Kamila was awarded $350 by FFRF for her essay.
During the summer of 2010, the cool thing to do was to be a Christian — to wear your cross necklace, to keep a bible on hand, to know every word to the musical masterpiece titled “Our God Is Greater.” The fad caught on like wildfire.
Suddenly, it seemed as if all of my so-called friends were pushing me to convert. In every corner you could hear the faint whispers of “He can save you,” and “I’ve seen Him perform miracles.” He? Him? Why are these pronouns capitalized in the middle of a sentence? I was utterly confused. I couldn’t escape it.
On the first day of 10th grade, I witnessed a girl who had just recently moved to the area openly ask people at the lunch table, “So, who here is a Christian?” What? Did I really just hear that?
Because of my own beliefs (or lack thereof), I didn’t say anything, as I wasn’t in the mood to start a full-blown religious dispute. But I thought about those who did follow a religion other than Christianity. Was this girl really that oblivious to the thought of a religion besides her own?
I blamed it on her church. Cornerstone Chapel, the most popular house of prayer in town, seemed to be more of a brainwashing factory than a place of worship.
Later in the year at a sleepover, the topic came up again. This time, I blurted out “I’m an atheist,” causing everyone in the room to stop and turn simultaneously. I was instantly surrounded with scrutiny and interrogation. There was no way out, I was trapped.
But I stuck to what I believed was right. I had to laugh at some of the questions thrown my way. “Do you worship Satan?” “Do you want to go to hell?” I explained that my refusal to believe in the existence of a god also extended to Satan, heaven and hell.
The looks on their faces were priceless. I further explained that I believed that humans have morals to guide them. When we die, we become one with the Earth. Conception is science, and the Earth came to be by a collision of matter.
The room went silent, but it was as if they were all screaming that I was wrong and that their God would punish me.
The hypocrisy was comical. Wasn’t Christianity supposed to be about loving one another unconditionally? I guess the Cornerstone robots didn’t get the memo.
I had fun with my own variation of a sociology experiment to see which ones actually followed the teachings of their own religion and those who only thought they did. The ones who were lying to themselves were the ones who relentlessly tried to tell me that I was wrong.
It’s been two years; I’m still waiting.
Since then, most of those same giddy little church girls have grown to realize they’re not the perfect little angels they thought they would always be. In fact, most of them don’t even attend Sunday services anymore. Who knows if they even still consider themselves Christians?
That has been the difference between them and me. I’m still an atheist. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I have been close to considering a Christian denomination to follow. But brain power and deductive reasoning have always triumphed. I’m proud to say that I have stuck to what I believe is right, unlike those who fell into the perpetual teachings of past generations.
Today, I have but one question for those who pushed me so long ago to follow the crowd: Is your God really that much greater?
Kamila Buscavage, 18, Leesburg, Va., is entering the visual arts program at Virginia Polytechnic and State University. She received her high school’s Outstanding Art Student award for three consecutive years.