By Glemir Sordilla
Ever since I was a kid, I bombarded my parents with my curiosity. “Why does the moon follow me everywhere?” I used to ask, or “Why did you say Santa gave me my gift when I know it’s from you?” Despite my genuine interest and hunger for answers, they always gave me half-assed or sarcastic replies. “Just don’t look at the moon; it will stop following you!” they’d say, or “Santa knows where you live!” As if those are adequate explanations.
And so it was inevitable that I began to question the mandatory prayers, rosaries, and church attendances too, especially when they became forced. The famous Genesis story in the Bible that took place in the Garden of Eden was the first thing that didn’t make any sense to me. When I saw that my family couldn’t even recall how the story of Adam and Eve goes, I thought well, they can’t be that devoted then.
I came from a Christian household like most Filipinos; it does not come as a surprise that the religious practices routinely followed in the Philippines were shoved down my throat.
The moment I finally knew I was an atheist was back in sixth grade when my school was holding its First Friday Mass. While the priest was giving his sermon, I was sitting there in a hot, crowded gymnasium, sweaty and irritated because our classes were suspended for some Almighty Being in the sky who had legions of followers but couldn’t even answer a kid’s questions about his existence.
I couldn’t help but imagine the difference it would have made if I was raised like that too. I swooned at every statement they gave out.
Fast forward to the present and my fear of questioning God’s existence has been replaced by the fear of ridicule and disappointment from my relatives over my newfound unbelief. For a long time, I would just give out little comments to them like how prayers won’t solve problems if no deed is actually being done, or how hypocritical it is that some of the “prohibited” rules in the Bible are being practiced by many of his faithful followers anyway.
I look back on HAPI’s “E-numan: A Café Humaniste Amid Crisis” event where I had the privilege to listen to Miss Mutya’s and Miss Angie’s talk about raising their children in a secular environment. I couldn’t help but imagine the difference it would have made if I was raised like that too. I swooned at every statement they gave out.
One Q&A participant asked how best to tell their parents that they are an atheist. Miss Mutya and Miss Angie advised them to drop hints along the way and to take it easy on themselves. I held on to those words.
So when my mother suddenly asked me recently if I don’t believe in God, I can still hear my voice shaking as I said, “No and I never did.” My mother seemed nonchalant about it but I heard her and my father having a hushed conversation about it.
I held on to those words.
My religious family finally knows I am an atheist, so what now? Maybe I might eventually be able to voice my opinions more often than before when their arguments went the religious route. Maybe their persistent invitations to me about practicing the daily rosary will cease. Maybe they will finally understand where I’m coming from when I try to correct their unreasonable superstitions.
One thing is for sure: it is quite freeing to come out of the ignorant and illogical “Garden of Eden”. Especially from the very same people who put me inside of it.