7/11/2011 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Duncan ~
Well, I've never been a Christian per se, but until several years ago I didn't really have any idea what I was. I was never raised with any form of religion by my parents, and I believe it is one of the greatest things that they have given me. Nor was i raised as an agnostic or atheist. From the age when I was able to understand what religion was, however, I was perpetually confused. My cousins (my mothers sisters children) went to a catholic girls school and church every Sunday, and they would ask me what religion i was. I am pleased to say that I would always answer 'I don't know', and know that it was the truth. In the end, they decided I must have been an ANGLICAN, because I am a New Zealander of European decent. I believe now that that showed that they were raised only with the concept of religion, and couldn't fathom someone being without it. They were all under ten years old when this happened.
For economic reasons, my family moved to Ireland in 2004. The kids I became friends with (I was 12 at the time) used to ask why i never went to church, and were stunned when I said I had never felt the desire to go, nor had I had a 'communion', whatever that is. However, unlike many christians, they never hated me, and they made every effort to be my friends, knowing that i was new to the country. It was in this place that I discovered atheism, and knew that it was what i was.
Upon my return to NZ in 2007, I was in a new high school and was making new friends. This is where i met my first girlfriend, although we did not start our relationship until 2010. I had known that she was catholic, but believed that this would not be a problem because i was very accepting of other peoples beliefs, and was accepted for mine in return. I thought it would be the same with her.
We were fine until about 3 months in, she declared we would not be having sex before marriage. (note that this is not the root cause of our breakup, it was simply an example of our religious differences). It puzzled me how she would decide something like this that affected us both, without asking me about it. Her reason was that 'for as long as she could remember, she had 'wanted' to wait. Now i know that IS possible, however unlikely. However, things did not stop there. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that she and I would not be able to remain alone together in the same building, for fear that she would succumb to 'temptation'. I was also made aware that we would be unable to holiday together until she was at least 25. I inquired as to where these rules for us came from. Most, were from her mother, and things that they had 'agreed' on, before we met.
I asked whether it had anything to do with religion. She said that it would be 'easier' if I was catholic, and that she wasn't happy I was an atheist. She had some misdirected sense that her religion was much more superior to 'mine', and was stunned when i said that i was as serious about atheism as she was about catholicism. Meanwhile, I discovered that her mother was the worst kind of parent. She had, from a very early age, been bringing up my girlfriend as a very strict catholic, and even after she turned 19, still controlled what she was allowed to do and when she was allowed to do it. My GF could not see this, because it was all she had ever known. Furthermore, she was unconsciously imitating her mothers attitude, by insisting on things that i found preposterous, such as saying it was a shame i was not catholic, because then we could not discuss the 'miracle of god'. Over those months I became increasingly angry with her for assuming some magical moral high ground, and attempting to manipulate me into following her religion. And the worst part is, she had been raised that way, so she thought i was always wrong and that she was only helping me.
I killed the relationship. I had had enough. And she cried, and said that she was going to die alone because there was nobody else like me in the world, and she'd only ever want me. She honestly could not comprehend, even through my explaining it multiple times, that I hated what she was trying to do to me, and that I didn't need religion to be a good person. I know now that if you are starting a relationship with someone from a different belief system, stop and ask all the important questions first, otherwise you can easily be guilt-tripped into giving up your own beliefs.
I found sites like this one in an effort to be able to defend myself with a proper, reasoned argument. Up until now, I have only had half-arguments available to defend my atheism from her and her mother. I NEED to know why people think the way they both do, and if there is any hope of reversing it. I am a true atheist, and while i was never part of a religion, I DO understand the importance of being brought up with the knowledge to make logical and sensible decisions. Please tell me: what is the attraction of religion? Why do so many people stay with it, when to me, after many years of picking it apart, it is false? How can people be so deluded into thinking that they are so superior, when there are HUNDREDS of religions around the world, and more than one of them claim to be the 'one true faith'??????
I know what I believe in, I want to know why others refuse logic and reason.