “right” way. I know now that I can make mistakes and learn from them and I don’t feel the need to beg for forgiveness. I’m no longer living my life afraid that the “Almighty Lord” is going to come down and smite me. Some may find comfort in a forgiving god, and that’s okay. But for me, observing and being curious rather than spending my days with closed ears is how I would like to live my life.
This summer, a Texas court ruled against a couple who took their kids out of school in 2004 to be home-schooled. A family member had started to notice that the children weren’t being educated, even at home. Instead of teaching them, the parents, Michael and Laura McIntyre, told the nine children that they didn’t need to go to school because they were going to be raptured. Further investigation revealed that the children weren’t being educated properly, according to the states standards. In 2006, one daughter even took it upon herself to run away so she could go to a real high school.
In 2007, an attendance officer filed complaints against the McIntyre’s, who responded by claiming that their rights to religious freedom were being violated. But alas, they failed. The court found that no religious rights were being violated. It’s simply impossible to home school kids without some regulation.
Personally, I agree with this ruling. I understand that many parents fear that their children will stray from their god and start believing in the blasphemy that is science. (Insert extreme sarcasm here.) But let’s be honest, the reason it’s required for children to go to school is so we don’t have a nation of warped idiots. I’ve met a few perfectly normal home-schooled kids. But I’ve also met a few people who were home-schooled and seemed to be totally brain-washed. I’d say in most cases, the reason parents want their kids to be home-schooled is either for religious purposes or because parents don’t trust the school system.
Public school systems can be very iffy. Many worry that public school kids aren’t experiencing a wide enough array of subjects, and aren’t being able to explore their interests. I will agree with that reasoning for home-schooling kids, but I don’t agree with home-schooling for the purpose of forcing your kids to be religious. In the documentary “Bible Camp,” (available on Netflix) there’s a scene with a mother home-schooling her child. She explained that she pulled him out of public school because he was being taught evolution and the Big Bang theory. She couldn’t understand why creationism wasn’t taught as a theory and even told her son “science is wrong.” Creationism is such an old idea that has so much evidence stacked up against it, which the reasoning behind it. But to only want your child to believe in one theory, and not allowing them the option to explore others is simply cruel.
Children are naturally curious. In watching my nephew learn about dinosaurs, I’ve always thought it was great to see children being so curious and wanting to learn more. I know that when I have children, I’ll expose them to all sorts of sciences and theories so that they can make their own decisions. I can’t imagine being a parent and not wanting that for your child.
In the last few years, there’ve also been cases where parents have neglected to take their children to the hospital when care is needed because they believe that “God will provide” and somehow their child will be magically cured if they pray hard enough. For example, a couple watched as their daughter died of diabetes. She was in pain because of this chronic condition, yet her parents just watched her deteriorate. It’s so hard for me to imagine being a parent and watching your child die when prayer is obviously not working. I feel like any reasonable parent would go to the ends of the earth to heal their child, even if it could screw them financially. There are so many parents who have put their entire life savings and put themselves in crippling debt to save their children. I don’t understand how anyone could accept their child dying as “God’s will” and just let them go when there are doctors who’ve gone to school for years in order to save people’s lives. I suppose if someone is crazy enough to believe that God will magically intervene and save their child, they probably also believe that doctors are of the devil because they’re trying to “play god.”
Some try to argue that parents should be allowed to make decisions based on their child’s health care, and that calling this “child abuse” is infringing on religious freedoms, but any case where a parent knowingly endangers their child’s life because they’re too proud to admit they’ve been wrong, they should never be allowed to have children again. Keeping your child from basic health care is essentially the same as starving or neglecting them. Prayer may work coincidentally, but if it doesn’t seem to be working, how can anyone just let their child die?
Seeing parents who are so set in their ways that they kill their children’s curiosity, endanger their lives and tell them “science is wrong” makes me worry for the future. The reason our country and states have specific laws and regulations on what kids are taught is so that we won’t have a generation of idiots. Science has provided us with the amazing technologies, medicine and many other amazing applications. Why anyone would deny that, and force their beliefs on their children is beyond me. Why anyone would allow their child to die and accept it as “God’s will” is amazing to me. One can tell that the McIntyre children knew what their parents were doing was wrong, considering one daughter ran away to receive an education. The girl who died of diabetes as her parents prayed over her also begged her parents to take her to a doctor. We need to take it upon ourselves as human beings to make sure every child has the opportunity to receive a real, practical education, and real, practical medical care. Parents are supposed to protect their children, not endanger them with stupidity.
To a straight person, being gay looks really scary. Not that being gay itself seems scary, but the bullying and torment that comes with it. I’ve always been told that churches are supposed to be a sort of oasis in a world of torment, but in a lot of cases that isn’t true for gay people. Churches are just as guilty of bullying gay people, particularly gay couples. Continue reading If you think you can pray away the gay, you’re gonna have a bad time→
Many ignorant and uneducated Americans believe that all Muslims are terrorists, and that every single Muslim participates in and/or supports terrorist groups. After 9/11, many Americans created and subscribed to this very negative stereotype. I’m not blaming anyone other than the attackers and plane-jackers for this. Yet we, as Americans, have to move on and educate ourselves. Continue reading Islam and Christianity: From Al Qaeda to Westboro→
I’m going to Hell. This is something I’ve been told by friends, family and strangers when I mention that I’m an atheist. It’s a common cop-out for many religious types; it gives them a sense of a moral high ground where they’re unable to find the logical high ground. Continue reading Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Hell→