I have absolutely no use whatsoever for religion and I never have. I don’t believe in god and I never did, not for even a moment. When the concept of a superior being was first explained to me it came with the bookend ideas of heaven and hell. The fantasy of heaven was enjoyable but I just could never believe that a person could be sentenced to an eternity in hell for fucking up in this short life. It never seemed fair to me and I wanted no part of it. Unfortunately, my family was quite Catholic and I was punished with an upbringing heavy with the rituals of that pagan church. More than anything I just remember being bored to fucking death by all of it: the Bible stories, the Catechisms, the moronic drilling necessary to receive the sacraments, and the tediousness of Sunday mass.
When I was about eleven years old I smartened up enough to skip out of Sunday services by telling my parents that I was going to the earlier mass than the 11:00 event that was their habit. Instead of going to mass I would go to the huge park across the street from my house and play ball or whatever. When my parents left the house for the 11:00 service I would watch TV. It was at this time when I discovered the magic of the Marx Brothers. This is the perfect age to be introduced to their brand of humor and it sure beat the hell out of Catholic mass.
When my father died I told my mother that I was through with the charade of pretending I was religious. My father’s death when I was 15 didn’t come as any sort of revelation but simply served to validate my own feelings about our existence here in this life. This is all we have and that has always been enough for me. I was an atheist and that was that. I haven’t wavered throughout my life. Never.
This was a long time ago before it was acceptable to be an atheist in America. I was the only person I knew who had Atheist stamped on my military dog tags while everyone else had some form of Christian denomination (I didn’t know any Jewish soldiers and there definitely were no Muslims back then). It’s comforting and inspiring to know that a complete lack of religious belief has become much more acceptable in America these days, at least in some parts of the country.