Why I Am Not a Catholic and Why I Am a Humanist – Council for Secular Humanism


At age eighteen, I attended an all-boys Catholic high school wearing a gold cross attached to a necklace. Of course, in the homophobic halls of religious instruction, this jewelry would never be called a necklace. We labeled such an adornment with the more macho-sounding “chain.” At the time, the irony of “chaining” myself with a cross was lost on me.

Those were the days of feeling the spirit while attending school-sponsored religious retreats. One was an amazing emotional roller-coaster called “The Encounter.” While there, we were peer-pressured to confess our most painful thoughts publicly, bonding with each other as we shared the darkest parts of our minds. Imagine teen boys dropping their alpha-male facades and crying as we took turns revealing emotional horrors and feelings of inadequacy. The most memorable story was that of a friend revealing his father’s descent into madness.

It was okay, though; the leaders helped rebuild us with Jesus as our support. Plus, we had games and music to lighten the mood. It was a fantastic feeling of brotherhood, being together for something so powerful. Sure, we were all hungry, because little food was provided. We were exhausted as well, because they kept us up late and woke us early. Yet, for a few days, it was worth it to experience spiritual exultation. I most certainly did not see the parallels to the tools of brainwashing . . . yet.

I found myself believing and praying while my skeptical nature rested in hibernation—not dead but not alert either. I knew that I doubted what I was taught more than most of my friends, and I definitely seemed to ask more questions. I found the answers good enough to put off probing too deeply but poor enough to sustain a lingering sense of uncertainty. My inquiries dodged the big picture and instead focused on pieces of the puzzle. I was up for tackling bizarre, obvious myths of the Old Testament, but I simply was not prepared to dig into the examination of the existence of God. Perhaps this was because my identity included sporting Jesus around my neck…continue reading.

Written By: Todd Stiefel
continue to source article at secularhumanism.org


  1. The Equivalent of the “Encounter” in my personal history was only 5 half days at Vacation Bible School after about 6 months of weekly services+alter calls. But the Baptists are as skilled at brainwashing as the Catholic Priests. By Wednesday, my guilt over not answering the alter call was unbearable. This was followed by about 2 years of guilt over not being able to witness, then my return to reality began.

  2. From the article:

    … Humanists are accountable to humanity, not to a deity. We give our lives meaning through how we live them. We reject violence as a means to spread beliefs. Humanism respects people, not ideas. We accept science, not supernaturalism. Humanism flourishes with free inquiry at the expense of dogma. We thrive on love, equality, and compassion.

    Todd Stiefel is to be congratulated on arriving at such a clear and well-expressed outlook on life. This his summary of humanism is excellent.

  3. This is why a comparative religion course in schools would be a good idea.Too many people know only what has been rammed down their throats by religious parents and institutions.And in too many cases the brainwashing is so complete that the people concerned wouldn’t recognize a fact if it came up and bit em on the butt.

  4. @OP- Why I Am Not a Catholic

    Here’s another reason:-

    UN panel confronts Vatican on child sex abuse by clergy – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25748952

    The Vatican has been confronted publicly for the first time over the sexual abuse of children by clergy, at a UN hearing in Geneva.

    Officials faced a barrage of hard questions covering why they would not release data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse.

    They insisted the Church had learnt from the crisis and had taken action to prevent future abuse.

    Victims’ advocates complained there was still too little transparency.

    Last month, the Vatican refused a request from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for data on abuse, on the grounds that it only released such information if requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.

    The Vatican came to Geneva expecting a rough ride and it got one, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes reports.

    Victims say they hope the hearing, which is being broadcast live, will prompt the Church to end its “secrecy”.

    Pope Francis announced last month that a Vatican committee would be set up to fight sexual abuse of children in the Church.

    The Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding instrument which commits it to protecting and nurturing the most vulnerable in society.

    It ratified the convention in 1990 but after an implementation report in 1994 it did not submit any progress reports until 2012, following revelations of child sex abuse in Europe and beyond.

    • In reply to #6 by Alan4discussion:

      @OP- Why I Am Not a Catholic

      Here’s another reason:-

      UN panel confronts Vatican on child sex abuse by clergy – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25748952

      The Vatican has been confronted publicly for the first time over the sexual abuse of children by clergy, at a UN hearing in Geneva.


