Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Yiping An

Yiping An

Honorable mention

The freethinking atheist

FFRF awarded Yiping $200 for her essay.

By Yiping An

When my family first moved to America, we sought to join a community through involvement in our local church. After my first time there, I knew it wasn’t for me. The concept of religion and being constantly judged, evaluated or even forgiven by some higher entity makes me feel trapped. I am not willing to live under a set of rules predetermined by the above when I can be free. Taking a step back, one can see how humanity is simply a microcosm in the grand scheme of the universe whereas religion pompously forces it to be viewed as the core.

At age 13, I was discovered to have atrial fibrillation which causes irregular heart rhythm. After rounds of checkups and one small surgery, I was thankfully able to overcome this obstacle with the help of dedicated, hard-working doctors. While at the hospital and talking to other patients there, many of them said they would “pray for me,” and after my successful recovery they “thanked God” and said it was “part of God’s plan.” When I didn’t reciprocate their views on my recovery, I could feel the atmosphere shift. Nevertheless, I will always choose to believe in and value scientific and medical discovery.

Being an atheist allows me to have a feeling of control over my life. Since we do not expect a deity to have a preordained plan for us, we address problems knowing that the responsibility for our choice lies within ourselves. Furthermore, being an atheist encourages one to be more open-minded. Without the restrictions that come with religious belief, I can freely decide on my positions regarding social justice issues, and overall, be more tolerant of other people and supportive of diversity.

Often, people associate being nonreligious with lacking morality; however, that is not the case. Humans naturally have a moral sense that dictates their version of ethical behaviors. I am a part of a community. I have personal values. I think deeply about morality. I am a freethinker — a proud atheist.

Yiping, 18, is from Katy, Texas, and will attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she will pursue a major in business administration. In high school, she was a member of National Honor Society and Spartans Outserving, and the co-founder and marketing coordinator of Talks on Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship (TILE), vice president of Interact club, and vice president of National Chinese Honor Society.