*** DO NOT REUSE *** PLEASE CONTACT ANTOINE *** IMAGE DEPARTMENT ***
I am a bad Jew. My father was not a believer himself and because we lived in a small town that was 98% Catholic I was raised as such.
I left after first communion. A new priest, old and angry, took over the church and would regularly yell at us altar boys. When he told me to cut my hair or else leave I had a retort, “Jesus Christ had long hair.” That ended that.
So add lapsed Catholic to the list.
In college I picked watermelon for money during the summers. I was the only white person on a crew of forty. One of the men working, “Preacher Man,” spent much of the time trying to convert me.
At the end of our arguments (Me: “Who did Cain and Abel marry? Who? Incest!”) he would give me a withering look and point at me. “You are an APE-ist and you’re going to burn in Hell!”
Since then I have, when asked, said that I am an Atheist.
Almost all the addicts and the homeless I work with are religious. It is not uncommon to see needles next to bibles, or rosaries draped over crack pipes.
When I see what they have been through and the injustices they face it is hard for me to square.
It is also cruel and absurd to tell them that I believe otherwise.
Some have suggested to me that maybe if the addicts stopped having false hope it would be incentive for them to get clean, to get this life in order.
Addiction and the forces of poverty are stronger than that.
The belief that there is happiness beyond this earth is often the only thing that gets them through tough days.
I used to say to them, “I am thinking of you.”
I now say, “I will pray for you.”
I am in danger of becoming a fallen Atheist.+
© Chris Arnade