What Life’s Like Being Non-Religious

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Since 2017, I renounced my faith in Christianity. Today, I’m a fully-fledged agnostic, and also recently embraced the theory of deism.

If you don’t know what that means, don’t be surprised. Malaysians don’t take kindly to ideas which challenge religion, so it’s unlikely that you would have heard of it.

Religion is still a taboo subject, even in our ‘New Malaysia’.

Being agnostic simply means I have no logical reason to follow a religious belief that is not, or can’t be known.

I’m not calling it fake, but for me, God’s existence is as real as I want it to be.

As for deism, it’s the idea that while God is the creator of our universe (basically he’s the Big Bang bazinga!), he does not directly interact with the universe he created.

Sorry aunties, but I doubt your chances of winning 4D are any higher after your evening prayers.

So don’t go thinking you’re reading a post written by an atheist –  those people just jump to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist. An agnostic believes there might be a God – he just doesn’t actively believe in one.

Here are some of my experiences as an agnostic.

Being Asked to Return to Christianity

I know that religion is useful for many people. When I was too young to understand anything, there was a time in my mom’s life where she was at an all-time low.

The relationship between her and my dad was strained, and my sister was working abroad, so she felt like there was no one supporting her.

She was already Catholic, but when she truly accepted God into her life, she derived a sense of hope from it that she would otherwise not have gotten. She believed that through faith alone she would be guaranteed a place in Heaven.

This was when she started to embrace some aspects of Protestantism (though she never acknowledged it).

The core difference between these two forms of Christianity comes down to how they interpret their chances of going into Heaven, and how to avoid Hell.

Protestants emphasize that just through one’s undying fidelity in God and Jesus they will be accepted by him, while Catholics believe that their righteousness and actions in life, through putting the teachings of their bible into practical use, define their worthiness of entering Heaven. (More on this and how it’s been taken out of context later.)

So when I was debating with my mom about life, she started mentioning all the teachings that being a Protestant has to offer, and how “God is good, all the time”.

I don’t know what happened but I just snapped that day. I told her how I didn’t believe in God or Jesus anymore, and that I had been unfaithful.

In her mind, she thought that she, and more importantly, the Lord, were losing their grip on me and that I was falling into the Devil’s grasp.

So that day, she tried with all her might to change my mind, but I wouldn’t budge.

To this day, she still tries.

A few months ago, she bought me a necklace with a cross. Not just to keep Jesus close to me, but to replace the necklaces I wore: One with a black dog tag, and the other with a wooden-bead, which she said were close to Devil-worship.

I’m her son, so I get why she does this; it’s the best way she knows how to love me. But come on, necklaces are just a fashion accessory.

I’m a Closeted Agnostic In Front of the Rest of My Family…

…otherwise, it would get even uglier than the time I came out about my non-beliefs to my mom.

As I matured, I stopped being rebellious I buckled down and got my ass to Church whenever it counted.

I attend Mass whenever I’m in my dad’s hometown because I’m in the presence of the entire family.

I also go on the first day of Chinese New Year, Good Friday and Christmas Day – these are the days where I put on my ‘Child-Of-God’ mask and sing songs, clap hands, give blessings, and eat a biscuit to ‘communicate with the Lord’.

This is one of the subtler Protestant beliefs that fly under the radar for most people, yet I was raised as a Catholic.

I do all that because this is the Malaysian mentality – religion is the be-all-and-end-all in life, and that our existence and goodness is purely defined by how religious we are.

Had I tried to tell the entire Wong clan, “Hey, what proof do you have that there is a God?” I would be disowned.

My mom also seems to have brushed off our previous argument, thinking that I’ve snapped out of a phase I was going through (no way Jose, I’m enlightened by my revelation).

I Question a Lot of the Teachings

I started questioning Protestant and Catholic beliefs and teachings in 2014.

Because of my gold-digger girlfriend, I was broken and blaming everyone but myself. In my house, I yelled at God, “Is this your plan for me!?”

People always mention how God has a plan for all his children from the second they’re born – and that the unfortunate events that happen in your life are his “tests”.

I’ll leave you to interpret what that means because when I really think about it, I am utterly disturbed.

