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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Your Stories of Atheism: A Witch, A Nerd and a Baptist Walk Into A Bar….

This is an ongoing series featuring your stories of how you came to identify as an atheist. If you want to send me your story, you can submit it here. To read past stories, click here.

Our first story this week is from Allen,

I am Wiccan/agnostic, in the fact that while I believe that a Creator breathed life into us all, I do not share the creation mythos that most religions share. The Wiccan side is I will always seek natural remedies to man-made whenever possible.
I have witnessed the indifference of “Christians” for decades, in fact by the time I was 8 years old I saw through their hypocritical dogma.
A loving caring God, that encourages his followers to kill in his name all those who do not worship him seemed a contradiction *Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, Spanish Inquisition*.

Next, we have a story from Jan:

I have never believed in God, ever. My parents went to church until I was about four, but for some reason at that point they ceased attending. Going to church meant that I would wear a pretty dress, wear white gloves and carry a little purse, things I never did ordinarily, so I looked forward to it. I remember meeting with other children in the basement, but beyond that I have no memory of the church ceremonies. Church, to me, was about getting dressed up.
There are Catholics, Episcopalians, Quakers and Salvation Army members in my family tree, even a few Puritans and Pilgrims. There was no talk of Christianity in the house, no Jesus mentioned, but the moral upbringing was very strict. My sisters and I were taught never to harm others, to be honest, do the right thing, and follow all the rules. Our parents did not strike us for misbehaving, but behave we did. I was the goody-two-shoes, the square, the nerd. We celebrated a secular Christmas, including Santa, reindeer, trees, family events and caroling. Easter was about chocolate.
The kids next door would tell us these crazy stories about talking snakes, and of all of the animals of the world dying except the few put on a boat. I had watched every National Geographic Special, every Jacques Cousteau program, every Wild Kingdom and not one of those snakes talked and no one ever mentioned when the great flood happened. I read science magazines. I had read books on biology and zoology, no sign of these things.
I looked in the fairy tale and mythology sections of the library to see if I could find more of these fantasy stories with talking animals, because I loved fantasy stories, but could never seem to find them. Later, I found out that these stories were in a book called the Bible and that these stories were regarded as true by many people.
I was about nine when I told myself, “I don’t believe it.”, which happened about fifteen seconds after I was told that these stories were true. The more I learned about the Bible, the less I believed it. I could not believe that the gory, violent stories taught morality. I could not believe that the torturous punishment of one man did anything for me or anyone else. I could not believe in heaven, I could not believe in hell. I do not believe there is anyone anywhere keeping an account of all of my thoughts and deeds that I need to repent to get into heaven, it seems silly.
I didn’t identify as an atheist for quite a few years, because I didn’t know that there was a word for what I was. I called myself an agnostic for a bit, because if sounded a little less scary to other people, but I cannot say that I ever really questioned the existence of a god or gods any more than I questioned the existence of snakes that spoke as humans do. I don’t question, I just flat out don’t believe, never did.
I’m still the uptight, goody-two-shoes. People assume that my family is religious, because we don’t really drink, don’t swear and our daughter follows the rules and is kind to everyone. We place our belief in science, in human goodness and each other.

And finally, here’s the Hawaiian Tater:

My name is Tate aka Tater aka Hawai’ian Tater (@HawaiianTater) and I’m an atheist.
I wasn’t given much choice in the matter while growing up. I come from a hardcore Southern Baptist upbringing in Alabama. I was forced to go to church twice on Sundays, once on Wednesdays & other various church functions throughout the week. I got the full force brainwashing indoctrination as a child.
Luckily for me, it never took.
I did all the Christian stuff as a kid. Praying. Going to church. Going to Sunday school. Hallelujah houses. Christian retreats. Bible drills (Yes, that’s a thing. They make you stand on stage with other kids and among other things, they would announce verses and see who can find them the quickest.) I was even saved and baptized in front of the entire congregation. I did all these things because that is what I was told to do, I had no other real options and I didn’t know any better. When I think back to that time of my life, I don’t really remember ever truly believing in all that nonsense. It was just the thing to do because it was the environment I was in.
When I was old enough to start making my own choices in life, I stopped going to church. Becoming an atheist didn’t happen overnight though. I was agnostic for a while as I worked things out and eventually came to the conclusion of atheism. There are thousands of different religions in the world. It never made sense to me that one could be right while all the other thousands were wrong.
If I were to point to the one person who started me down the path of atheism, that would be the late, great, George Carlin. I started listening to his work during my teenage years. At first, it was just for his silly humor. Then I would hear his thoughts on religion and God and it really made me start to think. What he had to say on the topic made perfect sense to me; especially his infamous “Religion is Bullshit” bit. My young, indoctrinated mind had never heard those kind of thoughts before. They blew me away! Other than the fact that there is no real evidence for God outside of mythical fairy tales, I think probably the main reason that I started down the path to atheism is just that I simply do not like being told what to do. I think for myself and come to my own conclusions based on the evidence presented to me. Religion told me the opposite of everything my brain was telling me. Nothing about religion made even the tiniest bit of sense to me. I felt like a fool talking to himself when I tried to pray. I didn’t feel like this awful sinner that the church told me I was. I felt like a human in search of truth, peace and happiness; things the church never inspired in me.

If you want to send me your story, you can submit it here. To read past stories, click here.

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