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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

9th place: College essay contest — Kirsten Cohns

Going against Black code

FFRF awarded Kirsten $400.

By Kirsten Cohns

Growing up, I would wake up every Sunday and roll my eyes, like almost every young Black child. It was Sunday . . . we had to go to church. Which, for me, a young Black girl, meant I had to get the hot comb put on my head, which meant I had to hold my ear unless I wanted to get burned. I had to put on the poofy dress with flowers, topped with a colored cardigan, the white ruffle socks and squeaky white flats to match. I had to sit through a service and not fall asleep. I couldn’t laugh, I had to keep my legs closed. I had to clap when it was time to clap, I had to stand when it was time to stand. It was a routine, a boring one.

At the age of 18, I realized I was agnostic. I’ve realized how much church, God and the bible are a joke. I completely went against Black code. By Black code, I mean things that go unsaid in the Black community, but that we all do. The code I broke was believing in God. The majority of the Black community identify as Baptist or a believer of God in general. However, for me, God is questionable, to say the least. 

I’ve always questioned God. My mother never communicated properly and used abuse. If God was real, why was my mother hurting me? When I was 15, I came out to my parents. God loves everyone, right? Why is the LGBTQ+ community an exception? Having sex before marriage, wearing mixed fabrics and getting tattoos are all sins — but everyone in my community draws the line at homosexuality. I don’t want to believe in something that’s supposed to love everyone except me. That’s conditional love and I already get enough of that from my parents. I could never put myself in a position where I don’t feel loved. 

Black church was pure comedy. Today, you can even find clips from Black churches being used as memes. I stopped going to church the same year I came out. The women “shouting” and making a scene by falling in church was embarrassing. At one point, my mom even did it and I just had to put my head down because I was so embarrassed. The only truly interesting thing about Black church was the sermon being wrapped around church drama. By the end of the sermon, we all would know who was cheating on who. The preacher never really taught me anything related to the bible — half the time it wasn’t even opened. 

The bible is the most questionable thing of all. Passages in the bible contradict themselves, so how do we really know the truth? For example, in the same verse (Galatians 6:2) it says, “For every man shall bear his own burden,” and then, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” So, what am I supposed to do? The bible was written by humans who say they were prophets.

That’s why today I’m agnostic. I believe in the universe and its power, not a big man in the sky. I meditate, manifest positivity, love and light — something I never felt God could give. 

Kirsten, 19, is from Pflugerville, Texas, and attends Brookhaven College with plans to major in business management. “I love dancing even though I’m not great at it. I love baking, taking photos, traveling and exercise. My love for baking has grown over the year because I’ve gone vegan and it’s fun to recreate the desserts I loved as a child.”