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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Honorable mention: College essay contest 2022

Instilling in a child that they are causing their own suffering because they sinned utterly destroys that child. It took me many years to build myself up, have faith in myself, and realize that I do not need religion to be a good person.

Kye Binik, 23, is from Medford Lakes, N.J., and attends Rowan University.

The idea that something was “God’s plan” is a convenient way for religious followers to justify any act, whether it be a tragic or fortunate event.

The time spent praying, worshipping, proselytizing, and studying a religious text utilized in organized religion could easily be spent on improving oneself and one’s own ability to actualize their hopes and achievements.

Robert Ebersole, 22, attends the University of Arizona.

In the eyes of many of our Christian citizens, it is more important to honor the will of a higher being, a God that provides no support for the children in foster programs, or the mothers in dire financial situations, or the survivors of sexual assault.

Abigail Jablon, 21, is from Liberty Hill, Texas, and attends Texas A&M University.

The world would be better without religious ideologies impairing our lives. Believing in ourselves can only bring change sooner because we aren’t relying on any miracles.

Jana Kimball, 19, is from Pittsburgh and attends the University of Pittsburgh.

The influence of a deity strips people of a degree of personal agency, and it entirely eliminates the idea of chance. This is problematic for individuals and society as a whole, not only because of its inherent irrationality, but also because it encourages the absolution of responsibility in favor of unknowable, supernatural machinations.

Richard O., 19, is from Hockessin, Del., and attends the University of Delaware.

Science has grown leaps and bounds beyond that archaic institution [Catholic Church] that still has an immense hold to this day. It seems incredibly contradictory to take for granted our numerous societal improvements whilst clutching onto the medieval mindset of Christianity.

Jonghyuk Park, 20, is from Stanwood, Wash., and attends the University of Washington.

I know there are billions of women worldwide who are being taught that they are lesser and that their role in life is predetermined by a god who claims to love all his people equally. I also know many Christians who are only “believers” because they want to avoid eternal suffering in a fiery afterlife. I still cannot believe how normalized this kind of teaching is, and how regressive it is to our society.

Shelby Rhoades, 19, is from Woodstock Ga., and attends Kennesaw State University.

When I attended the counseling session, the therapist told me that I needed to read the bible and pray more in order to get better. Her faith was hindering her from helping me in any effective way and I was suffering as a result. Often, Christian therapists use faith as a lazy way of leaving real problems unaddressed.

Virginia Sands, 19, is from Claxton, Ga., and attends Belmont University.

These believers put all their faith, responsibilities and shortcomings on a singular entity — one that hid certain truths and gave empty promises. I had to escape, and I did eventually. . . . The people I called my friends showed me that their love was conditional when all except for one cut all contact with me. The faith I was supposed to have in myself was completely stifled by the faith I was supposed to have in the so-called loving God that was Jehovah. But eventually, faith in myself began to reemerge.

Xavier Thompson, 20, is from Chicago and attends Governors State University. 

A person who thinks the rapture is soon isn’t going to be making much progress in solving climate change. A person who believes that paradise awaits them in death isn’t going to make rational decisions regarding their safety. So, whenever strong faith in a deity comes to dominate the collective thinking of a society it reaches a point where advancement grinds to a halt and people are guided not by reason and truth, but by dogma.

Lennon Turner, 20, is from Shabuta, Miss., and attends Jones College.

I have found that having faith encourages people to relinquish agency in their own lives by insisting some deity has an all-knowing plan for every human on Earth. There are no choices left to be made when every option is predetermined by a higher power.

Katie Aaluk Watts, 20, is from San Jose, Calif., and attends San Jose State University.

I could honestly say I don’t believe in God for any number of reasons. Partially it’s a belief that religion can’t exist without corruption and manipulation. Part of it is cynicism. Part of it is the desire to live my life in service to myself, not a higher power. But really, if you boil it down to its core, it’s because many religious people believe in their religion because they were raised to. Because their families did. Because they were exposed to it from birth.

Kami Weinstein, 21, is from Freehold, N.J., and attends Rutgers University.

Making the decision to leave the LDS church was easy. Figuring myself out and trying to fill the hole in my mind of who I am living for was hard. I searched time and time again with my family to find other religions, other versions of a God to believe in, but after a few long years, I realized that these variations of God and his expectations were derived from the human mind and were engraved in the heads of many to create a level of conformity. 

R.W., 23, is from West Valley City, Utah, and attends Western Governors University.