Single Status Update
...as an atheist.
It 'officially' happened roughly a year ago, after spending my whole life sitting on the fence about my belief in God and the afterlife and whatnot. When I was a kid and my parents dragged me off to church every Sunday morning, I was always confused about how the God everyone in the congregation was worshipping was real and the god(s) people of different faiths were worshipping weren't. God's spiteful attitude was also apparent to me and conflicted with "His love" everyone spoke of. I didn't get any of it at all, but I suppose I bought into it because my parents did. And the idea of going to hell because I didn't believe was a little frightening.
I maintained my blind faith up until my late teens, when I started to drift into agnosticism. I was still surrounded by Christian people and I was a little ashamed of not being a believer in the sense that they were even if I accepted the concept of god on a philosophical level. As I got older still my confidence in it became weaker, intelligent arguments against the entire idea of god seemed increasingly reasonable, the need for a god seemed less and less. Eventually I announced to myself that I didn't have to sit on the fence or pretend I believed in something that I didn't any more.
My life is exactly the same. I still have the same insecurities and problems to wrestle with, but not having to drag around a dead carcass and grapple with the quandaries that my old faith presented on top of my other problems feels good. It's nice to be able to see sense without feeling guilty about it.
I don't suppose this story is unique or even interesting to anyone. I just felt like sharing it.
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As a bible belt atheist, I can understand the pressures that you face. My family eventually found out, but my parents, though mostly devout Christians, are very intelligent and aren't the crazy aggressive type. Outside of the house or occasionally college when I was there though, I don't mention my lack of belief in public.
I actually still go to church. The thing with Baptist churches is that you can find ones that are much less about dogma and more about socialization and people bringing in good food to eat. Since no one really presses me about my faith, no one knows I lost my faith years ago. I was even asked to serve as a deacon, though I respectfully declined.
Why do I still go? I still like the people there. I get free coffee. I've also always just found it relaxing. The things I didn't like, like closing my eyes during prayer, or singing the hymns, or feeling guilty that I'm not really listening to the sermon, I just don't do anymore. I lip sync to the hymns, replacing words with "rubber duck" or "hot dog" or whatever else I'm thinking about at the time.
And yeah, fraggle linked to it, but reddit's atheist community is the biggest on the internet as far as I know. The FAQ he linked is a great resource for material, and if you don't like r/atheism for whatever reason there are other subreddits like r/TrueAtheism that try to have more "mature" discussions.
I think the thing is that I've read a lot of stories about people living in certain parts of America, for whom coming out as an atheist can actually be a huge deal. As in, being on the receiving end of physical abuse, getting kicked out of their parents' house, or shunned by their family and friends. The standing advice in Reddit's r/atheism FAQ for example, is that you shouldn't tell your parents until you're an adult and financially independent. For people in Europe it's less of a big deal, because religion isn't generally taken so seriously by most people.
It's stuff like this that makes it so outrageous to me that Christians in the USA constantly say they're under attack and are being persecuted, despite holding a majority of the population and more often than not the ones doing the persecuting. If anything, a huge majority of intolerance and discrimination comes from the religious right in this country, not the other parts of society. Of course, I'm sure there have been some cases of super-atheist parents being less than accepting when their son or daughter expresses an interest in going to church or something like that, but more often than not I've seen atheist/non-affiliated parents be much, much more accepting.