      Ah but Alan, the Vatican and the Holy See are two different entities ! Much like their 3 headed God who is “one”, kill one and 2 remain, and the third one pops up again on the third day, and levitates off to join Himself. Whilst the Holy See has observer privileges at the UN, the Vatican is ruled over by the Pope. Clear as mud ? A church when it suits it, and a state when it suits it. Father Federico Lombardi must wonder who the hell pays his wages !

  5. It appears the has been another virgin birth – a miracle??!

    Nun who gave birth in Italy ‘unaware of pregnancy’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25787757

    A nun who gave birth to a baby boy in the central Italian city of Rieti, said she had no idea she was pregnant, local media report.

    The 31-year-old was rushed to hospital with abdominal pains, which she thought were stomach cramps.

    The young mother, who is originally from El Salvador, reportedly named her newborn Francis after the current Pope.

  6. lol first time on this website and go figure a bunch of atheist that think God does not exist. lol i feel sorry for you people. ill pray for you guys that hopefully you get saved. Just remember who died on the cross. And the answer isnt richard dawkins or todd steifel. lol what a joke cant believe in God yet can’t even answer who is the creator of the origin of creation. The answer to that is God and God is love. who do you think made man kind? if you say evolution or sequence or something out of nothing you have to be a complete idiot lol. smh silly humans don’t deny your heavenly father. were all mortals at the end of the day. dont be such a fool or dont think your so highly of yourself as a human being to think that There is no God. Jesus Christ is our lord and savior and is the only way to the father. why cant you guys just accept that. And everything in the bible which is the word of God is for you not against you. Jesus teachings are perfect morally. smh all you atheist/humanist need jesus asap. nothing in your life will work without God in the equation. we as humans have emotions. stop thinking you can go through life without God. none of this would be possible without God.

  7. When I was in Catholic High-School, the equivalent of “The Encounter” was called “Cenáculo” (in spanish, the place where Jesus had the last supper with the apostles).

    There was an unknowable selection process, because were only twelve places, and the forty-something of us (all males) were eager to be one of the chosen dozen.
    Those fortunate ones were most of the goon and bullying type, few of the good and religious ones.
    The conversion of the former was astonishing, the devotion of the later, mystical.
    Although I was a “left behind” in that small redemption, and although the personal experiences and methods of the Cenáculo ought to be kept in absolute secrecy, those who were outside managed to know what was about.

    …And was as you described, sleep deprivation, fasting states, emotional displays, personal life exposée, mixed with dogma recitation and all kind of prayers and the holy feeling of being one with Jesús (our saviour) and one as a united group of faithful believers.
    I had a sort of “Encounter” later myself (can not remember the exact name they gave it), and remember when experienced some of those practices, I was like an observer: doing what the others do and faking a touchy feeling, but could not let me go with the flow, because I could not understand the point at all.
    But I did want to be a good person, and did want to fit in the club of good persons I knew (aka the local parish) took catequesis, philosophy, and still felt awkward for years by my inability to appreciate how lucky I was, being baptized and instructed in the right faith.
    After a decade and half of Compartmentalization, I came across with the videos of Randi, DeGrass Tyson, Dennett. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris (in that order) and several others, and I allowed me to let go religion, finally.
    Now I am dogma-free for 2 years and counting.

  8. I’m not keen on him referring to his “Humanism” as his “belief system”. It kind gives credence to the theists who insist that atheism is “just another belief system”, just like theirs. I always describe atheism as a lack of a belief system.

    • In reply to #12 by michael gill:

      I’m not keen on him referring to his “Humanism” as his “belief system”. It kind gives credence to the theists who insist that atheism is “just another belief system”, just like theirs. I always describe atheism as a lack of a belief system.

      Humanism and atheism are not the same. Atheism is an understanding of the absence of evidence for gods. Humanism is a social philosophy.

  9. Did you know that, although evolution is a theory, not a fact, it is taught in public schools as a fact? What room is there for Christianity when you brainwash children with evolution, teaching that we came from apes, and that when we die we are no more? This is enforced, not ‘suggested’. THAT is brainwashing.

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