Honorable mention — College essay contest: Fatima Montero

No gods, no masters, no organized religion

Fatima Montero

By Fatima Montero

One of the earliest memories I can vividly recall included me staring idly up at the church ceiling, tracing the rib vaults with my eyes as my mother rocked me in her arms, a bottle in my mouth. I couldn’t have been older than 2, but for some reason, that memory has latched itself to my mind to this day. I spent a lot of time in churches, and growing up, my aversion to religion only solidified as I learned of the atrocities of the Catholic Church. I never had a good relationship with religion and I hated every second I was in that building. To me, religion is suffocating as much as it is damaging, and I want no part of the manipulation and subjugation that occurs there.

The rejection of organized religion as we know it is central to my politics and core beliefs. I have identified as a leftist for almost three years now, falling closer to anarchism than communism or socialism. I believe in complete human autonomy, free will, mutual aid and anti-fascism. A common phrase thrown around by anarchists, especially in the punk and metal scene, is “No Gods, No Masters.” Liberation lies not under the domineering suppression of God, but under the knowledge of our power and control over ourselves and our lives. I strongly believe that in order to secure basic human rights such as housing, food, water and healthcare, we must reject organized religion and reckon with the violence it has imposed on marginalized peoples. A removal of religion in our institutions would mean the liberation for women, queer folk, Black and Brown folk, indigenous folk and other marginalized peoples. The Catholic Church, in its hundreds of years conquest to conquer, plunder, convert, assimilate and decimate non-white peoples in the name of God, effectively labelled itself as the religion of genocide.

How can I worship and pray to a God who was used as justification for American Imperialism, slavery, witch-hunting, war, capitalism, homophobia, sexism, racism, transphobia, genocide, when I can believe in a mass collective effort to a better world for myself and others less fortunate than me?

Freethought and the rejection of religion is necessary to decolonizing our communities and selves. The years of repression and homophobia I internalized and projected to others is not easily overcome simply because I am an atheist or an anarchist. While these two have helped me come a long way in loving my masculine lesbian identity, I cannot speak for the millions of people who have been subject to European colonization and religious conquest. What about our indigenous population, who have been stripped of their land, freedom and rights? What about our LGBT+ population, who are stripped of rights by conservative policy makers and denied healthcare, service and life? What about our Black population, who still face the terrors of religious terrorists like the Ku Klux Klan and the police, and have yet to be paid reparations for the slavery their ancestors had to endure? Or our women, who are killed, raped, controlled and denied reproductive rights? Religion is not the remedy we need, but the cancer we must eradicate. Religion underpins most, if not all, systemic issues relevant to marginalized peoples, and its hand in colonizing and enslaving peoples is nothing short of disgusting. A liberation of the marginalized and the working class lies in the rejection of religion as we know it, as well as the institutions it plagues in our society. A better world is possible. We simply must believe in it.

Fatima, 18, is from Bethlehem, Pa., and attends Moore College of Art and Design. “I am a lesbian Mexican who loves heavy metal, anarchy and creating occultist art,” she writes. “I hope to become a successful freelance illustrator and use my art to advocate for anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-racism, LGBT+ rights, and many more.”