A brief account of my mother's slow downward spiral into the manipulation of the church.
|"This is your punishment, Angela. God is punishing you for divorcing your husband."
"But I had to leave my husband. He was abusive and hateful and my children and I were unsafe with him around," my mother whimpered to her pastor, while I lie nearly lifeless in a hospital room.
"Angela, God has many ways of teaching us. Sometimes he allows us to endure trials and tribulations, that we may grow to become stronger in faith and be brought closer to Him. This is one of those times. In God's eyes, divorce is a punishable sin. Your daughter's sickness has been brought upon you by God to test your faithfulness to Him. Will you show Him that you are faithful?"
They say that when you experience a near death event, your life flashes before your eyes. Some may see a bright light. Others claim they see heaven. Within that moment of near lifelessness, my body, nor my psyche---nor spirit, nor soul---experienced any such event. Quite the contrary. You see, in that moment, my nine year old brain, barely functioning as a result of newly diagnosed juvenile diabetes, hated everyone and everything my mother's blind faith had led her to believe.
How could a woman, seeing her daughter rushed to a hospital after losing 25 pounds in the course of three months---a woman whose ex-husband refused to show up because the timeline didn't fit his visitation rights, a woman who had struggled over the course of years to be financially able to just feed her children---how could she be feeding into the rubbish of a man in a suit? A man who claimed that he could help her...If only she would double her weekly tithe to the church.
I refer to myself as a bitter atheist for many reasons. The term atheist, to me, does not imply disbelief in an afterlife, or karma, or even magic. It is merely a term to recognize myself as a person who does not believe we reside under the reign of a "celestial dictator," as the great Christopher Hitchens used to say. To me, god is non-existent. God is unnecessary. It seems to me, that god, more often than not, causes more harm than good---that is to say, if such a being exists.
I am bitter for the sole fact that I have seen, not only the churches in which I grew up, but also many facets of religion---Christian, or otherwise---dominating and manipulating the thinking human mind.
I am bitter due to the idea that god would protect one group of people in a natural disaster, because the right amount of people prayed it to be so, but that the same god would allow tens or even hundreds of people in a different area to suffer a different, and quite horrific, outcome.
I am bitter because I have experienced first hand, the damaging effect of the church's power over weak-minded and vulnerable people at their lowest hour. And for what? Not to gain closeness to the god they worship, but rather so that the men and women they idolize can travel, dine, and shop with comfort and ease.
I am, and will remain, adamant and bitter, until the day we have exonerated men and women around the world from the deathly grips of the church, of religion, and of pastors, preachers, and holy teachers.