Second place: High school essay contest – Can’t we all just get along? by Tess Monet Brown

FFRF awarded Tess $2,000.

By Tess Monet Brown

God is an overblown Santa Claus. He has a naughty and a nice list, and he sees you when you’re sleeping. But God wants you to repent. God wants your praise and your money and your devotion. He wants your time and your fear and your unwavering loyalty. And without your faith you will be damned for all eternity!

All Santa wants is milk and cookies. I believed in Santa until I was 12. I believed in God — well, never.

In the biblical tale of Job, God discovers a man who is kind and moral and full of faith. God decides to make a deal with the devil to see if they can turn Job into a sinner by torturing him. For me, that’s a rather large red flag. Excuse me — hang on a minute — who does this Almighty God think he is?

Yet millions of people have devoted their lives to worshipping this cruel, oversized bully who is so full of Himself that we are expected to capitalize His pronouns. Is this common sense? I can hardly believe that people in such overwhelming numbers believe in and worship an invisible, arrogant fearmonger. God is love? No, God is “fear my irrational wrath!” If you ask me, we atheists are just people who have proven we have at least half a brain.

“Love thy neighbor” is the second commandment in the novel called the Holy Bible, and yet, oddly enough, it’s mostly atheists who are consistently following it. Most of us don’t have a default of discrimination. We aren’t programmed with prejudice, while most religions are riddled with it. Most atheists will accept you if you are gay, straight, white, black, purple, Martian or otherwise. And then there is God, who is not only greedy but bipolar. He commands you to love thy neighbor and then condemns the gays to death in the next chapter. Sounds a tad unstable.

It’s irrational to generalize that atheists are more moral than other people, just as it’s impossible to say that religion makes you moral. You make yourself moral. Moral atheists, however, are moral in that we don’t need a God to tell us to love others. And there are far more moral atheists that I have seen than moral religious fanatics. Atheists don’t need God to keep them from murdering. Meanwhile, the character of God, in another fabulous display of split personality syndrome, was at the root of the Crusades, responsible for the death of millions in his name.

For me, life has been a near constant struggle against the negative connotations surrounding atheism. Living in a fairly religious community, I’ve grown used not only to the “holier than thou” attitudes of my peers, but I’ve come to expect them. The best response I have to “Why don’t you believe in God?” is “Because I don’t need one.” It’s the truth. There’s nothing superior in religion. No one needs a god to be moral. In fact, more atrocities have been committed in the name of God and morality than for any other reason.
To be moral, you only need a conscience. I am good without God because I know right from wrong. And I know science. I know common sense. I know that clouds are made of condensed water and that it’s physically impossible for some higher being to make a throne out of one. He’d fall right through.

However, as atheists, we are going about it wrong. We spend most of our time trying to do what I have just done. Trying to convince religious people that the idea of God is irrational. This is a lost cause. Instead, we should continue to show our acceptance, our contentment and our kindness to others. We should let the world know, religious and otherwise, that we aim to have no prejudice. That, in keeping the idea God out of our lives, we are encouraging independence and freethought.

I know that all I want is for this poor, conflicted human race to coexist.

Tess Monet Brown, 17, was a senior at Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nev. She will be attending the California Institute of the Arts for the Voice Arts. “From a very young age I have loved music more than anything in the world. I also love to act, dance, write fiction, cook and learn languages. I am a proud atheist and have been all my life.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation