This is a little different from what I usually write but I have read so many articles on faith and religion lately that I felt inspired. There are many points of view and I always try to be respectful and sometimes it’s just better to agree to disagree. There will be some swearing and discussion about sexuality in this, so be warned!
I was born into a Catholic family. My grandparents were deeply involved with the local church and would take part in a lot – basically everything – that happened there. I went to a Catholic school for girls as a child and I really liked it. It wasn’t until I turned 11 or 12 that things started to change.
As I grew into my own person, I began to question. My questions were not welcome. I was told I should have faith and believe (basically shut up and follow). Don’t get me wrong: I am not an atheist. I believe in God, I pray and I hope my soul will find peace in ‘heaven’, wherever it is.
My problem with ‘following’ is that I started seeing a lot of things I did not agree with. My God is good. My God is accepting. My God does not discriminate or exclude people and, trust me, I have seen my share of church ‘wrongdoing’.
As a large Catholic school with students up to 18 years old, there was the occasional case of teenage pregnancy. It was quickly ‘suggested’ to these girls that they should find another school. Instead of saying: “OK, you messed up! But we are here to help you and you and your child will be welcome,” they got kicked out and asked to hide in shame somewhere else.
I always thought that was fucked-up but I heard a lot of parents comment the school was setting an example, a good one, and they didn’t want their daughters mingling with that sort of people. Really? That will last until your lack of communication with your child prevents you from discussing sex and protection and she’s the next one to have one in the oven, idiot! There was this couple who were waiting until their eldest turned 15 to have the talk. She got pregnant at 14!
Sex education was a big no-no! “You shouldn’t be doing it, so why be educated on it?” I think a lot has improved on this part since my days, but it’s still taboo.
Then, as the kids grew, sexuality became the hot topic. It still is. I can be the most wonderful, caring, loving person in the world, but if I’m not ‘straight’, I don’t belong. I have been attracted to girls as well as guys from a very early age. I didn’t really think about it when I was young as I was very ‘volatile’ with my crushes: I would probably have 10 different crushes at one time and they would change on a weekly basis.
Because I liked boys too, I never thought of myself as gay and kind of dismissed it. We didn’t talk about this at home. Homosexuality was ‘funny’: gays were the hilarious effeminates and lesbians were the macho girls – there were only stereotypes and no in-between. In any case, they should be kept at distance.
I lived contently with that until I went to University. Fresher’s week took me on pub crawl through Manchester’s Canal Street and a whole new world opened up in front of me. You’re attracted to girls? That’s fine! Into guys? That’s fine too! We promote love! What a wonderful thing!
In that world I did kiss girls. I never had a fully fledged relationship with a girl simply because I never fell in love with one. Once I got close but, in that case, she wasn’t interested in me. Love is the same, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.
That’s when I decided to leave the church I was born in. I could still go, if I wanted to. I had a serious boyfriend, then another, got engaged then married. I am in an acceptable heterosexual relationship, but Catholicism preaches I need to repent, confess my sins and be forgiven. I refuse to do that. It would be a lie – a lie to myself and to my God, who accepts me the way I am and wants me to live a good life.
For many years I lived ‘churchless’ (never faithless) until one day we were joking about religion at work and one of my colleagues did some quick research on the most ‘wacko’ religions in the world during lunch and we came across The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. We read a lot about it and laughed so hard that we were all crying: it was crazy, but also scientifically correct. What really got me thinking seriously about it was the picture below.
I have it saved on my phone, my tablet, my computer and I always go back to it. The sincerity of the simple ‘we WELCOME all on his list’ with an arrow pointing at some other church’s list of people bound to hell. And if heaven has a beer volcano it is truly heaven for me!
FSM started as a kind of satire of churches and it grew from there as more and more people became frustrated with their own religions. One of the things that attract people to it is that there’s no catch. If you want to become a Pastafarian, then congratulations! You have just become one!
FSM sells merchandise and admits to making profit out of it. However you don’t have to buy anything to remain part of the church. You’re still welcome! My team at work all got the t-shirts, which we wore for a team building exercise. It was brilliant! We were really into it, not needing any pre-packaged mountain rescue or shipwreck simulation requiring teamwork to save someone’s life.
As I got deeper into it, I read the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and there is a lot of satire and sarcasm ( it may be the lowest form of wit but I am the queen of it), but there are a lot of things that speak to my heart, acceptance being the key.
There are forums, twitter, facebook… I am proud to say I am now a Minister and I will remain a Pastafarian for as long as they accept me and my friends.