Dear Friends in Deism,
Here is how I became a Deist. I was born on Christmas Eve 1969 and placed for adoption that very day. About a month later, I was adopted by two wonderful people, Richard and Linda. Richard was an all-star athlete who served as a sailor during the Vietnam War and later moved back to what was basically his hometown. There, he became a much respected police officer. Linda, who was of Syrian-American heritage, was a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian. Within a year of my adoption, Richard suddenly died from lung cancer, which was caused by Agent Orange exposure. He used to regularly load the toxic defoliant as he served on the aircraft carrier, the USS Independence. Thus, my wonderful adoptive father died from a very questionable practice in a very questionable war before I ever had the chance to really know him. The suffering a war causes does not end when the firing stops. It lasts for generations.
I do not remember the first time I knew that I was adopted or that my adoptive father died from Agent Orange exposure, because my adoptive mother raised me with that knowledge. To this day, I am exceedingly thankful that she did. It is generally better to know the sad truth than to live a happy lie.
Knowing about my adoption and the unjust and devastating death of Richard made me more philosophically inclined than most. From an early age on, I thought to myself, Why is the world so messed up? What should we humans do to fix it?
Christianity, at first, seemed to be the answer. It taught much good morality and that God would empower us through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to do as much good as we can. I figured that if everyone chose to be as good as possible, things like unwanted pregnancies, the Vietnam War, and the use of Agent Orange would not happen. I also wanted to go to Heaven because this life was full of suffering, and I wanted to help others do the same.
Eventually, I became an Eastern Orthodox Christian priest. Well, if you ever want to know something very well, try to teach it seriously. I became an expert in both Christianity and the Bible because I was trying to teach it seriously. The salvation of the world was at stake!
I never imagined at that time that I would ever reject my inherited religion. I was raised to believe that Eastern Orthodox Christianity alone was the one, true faith. Yet, I started noticing that many of the Christians I knew probably would have been better people if they were raised in a simpler religion, a rational religion that taught the best of Christianity without the rest. I believe that such a religion would teach that we should base all of our beliefs on reason, God exists and is completely good, and God will reward relatively good people and punish relatively evil people. It would not teach that we should believe miracles which probably did not happen, participate in rituals in order to be saved, or tithe to pay for a church and a preacher.
So I took a leave from the ministry, and eventually got excommunicated and deposed. Now my mind is free and happy. I would much rather be a Deist than a member of a supposedly revealed religion. If I were God, I would rather bless and save people who were good and honest than evil and/or credulous. And that is exactly the way God thinks, as far as I know.
I am very happy to be a part of the World Union of Deists. I thank this most important organization for spreading the good news of Deism and allowing me to use my credentials and talents to teach people to base their beliefs on reason and still believe in God.
(Jayson X is the Deputy Director of the World Union of Deist. He must currently use a penname because he's a school teacher in the US Bible-belt. This shows how much further we must progress to really have true free-speech.)