I am a 59 year old grandfather who had a loving, family upbringing in which religion played no part. My mother used to send me, with my younger brother in tow, off to Sunday school with a shilling each for the plate, but I think this was more to appease the critical scowls of our devoutly catholic neighbours than anything else. We soon realised that if we only dropped one bob in, we could afford a couple of ice creams on the way home, so Sunday morning wasn’t all bad!
Consequently, I never really had any strict religious beliefs and was quite ambivalent about the whole thing. However, this changed one evening in December 1971 when my young wife gave birth to our (extremely) premature baby daughter.
From the outset we were told that she would not survive the night and that we should prepare for the worst…(How does one prepare for that?)
What happened that night is forever burned into my brain. I was sitting beside the bed consoling my wife when a stone-faced cow of a nursing sister came in and demanded to know what name we had chosen for the baby. We eventually both mumbled her name, whereupon the nurse immediately turned to leave. I innocently asked what the urgency was and was told that “A minister has been called in to baptise the baby before she dies. If she dies without being baptised, her soul won’t go to heaven!”
From that moment on I vowed to exclude religion from my life. Any person who holds and propounds the belief that an innocent baby is responsible for wrongs allegedly committed by a non-existent ancestor is, in my opinion, seriously demented and worthy of being held in the utmost contempt.
Incidentally, when I entered National Service a few months later I wrote ‘None’ in the space where I was required to nominate my religion. On the first Sunday we were separated into ‘catholics’ and ‘protestants’ and forced to attend a church service. (We were, in fact, herded into a hut before I realised what was happening and there was no opportunity for dissenters to opt out.)
It was my last attendance and when subsequently given the choice of either enduring church or picking up rubbish I gladly chose the latter.
So, though technically not a ‘convert’, I nevertheless thank you for opening the eyes of others and giving them the ammunition to resist this scourge.
PS. I have coined a slogan, feel free to use it if you wish.
‘GULLIBLE ADHERENTS HAVE NO I.D.’
(Substitute ‘History Deniers’, ’God Botherers’ etc)