It has become increasingly clear to me as I have grown from a teenager to an adult, that people’s ‘belief’ in certain subjects and areas are often less to do with their own personal opinions and more to do with the way that they have been brought up during their childhood. Early belief systems are generally ones that have been instilled in us by our parents and other guardians before we have developed the consciousness and inquisitiveness to be able to challenge or question them. As a result, a certain belief or way of life can become a part of you before you have ever even taken the time to consider whether your growing personality necessarily aligns with it. For me, this was certainly the case with regards to the religious background that my family made a big part of my early life.
My family is a half and half mixture of English and Spanish, and with no particular religious conviction on my mother’s British side, it was left to my father’s Spanish side, in particular my grandparents, to bring me up in the way of the Roman Catholic Church. As a child, there is very little about this way of life that noticeably affects you on a day-to-day basis. You go to church, you go to Sunday school, you say your prayers before bed, and you don’t know any different.
The problems and issues that I began to experience with Catholicism, and religion in a more general sense, as I grew older were that I could not come to terms with the ostracism that certain religious sects impose on sections of society. Homosexuality, for example. If, as I was growing up, I was taught that God loved all his creations equally, and even made them in the image of himself, then why was it acceptable for my religious family members to be against gay couples marrying one another? As my feminism and my social awareness developed in my teens, I was met with further struggles related to the Church, including their stances on things like abortion which in my mind is a no brainer in terms of allowing a woman to have full control over what happens to her body.
Deciding that you don’t agree with aspects of religion, and also coming to the quite profound resolution that you do not believe there is a God at all, isn’t necessarily a time of turmoil for your inner person, but what it can do is put you at odds with those family members who were so adamant on introducing you to the Church in the first place. Yes, there have certainly been occasions where I have had to come to conversational blows with my Catholic family members, but at the end of the day, and to relate back to the leading question, I would definitely make the same decision again. Making the decision to change the mindset that you were brought up with can be very difficult, but when it comes to things as simple, in my mind anyway, valuing the lives of real people over the metaphorical wishes of an unseen being, I am happy with my choices and happy that my beliefs are different to those of some people close to me.