Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 7 September 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

College essay honorable mention

Choosing reality over religion

Gabrielle received $200 from FFRF for her essay.

The idea that we as humans can’t control what happens after we die is not something everyone can come to terms with. It doesn’t matter how many church services are attended, how many prayers are said or how many people are converted to a given faith, we cannot evade or predict our inevitable end.

Heaven and hell are imaginary constructs that will only exist as long as we let them. There was a time in my life when I believed everything I was told in church. I went to church with friends whose families were religious because I felt I was missing out on something. After leaving church services, I remember coming home with feelings of guilt. I wasn’t doing what God wanted, I wasn’t praying enough, wasn’t living life the “right” way. The idea of hell terrified me.

Thankfully, after attending a religious university, and taking several science classes and a history of religions class, I experienced an awakening.

I’m no longer a Christian because I realize that religion is simply a false comfort. It lets those who cannot fathom the reality of death believe that there is a better place waiting for them after this life. It also gives their life a clear purpose and makes people feel that they are significant and special.

I understand that comfort and the predictable fear that comes from taking it away. I realize that many customs and morals come from religion and that it is often embedded in one’s past, family and culture, making it hard for many to reject their faith.

I feel a sense of freedom and empowerment from giving up religion. I no longer do things to please a god. I simply do not see the rationality in serving a god through strict rituals and oppressive rules.

Rather than praying for things to change, we should attempt sincerely to change them. I take pride in living the life I have on Earth instead of waiting for an imaginary afterlife. I believe in the value of community service to improve the conditions of our world and in helping others in need.

Life is often difficult, but I find the idea of people helping and supporting each other far more comforting than that of a creator leading his followers.

Gabrielle Monia, 21, attended Seattle University for a year and is now a psychology major at the University of Oregon-Eugene. She works for Womenspace, a nonprofit which works to stop domestic violence and to empower women. She’s passionate about LGBT rights and loves to dance, read, do yoga and hike.

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