FFRF awarded Noemi $1,000.
By Noemi Rosario
y mother is a gambler. Most of the members of the Hispanic community are gamblers. As a child, I watched them, one by one, file into a casino of divine winnings. In a casino, thousands march in to try to win big in an arbitrary game rigged beforehand by the people that founded it. There are big promises of a better life — everyone is happy, everyone is free.
Here on Earth, however, that is not the case. Religious people don’t gamble with the real and tangible; no, they gamble with their lives, their life choices, their autonomy, and yes, their freedom. Some people give up everything in the hope that they will be the one to score big in the existential lottery. Belief in God is very much like that.
I am acutely aware of how intense this fervor is with minorities. Hispanics and blacks are hit especially hard, and their vulnerability is in clear view of the world. This makes it especially tough to watch people’s sense of reality fade while their religious fanaticism grows.
For an atheist of color, choosing not to participate in this gamble has its own social consequences. People may not outright disown you, but your former preacher may choose to ignore your existence, your community may whisper behind closed doors, and you will be seen as an “other.” A classmate of mine exemplifies a mentality about atheists I fear is present in the community as a whole. When asked if she would feel guilty in heaven while some are in hell simply for not believing in God, she explained that their memories would be erased so it wouldn’t matter. This is just one example of many where, when asked about the “sin” of atheism, not one person thought twice of their punishment.
It is difficult to deal with knowing you will never be seen on the same level as the rest of the people in your community. Even in a supposedly progressive community, the shift in opinion is felt deeply, and it is hurtful.
For me, I find religion too costly to place my bets on the table. It is never a good idea to assume that you know the outcome of something you know nothing about, and on a cosmic scale the odds are impossible to determine. In addition, with no clear factual evidence to back this assumption, you’d end up looking like a gambling addict assuring his friends that “Lucky 23 is going to hit this time!”
People are caused to suffer unnecessarily for going against this system, and in some parts of the world, they face death. To rally under a belief system that only encourages division and fanatical thinking is counterproductive toward my goal of trying to be a levelheaded thinker. We are part of the modern world, where we ought to understand the difference between blind emotional reactions and a logical solution. It is the only way that we can fix this broken world we’ve built for ourselves. When taking all that into account, I feel that the odds are not in my favor to stay in the world of the religious, and have chosen to embrace my atheism.
We need to let other minorities know that their doubts and criticisms are natural and human. Other people shouldn’t feel ashamed and ostracized because they don’t want to get sucked into this corrupt and all-consuming leviathan. In the end, we just want a space where we feel comforted and respected equally, free of judgement for our identity. Most of all, we need to show other minorities that there are others like them, those unwilling to sell their souls for the thrill of a divine casino.
Noemi, 18, is from Maspeth, N.Y., and attends the University at Albany (SUNY). She would like to study abroad at some point and eventually earn a master’s degree in education.