<![CDATA[Emancipaction - Blog]]>Tue, 23 Feb 2016 19:55:54 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Genesis]]>Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:54:05 GMThttp://emancipaction.weebly.com/blog/genesisI'm finally out. 
I'm an atheist, and I feel like I can finally breathe.
This used to be something that I stored in my heart because as an educator, I felt it my duty to keep my religious views to myself. Even with my family, who is largely God-fearing, I reserve myself, since I tend to regard their Hindu religious practices as somewhat harmless and quaint (they're also my in-laws, so curbing their enthusiasm is my wife's job). I still intend to keep religion out of the classroom, but I shall be more vocal in my advocacy of free thought: I am in a unique position, and perhaps I am God's chosen one...to undo all of the misery that religion has wrought on this earth through its institutions. I was kidding about the God part, naturally. I've already started a club for free thinkers, where I've rounded up kids I consider the outliers of that brutal social organism called high school and given them a place where they can be themselves and talk about any issue they want. It's become a GSA-plus kind of place where we get right to the heart of issues that bother us. We simply call it "group." And what's brought up at group, stays at group. I think I need to start veering it in a new direction; nudging it, pushing it away from the safe banks of the river and over the waterfall of atheism. 
I had my clarion call this summer. I took a road trip from my safe little secular enclave of Toronto down to the Bible Belt of the American south. I was just there to learn a bit of history and take in the sights, but I was struck by the sheer number of churches that sprung up on every corner in there. In Montgomery, Alabama, I would have had an easier time saving my soul than quenching my thirst with a bottle of Perrier (yes, I am an elitist where water is concerned...just give me my one thing). I started to think how hard it would be to live down here as a practicing atheist (can we practice?) and that I would sooner be publicly gay than come out as an atheist. I researched this on the web, and as it turns out, many states have laws stating that you must believe in God in order to hold the office of governor. I thought...why can't we have a place for atheists to go? I know it's counterintuitive to the atheist experience to have to go anywhere besides Twitter, but part of the reason religion is so hard to undo is that it provides people with a sense of community that they might not otherwise have. I thought it might be ironic if I simply took over a church basement and had a self-help group for people trying to shake religion out of their lives, or deal with the abuses and privations many people suffer at the hands of religion even today. I cannot tell you the number of kids who have wanted to come out to their parents but they don't because that's not what people do in my religion. 
I feel that this is the last frontier of spirituality. Science and psychology have advanced to the point where we can not only explain many things that our ancestors found awe-inspiring and beguiling, but also explain away the concept of God and religion altogether. God is a mental construct. Jesus (while he may have been an actual person at one point) is also a mental construct, elevated to a messianic level by various disciples and generations of believers. Our "conversations with God" are little more than collective and personal delusions that are held exclusively in our heads. It's time to emancipate our minds through action. It's time to throw off the shackles of religious oppression and open our minds to scientific and emotional truth: there is no God. There is no room for God. Stop spending your time wringing your hands over guilt or the fact that you think someone is watching. There is no one watching: you are only accountable to yourself. 
As I traveled through the South, I learned about early abolitionists and I drew a lot of comparisons to myself as an atheist. While they were using a resurgent religious fervour to inspire people to overthrow the institution of slavery, I hope to use scientific fervour to overthrow the institution of religion. William Lloyd Garrison, editor and publisher of The Liberator (perfect), sums it up perfectly:

"I will be as harsh as truth, and uncompromising as justice... I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard."

It's time. I'm moving forward. I will dismantle the hopeless, evil edifice of organized religion and smile at the remains. Who's with me?