Student practices her freedom from religion

By Sarah Morris

Contributing Writer

It can be a bit uncomfortable for me when people inquire as to what I believe. I believe in many things in the concrete sense, but frequently that question concerns God and religion. Culturally, I am a Jew who celebrates Christmas and Easter, but religiously, I am a nonbeliever. Reluctantly, I use the word atheist.

I grew up in a house with a Jewish father and a Christian mother. Since religion had been more important to my father, my brothers and I grew up with traditionally Jewish values. We went to Hebrew school on Sundays, synagogue on high holy days and for the Sabbath, and of course, we were all bar and bat mitzvahed.

However, every year, we celebrated the winter months with a Christmas tree in our living room, and although we had a menorah in the adjacent room, we woke on Dec. 25 with a pile of presents under our tree. We celebrated Easter in the sense that we had an egg hunt and embraced baskets of candy from the Easter Bunny.

What is interesting is that while surrounded by all these different values to choose from, I chose none of them. I cannot remember a time my parents taught me anything about God. I never had conversations with them concerning the afterlife or that I had to be a good person because if I wasn’t, God would punish me. I also cannot remember a time in which I actually believed in God. Even after years of studying the Jewish religion, I never truly believed.

In my life, religion means almost nothing to me. I feel that I am capable of leading a meaningful and proper life without any sort of belief in a deity. There is, nonetheless, a backfire to being the way I am. I like to use the term “xenophobia.” It is a fear of a group of people. People hear the word “atheist” and automatically assume that person is the spawn of Satan (ironic, as an atheist would never believe in Satan). Many, many people house an enormous hostility towards those who do not believe like they do: my main argument against religion.

Of course I have friends who are religious, and I have no problem with that. I understand why someone would find hope and value in religion. Yet, I am averse to religion because it separates people into concrete groups. You can interpret religious writings however you would like, but religion has a dark past and certainly a visible dark presence; people throughout history have used such creed as an excuse to murder others who are different.

There are many who practice their religions to try and better the world through such observance and performance. I simply have a problem using religion as the means to improve the world around us. I believe that good can come out of people without the use of religion to explain whether an act is right or wrong.

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