10th place: Grad student essay contest — Daniella Germonprez

Daniella Germonprez

FFRF awarded Daniella $300.

By Daniella Germonprez 

I sat across from her mute. The more she said, the more I couldn’t believe that I once shared her thoughts about the world. My mind had begun to wander to keep from arguing when I heard, “I think they just feel that voting against a Republican candidate would be voting against God.” Suddenly everything made sense. I began to recount images of the dozens of Trump flags I drove past on the way to my childhood home. Each had been mere accessories to the crosses decorating front doors of houses or centerpieces of car bumper stickers. I wondered what my life would have been like had I never left that town. 

Last year, I watched a lawyer fight against a rape exception in court. He explained that while it was terrible that a woman was assaulted and impregnated as a result, it had been God’s will. Quoting the bible, he explained that abortion was immoral and should not be allowed even in the case of the woman in the courtroom. My blood boiled as I listened to him speak, but it was clear the anger that I felt for him was ill-placed. 

This man truly maintained that God had planned for this woman to be unlawfully violated so that she could give birth to a specific embryo as part of a bigger plan. How do you combat that? According to him, the psychological health of this woman was not the cause for concern. It was not important that her body would go through torment without having chosen to do so. For the rest of her life, she would be reminded of her attack every day and forced to deal with the consequences of that. Perhaps even worse, the incredible guilt for feeling these things, knowing an innocent child searches for love and comfort, would be unbearable. With divine law unable to be modified, how can we update ours to favor all humans equally? 

One can reduce anxiety by having faith that everything happens for a reason, but the drawback in trusting anything without question comes at a much greater price. If ever there was a clear example of this, it was exhibited on the political stage during the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency. Whether Trump was a man defending his religious ideals through heinous leadership is one issue, but what matters more is that masses of people support and agree with them. 

Based on biblical literature from a time vastly different than the one we live in today, modern worldviews are shaped. To have divine law, which cannot be changed due to a lack of direct communication with its maker, is a difficult place to be. With this mindset, much of our progress is stunted. 

Religious extremism is one of the most dangerous things in the world. It is easy enough for most Americans to agree with this when they read a news story about Muslims, but when Christians enact similar scenarios, it is somehow harder to see them in the same light. 

Secularism should be our goal if we wish to have a system that provides equal benefits to every human. It is ridiculous to supplement laws with a book written thousands of years ago, during which only a portion of the population had rights. 

The Declaration of Independence clearly states that government should be altered if it becomes destructive. It should be easy to see that when it comes to governing an extremely diverse population, secularism is the only option, but so far it has not been so. It will take time for our country’s entire population to accept that many reprehensible viewpoints derive from religious writings, but when we finally do, society will be catapulted forward. 

Daniella, 28, attends Vanderbilt University. “I am a native Floridian passionate about the environment, children and psychological health,” Daniella writes. “I have spent the last six years teaching art at a public elementary school in Key West, all the way to coaching the kids club at a rock-climbing gym in California.”