By Suly Ramirez
Dear Uncle Alfredo,
I was 10 years old when I first questioned religion. Mom had tucked us in and, for some reason, I asked her who she loved more: God or me. She told me that she had to love God more just like I loved God more than her. After she left, I started crying because my mom loved a god more than me when she was the person I loved above everything else. It was the first time in my life I had experienced true sadness.
When I brought my concerns up to the father of my church, he insisted this was the devil’s work and that as long as I prayed every night before bed and held onto my newly blessed rosary, I would be set back on the right path. And I kept praying for five years only to have not one prayer answered.
My choice to not believe in religion stems from my experience and beliefs that religion causes more harm than the good it claims to promote. When I was 15, I began to read the bible instead of just relying on the church service. But, it seemed the more I read the bible, the more contradictions and inconsistences there were. Eventually, I asked myself how was it possible that the garden of Eden and evolution were both possible? And would I really be subjected to an eternity of punishment for a sexuality that I did not choose?
At this point, all religion did was cause me distress. Why would an omnipotent god who could create me in his ideal image, create me to be bisexual and someone who would not be accepted by him? And if he couldn’t pre-program humans like we were taught, was he really all that powerful? And if he was the creator, was he also the creator of everything bad, too?
Moreover, why was I still calling him by male pronouns when God could be anything they wanted to be? I am upset that you, one of the people who is supposed to love me the most, will tell me I will burn in hell for my choice to not believe in a god.
Uncle, it runs deeper than a personal anecdote: It’s intertwined in our history — a blemish that can never go away. Our family and our culture constantly reject Spain. We call them our colonizers, oppressors and, oftentimes, many members of our family will reject that part of themselves and go as far to claim they are fully indigenous (when we are not). Yet almost all of them practice a religion that was forced upon our ancestors. Our ancestors were stripped of their lives, languages, land and other aspects of their routine and culture. It’s something that our family specifically can never go back to and reconnect because we don’t know who they were.
To be Latin American and practice any form of our oppressors’ religion is to be so colonized to the point you’re saying you don’t care about the impact it had on our people. It means you are comfortable with these transgressions and you don’t want to see progress, but I want progress and I will take off my jacket.
Suly, 20, is from Forney, Texas, and attends the University of Texas.“I am pre-law and plan to attend law school in Texas straight after my senior year,” Suly writes. “I am heavily involved on campus where I am a part of a Latina sorority, The Fearless Leadership Institute (which is an organization to support Latin and Black woman students), and I will be chair of Mexican American Culture Committee.”