God had nothing to do with me being naive and foolishly giving my ex lots of money, or with how she used me that was just how life works.

If I kept hinging on ‘God’s plan’ for every mistake in my life, I would have never learned to face and accept reality.

And don’t get me started on the extreme lengths I’ve seen people go through to devote themselves to the Lord.

A few weeks ago, my cousin attended a mass that was conducted by a guest priest from the Philippines. The priest brought a piece of cloth with a blood stain, a piece of hair, and a human bone to display on the podium.

He then started talking about priesthood and said that by praying to the three significant saints of the Church, people would be able to seek enlightenment. They could discover their potential for enlightenment by enrolling into priesthood!

Apparently, the priest asked the church attendants to stay back after Mass to kiss the bone as part of the ritual in order to seek enlightenment.

I’m not making any of this up people actually stayed and did it.

I’ve also realised how some people have misinterpreted “faith” for “fortune”, “goodness”, which is emphasized heavily by Protestants.

Some people actually think that part of God’s plan is shaped by your belief in him. In simpler terms: “The world apparently works in a certain way if you pray or donate more”.

They also think that if you’re religious, you’re immediately a good person.

It’s like that’s the main reason some people go to church not to feel blessed or spiritually connected, but only to have a better chance of landing that job promotion, be justified to act like an asshole every day, or to come off as a good person based on their prayer count.

I try to be a good person all the time help old people cross the road, give way to the driver on the other side of the road, be there for my friends and family but I don’t do any of these expecting my chances of going to heaven to be higher than others.

I just try to be a thoughtful person in general.

I wish that wasn’t so difficult for the people who pray more than I do.

I’m Always Facing Criticism and Prejudice for My Choice

Whenever I say I’m agnostic, people rush to the assumption that I’m an atheist, or are left dumbfounded, or both.

In my final year of school, I was proudly agnostic and didn’t hide it from anyone. I told my classmates and even a few teachers about it.

Some of them were surprised, while others just thought agnostic was a fancy term to describe atheism.

For the rest of the year, I was jokingly labelled “the demonic boy” or “the Devil’s child” even after I explained everything. It was exhausting explaining my choice but still getting shit for it.

Hell, I have a friend who thought I was on some kind of trend, like the Paleo diet or the Ice Bucket Challenge for being agnostic.

Views such as irreligion (feeling indifferent or hostile towards religion), Satanism (the actual bad group, not atheists), theism (the belief in deities and supreme beings) and many more have existed since the time of Aristotle – and yet it felt like I was being compared to someone who changes iPhones every year.

And yet, Christians always preach, “Jesus forgives all”, “Jesus listens to you all the time”, “God sees everything”, “God has a plan for you”, as a way to will themselves through tough times.

I have nothing against people coping with hardship through spiritual means. You do you, but personally, that just doesn’t work for me.

I believe more in the people that are physically there and who can actually show me love and support, not in someone who people simply claim to love me.

I choose to live Life on my own terms

Till proven of his existence, I choose to carry on with my life believing in the people that are actually there for me.

I‘ve made a lot of mistakes in life; like letting a gold digger into my life or drinking my youth away, but I don’t need someone’s ‘plan’ to justify them.

And if I had someone who would’ve just listened to my problems in school, instead of giving me advice and setting me straight, I would’ve ended up not caring about SPM altogether.

I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for this, as I still believe religion is something very sacred. But I’m not here to diminish or hate religion, or specifically, Christianity, and its two major forms. In the end, these are just my views and experiences.

It’s time for religious people in Malaysia to stop treating religion as a shove-down-our-throats life choice, expecting returns in their investment of time, hating on people of different religions, covering their ears and going “LALALA” on other theories, and propagating their religious teachings to the younger generation.

There is nothing wrong with being religious, but think logically and maybe not throw shade at people who are ‘different’.

Speaking for myself, I only recently found out about deism. So you should always be open to learning more about the many beliefs and religious ideologies that other people have, and teach yourself to accept them.

Unless they’re Satanists, those people can f*** themselves.

For more articles on religion, read Brunei’s Sharia Laws: Here’s What Bruneians Think of Them.

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