I’m currently in the closet. My loving husband finally found out two weeks ago, and of course I told my closest friends. At the end of the day though, most people look at me and assume I’m a Christian.
And two years ago, they would have been right.
I was once a pretty serious Christian. I went to church on Sundays, praise group on Wednesdays, and bible study on Thursdays. I participated in organizing all the community events and my husband and I were both very active with vacation bible school. I was never pushy when it came to converting people to my faith; I always assumed that if I led a moral life, people would follow me- and they did. Our small church grew and found more members than it had ever had with a disproportionately large young adult group.
But I never felt like I quite belonged in my church. We sang powerful songs of love and redemption, and then I would listen to stories of the pastor’s grandsons taking girls to the basement to have sex… during service. The pianist would talk about how she loved everyone but then would laugh at people who were improperly dressed. Most of the congregation was welcoming until they found out you were homosexual or got pregnant out of wedlock. After awhile, the ponzi scheme the pastor’s family was running on us believers was revealed and the church disbanded.
I would spend the next couple of years looking unsuccessfully for a new church. Christian churches are rather clique-y sometimes and we were poor. I didn’t have “Sunday best”; I had jeans and a t-shirt. I would be invited to churches with promises that I dressed okay, but then the judgmental stares would start. As the years passed I realized that I didn’t identify with Christianity. There were questions I wanted answers to, things that didn’t add up.
My in-laws are pastors and I started asking them these questions. The first thing I asked was if people were supposed to tithe before or after taxes. A simple question fueled an hour long debate between the both of them. That left a bad taste in my mouth.
Then I started college. That would be where things really stopped adding up for me. For the first time in my life, I was introduced to scientific studies. I had to learn how to read them. I had to learn how to understand them. These studies contradicted my faith and I started searching for a reason to keep believing.
Then in college I took a learning and cognition class and was introduced to Pascal’s wager. It was of comfort to me. I could continue to tell myself that belief was necessary, even if I questioned it. What did I really have to lose? Eventually even this line of thought broke down. What if I were to believe in the wrong god? What if I insulted the true god by believing in a false god?
For a couple more years I sat in limbo, afraid to move. I researched all kinds of religion. They all had logistical differences, but many of them had the same themes. So I had to figure out why my religion was correct. To figure this out I had to ask myself… why do I believe in it? I figured out that-
1. I grew up in a Christian household (all I ever knew)
2. I was afraid to be wrong (because being wrong meant burning in hell)
3. Everyone I knew believed (and not believing meant I was an easy target)
Seriously, the difference between being a Christian and being Hindu was down to where I was born. I could have been into Scientology if my parents were members. I could have had 2 or 3 “moms” if I was born into a FLDS household. In the end, I “knew” that Christianity was right because I was born Christian, just like every other religion’s members “know” that they are right. Everybody just wants the whole world to follow their belief system.
So two weeks ago I denounced my faith and joined the ranks of the hated atheists. I finally had the courage to call myself a non-believer. When I realized that religion was circumstantial and scientifically detrimental, I knew atheism was the choice for me. And so far I’ve told a few people about my new outlook on life, but the worst of the confessions are yet to come.
By alienating those who do not believe what they believe, religious people do the opposite of what their grand books teach. Call a believer out on this though, and suddenly I’m the heathen. I’ve often been told that I’m a good Christian because of my strength and moralistic values. But I haven’t been a full believer in years and I wasn’t a believer when I was developing those morals and values. Atheists are not inherently bad because they find no use for religion. They are proof that humans create a moral code beyond their fear of heaven and hell. For that, we are actually a benefit to humankind. Embrace us; don’t chase us with your bible verses and pitch forks.
Don’t burn me at the stake for being different from you.