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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Your Stories of Atheism: Beaten For Reading Stephen King

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 Cory. He says,

So my story is fairly boring, I was born into a catholic (at certain times of the year) family. As a kid I don’t remember religion being “forced” on me. I never attended church regularly, I think 99% of my family aren’t religious but if asked they’d say they believe in god. I think they’d only say it because it’s popular thing to say, not that they actually feel it in their heart.
I did attend a private Christian school for Junior High and High school. I probably “accepted” Jesus into my life once a year but that’s because it was socially acceptable. I can’t think of any one incident that made me an Atheist, I always felt organized religion was foolish. People go to church to be seen, it’s like a status symbol. Don’t want to be the family not seen in the pew on Sunday, what will people think? So it’s always been kind of funny to me. I also saw folks that went to church twice a week acting no different than me. I think the older I got the more I decided to stop pretending just to fit in. I also became frustrated with the “Jesus take the wheel folks”, that and I started listening to a lot of George Carlin.
I’ll never understand how people can go through life thinking that some mute, invisible force in the sky is controlling everything. I used to get angry or make fun of people like that, then I matured and now I don’t care. I’d love to see religion go away but I am very much a to each their own kind of person. If you’re happy, I’m happy for you. Just don’t try to “save” or preach to me and definitely don’t try and force it on my children. They can decide on their own, right now let them be kids.

Here’s Paul,

It shouldn’t be why did you become an atheist or why are you an atheist, if should be why are you (insert any ducking religion ). I grew up in a large Catholic family in Ireland, insert stereotype. Of which all 8 children identify as non religious, but that doesn’t mean making the move away any easier. At the age of 15, but there was always the need to hide it from the parents. A lot of disappointment .
A lot has changed since then, I feel we have convinced my mum there is more pride in raising freethinkers than sheep, a consolation I guess. My father does talk to us about it and is fully convinced that Science is brainwashing today’s youth with that pesky logic and reasoning.
Either way what was once a massive taboo is accepted and we do debate about it, which should give anyone hope. My parents are the stereotype and they could accept it, ironically have faith that yours will too.

Thanks for the suggestion, Paul! I like it a lot but I really want to highlight atheist stories as religious people have no shortage of places to share their own. That said, if any religious people out there want to share their story with me, I’d be happy to hear it. Drop me a line at

Finally, here’s Tanja,

I never had an epiphany. Atheism and skepticism seemed to be what I was born with, unfortunately I was born into a morally corrupt Catholic family. The Catholicism wasn’t an issue when I was young. It was so ritualized that I could go through the motions without notice.
This changed drastically when my parents found the group Focus on the Family, run by Dr.James Dobson.
Focus promotes the atypical evangelical curriculum. Demon possession, racism, speaking in tongues, no dancing, no pants for women, no unapproved music/books etc. For example, when I was 11, I borrowed a Stephen King book from the library. I was caught and then endured an hour of beatings with said book, the book was burned and I had to do work to pay off the library fine. More examples: I attended a Christian school. I was suspended once for wearing too much black. Suspended again for attending a Ramones concert. The teachers and students even held an “intervention” for me because I was submitting to the secular demons. Just me in a chair in the middle of a room surrounded by 25 people chanting, speaking in tongues, and laying hands. One of the most terrifying moments of my life.
I am privileged enough to have immediate relatives overseas and in CA. When my parents decided that I was too sinful, I was sent to stay with my nonreligious relatives. Best secular vacations ever. I learned that being me was okay.
At 15, I graduated from high school and was promptly kicked out of my home the next day for being evil.
So, atheism was never an epiphany. I only observed and felt the damage a religion can do, to individuals and families.
1. Our childhood priest is now in prison for pedophilia. 2. My godfearing father molested my sibling. 3. Same righteous dad beat my brother into a 4 day hospital stay. 4. The Christian school I attended was shut down for not meeting any state academic requirements.
The upside to my atheism:
I have no bias.
I have no resentment.
I love science.
I volunteer weekly.
I love nature.
I respect all faiths and appreciate the history and ritual.
I have 3 adult non demonic successful charitable kind intelligent atheistic kids.
I have a granddaughter that questions and explores the world daily.
I win.
I don’t label or define atheism. I lead by example with the simple hope that I leave the world a better more educated accepting place.
Just don’t ask me to bow my head.

I can’t verbalize what I feel when I read stories like yours, Tanja. All I can say is that when I first read about what you endured, I was moved to tears. I respect how you’ve chosen to move forward in life, but it’s stories like yours that force me to take a different direction. I must act and speak out and do as much as humanly possible to bring religious superstition to an end, for the sake of future children facing beatings for reading Stephen King. Thank you for sharing your story.

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

If you like what I do here and want to support my work, you can chip in here or become a member here.




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