THE VORTEX: LITTLE ATHEISTS – An up-close encounter with the effect of bad formation

THE VORTEX: LITTLE ATHEISTS – An up-close encounter with the effect of bad formation

April 20, 2017

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A few days back, Church Militant was invited to be on a local radio/podcast program where the topic of the discussion was “Does Religion Poison Everything?” The pretty cramped studio was packed with seven guests and two hosts for the more than two-hour recording session. Among the guests were one Catholic (that was me), an Evangelical, a Muslim and four atheists, one of whom was a little shaky about being an atheist and might better be described as an agnostic.

The first question the host asked was if each of us would give a brief description of how we arrived at our current state of belief or nonbelief. As we went around the table, I was struck by the backgrounds of the atheists. One had been Catholic, another Protestant, another Jewish and the fourth a Jehovah’s Witness. One by one, they each said things that could only be described as sad. And the common thread through all four stories was bad religious instruction in their childhoods. None of them had been given a proper introduction to the whole concept of religion in their childhoods.

Unsurprisingly, the former Catholic, who said he left the Church in his teens, was by far and away the most angry. He described himself as a militant atheist, and the more he talked throughout the interview, the more his anger was evident. He resorted to vulgarity a couple of times in describing religion and belief in God and so forth.

There is a difference between sober and serious and somber and sad, and as the atheist panelists kept presenting their views about religion and God and faith, they were somber and sad. As the Evangelical and myself spoke, we were sober and serious, but all throughout the more than two hours in the cramped studio with nine of us huddling around the microphone desk, I couldn’t help but feel a profound sadness for the other side of the table.

They live a life with no future hope of anything, really. The former Catholic was insistent that his life is happier now because he is freed from living under the fear of Original Sin and an “angry” God and all that. If his life was happier now, judging from his current anger at anything religious, it must have been incredibly awful in his younger years.

He left the Catholic Church, as we said, in his teens around 1980 and went into Pentecostalism, with its emphasis on emotion and so forth, without ever getting any real catechesis and presentation of the authentic faith. His protestant experience keep devolving, and now he is a confirmed, bitter, militant atheist.

This is the story of so many atheists and unchurched. No one is born an atheist. Religion is a natural virtue that all men possess. But somewhere back up the path of their life, something went wrong, and they intellectually check out of religion. This is understandable and perhaps even to be expected among false religions like Jehovah’s Witnesses, who the former member of it calls a cult. Even Protestantism with its emphasis on individual autonomy expressed emotionally will lead to atheism by its very nature.

But for the former Catholic who was baptized into the only Church that possesses the fullness of the Faith, this should never be the expected outcome. It should be the opposite. The Church should be a saint factory, but instead, in so many localized areas, it is churning out enemies of the Faith. On one level, it’s easy to understand the anger and resentment of so many former Catholics toward the Church.

God has placed in man, in each of one us, a desire for Himself. As St. Augustine so splendidly put it, “Our hearts are restless, O God, and they shall never find rest until they rest in Thee.” But when the means to achieve this fulfillment— our intellects as well as our emotions, properly controlled — are deceived or given bad formation, then the soul is left in a quandary. It senses where it should be going if only instinctively but is left floundering, eventually becoming frustrated and ultimately angry.

In some atheists, the anger is evident as anger. In others, it manifests as a certain superiority. But human nature never changes, so to miss the point of life, so to speak, the goal of our natures, the reason for existence, is to find oneself in a state of being perpetually flummoxed spiritually. Atheism is not natural on its own. But it is the natural outcome of a soul deprived of truth.

During this Easter season, as we hear in the Church’s formal and informal prayers, keep all atheists in your prayers, even if they think you are doing something stupid. Their childhood experience of religion set their young feet on the path and prepared them to hate religion and God. Pray that the effects of that evil may be reversed, and they may come to believe.

And for the record, this is a glaring example of why Catholic bishops, who are negligent in their duties, must be called to task for it. They are leaving a trail of spiritual carnage and destruction in their wake — souls created by God to be with Him for all eternity, strewn about the battlefield and completely captured by Satan.

For love of souls they must be called out. Many of their schools and parishes are creating and forming little atheists who grow up to hate the Church and Christ.

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