Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Faith No More

I am an atheist. When I am asked for my religious views, I answer "none", since atheism is not a religion. I offer my thoughts and support in the face of tragedy, and of course my practical help, but no prayers, since I don't pray and wouldn't lie about something like that. A couple of weeks ago, I officially joined the ranks of the ever-growing number of atheists in Germany, consisting partly of those who just want to evade the official church tax, and some who are really atheists. I probably was the only atheist, who was still an official member of a church, even though I hadn't been there in forever. Probably the most difficult thing about being an atheist was telling my family; my mom, however, made it easy for me when she asked me whether I would join them for the holiday service, already anticipating my answer.

My journey to become an atheist was not an easy one. This may sound weird, but I have quite a religious career behind me. Born and raised a German Lutheran, I experimented with a few cultist rituals as a teenager, just to become a Jesus Freak a couple of years later. This phase I also outgrew, and started to seriously think about the meaning of life. A former friend of mine, who was an atheist back then, once told me bluntly: when I die, I'll be gone rotting in the ground. That's it. For me, reading my way through Far Eastern mythology and Buddhist philosophy at that point, was just not ready for what I have now come to understand to be the truth. My truth at least, since as a tolerant being, I accept everyone else's truth as well, as long as they accept mine. This is called respect, and when it comes to religion, or the lack thereof, respect is often the least on people's minds. This is the reason why I really enjoyed the atmosphere at our Atheist/Agnostic parent group. Even though we had the common interest of raising our kids to become informed adults, we had many different view points within the group that everyone respected. The discussions, if they turned to religion, were always respectful and interesting.

Why I abandoned religion? Easy to explain: first of all I have learned that believing in a god or gods is simply not inside me. I tried, oh yes, I did, but there's still nothing. Then, there's the fact that most religion out there right now has more to do with controlling its members and amassing wealth than actually living according to the rules. Prime example: the Pope. He calls himself Peter's successor, God's voice on earth, and millions listen.. This man lives in a palace in his own little state, wears only the best robes and tons of jewelry. He has an entourage and a standing Army (even if it's only the Swiss Guard). What do you think would happen if Jesus showed up here tomorrow? I'd say Temple Scene 2.0!! Yes, I actually read the book, that's why I know what I'm talking about. I like Jesus' message, minus the "Son of God" part. It's about peace and tolerance, coexistence and support. I think Jesus would jump down a cliff the very moment he realizes how many people died in his name. And I'm sure the same applies to many other religions. Their worshippers today have distanced themselves so far from the roots and adapted rules and rituals to fit their needs rather than stopping, reading up on the issue again, and really asking themselves "WWJD" ("WWMD", "WWAD", or "WW*insert applicable deity here*D"; if it's Kali, killing and pillaging would actually be the right answer!).

I simply had to get this off my chest. I am not a bad person just because I don't believe in religion. I try to be the best person I can without expecting any reward for it in another life, I just hope to be remembered as the person I was by my children. I am tolerant and gladly grant others' their own point of view without belittling them for it; and all I ask in return is the same courtesy. No-one will ever be able to "convert" me, because, as I mentioned before, religion is just not inside me. Still I am still a happy person, living my life to the fullest, since this life is all I have.
The only support I need comes from my wonderful hubby, who is an atheist enjoying science documentaries just like I do. We plan on raising our daughters to be independent, conscious individuals, who look for answers in themselves and not to what other people tell them. This is often not the easiest way, but at the end of the day, it's the only way that makes us truly happy.


  1. tolerance is a hard lesson for anyone to learn. Whether it be religious, racial, sexual...people have very strong opinions and try heartily to force those opinions upon others. I have always accepted you and Richard for who you are, not for what you practice. One of my best friends is Wiccan, I know many atheists, agnostics, bible-thumping born-again Christians...and all of them have a place in my life. I am a "recovering catholic", as that was the church I was raised in. Like you, I see the pope as someone who is not IN God, but wishes to be a god on earth.

    If it makes you happy, it's your choice. And I accept that! :-)

  2. Thank you so much for your comment, Linda! I definitely agree with you on the topic, that tolerance just needs to be the guideline in all areas of life. I'd rather focus on what I have in common with people than on the differences. I never had a problem with your religion, because you're just an awesome woman!

  3. Stephanie, we are both cut from a VERY similar cloth! I was raised Southern Baptist (Im not Southern, Im from Las Vegas, born & raised) I "woke up" and stopped believing in fairy tales not too long ago, around 24yrs old. That was due to a series of events in my life at that time. I agree with tolerance and respect. I will not change someone's religious views, nor will they change my lack there of. I agree the hardest part was telling my family. My mother still says "God will punish you for this" in no uncertain words. I also agree I dont need a book & a man in the clouds to be, & raise, amazing members of society with morals and values.

    Thank you for this :)

  4. Found you on Bloggy Moms, and what a treat your blog is! I am also an atheist from an extremely religious and large family, and somehow I am the only non-believer...which always baffles me. It's just not in me, like you said, and I tried for more than 18 years on it. My family are great about it, but it's still a sore spot for them, naturally. I tend to be the only atheist in the room on many occasion, so it's nice to know I'm not alone. At least I don't get asked to give prayers anymore...what a phony I'd have to be! I also have an atheist hubby to keep me company, so all is well. Great post!


  5. Marcy and LaDy: my big problem is, that there are too many people who define a person's character over religion. I, however, believe in true toleance and co-existence. I may be the greatest pacifist in the world, because I want a better world for my daughters, and in this common goal all mothers of all faiths should be united!