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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Your Stories of Atheism: Shaking Off Old Shackles

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 comes from an ex-7th Day Adventist, Summer:

I was born into a very conservative religious household of biblical literalists (7th day Adventists). Ever since young I was taught the bible, but instead of a loving God, I saw the unspeakable horrors that happened to people who disobeyed God. I was afraid of God, and I kept loyal to Christianity all out of fear of punishment. Though I was a scientifically curious child, and my parents encouraged that, they presented me skewed versions of science that conformed with their beliefs. And while I saw that they didn’t always make sense, I was afraid to question it because if I was wrong, I was going to suffer the eternal death (Adventist version of hell). It all changed in middle school when I studied evolution. I realised it wasn’t at all a half-arsed guess for “those closeminded scientists who refused to accept God”. I realised the enormous, tremendous amounts of evidence that supported it. And then everything started to make sense, and all the bullshit in the Bible was systematically exposed. Nevertheless, it took me years to accept the truth and shrug off the veil of religion, only because my doubts and fears were so deeply rooted. However, I’ve never been as happy and pleased with my life as the day I finally accepted that God is just as fictitious as any other god. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders and I still savour the freedom from it much the same way as you would feel when you finally get to put down a really heavy bag.

Next, we’ve got Allen, who has a great explanation:

Like most people I was raised being told god is real and never question the church. I was brought up in the Catholic Church and if there’s any group of people that can make you develop questions it’s them. The bottom line as to why I’m atheist is because I started to read the bible and the more I read it the more I started to figure out things were not adding up. Then I started researching how the bible was created and things really started to become clear. I have no choice but to be atheist because you can lie to others and say you believe but you can’t lie to yourself. I can’t make myself believe something and neither can anyone else.

And finally, a very touching bit from Brandon, who vows to fight for human rights and fellow atheists. You can follow him on Twitter at @bwm281 :

Well my story is far from being complete. I just recently opened up about my atheism, so far receiving very mixed results. I am currently trying to shake off old shackles. The odd part about my story is that I wouldn’t have described my family as very religious. There was only about a 2 year period that my family was active in church. Accepting Jesus was just expected of me, by my family and seemingly everyone else in Texas. In a way I was scared to ever reject the thought of rejecting Jesus out of fear of alienation. My first big revelation came when I saw my grandmother battle Alzheimer’s and die slower than she deserved. Exactly how was this god’s plan? Some rich family is thanking god for “blessing”them with material shit while kids are starving and I sit by my grandmother’s side and she cant remember who I am or function without help. That was the point I became a closeted atheist.

I feel this shaped me very much because I saw how badly gays were treated in my community. I feel like a coward looking back at how my choice to remain silent in my dissent was because the only thing more hated than the gays were the atheist. I’ve always had to deal with my anxiety issues and I wasn’t able to stand the way I would now. I still feel ashamed that I didn’t do more to fight this ignorance while I was in high school, yet I felt so alone. My coming out about my beliefs is more about freeing myself more than anything. I realized I let my anxiety reach an all time high, suicidal heights. I realized that I hadn’t lived my life as myself. When I graduated from college my goal was to work in human rights and be involved someway in radio. Up until a year ago the fear of publicly proclaiming that it is the human race’s job to take care of the human race scared me shitless. Well one day I realized for me to fight my anxiety and be happy that I had to live my life on my terms. So in conversation with my parents I did the unthinkable, I told them the bible is bullshit. So far they’ve ignored it except for my father telling me not to tell anyone else in my family due the fact it will embarrass him. Now currently I’m still hoping to find a career where I can fight for human rights and help others who felt like me and needed someone to talk to. One additional goal is leaving Texas (hopefully to San Diego, I love the freedom and the beaches of coarse). I have a humorous and glowing personality and Im ready to spread my wings. I hope to be a voice and figure that fellow atheist/humanist can depend on. My message is one of love and freedom and I cant wait to spread it with all of you. Safe to say y’all godless atheist weirdos might be stuck with me. Brandon

Brandon, I think I speak for most of the atheist community when I say, we’re proud to have you amongst our ranks.

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

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