I was raised Catholic. Sunday school and church every Sunday.
Then there was Confirmation class. That is when I quit.
There were three of us that quit that weekend. Without speaking to each other about it, we all went home that afternoon and informed our parents that we would no longer be attending confirmation class. I told my parents that I would continue to attend church until I was out of their house, but that I would absolutely not go through the Confirmation ceremony. There would be no changing my mind.
It was hard for us to recall what exactly was said that Sunday afternoon. I had a lot of reasons not to be confirmed. The first and foremost is that I can’t agree to be part of a religion that doesn’t treat women as equals. I’ve been raised to believe that I can do everything a man can do, except, as iDad says, “piss on a campfire.” I can still do that, it might just burn a little. And writing my name in the snow is impossible. I remember being pretty pissed off when our priest explained that women can’t be priests because we can’t keep secrets.
I may not have believed what Father Thanh had to say, but I don’t think he meant harm by that. He had been a boat person from Vietnam. He’d learned English from watching Sesame Street while he lived in Canada. As a priest, he was sent to central Maine and was the only non-white adult that I knew. There were a lot of people who stopped coming to church because they weren’t willing to get past his accent. Then there were another group that stopped coming because he was old school and removed all the women from the altar. I may have been upset by that, but I also understood that he was just doing what he had been told to do. And he was in a very difficult position personally. His Latin was very good though, and I enjoyed asking him to help me with my homework. I felt bad for him being stuck in our little podunk town.
So my priest wasn’t the reason I quit. He was doing the best he knew how. He was just following the teachings of the church. It was those teachings and positions on social issues that I have a hard time with. I don’t believe that a penis is a microphone to God, so I don’t understand why women can’t be priests and bishops or be on the altar. I also don’t understand why I need to speak through a man to speak to God. He doesn’t get better reception than I do.
I prefer to confess directly rather than go through an intermediary who isn’t allowed to be married or have children. I know that you don’t have to be a drug user to know that using drugs is a bad idea, but I think if someone is going to give me advice on relationships and raising children that they should have that experience on their own.
I also don’t understand the church’s stance on homosexuality considering how many men in the priesthood are homosexual. One of my favorite priests of all time was and was asked to leave. That probably colored my perspective a lot. I recently hit on a gay guy who had previously studied to become a priest. How can it not be okay to have feelings for another adult of the same sex, but it is okay to abuse children and cover that up? Do children not have rights?
And then there is the birth control issue. I’m not even really talking about the sex before marriage issue. The world is becoming overpopulated, and yet organized religion still promotes having lots of kids because they want to make sure that their religion has lots of members. This is ridiculous. Married couples should be able to use birth control so that they aren’t having more kids than they can afford to support.
Then there is the sex before marriage issue. I don’t have any good reasoning for this other than it is just fun. And I don’t think it is necessarily the work of the devil.
Then there is abortion. I don’t believe in abortion as birth control, but I do believe that there are reasons why women might need an abortion, so I don’t think it should be illegal. I won’t go on a diatribe about this.
Of course, there is the feeling of being brainwashed. Every year, the same readings are read over and over again. I can not go to church for years and yet when I find myself there, I kneel at the right times, I say all the words without thinking about them and I cross myself without even considering what I’m doing. I’ve been taught for years to think for myself, and yet the Catholic Church was always trying to convince me to let them think for me.
Still, I don’t think any of those reasons are the reason why I quit that day. I think the reason was because Father was telling us that Catholicism is the one, right, true religion. I’ve had four years of Latin. We spent a lot of time making fun of the Greeks and the Romans for their multiple gods. Who is to say that the Catholic Church has it right? How can they say for sure that there is only one God? How can they say that Islam and Judaism and all the other religions have it wrong? How can they tell me that all my friends won’t be going to heaven?
I’m gonna hedge my bets and just not be part of any organized religion. I’ll talk to God when I want to and how I see fit. Hope to see you all wherever it is I go when I die.