First place — BIPOC essay contest: Galilea Baca 

Galilea Baca

To anyone in my family who will listen

FFRF awarded Galilea $3,500.

By Galilea Baca 

How broken the world must seem to you. Unholy sin in every corner, the stench of unbelievers weighing heavy over the city, and the audacity of others to leave your God. Do you see me differently now, knowing that I, too, am only a vessel through which the Devil seeks to corrupt you and only you? Oh, love, I know that the second this letter enters your home, it will be burned and destroyed, like my inevitable future. Humor me this last time. 

Truly, what has changed in me since I have left? I’m sure you’ve forgotten the restless weeks of nightmares in your home, or how I rarely ate, or how you would find me shaking and anxious when I thought I was alone. How strongly you must wish to see me back in that place, because at least I had God. I guess now I am no longer human. Leaving God has left me a shell of my old self. Gone are my religious ambition, my religious friends, and my God-given home. What, if anything, could I have left? You ignore my accomplishments. As I sit in my sinful home, I plan for my future, a novel concept I’m sure you wouldn’t understand. I have a job I can be proud of, and I have friends who love and care for me in a way that I never felt with the church. Somehow, I have forgiven myself for the “sins” I committed, and I now understand what makes me human. I am a freethinker. Oh, how freeing it is to feel love and respect for myself! 

I know you don’t believe what they’re telling you. How stupid they must think we are for believing that this book written by people long gone is the word of the Creator, even with its beautiful contradictions and horrible depiction of a vengeful and arrogant God. The Governing Body relishes in its perfect scheme, forcing members to shun those who have left so you never really hear what we have to say. They sit in their watchtower and drink to their heart’s content, while our family suffers from their doctrine. Look me in the eyes and tell me that all of their deaths were warranted, the thousands of believers who were tricked into thinking that blood transfusions will somehow condemn them to an eternity of suffering. Do you honestly believe that all women are for, all I am for, that all you are for, is to marry a man and birth him a family? That you must always stay by his side, be the long-suffering wife, and swear to never leave him, even when he hurts you. Is that what you want for me? 

Oh love, I feel like a broken record. Who would want to follow and worship a God that does not care for us? What God would create us with free will, and punish us for exercising that right? What God would sit back and listen to the prayers of his creation, to grant them for the few believing people, and leave the rest of us to suffer? Why believe in a God that separates families, that separated us? 

For your sake, I hope your future children and family members lie when you ask them if they believe, too. Know that when they decide to leave, like so many of us have done, that I will show them real, unconditional love. I will love them like their creators have refused to do. 

Galilea, 18, is from Dallas, and is attending Collin Community College. “I am a Mexican woman who grew up with a love for the humanities and science,” Galilea writes. “I have been working since age 16, and have worked as an optician for a private optometry practice. I am passionate about writing, poetry, gardening, history and biology.”