Valerie was born in New York, NY and raised by a Haitian Christian family. On her mother’s side, Catholicism was practiced. On her father’s side, Protestant-Methodism was practiced. She was raised in the First Haitian Church of God in Miami, Florida. She attended church regularly with her father. Her mother did not like the church so she did not attend. Valerie enjoyed Sunday school and the occasional attendance of vacation bible school in the summer. However, in her household, religion was more relaxed and not as important. She heard conversations of opposition to certain scriptures. For example, her mother would talk often on the verse from Luke 6:29. If someone slaps you on one cheek to give them the other one to slap. She would get upset and loud and say that she would NEVER do this. She explained and talked about self defense and the stupidity of that verse. Her father would also speak on the bible and say how the whole thing is a made up story and untrue. He spoke on the concept of hell as well. He explained that hell was an imaginary place. Her mother even said at times that earth is hell. There is no other place that can be as horrible as the earth.
Nonetheless, Valerie would study her bible up to her teenage years. She tried to focus on positive scriptures in the bible to include loving your neighbor and being obedient to parents and elders. She liked to attend church on Sundays even when her parents didn’t make it. She often asked her aunt for a ride so she can attend with her younger sister. Her aunt taught Sunday school and helped shape Valerie’s love of listening to and singing gospel songs. As Valerie grew older, some scriptures did not make sense and caused her to ask questions. For example, why did God only want to send a certain type of people into heaven and not allow the Gentiles? Why didn’t he include everyone to be allowed into heaven? Her aunt did not have an answer but said we should continue to read scripture. Valerie had more questions as the years would go by like: why God let bad things happen to good people? Why does God let members of a family go to heaven without the rest of their family members? She realized that she would not want to go to heaven if her sister or anyone else that she loved were not allowed to be there. She had other questions about children and adults who died before they would get saved. She started to get mixed answers from different people which caused her to become frustrated and decided not to be as religious as she could have been and stopped attending her father’s church when she was around 16 years of age.
Her mother disliked that herself and her children were not attending church and decided to find a new one to attend. She decided to become a member of Miami Shore Baptist Church. Valerie learned about Southern Baptist Churches and their history so she did not want to attend. Her mother insisted and had her daughters attend church with her. The church had mostly white middle class members. It was the total opposite of what Valerie was used to at her Haitian church. Her mother got baptized at the church and told her daughters to attend the baptism class. Valerie was upset and did not want to get baptized, she expressed to her mother that she did not want to be “saved” or become a member. Valerie did not believe in getting baptized because if God saw everything he would see that she was not interested in it. Her mother still was adamant that she get baptized. Valerie was baptized in 1997. Her mother would seldom attend church but would make it to Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving services. When she did attend, her mother would express to her to give tithes because it is the right thing to do. Valerie was also opposed to giving so much of her hard earned money. She would at times give a dollar and did not feel bad about it.
Valerie later graduated from high school and attended college where she took philosophy, theology, multiple science and social environment courses which helped her to become even less religious. She learned about many different cultures and religions. While working on her B.S. degree at Barry University, her philosophy teacher on the last day of class expressed his non belief and was an atheist. This was her first time hearing about Atheism and was intrigued but didn’t have the time to research and find more about it. A year later, her father introduced her to a film called Zeitgeist. It was shocking and filled with interesting information. She understood now the connection with religion and their similarities and how they are basically made up. After the film, she removed her famous cross necklace and decided to stop attending church for good. She decided to focus more on existentialism, spirituality and being a positive person.
A few years later, Valerie comes across an old boyfriend named Reginald Bien-Aime who posted on Facebook about his meetup to an atheist meeting. She liked the post because it reminded her of her awesome philosophy teacher who also said he was an atheist. She learned more about Atheism and quickly realized this was a position for her that made the most sense in her life. Reginald and Valerie got together again and a year later were married. She is now a wife, mother and constant learner of different societal issues, philosophies and points of views. She is the co-founder of Haitian Free Thinkers and has great expectations to help move it forward.