Monday, August 08, 2016

Important message for those newly liberated from the shackles of religion.

Courtesy of

The billboard going up Monday on North West Street at first glance looks like a church advertising for new members. 

The background is a heavenly blue sky with wispy clouds and the words "Don't believe in God?" A pair of hands on one side holds a sign "You're not alone!" It directs people to the website 

The billboard is an outreach to the community, said Corrina Allen, president of the CNY Humanist Association. 

"We want to let people in the area to know that if they're not religious, and they don't believe in God, they are not alone and there is a community available to them," she said.

It is really hard to explain how important it is to know that you are not alone when you first start questioning the existence of God.

The thing that churches, and temples, and synagogues do so well is to create a sense of community and to provide a comfortable environment for those who believe as they do.

But when you start to question the religious beliefs prominent in your community, you quickly feel the chill of being ostracized and seen as different, and even as a threat.

I remember the first time I felt that as a very young boy, around eight or nine years of age.

I started talking on the playground about there being no god, or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. And while the Santa Claus part really upset my peers, it was the part about god that convinced the teaching staff to have me stay inside and do other activities instead of being outside with the other students.

I learned fairly quickly to keep my questions and musings to myself and after awhile I was allowed to play on the monkey bars and swing on the swings just like my religiously indoctrinated peer group.

But the feeling of isolation is real, and feeling left out and different definitely shapes how you see the world, and how you see your place in it.

Worst case scenario it helps to turn you into a blogger who doggedly chases down stories that nobody else will dare to touch.


  1. Leland2:10 AM

    Isolating and ostracizing are probably two of the oldest punishments "society" has used, going back as far as memory can. It is extremely effective because Man has probably lived in groups for its entire history, sharing the tasks necessary for survival.

  2. While at the time, I hated the nuns that had dominion over me in Catholic grade school, today I can also find a little bit of sympathy for them as well, and imagine myself in their shoes.

    You've got a roomful of 35 or more twelve year old boys who'd rather be doing anything else, and a successful workday is one where you leave feeling you've managed to cram a bit of knowledge into their attention-wandering heads. I'm not sure how that's done without some intimidation quotient to your personality, then or now. At home, there's no luxurious treatment waiting for you, your sister nuns don't want to hear you bitch about the same - or worse - kind day than they've had, and there's no pair of comforting, conjugal arms waiting to recharge your spirit. And, of course, you answer to a patriarchy that sets all kind of rules that you, the boots on the ground, have seen time and again don't work in the real world.

    While I certainly find no excuse for presenting beliefs as facts, I am convinced, religious or public, teaching is the toughest job in the world.

    1. Thank you for your appreciation. It's hard, but far from the toughest. I think of firefighters, law enforcement, trauma teams in emergency departments, and career combat arms officers, like my own husband. Not only do they have to fight the enemy, they must also do battle against alpha-personality "friendlies" on a daily basis.

      As for the lives of nuns, we can only offer educated guesses, based on what we observe.

      I didn't go to Catholic school. My children did. I was a late convert. The nuns I know are a mixed bag, like the rest of us. My takeaway is that it must be comforting to come home at the end of the day to women who share your essential mindset--not just theologically, but from an austere asexuality to anything sexual you can imagine. There also are aggressive friendlies, but it's offset by the knowledge that you will always be cared for. There's a lot to be said for that.

  3. I for one, am glad you turned out to be who you are!

  4. Randall5:35 AM

    Gryph, I think, in that regard, you and I are sympatico...

    When I was in the fifth or sixth grade - sometime around then - I remember being in Sunday school and innocently saying something to the effect of "maybe Adam and Eve weren't the first humans but were the first Jews" to explain how Cain moved to the land of Nod and found a woman to marry him.
    After that day my parents said I didn't have to go to Sunday school anymore if I didn't want to.
    So I didn't.

  5. Anonymous5:56 AM

    You poor persecuted child. And to think you had to carry the weight of the whole world, alone, at just eight years old, makes me want to cry.

    1. Anonymous8:27 AM


      Metallica's Misery comes to mind.

      Poor Jesse and his empty can head.

    2. Anonymous8:33 AM

      Gryphen takes Christian persecution fantasies and just flips them around. He is so desperate to prove that he is somebody special. It's pathetic, really.

    3. Anonymous12:40 PM

      Beats being desperate to prove you're three different people instead of one obsessive shut-in.

    4. Anonymous2:42 PM

      Let me guess believe the Palins post here daily, as well.

    5. Anonymous9:05 PM

      Hey, that is such a shame, Gryphen must be feeling insecure and needs his ego (ass) kissedby his followers. If you were worrying about shit like that when you were 8 there is something not right with you. Never mind we all ready know that

  6. Anonymous7:18 AM

    "with a little help from IM Friends..."

    1. Anonymous9:07 PM

      Yep, and your as screwed in the head as Gryphen

  7. Anonymous8:43 AM

    I am glad I grew up overseas in a country that was predominantly catholic, but my parents and I were protestant. To us, the whole catholic thing was a farce - sin, sin, sin, then go to church and confess, and then get out of church and do exactly the same again. Even our catholic neighbors agreed that that was, in a way, hypocritical. The only time I went to church was for the Harvest Festival, where the local farmers would give thanks for their harvest, and donate food to the less fortunate, and Christmas.
    Then, Erich von Däniken (author of 'Chariots of the Gods' and other books) happened. That was the absolute end for me to go to Sunday sermons. Yes, somehow I did get my 'confirmation' at 15y/o. But that was it. I like to visit European churches, but just because they are such great architectural feats, and because I love the sound of organs palying and echoing. I was twice in a sermon here in the US because some friends invited us, and each time I came away totally disgusted by what kind of hatred and hypocrisy is being preached here.

  8. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Wow, I feel bad for your experience coming out as an Atheist. In my school experience, high school especially, the majority of my circle of friends were not church goers or believers.

    It was a big group of us too. We were honor students, jocks, cheerleaders, student government leaders, we ran across the spectrum but none of us believed in god and thought it was all poppycock. Some of us were placed early in "accelerated learning courses" and our teachers tended to be very liberal and progressive and encouraged us through our curriculum to question everything. Religion wasn't discouraged but through the questioning and examining process even those kids who came from families with religion often ended up leaving their faith.

    We used to have a good laugh at the expense of the uptight bible study group at our high school because they were always telling everyone that they were "going to hell". (seems that a lot of the bible crew weren't practicing what they preached because a few of them got knocked up before graduation...)

    I feel for the religiously indoctrinated and my wish for each and every one of them is that they can find their way out of their life in chains, seek freedom of expression and freedom of will and live their lives as they see fit, not in fear or servitude.

  9. Then I guess the best case scenario is to be a blogger who chases down stories no one else wants to touch, having earned a Ph.D in government from Harvard, while remaining in the RC church. Of course, I'm referring to Andrew Sullivan.

    I try not to comment on atheist posts, but sometimes debunking the smart atheist/stupid believer trope is irresistible.

  10. Anita Winecooler5:49 PM

    You turned out just fine, Gryphen. Everyone has their own opinion and way of thinking about religion and spirituality. Some arrive because of faith, others despite it.

  11. I need to amend my comment. A previous commenter bested me without effort.

    The one impressed by Chariots of the Gods is a typical exemplar of atheist critical thinking.


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