Archive for January 2012

I, Atheist   Leave a comment

I don’t remember religion being a big family thing and don’t have any recollection of attending services.  My Mother did go back to a small town centre chapel, the Ragged School, but our links were to Old Whittington’s St Bartholomew’s which was Church of England.

My three brothers and I were dressed up every Sunday morning and sent to Sunday school.  This was not at the main church but at the “Mission” a small linked church on a nearby estate.  This was more like a community hall than a religious building and was only a few hundred yards from home.

I remember the feeling that this attendance was an obligation rather than anything to look forward to even if I clearly was a believer.  The activities at this “school” were not engrossing; in fact all I remember is that the Rector had to walk down from the main church to perform a prayer as part of our weekly activity.  There were never more than a handful of children present anyway.

The point when I came to challenge the existence of a deity came in the autumn of 1976 when I was thirteen.  It was the broadcast of the seminal dramatization I, Claudius.  The eponymous character was a sympathetic intellectual who became the Emperor of Rome, ironically in early Christian times.

This character worshipped the myriad of gods that formed part of the roman culture.  For someone who only understood the monotheistic Christian way this was odd.  How could this hero with his academic background believe in such a stupid idea?

I questioned this with my mother who always encouraged free-thinking notwithstanding her religious stand-point.  She tried to put his views and beliefs into an historical context but this just allowed the genie out of the bottle.  You didn’t have to believe in my one god.  In fact my god might be as ridiculous as Claudius with his maladjusted relatives becoming divine.

Shortly after this I stopped going to Sunday school.  I think the scheme at the Mission ended soon after and my siblings moved to the local Methodist church.  I went to the Youth Club there and was on the fringes of the religious activity but was never one for the services.  In time I even stopped going to the social services like Christmas Eve.  My mother however became more involved, took bible classes and became a Worship Leader.

I just ignored religion for many years considering it a benign inconvenience; I still attended family events as convention required.  However I then refused a request to be a god-parent and also missed a christening because I saw no justification for a religious based naming ceremony.

More than this I realised by considering the role of Islam in a modern Britain that faiths were not neutral or a useful moral framework.  It was not just the alien ones that were dangerous but rather all religions and theist based ideas were malevolent.

To western eyes the unfamiliar Muslim can be easily portrayed, quite rightly, as a threat both to world peace and those individuals unlucky enough to live under its restrictions.  However the position of the Christian fundamentalists and their links to far right American politics are also a real concern.

Posted January 22, 2012 by dalekpete in atheism

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