[Vision2020] Religion and morality

Joan Opyr joanopyr at earthlink.net
Wed Sep 28 21:31:44 PDT 2005

Chasuk writes:

"I was a devout Christian for many years, and I certainly wasn't eager 
to trumpet my loss of faith.  There would have been no congratulations 
from family or friends, only hurt, and innumerable attempts bring me 
back into the fold.  I decided to avoid either option and kept my inner 
change (definitely "from the inside out") private for a long time.  Are 
there other ex-Christians on Vision2020 with similar experiences?"

I wouldn't describe myself as an ex-Christian, but rather as a 
convinced Jew.  Technically, though, I suppose the term ex-Christian 
fits.  I was raised a nominal Catholic.  My father's family were 
originally Jewish -- I have no idea when they assimilated, but I do 
know that it was back in Eastern Europe, and that they did it for the 
obvious reason, i.e., they wanted to live.  My mother's family have 
been Southern Baptists ever since there were Southern Baptists.  Before 
that, some four hundred or so years ago, they were Scottish 
Presbyterians and high church Anglicans.  This is according to my 
genealogically-minded grandmother.

My parents were (and are) agnostics.  My mother is a very open-minded 
person, and her approach to religion is unitarian/universalist -- 
either we all go to heaven or there is no heaven.  As a young person, I 
found this unsatisfying.  I was an extraordinarily devout child.  At 
seven, I wanted to be a nun.  (I had a thing for the "uniform.")  
Later, after being kicked out of catechism for asking too many 
questions, I experimented seriously with several fundamentalist and 
tent revival-type pentecostal churches.  I spent most of my teenage 
years searching for some -- any -- affirmation of my faith.  I am a 
monotheist, very much a non-Trinitarian, and I could not and would not 
accept that only Christians were "saved."  When, in my early twenties, 
I learned that my father's family were assimilated Jews, I began to 
research Judaism.  After many years of study and prayer, I decided to 
convert.  I found what I needed in Judaism, and I have been happy with 
my choice ever since.

I have had many crises of faith, both before and since my conversion, 
but I find Judaism both intellectually and spiritually satisfying.  Do 
I believe it's possible to be moral and ethical without believing in 
God?  Of course, just as I know for a fact that it's possible to be 
immoral and unethical while loudly professing one's invincible faith.  
Jimmy Swaggart was recently caught with, what was it -- prostitute 
number 4?  And yet I don't doubt that he believes in Jesus, or that he 
believes in sin and salvation and divine forgiveness, just as he 
professes.  The problem is that he can't stop chasing skirts.  It's a 
human weakness; a human failing.

God won't make you good.  What God will do is help those who help 
themselves.  As for atheists, well, they can just help themselves, 
period.  Most of the atheists/agnostics I've been privileged to know 
have done a damned fine job of it.

Joan Opyr/Auntie Establishment

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list