Some of you may know that my mother is a baptist minister. How fucking weird is that? I was raised to believe in God but was never forced to go to church and my mother's own religious epiphany is fairly recent. See, growing up my mother was very much like me. She got into street fights and usually won. She watched horror movies and kung fu movies religiously and devoured every horror novel she could get her hands on. She went out dancing in nightclubs every saturday night. She cussed and told dirty jokes and had lingerie parties where she sold sex toys. She watched pornography and listened to Richard Pryor albums and Eddie Murphy albums and believed in freedom of speech. Then she got fed up with men who could not live up to her idealized image and turned to her perfect man, the one the bible spoke of who was all-powerful and all-knowing and omni-benevolent, the only man she could ever submit herself to, and the woman I had known, the woman who raised me to be the man I am today, ceased to be. I know it sounds overly dramatic but that is exactly what happened.
Pastor White can no longer stomach horror movies. She has no need of male company, detests pornography or comedy with too much profanity or sexual language, and would never read anything that I write. So what happened to her? In my opinion the same thing that happens to everyone who joins any kind of cult. She went in total retreat from reality. She retreated from who she is. One too many dissapointments with men, one too many setbacks in life, so now she has a man who never disappoints. Hard to disappoint when you don't exist. She can make him in whatever image she chooses and he is always perfect because it says so right in the bible. Sorry if I sound cynical but I get pissed off every time I think about it. I want my Mom back. I miss her and I feel like I've been robbed and cheated.
I remember when I was twenty-two years old and my mother came to visit me in San Francisco. I was a bouncer at a night club that played Reggae music and my mother and sister came to the club and danced until the placed closed. I then took them both home and went out to an all-night rave. The next morning I picked them up again and brought them to the "Rave in the Park" where we listened to Techno and House music while a group of girls marveled out loud at how today was the first time they'd seen me with clothes on (another story) and then they shared a joint with my mom. Later that day my mom and I walked together down Haight Street and she questioned me about the metal loops in the ceiling (I had taken down the chains out of respect.) When I told her what they were for she laughed and informed me that she had the same metal loops in her ceiling. Then we both laughed while she relayed a story about her first experiment with bondage. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree she reminded me. At that moment I felt closer to her than I ever had. It is hard to accept that we will never share that kind of closeness again.
I often wonder if her religious fanaticism was some type of reaction to my atheism, which was pretty fanatical at that time. I felt like it was my duty to enlighten the world back then and single-handedly raise the misguided sheep out of the Dark Ages. My mother and I would often argue about religion late into the night. Maybe those discussions with me are what made her curious about religion? I don't know. At times I wonder if it is some type of punishment. All I know is that all the reasons, arguments, and evidence, that I use to present in defense of my skepticism now pale in comparison to this very emotional reason. Yes, I think it is silly to believe in something without evidence and against all contradictory evidence, simply because that is what your parents believed and thier parents before them, or because that's what your culture believes and you are too lazy or cowardly to step outside the herd and entertain other points of view. Yes, there are some very strong arguments against the Western idea of an all powerful perfect deity, not the least of which is the Evidential Argument from Evil. Yes, the history of religion does not paint a very favorable picture of it. All of these things are the reasons I first cast aside my belief in pursuit of true knowledge. I think it is better to admit ignorance than fill in the gaps in your knowledge with unsubstantiated belief. I think that the idea that belief holds the same weight as knowledge leads neccessarily to prejudice and intolerance. All of these reasons are why I am still an atheist today. But they are not why I hate religion. I hate religion for the simple reason that faith took my mom away and replaced her with this bible-thumping zombie that I can no longer relate to. I hate religion every time I remember that day in San Francisco when my mother and I walked down Haight Street and realized that we were not so different after all.