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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Your Stories of Atheism: From Mexico to the Philippines

This is an ongoing series featuring your stories of how you came to identify as an atheist. If you want to send me your story, you can submit it here. To read past stories, click here.

Mexican Catholic Church

The first story today comes from Gustavo:

I live in Mexico, a very religious country, where a great majority is Catholic or Evangelical Christian. I was raised as a Catholic and went to Catholic schools my whole childhood and adolescence. Every single person I knew since I was born until I was 18 was Christian. I was always told there were people who didn’t believe in God, because they had rejected his love. They told me these people were called ‘atheists’ and they denied God’s existence because they liked to live in sin.
I never questioned the Church’s teachings while I was a kid, but as I grew up I discovered I was gay. For me this was a contradiction, since I was always taught homosexuality is a terrible sin against nature. However, I knew I never chose being gay, so I didn’t understand why God made me like this. I looked for answers in the Bible and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I found that the Church admits that gay people don’t choose their orientation, but ask them to remain in a celibacy state, which I thought it was unfair, but anyway I had to submit to God’s will, so I thought I had stay single for the rest of my life.
Everything started changing when I went to the university and I decided to study Physics. First I was surprised that most of my professors were Agnostic or Atheists. Even more strikingly, many of them turn out to be good people willing to help whoever needed help. This contradicted what I was told, but I started to understand that there are people with many different beliefs and ways of thinking, and that being a good person has nothing to do with being a religious person. I also learned that many mysteries in the Universe had an explanation that had nothing to do with divine forces. Nevertheless, I was not ready to abandon my creed. One day, everything suddenly cracked. The priest in charge of the church my family and I used to attend every Sunday was arrested and accused of having raped a boy. I was told by my parents that priests were reliable men in close contact to God. So, how come this “holy” man could have committed such a horrible crime? The very same man that had taught me homosexuality is a sin not only had sex with someone of his same sex, but also that person was a minor and he had raped him! Almost at the same time, the Legionaries of Christ—a congregation my mother had worked for—admitted their founder had committed sexual abuse of minors. I was shocked.
I decided then to make a little research on this topic and found there were thousands of similar cases all around the world. Rapes, sexual abuse, and similar stuff from Catholic priests occurred in the United States, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Chile, Zimbabwe… Perhaps—I thought—what Protestants said about the Catholic Church, that it had twisted Jesus’ teachings, was true after all. So I decided that, if I wanted to follow Christ, I had to search for a community outside the Catholic Church. Then, I started to attend an Evangelical church on the outskirts of the city and I stayed there for only one month.
My experience there was by far unpleasant and disappointing. First, these people turned out to be more close-minded than Catholics about homosexuality. There was no salvation for me and I was damned by the mere fact that I was gay. Also, it bother me the fact that, although many people in this area lived in an evident poverty, they were required to wear fancy suits or dresses to attend the Sunday services, and this represented to them a huge sacrifice. On the other hand they were asked to give a significant amount of the money they earned to the church; most of them gave more than 500 pesos, which for some of them it meant a whole week of work. The pastor preaching in this church always took that collected money and got in his shiny Mercedes Benz, a real insult to me. And finally, a déjà-vu: the pastor was found raping a woman from the congregation.
I said to myself I had enough. Christianity was a lie. I could no longer believe in all that bullshit of hypocrisy. Thus, I decided I didn’t have to follow the Christian rules, so I started to search other gay people. I discovered a whole new world I had avoided many years. I eventually fell in love to another guy. I had never experienced that before. I couldn’t understand why a loving God forbids loving other person just because that person turns out to be your same gender.
Then I thought, “I am studying to be a scientist; I have to think like one”. What if all religions are an invention of the human being and there is no god at all? Then everything made sense to me. I could have known it before, but I was blinded by my beliefs. I suddenly felt free, and all the depression I had felt so many years disappeared within a blink.
I now know I am a gay and an Atheist and I am proud of being both. I understood that there was nothing wrong with me. It was an oppressing religion that made me think I was a sinner for what I was born. Now I am free.

And here’s Anonymous:

I was born in the Philippines. I’m considered as Roman Catholic, my parents doesn’t know I’m an atheist and I don’t know if I will ever tell them. I was very religious as a kid, I prayed before and after meals, before I went to sleep and went to church every week. When I was 11 I started questioning my beliefs, “If god loved me then why did he let this happen to me?”, “If god existed then why is he so cruel?”… My questions kept adding up since I was exposed to the world’s cruel reality earlier than most people. “If god doesn’t want the same sex to get married then why did he create LGBT(Lesbians Gay Bi Trans)?” Which cannot be helped because science has proved that it is not a choice but something we are born with, same goes with animals. I had so many questions back then, which were stupid questions because in the first place…he doesn’t exist. I stopped praying but I still went to church because my family would never allow me not to.
When I was in 8th grade, I didn’t believe in religion, but I believed there was a god. I joined YFC(Youth For Christ) where we worshipped god once in a while. I started praying again, that club had a great impact on me but still, I never stopped asking questions. I loved reading books, I always read on Ebooks. I also loved googling questions I have because I always search for answers. I was not satisfied with the knowledge my family and community gave me. I knew there were more to learn, I can’t possibly just sit there and accept what I’m taught. I learned self-education. So then I started reading about religion, I studied them and read the Christian bible. I realized how cruel it actually was, how we never really actually followed the writings inside, it was a disaster. Religion was altered because we couldn’t possibly live our lives through it, the priest interpreted it differently…sugarcoating. At first it was hard for me to let go of my faith because I invested so many years on it, but I learned common sense. I read a lot, I craved for knowledge and the truth. I started to love science, it answered my questions. Going to church every week makes me want to puke, hearing some guy spout bullshit infuriates me. I can’t do anything about it though, I don’t want to risk my current relationship with my family so I just play along and pretend I agree with their stupid “god is love” conversations. Besides, I can already tell that they are going to disregard my point of view and become furious if they knew, they wouldn’t even bother to let me talk, so what’s the fucking point? Right? That’s the problem with most religious people, they would never consider the other person’s perspective. People would be able to understand Science if they tried, but they have no motive to even study it because they think that all the answers are in the bible. It’s hard for me to be an Atheist especially in this place where religion is necessary to be moral for most people. I only personally know two atheists in my life and I’m physically far from them right now so I really struggle for intelligent conversations that actually makes sense. All you really need is to be sane, receptive, open-minded and curious as a human being to be able to understand that the big bang, evolution and that the world is not only 6000 years old is a fucking fact. It’s a fucking fact whether you like it or not.
I became an Atheist because I learned self-education. People should try that, step outside of the cage you were raised in, see the bigger picture and know that not everything you’re taught is true. I’m bisexual and I find nothing wrong with that, I’m not held back by religion like most people, I am educated, I don’t need a book to tell me that murder is wrong.
I’m 16 years old and an Atheist not because I’m a rebel or because I worship satan or I never read the bible, but because I’m not one of those people who relies on religion because they are too stupid understand science.

If you want to send me your story, you can submit it here. To read past stories, click here.

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