This is something that I have wanted to write for a while, but have not been able due to the holidays. Before I begin, some background information.

I am a former Catholic and have not told my family that I am an atheist yet. They are very set in their religious beliefs and to be honest I'm a little worried about their response when I do tell them that I don't believe anymore. I also live in a rural part of the south (US), so I am fairly lonely in my religious beliefs. But back to the topic.

I have about a 45 minute commute on a small, windy road. On this road I pass several churches all with signs out front that are often amusing to read. But today I read one which pressed my buttons. It read, "Faith is a journey, not a guilt trip." My thoughts immediately jumped back to an instance in mass over the holiday break.

As I said before I haven't told my parents of my disbelief, so I found myself in the pew at church. The one thing about mass is that it is consistent. Every week the only thing that changes are the readings and the homily. Everything else becomes subconscious, a fact that was highlighted during this mass. Apparently they have changed the responses that we are supposed to give the father. Luckily they had pamphlets to let us know what we're supposed to say. Here is, word for word, what Catholics repeat every Sunday:

Penitential Act (A)
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and what I have failed to do,

And, striking their breast, they say:

through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;

Then they continue:

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Penitential Act (B)
Priest: Have mercy on us, O Lord.
People: For we have sinned against you.
Priest: Show us, O Lord, your mercy.
And grant us your salvation.

Invitation to Communion
Priest: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
All: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

So I ask you, is faith anything but a guilt trip?

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Oh the irony!

If you're Catholic or Jewish...oh,such guilt there is.. Oi vay...    

Contradiction in religion?  I don't believe it.

But seriously, good luck to you.  In my personal experience I found that people were actually much more accepting of my lack of belief than I thought they would be.  Hopefully you find as much support from your friends and family as I did.

Thank you! I think I will tell my sister first, since she seems to have lost her romanticism with the church.

[I know it's sad an all but I can't help but find this comical.]

It depends on the faith.  In eastern orthodoxy, it is approached a bit differently than western catholicism.  Guilt isn't really as much of an issue there.  Catholicism is a pretty big guilt trip though, I'll give you that.

Pentecostalism on the other hand is just a trip.  It really depends.

I think it's all pretty much a guilt trip since one of the tenants is that you have to repent for sins to the omniscient being.

Guilt is certainly one of the tools used by religion to control the flock. Guilt isn't necessary for faith, but rather a complementary bludgeon. After all, the guilt has no hold on people who don't believe.

@ Connie - Wow! They had you by the neck didn't they? You were up against the wall, shoved into a corner. I know the feeling even though I do not discuss my situation in depth, on-line. Trust me, I know what it is like, that's why I am not an out atheist.

I feel for you, I really do. How awful to be driven to have to do something like that under your circumstances (what you said on your Facebook).


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