Our first story this week is from Kobus:
I grew up in South Africa in a very small, very religious, very conservative town. Since I was young my (religious) parents tought me that I should never take any statement made for granted. Even though I had religious parents I was never forced to attend church or Sunday school. I tried to go to a lot of different churches in order to gather as much information as I could on the subject of religion and the “apparent” creator of this universe and the “logic” behind it. I found no logical answers anywhere. My Sunday school teachers, pastors and priests were always stumped by questions, which to me, seemed quite whimsical. “How did all the animals fit on the Ark?” “How did the world repopulate after the “Flood?” I first called myself an atheist at the age of 19. I was too afraid to make it public, but I think I’ve been an atheist since I’ve been old enough to remember my thoughts. I was lucky to be raised by parents who let me go my own way and decide what I wanted for myself. Not everyone has that privilege. As an atheist I will always be open to the possibilities of this universe, which does seem to become more and more endless each day as we advance in the different scientific fields, but I will always require proof as I have from the beginning. I think I was born an atheist and I had the support from a loving family which helped me avoid indoctrination. I do hope that other children get to experience this way of being raised. As I did.
When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible – Jomo Kenyatta
The second story was submitted anonymously:
I was born and brought up in Nigeria until I was 8 years old and then moved to England with my family. My dad is a preacher, the fire and brimstone, homophobic, misogynistic and racist type that uses the bible to justify all of that. I was indoctrinated from birth but did not firmly believe till I was about 14 just after I had been baptised. When I was 14, I decided to take the Bible seriously because I started to actually believe that there was a god (the Christian one) and that Hell and Heaven were real. I was petrified of going to Hell so I changed, a lot. I gave up secular music and everything secular. I prayed and worshipped god everyday. I’d get up early in the morning to read the Bible and pray and do the same at night. I would preach constantly to people in person and on social networking sites. I became lonely, I was rejected by Christians and non-Christians. However, I saw Jesus as my best friend, I would get excited to pray etc… However, I started to realise how hypocritical my parents and Christians generally were, especially my dad. He would mistreat my mum and his kids. I prayed that god would change him. Nothing happened, he only got worse. At this time, I was dealing with depression, self harm, suicidal thoughts and sleep paralysis. I prayed that god would heal me for years. Nothing changed. Finally, after realising how misogynistic, homophobic, morally empty, and contradictory the Bible was, I became an atheist. I learned more and more about science and how the Bible did not match up. I have been a closet atheist for months and intend to keep it that way until I become financially stable and move out on my own as I fear for my safety if my family finds out. Now that I no longer believe, I can go to bed without fearing that I will die in the night and end up in Hell, I am now working on my depression and not expecting god to heal me. I am no longer homophobic. I’ve received medical help for my sleep paralysis as I now know it is natural and not demons trying to attack me. I have a great group of friends and I am happy. I am no longer ashamed of being a woman as I don’t live by or believe what the Bible says about me just because I have a vagina and two squishy lumps on my chest. I just wish I could come out of the closet without fear and no longer have to go to church to be bored to the point of wanting to jump off a cliff.