Both my mother and father were raised strict Catholics in Mexico. My father even considered being a priest when he was a teen. When my parents married my father left the faith and ditched organized religion all together. My mother didn’t stop believing in her faith but didn’t continue in her worship. When my brother and I were born my father refused to baptize us saying he wanted us to make our choice in religion. Because my mother love him so much she reluctantly agreed.
All throughout our childhood my father would bring people of different religions to come and talk with me and my brother. I never felt pressure from my parents to pick a religion but I did feel like we had to pick something. I felt like I HAD to believe in something and be a part of some religion…even though my parents never went to one in particular themselves. So religion and God and faith and belief have always been an important search for me. And it’s been a search I have been on since about 9yrs old, that I can remember.
At 15 I felt forced by my grandmother to consider the Catholic faith again because I was about to have my Quinciñera and if I wasn’t baptized and had my 1st communion I wouldn’t be able to have a holy mass for my birthday celebration. I didn’t want to disappoint my grandmothers so at 14yrs old I got baptized and received my first holy communion with the Catholic faith. I hated it and regretted every minute of it but didn’t admit it out loud for fear of family disappointment and rejection.
When I met my now husband I knew he came from a very devout catholic family and that he was very involved in the catholic faith because he was in all boys seminary in high school. In dating I realized he wasn’t as devout as his family and he agreed in a lot of my thoughts and views when it came to Catholicsm. When we got married I refused to get my final catholic sacraments and have a church wedding and my husband completely agreed with me.. His parents were so upset and disowned him and hated me. My husband and I knew we weren’t Catholics and didn’t believe in it and that we would search for a church and would be a better fit for us.
After we married fast-forward through 6yrs of infertility issues we finally got pregnant with our first daughter. We danced and were beyond elated thinking we FINALLY wond our life’s battle.
At our 18wk sonogram the doctors informed us that our baby girl was very sick and only gave us a 20% chance of survival. They suggested we abort the pregnancy and I just couldn’t do it. We couldn’t do it. We were shocked and devastated and so very hurt. That was my first time I cursed god….why us? We did everything right…we dated, got married, and all we wanted were children of our own. And this is what god does for me? After all those years of praying for my first child god gives us a child with only a 20% chance of living? I was angry and though I never stop believing in god I did openly admit i was very angry with him.
9mo later my daughter was born and after 5days in the NICU she died in my arms. If I was angry before there were no words to explain how I felt when my daughter died. I needed to be a part of something that would give me hope to continue living because I did want to just curl up and die when my daughter died. And strangely enough I thought the church would give me that. So my husband and I started going to a catholic church one of my daughter’s NICU nurse attended. Another 2yrs of infertility and praying for another child we had our 2nd daughter and were able to bring her home healthy and alive! We had our 3rd daughter a year and a half after that.
We continued to go to church but I felt like a mindless drone in attendance only because it was tradition and not because I truly believed in it. I questioned ever sermon and left feeling more like a hypocrite rather than feeling enlightened and revived with the feeling of the holy spirit like everyone else around me. My husband felt the same way but we continued to attend simply because it was the thing to do every Sunday morning.
Then it was time for our kids to start their catholic education classes. After several classes my oldest daughter, who was in 1st grade, came home and we had the following conversation,
“So, the prayers we need to learn are like a password to god.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Well my CCD teacher said we need to learn all of these prayers and memorize them for when we need to pray and talk to god.”
“uh, no. you can talk to god any time you want and need. You don’t really NEED these prayers to talk to god.”
“Then why is she making us memorize these prayers? Why do I need to say these before I talk to god?”
And that was enough for us to stop going to Catholic mass and stop making our kids go to catholic education mass. That day we decided we would not ever be catholics and we would never raise our kids to be catholics either.
We search and search for a church that would be perfect for us and visited many of different faiths. When we went to one church of the assembly of god organization and they started speaking in tongues during the mass I practically jumped over the pews to get to my kids and run away from it like the plague was spreading. And it was on that day that we decided we were not the church going type at all would never raise our children in the church either.
I started reading and researching about being and raising our children as agnostics. And in doing my research I also read about the atheism. I didn’t continue that reading until I spoke with a very close friend that I love and admire who is also atheist. Through a series of questions she asked I realized I am an atheist but wouldn’t entertain the idea or even the research of it because of the social stigma it carried and having to defend it to many of my close friends and, of course, our families.
Until I finally said, especially to my very devout Catholic mother, “You ask me to believe in a god that is ever loving and ever powerful and yet when I prayed like I never prayed before, every second of my life for 9mo to save my daughter, he did nothing. This makes me angry and confused and hurt at god and the faith. But if just believe in nothing supernatural that let me down and just accept that bad shit happens to good people and for not explainable reason other than shit just happens then that still won’t make me happy because my daughter is still dead but at least I can accept that and not be confused.”
I’ve only come out to some friends and some have accepted it freely without question while others don’t believe me and think I’m just going through a phase. HA! And for that reason we’re very scared of coming out to everyone. My mother, who lives with use, is very upset at our decision but isn’t fighting it. We have decided to raise our children as atheist but always giving them the choice. We are now on a journey of researching of how to live openly as atheist and how to raise our children atheist in a very religious environment.