An atheist wonders about praying

Published 28, Sep, 2017
Author // Félix Garmendía

New York guy Félix Garmendía: "One of the things I have learned to understand is the ultimate rule of kindness."

An atheist wonders about praying

As an HIV-positive man who happens to be wheelchair bound, I have been told recently a lot by friends that they are praying for me. Those who are aware of the fact that I am a non believer, immediately follow their kind gesture with an apology like, “I know you are an atheist but...”

Atheism is not a religion and I call myself a non believer of the prejudicial, judgmental, bigoted idea of “God”.

I have encountered since I was a child, many situations and postures, many of them confusingly stated in the bible. These arbitrary and often out of context passages were clearly used as a weapon by various religious persuasions solely to justify their “spiritual supremacy” over my sexual lifestyle and non believer status.

"I see prayer as a way of projecting kindness toward others. Even if the channel is different than mine, I promise I won’t turn the television off."

Yes that is true, I do have a problem with the idea of “God” as it's stated by many believers.

Time has taught me many lessons, and my spiritual journey is still going on, therefore, I’m still very much involved in my process of learning.

One of the things I have learned to understand is the ultimate rule of kindness. The only rule needed to maintain the order the universe needs to function in a positive matter for the well being of every living thing.

Everybody gives what they have. That is a fact in life. Some choose to hate, some choose to love, some spread shadows, others give light.

In the same way, some pray instead of ignore others suffering. I see prayer as a way of projecting kindness toward others. Even if the channel is different than mine, I promise I won’t turn the television off. I’m grateful for your compassion, empathy and contribution to the universe in your healing thoughts toward me. Thank you very much for your humanity.



About the Author

Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía

"I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in the 60s. Living in Puerto Rico, and growing up there was a bumpy process. I was very aware of my homosexual identity at a very early age, so fighting the stigma was a very intense journey in my native island.

I love art. The Ponce Art Museum was my shelter since I was in high school. As my first job ever, I guided bilingual tours for locals and tourists from all over the world.

In high school, I was introduced to music and theater, after that, I chose to pursue a B.A. in theater at the U.P.R. ( University of Puerto Rico ). Rio Piedras campus.

In college, I discovered many things about myself. My sexual identity became established, my religious beliefs changed dramatically and my awareness of my role in society became the first and biggest challenge of my life. I became a proud gay man, an atheist and an activist. The political climate in Puerto Rico was very far away from recognizing any kind of gay rights so I knew that I needed a community that I could call my own, and be myself. After several years in Puerto Rico, in my twenties, I moved to N.Y.C. to pursue a Master’s Degree in Art Education and Art Criticism at New York University. I decided to stay in Manhattan. Here I found myself. I discovered my passions, causes to fight for, and the strong community that I always dreamed of. I became a passionate man with strong convictions.

After graduation I became a N.Y.C. school teacher. I taught art in the South Bronx, Spanish Harlem and Upper Manhattan for 15 years.

Sometime in my twenties, I was exposed to HIV. I tested HIV-positive and after a serious depression, came out strong and victorious. I became an AIDS activist. My passions in life became the gears that fed energy into my existence.

Very early in my N.Y.C. years, I became a staunch liberal. All my causes were related. I was trying to survive in a world where not everybody cared if I did or not. Politics made clear who cared for me as a human being.

That’s why I’m very vocal about my postings. Not because I want to convince anybody, but I do it for those who, like me, once needed some direction in life. I want to share the "real" me with those friends with similar beliefs or at least respect for my beliefs.

Today, I still live in Manhattan. I’m legally married to my husband Denis Beale and I’m disabled. My life is not easy, I have several health related conditions that are a real challenge these days. This bring me to another one of my causes. From personal experience, I believe in the legalization of cannabis (marijuana). 

I consider myself a loving, compassionate and spiritual person. I have no patience for bigotry, especially the kind of sanctimonious bigotry that wraps itself in prayer and fake compassion.

This is a synopsis of who I am. It would be really helpful to start introducing myself with my favorite warning. Warning: I’m human, far from perfect, passionate about life, the pursue of difficult answers, and the conviction that we are all equal."

Felix has been featured in The Huffington Post’s Queer Voices; see the piece here

You can follow Felix on Facebook here or here, on twitter @PozHeart and also on Instagram, here.