Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention — Joseph Florida: My experience as a skeptic of color

Vol. 35 No. 7 September 2018
Joseph Florida                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

From my early childhood, I have always questioned ideas and occurrences that lacked tangible evidence. Growing up as a black male who was incapable of swallowing the religion pill in the heart of the Bible Belt oftentimes made things uncomfortable. When I look back at my youth, I was always an atheist. I was just forced to remain silent due to societal pressure. I believe this is the reason many individuals lie to themselves, but I realized the only thing worse than experiencing more discrimination would be to continue living a lie.

I would consider my journey to atheism is a little unique. In my experience, most atheists arrived at accepting reality through scientific education and/or actually reading their “sacred text.” I know that the demonstrative nature of science is much more reassuring than religion, and if people critically read their holy book, continuing to adhere to faith would be less plausible. Yet, neither of those two were what completely brought me to reason; it was history. I love history because it allows me to analyze the past, which I have come to learn is the best indicator of the future. Of course, when I began seriously studying history, I came to realize it was completely at odds with most religions.

I discovered religion was utilized by ancient humans to explain that which was beyond their comprehension. Ancient assumptions that accredited many natural phenomena to gods are things easily explained by modern science. In fact, history shows religion has always been at odds with science and, in reality, impedes human progress. Conversely, the conservative and regressive behavior was not what offended me most, it was its oppressive application throughout history. I learned that religion, especially Christianity, was simply a tactic employed by imperialist colonizers and tyrants. It was an excuse for absolutist monarchs to rule with ruthless indifference and for European explorers to murder and enslave foreign peoples.

It is ironic that atheism is seen as a “white man’s movement” when no individuals have been harmed more so by Christianity than minorities. The story of Ham and Noah was routinely cited to prove God’s condoning of slavery. In fact, slave owners often had the audacity to believe slavery was to the benefit of slaves because it exposed them to Christianity. Also, when it came time to slaughter the indigenous populations and to justify the land grab known as the Mexican-American War, all was justified, since God wanted them to realize manifest destiny. It is very ironic that Christianity, which claims to be a religion of love, is often used as an implement of suppression. However, I am not surprised since the first half of the “good book” worships a violent and tribal god who only cared about the Jews. The second half is even worse, as it is the basis of a blood cult for a supposed deity who was born of a virgin birth, performed miracles and then sacrificed himself to his father. It even denies all historic reason by having this take place during the Roman Empire, a society

known for keeping impeccable records. Yet there are no primary sources, eyewitness accounts or records of any kind outside of the bible which could support Jesus’ existence.

This is just a deceptive medium that has been used throughout history to subjugate and deny human rights; as is the current case with women’s reproductive rights being attacked and members of the LGBTQ community not having been permitted to marry. I embraced truth by studying historical facts and reality. I implore anyone living in silence, especially of a minority background, to research for themselves. Do not be afraid to start down your own path toward reason.

Joseph, from Zachary, La., is attending Southern University A&M College. He enjoys history and studying languages and calls himself an enthusiastic volunteer.