I was born a Catholic. My mom had a brother that was a Franciscan priest. Her other 3 brothers were Catholic deacons.
My mom married a divorced man. The church excommunicated her condemning her to the fires of hell for eternity. When I was old enough to understand my moms plight , I begged her to divorce my dad so she would not have to go to hell.
My mom told me that the priest told her as long as she continued to support [financially] the church and go to mass there was a way she could beat going to hell.
As long as my dads first wife dies before my mom. The church then could bless my moms marriage because my dad would no longer be married to his first wife [the church did no recognize divorces]. As it turned out my dads first wife did die before my mom so it all turned out OK.
The reason I’m writing this is that I just need to tell you that my moms fate depended on the death of someone. The whole story revolves around the luck of someone dying or living. At the time when I was a little kid , it all made sense to me because I went to a catholic school and mass 6 days a week. The church said it and I believed it, no questions asked.
I was raised in the Mormon church. While I would have had trouble in most churches my autism compounded problems in this one. I didn’t pick up on the way they avoid all conflict, nor realize that my questions were difficult ones. While everyone else learned to nod their heads in agreement I felt out of place any time we weren’t working on crafts.
I wasn’t aware of what was going on but I had earned myself enough passive aggressive spite to lose interest in the church before I hit my teen years. At the time I just didn’t find religion important, but over the years I saw how the adults and teenagers alike did this to everyone, more so the more they dared to ask questions.
I had been paying attention to philosophy in school up to that point but when I finally decided to cast my scrutinizing gaze on religion I saw at best weak and overcompensating solutions for trivial problems and at worst, well, I still wonder how that can be happening in this day and age.
Despite all of that I did still learn that I was supposed to be extremely passive and bend to the will of the group. Undoing that has taken ages and I’m not done by a long shot, but maybe my thirties will be the decade when I finally start living my life.
My story of rejecting religion and realizing I am an atheist is simple. In elementary school there was a daily lunch time bible class one could attend. Some of my friends talked me into joining and I became a Christian to the point I annoyed my family with my preaching. After I entered Jr. High and left some friends behind I lapsed in my Christian life but hung onto the beliefs. Until I accepted I was a lesbian. That killed Christianity for me. Skip ahead a few years I met an ex girlfriend who was Wiccan. I followed Wicca for a decade because it was inclusive of my sexuality. It wasn’t until long after I had broken up with her that Wicca also fell by the wayside, just to my growing interest in science and becoming more open minded to the world. Plus this internet fad showed up. I was able to study religions and critiques thereof and realized being an atheist was the logical choice. My family was happy since I was raised in a household of sceptics. They helped me be open about atheism to the point that while I’m reading atheist books or websites at a bar and I’m asked what I’m reading I’ll openly say what I am and many good conversations occur. You’d be surprised how many of us are out there or how many religious people are not bothered by a lack of belief.
I was raised as a Jewish person when i was young, i went to temple very often and attended Sunday school, where we were taught about our religion and about “god”. My family was religious and i had a Bar-mitzvah. A few weeks after that I sat there and I though to myself that there is no possible way that god can exist. It is ludicrous that people could possibly think such a thing. As I got older (I’m only 14) I took an interest in science, I was intrigued by all the theories of earths creation, (ones made by smart and logical atheists).
Many people my age are brainwashed in my opinion, if there parents tell them that some sort of mystical and magical creature created everything then they believe it, and that belief is passed down. Their minds are not open to learning about evolution or what not. Then they say that they know about atheism and have studied it, which is not true because everything that they say is not true at all. They believe that atheism is the belief that absolutely nothing happened, which is not true at all.
I have lived as an atheist for about five years now since I was 16 years old. Although almost all of my close friends know, I have never been able to fully acknowledge the fact in public for fear of reprisals.
The hardest part has over the years been to see how differently society treats you when they realise that you do not share their thought system. It is seen as something which is a disease, a bad apple, and the existence of this forum attests to that.
I grew up and live in a very Protestant community which identifies very strongly with its religion. When declaring to people that I am an atheist they decry why I would make that choice, as if it is a choice. I did not choose to think differently, or to not believe. It is merely a realisation one comes to if you follow your convictions. I’ve often described it as a glass wall which shatters the moment you realise, and when you look back nothing is quite the same.
Suddenly you cannot comprehend how you previously identified with religion and all of its aspects. How you believed the stories and trusted in the common sense of the community. It will take a long time for society to bridge this gap, but I believe the existence of this forum is a step in the right direction.
I told people I was an atheist a couple of years ago and it didn’t go well. I’ve noticed others (even family members) treating me differently. I’m the only atheist I know of in my area. I’m married to a christian (makes for interesting dinner conversations), have a 8 yr daughter that isn’t old enough to decide yet and a son on the way (he’s already an atheist). I have that “atheist rage” that people talk about, but I don’t like it. It’s frustrating and annoying when the only people you can talk to about how you feel, think that your possessed or demented.