Leaving religion and defending secularism

I was a Christian, but believed strongly in enlightenment values like reason and pluralism. So I used to do the whole internally irrational narrative thing that all religious moderates do, which is to say “ok, my religion is separate from my outside actions/thoughts etc”. Or even worse, I would twist my religious values into some self contradictory version of “see my religion does kinda support enlightenment values if I kinda sorta twist the interpretation this certain way”.

Eventually I realised I was being stubborn and stupid in equal measure. I saw my religion as a rotten tooth. Just cos it’s not killing me or giving me cancer doesn’t mean it’s good. It may have chewed some good food for me in the past, but that’s irrelevant now; it’s rotten and I should remove it.

So I did! And I got a shiny replacement implant which is much better. And it fulfills all the good functions of the old tooth, while losing the baggage of the rotten decay.

Actually, it was indescribably liberating to leave my religion. I felt a sense of freedom and exhilaration that has not left me since. My mother was extremely disappointed in me and we have had many fights, but overall our relationship is going strong. Which shows the power of love is universal and requires no silly stories of burning bushes or flying horses; just human acceptance and understanding.

I have replaced religion with the values of humanism, reason, human rights, democracy, secularism and pluralism. These values are really important to me and always have been. And when I see how religion threatens all these things, I feel a great and urgent responsibility to make the case for secularism and do my part in strengthening the opposition to theocracy and enforced ignorance.

Bryan Gan

This story was first published on ‘Ask An Atheist – SG’ Facebook page in 2016.