The last national census in Mexico placed the number of “people without a religion” at 4.6% It might sound like little, but for the sake of comparison, lets pull another number: 14.7 million people represent about 4.6% of the US population AKA: The amount of New Yorkers and Angelinos in said nation.
So, you’re as likely to know a New Yorker or an Angelino in the US as I am likely to know someone or be someone without a religion in Mexico. I just happen to be so: religionless. It isn’t because I have a deep routed distrust or hatred for the church, nor is it because I don’t believe in their core values, or their teachings. It’s just that I never got around to actually get interested in it. My family tried but they simply couldn’t make me care. Most Latin American Catholics have the tradition of celebrating a first communion, a religious event where you’re supposed to finally accept god under your own accords.
But when this ceremony was carried out for me, and a crowd of friends and family stood up to listen me accept god, I said to them, through a microphone and into a PA system “I find this incredibly difficult to believe.” With a cross around my neck, a preacher behind me, and my parents trying to keep it together and not fall into hysterical laughter. When I realized I fucked up, I said “but since all of you believe it, it must be true.”
I was 12, and prior to this event I had to go to catechism to prove I could actually understand the ceremony, and the religion my mother was keen I buy into. But deep down they don’t believe either. My father’s family has an actual disdain for god because of what has happened to us, my cousin died of cancer at 21, and my grandmother developed Alzheimer disease a few months ago. It was said in a very serious tone that my dad’s family is “angry at god or something” more than atheistic.
My mother is a bit more complex than that, I think she shows my conviction at times. She seems like she wants to believe in a god, but at the same time is skeptical of any benefit from a god. She never has had to suffer a loss akin to my father in that sense, but she’s suffered a lot of the drawbacks of living with a conservative family, she was never taken seriously by her parents, she wasn’t allowed to chose a degree, and my uncle always got the better end of the deal. In a sense deep down she wants to believe there’s something beyond what was served to her by life... but there might just not be anything. Which is why she’s the sort of person that goes to Ash Wednesday, but doesn’t go to sunday’s service.
I never looked for a god but for moments of true despair to me. Yet isn’t that hypocritical? Isn’t it some sort of “woe is me” bullshit to want a superior force to help you out when you’re down but ignore that force when you’re not in a shitty place? Most times I’ve found myself in a bad situation it’s because I put myself in that situation, in a sense when I seek a god, I’m simply being overly remorse of myself. Self loathing: self pity.
In the end the few overtly catholic friends I have don’t save their god for the bad times only, their convictions seem to be absolute, and it is okay for them to feel that way. I don’t think you can be lazy about religion, at least not how my friends have sold it to me.
They say that religion is their guidance to life’s problems, which is a fancy way of saying what I understand as “personal ethics and morals” which aren’t at all that personal because in the end we’re all indoctrinated in a society that help us shape those standards. But again, you can’t be lazy about religion because if your convictions are going to be guided through a system of religious believes that is hundreds of years old and with an incredible amount of texts and postures to study, you better fucking study them.
Which is why I tend to see things like acceptance for homosexual or transgender people in the far edges of the spectrum, the deeply religious think that they’re OK, and should not be judged, and so do the overtly non religious. Only those half way seem to have an issue with them. In a sense it comes back to the herd mentality I used back when I was twelve and trying not to start a viral video.
How many of the people sat there bought into religion just because everyone believed it? How many of them read about it or studied it to find, within their religion, their personal interpretation of religion itself? How many of them found themselves in a bad place just to “hotline bling” god whenever they feel lonely or in despair?
Who knows. All I know is that in a few hours there’s a pride parade in Mexico City, and the most religious and irreligious people I know support it. Yet those half way seem to be either very quiet or very outspoken about their opposition to it.