Traditionally you can always count on Latinos being God-fearing people. Times are certainly changing. With the extreme right-wing conservatives taking a stranglehold on all things God, many have been discouraged to call out religion as their savior. George W. Bush, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh have all hijacked the idea of God. Naturally over the past 10 years with 9/11, we can see one common enemy; especially more recently with the problems of the Catholic Church shielding pedophile priests. Quite frankly, religion has been the cause of a lot of heartache and terror. Slowly a younger generation of Latinos are becoming more jaded and critical of religion in general. Perhaps it’s because the media we consume is more, as one would say, “secular progressive.” I can’t be the one to pinpoint the exact reason why such a trend is currently happening. Many say the reason is because of a higher rate of college-educated Latinos. Perhaps higher learning leans someone toward atheism. I for one know how much philosophy can make you question your beliefs. When reading the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Rene Descartes, and Soren Kierkegaard, you can’t help but become uncertain of your own existence. The power of the written word can be life-altering indeed.
On the other hand, the written word in the bible has been the catalyst for plenty of life-changing influence. Religion has had a reputation of uplifting those who are caught in the darkest of moments in their lives. Sometimes these beliefs are masked in values and morals. For the most part, we tend to forget all the damage that religion has waged on humanity. Not necessarily one religion in particular. Throughout history man has used religion and God as an excuse to do harm upon his fellow man. The bible has advocated slavery, human castration, and animal abuse. Basing our entire lives on stories written by men who were a couple of generations removed from the loin cloth just seems insane to me. Why not base a religion on the writings of Stephen King for that matter? It seems like just a creation to comfort us from our fears of death. In the end, we all want to go somewhere after death, but what if death is like unplugging the toaster? Maybe we just turn off. Perhaps that is why many use religion to shield themselves. The desperate many who cling to stories that may or may not be fictional, to give meaning to a world that often makes little sense. Sometimes things are horrible for no explanation; sometimes we lose. With religion we try to paint an explanation to events that might be trivial.
The champion of the atheist movement is none other than Richard Dawkins. This best-selling author has gone toe-to-toe with many over the idea of atheism. Many view his writings as blasphemous and insensitive. Another group considers him to be enlightening and brilliant. Dawkins is a believer that the world would be a better place without the irrationalism of religion. Bill Maher is another important figure that challenges religion. Each week on his show Real Time he insults and displays the misfortunes of the Catholic Church. In 2008 he created a documentary called Religulous. This film pointed out all the ridiculousness of religion and many of the inconsistencies found in it.
Shockingly most atheists were once devout Catholics. As a matter of fact most atheists’ stories begin with them going to a strict Catholic school. Such people as Bill Maher, Louis C.K., and George Carlin are Catholic school alumni. I myself have felt the sting of Catholic school. The repressed sexuality and contradictions really make you question things even more than those who haven’t been to Catholic school. Perhaps because more people can be outspoken about being atheist is why more are becoming atheist. Atheism is now socially acceptable.
As for me, many would consider me an atheist. I’m not truly ready to commit to anything. To commit oneself to atheism is still committing to a general sense of ideas. Most atheists are firm believers in the ideas of Charles Darwin and science itself. Science is not perfect just yet, and with the idea of multi-universes, our world could be turned upside down any day now. All along it has been science that has turned me from the beliefs of the church. It all just made far more sense, knowing almost everything has an explanation. For all those things that have no explanation, all in due time as science advances. Without a doubt being an atheist is extremely controversial in any community. In the Latino community it is like having leprosy. No one looks at you the same, and everyone treats you very differently. As a matter of fact, many of my relationships with women have been negatively affected by my non-belief. It is always wise to be cautious when telling others your religious position. Tolerance should also be taken into consideration. We all need to be sensitive to others’ beliefs–or non-beliefs.