Eighth place — BIPOC essay contest: Scarly Benitez-Carbajal
FFRF awarded Scarly $500.
By Scarly Benitez-Carbajal
I know you know I am an atheist. I remember telling you and being so scared of your reaction. I remember you getting mad and telling me I was wrong and I was crazy. I remember feeling guilty and trying to go back in time to take back what I had said and make it seem like nothing ever happened.
I never got to tell you why I stopped believing in a god, why I distanced myself from church and cut my ties with Catholicism.
You know, I have always questioned everything. (I guess that is where my love for science comes from.) If I had told you that I started questioning religion when I started going to school, you would have probably stopped me from going. I never really understood why we were obligated to go to church every Sunday and then go to Sunday school. I never really understood why they said God was merciful, but he would send you to hell if you disobeyed him and sinned. I never really understood why we had to live in constant fear and pressure so we could go to “heaven.” I never really understood why the church community would judge you for doing something “wrong,” but priests could rape kids and no one judged them.
Nothing made sense to me. If God was real, why was he not stopping wars? Why was he not helping kids and people in hunger? Why was he not helping the women who were being prostituted? If he was real, and if he was good, he would’ve done something to prevent and stop all the terrible things going on, he wouldn’t let innocent people die and suffer. Not only that, but he would stop all wars started because of his name.
How common it is to hear that a war was started because of their god and their religion. If God was merciful, he wouldn’t allow those things.
When I stopped believing in any god and distanced myself from religion, I started seeing things more clearly. I could see that religion was something created to control people, to make them fear a stronger unknown force that does not even exist. I was happier with myself and my decisions. I was not afraid of a god. I felt like I was finally living the life I had always wanted to have, a life where I was free to do whatever I wanted without being scared of judgment.
Mom, I know you are scared of me taking the wrong path. You are afraid that I will make bad decisions, but let me tell you that religion will not prevent these things. Being religious doesn’t mean you are a good person. Look at me, I am an atheist, I do not do drugs, I do not drink, I have never stolen anything, and I treat people kindly and with respect. Every day I try to be the best person I can, but I am human, and sometimes, I can make mistakes.
I do not need a god and a religion to know what is wrong and what is right, and if the religious people do, then there is something wrong with them and not with me because it should be common sense. I hope that someday you can understand me and where my decision is coming from. I just ask for you to respect my views as I respect yours and to not try to force me to believe in your religion.
Scarly, 19, is from Asheboro, N.C., and attends New York University. “When I was 8, I moved to a small town in Mexico and lived there until I was 15, when I decided to come back to the United States, this time by myself,” Scarly writes. “I will be the first person in my family to go to college and I will pay for my career myself because my parents cannot support me. I plan to major in chemical and biomolecular engineering and minor in environmental engineering.”