How I Left Catholicism
One of the very few and possibly earliest memories I have of my Catholic upbringing is when I was around the age of four. My mother would take my sister and I to the Virgen De Guadalupe Church in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
I remember me sitting in the pew and much like everyone in the room; I was just going through the motions. You sit down and listen to the Father, rise up and sing a few songs/pray, then kneel pray. Repeat that for about an hour and you’re done. You go home and forget all about it. That was pretty much how I remember church as a kid. Of course, I believed in God and took that belief to heart but the whole church going experience was something was never really something I took serious.
In addition, growing up as a catholic, I was never really explained why I should believe in God. Instead it was more like like, everyone believes in God and that’s just the way things are. I never really questioned my belief because I didn’t even know that was even an option. The threat of going to hell for not believing was more than enough to scare the crap out of me that even thinking about not believing was akin to betraying God.
We fast-forward to when i was fourteen-years-old and we get to the root of when my de-conversion began. I remember the day my mother, sister, and I moved out of my childhood home because my mom was separating from my dad. I didn’t take it as hard as most kids would but I recall feeling a bit lost; like I was missing something. This is when i turned to a bible I got from a non-denominational church a few years before.
One weekend I began reading the bible; and I read it the way my grandmother in Mexico taught me. She told me, “If you read the bible from start to finish, like a book, you will undoubtedly miss the messages inside it. You should instead use the book as a reference for your everyday life”. So for example, if you are having trouble with your marriage then you should read Hebrews 13:4 which states…
“Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands, and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery”.
That is the way i read the bible for a few months but I was still not getting the answers I needed and most importantly, the satisfaction I desired to fill that void in my life. Then one morning I just opened up the bible and began to read it from the very beginning. I read the book of Genesis that did in fact make me raise my eyebrows a few times but this was nothing compared to when I got to the story of Abraham and Isaac and I thought to myself, “What the fuck?” This is the truth, it really only took me this short amount of reading to question the whole bible. For those unfamiliar with the story of Abraham and Isaac, it tells the story of when God decided to test Isaac’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his only son to him. When I read that, it was like a huge revelation (No pun intended). I wanted to read the bible even more and not because I loved what I was reading, but because I wanted to know if there were more of these, “What the fuck?” passages.
I didn’t want to ask any questions about certain things I was either confused on or upset about until I was finished with the whole thing because I wanted my own unbiased perspective. When i was done with it, I went to my usual contacts for help like my family and friends but they weren’t giving me any help because they are all Catholic; and like most Catholics, they don’t read their bible. I don’t think I considered calling my grandmother for help because back then I only spoke to her once every few months.
I moved on to another resource I knew for a fact was going to give me some answers, the internet. Back when YouTube didn’t exist and the most popular search engine was Yahoo, I began my quest to find the answers in Chat-Rooms. Except the only answers I was given were from people who only seemed to exasperate my confusion. I didn’t know it then but the people I was coming across are called, “Apologists”. Apologists are people who defend the Christian faith (Or any faith) by explaining the bible (Or position) through reasoned arguments (Or so they claim).
However, as I continued to ask them questions, I became more familiar with a word many Apologists were using to describe me, Agnostic. They suspected I was trolling their Chat-Room and one-by-one they all started to ignore me. I went to other Chat-Rooms but as usual, I was in a state of confusion with every explanation people gave me until I gave up completely. I moved on with my life but I was still desperate to cling to my faith as much as I could.
I would call myself a Catholic but only because it was much easier to claim I was one than to say I was having a crisis of faith. I remained this way for three years when in 2004 I finally had enough. It was about two o’clock in the morning on a Friday night and I was debating the issue in my head while playing video games. To this day, I don’t know why but I rose up from my chair and just dared the Devil to appear before me. I remember saying things like, “If you’re real then show yourself”, and “Take my soul, it’s yours. Just appear before me”. I must have done that for about a good minute until I sat back down and continued playing. This is when you can imagine I became an Atheist but you would be wrong.
The thing about my story though is I don’t think I can pinpoint an exact moment I became an Atheist. It was all just one long progression from Catholic to Atheist. Sure I can say that now with great conviction but there was never that, “Ah-Ha” moment when I said to myself, “I am an Atheist”. Oh and that missing piece in my life, well I never found it. But you know what? I am okay with that. I have a family who loves and supports me, and I them, friends who look after me, and a bright future to look forward to. I am okay.