Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Julia Dimov

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Honorable mention

Oh my god . . . no mine

FFRF awarded Julia $200 for her essay.

By Julia Dimov

My dad is a devout Christian who knows the bible like the back of his hand, but couldn’t tell you how old I turned this year. We were raised under limitless restrictions, praying and reading the bible. No cutting our hair, painting our nails, piercing our ears, talking to boys, or reading Harry Potter. (Magic is unnatural and directly challenges God’s power.) In the Russian community, my dad was idolized as the epitome of a good Christian. Anything you could do in the church, he did. At first, I ate it all up. I knew every bible story, answered all of my Sunday school teacher’s questions, and was quick to chime in about Jesus. In middle school, I became friends with a girl who rejected religion. It didn’t take me long to see why. My heaven-sent dad was only that at church. Some of the people preaching about living through God hit their wives, molest children, create supremacy groups. They’re alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers, all of the things they pretend not to be one day a week. People praise gods that punish, oppress and discriminate. The distinction between right and wrong is tainted by whatever “holy” passages are taken out of context. Every religion is different, yet unwavering beliefs wholly commit people to whatever it claims. If Christians read Greek mythology as pure fantasy, what’s to say someone won’t do the same with their bible? Gods wreaking havoc from a mountain is unbelievable, but a virgin pregnancy is a miracle. People criticize each other’s religion and are so steadfast in their beliefs that they deem anything else offensive. This fear and division results in war, discrimination, and death over who the best made-up character is. Why is Santa, a fat man bringing gifts, irrational, while an all-knowing being controlling the universe from the sky isn’t? Everything is credited to religion, as a blessing or a lesson. Car accident? God intended it. You lived? God saved you, but who put you there? Religion is excused for the terrible things that happen while getting credit for the good.

Julia, 18, is from Mooresville, N.C., and will attend Appalachian State University. “I am a Russian student and come from a poorer background,” she writes. “My goal is to create a successful future for myself that gets me out of the adversity I have had to face throughout my life. I am driven by my independence and the goals I have set for myself. I am motivated to show that my adversity was just a chapter towards a happy ending for my success story.”