It’s not God, it’s his fan club

Although under the various convoluted laws created by the institution I am a Roman Catholic (since I was baptized and haven’t been excommunicated I can still enjoy all the bonuses, including that all-important Catholic funeral), I consider myself an atheist. It wasn’t anything the Catholic Church did, as I was fortunate that my childhood parish had a most liberal priest who did such shocking things like state that masturbation might not be as big a sin as reported. It was more a matter of the Jewish kid in my second grade class, who matter-of-factly explained to me that Jews didn’t believe in Jesus. My mother, when I brought this revelation home to her, did not go into Christian panic but explained that there were different ways people could worship God. While I found this interesting, I was distracted by my upcoming First Communion (okay, more like the party and the presents-give me a break, I was seven) and gave it no further thought.

As I got older, read more, met more people and had more life experience, I realized that I had had atheistic leanings for a very long time. I was the kid in CCD (kind of Sunday school for Catholics) who drove the teachers crazy with questions which usually just got answered with “we can’t understand God’s ways,” which in turn drove me crazy. Let’s not even get into the differences in the various Christian Bibles-and the similarities to the Koran and the Book of the Dead. People often confuse religion with faith, and once I had pretty much abandoned one I found that I didn’t have the other, either.

When I moved to east central Kentucky in 1995, it was really my first prolonged contact with fundamentalist Christians and their various sects. I can remember being in a supermarket my second week there and seeing a woman fall down in the aisle with what I thought was an epileptic fit but was actually an instance of “speaking in tongues,” or, as the woman who pulled me back when I was trying to help stated beatifically, “she’s been taken by the spirit, honey.” Admittedly, that was extreme and not indicative of the majority of people I met. But it was rather startling to realize that I lived among people who thought Halloween was Satan’s holiday and wouldn’t let their kids dress up or trick-or-treat, had Bible study during lunch breaks at their jobs, printed Bible verses in the daily newspaper, and would ask me in the course of a normal conversation if I’d been saved. “Saved from what?” was my involuntary response when I was first asked the question.

So in the interest of answering any questions/stopping any arguments (not that I get involved with those anyway), here is my belief system, such as it is:

I believe God is a creation of man used to explain things that can’t be explained and to keep people in line for selfish reasons.

Historical evidence indicates that Christ, Mohammed and Buddha existed, so I’ll go with that.

I believe more harm than good has been done in the name of religion.

I believe one can have faith without being religious and one can be religious without having faith.

I believe that if myth somehow prevails and Christ ever came back he’d be dealing out bitchslaps by the millions for all the idiotic things people do in his name. Same with Mohammed, but then again he was just a prophet and apparently Allah does the dirty work.

I believe that many people have faith because of fear. The world is a scary place, and it’s comforting to believe that there is something/someone watching over it to make sure things don’t get too out of hand-no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.

I believe that people have the right to believe as they wish, but they do not have the right to deny others their rights because their belief system isn’t the same, which is why I don’t argue abortion-or religion for that matter.

I believe that if you believe God helped you win the football game and you say so on national television one week, you should also say that God was the reason you threw those three interceptions when you do it the next week.

I also believe that a supposedly all-powerful being couldn’t give a flying fuck about sporting events, even if he is compelled to intervene in such.

I believe that the more Jesus fish and religiously themed bumper stickers you have on your car, the more likely it is that you’re a hypocrite.

I believe that life’s path is paved through choices, not how hard you pray or how much you tithe.

I believe that if you have to tell me what a good (insert religious institution of which you are a member) you are, you’re not.

I don’t believe anyone is burning in hell because they ate a bologna sandwich on a Friday in Lent or a bacon cheeseburger during Rosh Hashanah or an Egg McMuffin during Ramadan.

I don’t believe there is a hell, for that matter. Or a heaven or a purgatory or a limbo. When you die, that’s it, end of story. That’s why they call it “dead.”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a good rule to live by no matter who came up with it.

Go in peace.