My experience of being atheist in Bermuda

hi mom

Over a year ago, a lady at my job asked me if I believe in God. My answer was no.

What transpired after that was surreal.

First she asked me if I loved my parents. Clueless as to how that even fit into our conversation I answered “yes, I do, why?” She asked me if they were sick or hurt, would I not pray for them. Of course my answer was “no”, and I had to tell her that did not mean that I did not love my parents. Then she called another lady to let her know that I was atheist, and this other lady told me she loves me (um, lady you don’t even know me) and then they said that they would pray for me at some prayer group.

Other instances are my father telling me, “I know you will come back to Christ one day” and my aunt told me, “When I was your age, I left the church, but I came back, so I am not worried about you.” A cousin of mine asked me “why do I hate God so much?”

I bring these stories up to make two points. One is that there are a lot of nescience and mis-truths surrounding atheism in Bermuda. Being such a conservative and [alleged] christian society, it seems that there are a lot of false narratives out there.  This, most likely, has been perpetrated by religious organizations attempting to squash questioning of parishioners in regards to their faith, and some of it just pure ignorance.

Secondly, I inherently do not mind that someone is religious. If that is your belief, than I am happy that you are happy. My problem comes when people of these beliefs feel it is their duty to make you feel as if you are something broken, or failed or that something is wrong with you.

Some people in Bermuda need to understand that atheists are persons who are just not convinced in the existence of a God, because we have not seen the evidence for such a being. We have morals just like anyone else. We love, we cry, we go through hard times and good times, but we do not look for something supernatural outside of ourselves for dealing with life.

If you are an atheist, stuck in the closet, just know that you are not alone.  There are many others who do not believe in the supernatural.  I just heard the statement that “coming out atheist in Bermuda is almost as bad as coming out as gay.”  But as with the gay movement, the movement of the non-religious is also gaining momentum around the world.  Hopefully one day you can come out of the atheist closet and be comfortable, even in our sunny island.

Eventually, here in Bermuda, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, humanists, etc. can have a voice in their own country and not be met with intimidation or misunderstanding.

If you have a story about being an atheist in Bermuda, leave it in the comment section.

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The White Man’s Disease

Niankh

There is a common misconception among some people of African decent.  It is that homosexuality and transgender behaviour is a “white man’s” idea, disease or burden.  People like to spread that the white man came up with it (usually in France) and is now spreading it throughout the world and corrupting the poor black man.  Where does this idea come from and why is it not true?

In an article written by Colin Steward entitled, “21 Varieties of traditional African homosexuality”, Steward gives us an insight of what was going on in the pre-colonial times in Africa.  He states, “Throughout Africa’s history, homosexuality has been a ‘consistent and logical feature of African societies and belief systems.”  Some of the examples that he has given are, “explicit” bushman paintings, which depict same-sex sexual activity, the Ganga-Ya-Chibanda (priest from the Congo) who routinely crossed-dressed and referred to as “grandmother.  Another example is in 1606 it was documented that men in southern Africa behaved “womanly” and were ashamed to call themselves men.  One last example was practice of female-female marriages amongst the Nandi and other various tribes.

Here are some other pieces of history of homosexuality:

  • In East Asia, same-sex love has been referred to since the earliest recorded history.
  • Homosexuality in China, known as the pleasures of the bitten peach, the cut sleeve, or the southern custom, has been recorded since approximately 600 BCE.
  • Homosexuality in Japan, variously known as shudo or nanshoku, has been documented for over one thousand years and had some connections to the Buddhist monastic life and the samurai tradition.
  • The Laws of Manu, the foundational work of Hindu law, mentions a “third sex”, members of which may engage in nontraditional gender expression and homosexual activities.
  • When English and French-Canadian fur trappers first grew acquainted with the cultures of the Native Americans among whom they found themselves, they were surprised to find that there were significant numbers of men dressed as women among the tribes of the region.

The list goes on…and not one of these cultures are “white people.”

Where does this notion come from?  Is it because of black people’s adherence to religion, more so then their white counterpart?  Or is it because Muhammad Ali, in 1969, stated that white people where the cause of homosexuality and that idea stuck with black people?

Where ever this came from, if one looks at the facts, and ignores the rhetoric, one would see that homosexuality is present throughout history, and throughout cultures.

Bermuda Needs Secularism

In an article entitled, Island misses out on UK’s gay marriage move, it is stated that “Premier Michael Dunkley said in 2012 that he did not support [same-sex marriage] because ‘marriage to me is a union between a man and a woman’.”

Since when did Michael Dunkley become God?  I didn’t get the memo.  How is it that he can decide on all Bermudians civil rights, based on his opinion?  Bermuda, so it seems, has been held hostage by the churches since the birth of our country.  One cannot deny that everyone has a right to worship how they feel, but why is it that the religious leaders and organizations in Bermuda have so much influence politically and socially, and get to dictate their beliefs to everyone else? When will Bermuda become a secular nation?

Now most people are not sure what secularism is.  The various religious entities in Bermuda and around the world portray scenes of immoral debauchery, perversion, chaos and every other way to slander this idea that they can find.  Secularism, however, has a much more noble purpose.  If you go to Wikipedia, you will find that the real purpose of secularism is the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.  That’s it.  No sinister plot, no plan to turn society upside down.  It is to protect everyone so that all will be equal before the law.  I would even venture to say that keeping dogma and religious tradition out of the law is a human right.  No one should be forced by legislation to be coerced into following someone else’s religious opinion.  And when those opinions are found in existing laws, it is the responsibility of our legislators to move our society to a more equal plane.

On the converse, one would wonder if the opposite is better.  Well, we have many shining examples of theocracies around the world.  Many countries in the Middle East use Sharia Law.  According to James Arlandson of American Thinker, Sharia Law can bring out the most violent traits of humanity.  Based on a holy book, when someone commits an “offence” they can be injured or murdered. Is this where we want to go in Bermuda?  I think not.

So when the Premier and Leader of the country, Michael Dunkley states that his opinion is that marriage is between a man and a woman, and when the Opposition leader, Marc Bean, can feel comfortable stating that same-sex marriage will turn civilization upside down and upon its head, it is time for us to tell our political leaders that their religion has no business being forced upon people who may not share those same beliefs, through law.  Bermuda needs secularism.