Tales of an Atheist, Ex-Catholic at a Jesuit University

I was raised Catholic. So were a lot of people. And then, as if on cue, we all realized that being a part of an institution that actively oppresses and marginalizes half its members while simultaneously creating a rationale for the oppression of many more peoples is, well, not great. So we left.

Although I officially left the Church many years ago (and mentally checked out years before that), I currently attend a Jesuit university. This constant exposure to a theology I no longer ascribe to is challenging as I am seeing their practices as an outsider but still up close and personal. It’s very much a sausage-being-made kind of situation. Except, you were raised as a sausage maker and when you finally quit being a sausage maker, you still have to watch that sausage being made, and they haven’t changed the ways in which they make the sausage in 2000 years even though there has been extensive innovation that shows that making sausage that particular way isn’t optimal. And you just keep wondering why they won’t change the way they make the sausage?

But, all in all, I’ve tried to make my peace with Christianity and religion. They do their thing and I’ll do mine. As my mom says, “Keep it cordial, arm’s-length.”

I still do have a qualm with Catholicism. It’s a rather big qualm.

The use of divine explanation for otherwise irrational opinions irks me — quite frankly, it frightens me to my very core. Sure, I understand that if there were a God, he/she/they would probably have some opinions on human things. I accept that. But I cannot accept humans basing their opinions and arguments off of the fact that God said so.

So, why does this relate to my going to a Jesuit university?

Well, members of the university like to use the God said so excuse not only to propagate their own beliefs but to silence others. When these members are confronted with opposing beliefs, the excuse becomes: this is a Catholic university, so people just shouldn’t go here if they aren’t Catholic. This seemingly air-tight argument forgets the rich and, in my humble opinion, rightly-earned reputation of Jesuit education. Many people, myself included, recognize the value of a Jesuit education and, thus, choose to attend a Jesuit institution. That, again, does not make us Catholic, Christian, or even religious. It makes us pragmatic.

So, my question to the members of my university who refuse to recognize the validity of a diversity of beliefs is, what about others’ beliefs makes you so insecure that you must actively marginalize those that hold them?

(Hint: it’s almost as if you recognize the impending failure of your own theology.)

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