Slipping into my seat seconds before the late bell I’m greeted by the week’s standard desk decoration, an elaborate cross and a handful of bible verses. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 I read it aloud in a dull voice, pretending to be unfazed. I know he is watching me for a reaction, though I’m not sure what he is hoping for. Maybe he expected lighting to fall from the heavens and strike me down for speaking the word of God, or perhaps he was waiting for me to fall to my knees and start speaking tongues. Instead I got out the big pink eraser I’d been carrying to class every day for this purpose and set myself to erasing all the religious graffiti that cluttered my space.
I wasn’t born a hell bound heathen, though my family did not attend church religiously, I have a manger scene that still goes up every Christmas and we attended midnight mass on Easter. I even attended a church down the road from my house alone when I was thirteen; I helped at the Sunday school, sat through the sermons and felt… nothing. My family, inspired by my solo attendance decided to join a different church. I helped at Sunday school there too and felt the same lack of devotion or religious awakening. I even began to openly ask questions and while the dedicated brothers and sisters tried their best to answer me I never found their answers satisfactory, and so I ended my foray into the Christian religion.
His disgust for my lack of religion was something I could almost feel seeping off of him like a thick hateful slime. In his mind he was doing his duty as God’s messenger, leading another lost soul back into his lord’s arms. In reality he pushed me from a general dissatisfaction in the Christianity to a sickening pity at the thought that people were really so brainwashed. That they believed in an invisible being; a being that had been used though its existence by the greed of man to control and oppress weaker minds.
His thoughtless act of close-minded Christian dogma mars me to this day. When I watch a movie where the organized religion is the antagonist or I can one up a Christian in an intellectual debate I see his face and hope he can feel my tiny internal victory.