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The Athiest Religion Geek...genesis




"Only people who are personally weak go to church or believe in gods." ~ My Mother


Unlike a lot of Ex-C'ers I wasn't raised Christian. I was raised in agnostic/atheist household. The extent of my exposure to Christianity was being baptized as a baby to appease my fundamentalist grandparents, and that was the end of it. My parents were both ex-Christians. My mother came from a highly religious and fundamental Presbyterian household in the Deep South, and my father was a Danish Lutheran. My mother never spoke of her upbringing much, I just knew she had suffered a great deal of religious abuse at the hands of her church and my grandmother, whom she hated, and that's why we weren't Christian. I don't know what she said to my grandmother on the subject, but my grandmother and grandfather never dared try to influence me either.


My father...well, I didn't even know his side of the family was Lutheran till I was 25 and I received a beautiful Italian mosaic cross that belonged to my Farmor (Danish for "grandmother") for Christmas one year. When I asked about it, my mom told me my Dad's family had been Lutheran. Considering his side of the family still lived in Denmark and we barely ever talked, I never knew much about them.


My mother was an avid student of various religions. She saved all her old textbooks from college in the 1960's (the ones that still called Asians "Orientals"), and had multiple analytical books about the Bible, the Dhamapada, the Bagahvad-Gita, the Torah, basic old "religion for dummies" type texts, and so on. We had a huge built in bookshelf in the wall dedicated to these texts. Most of which sat undisturbed for years and are now currently sitting in my storage unit. I have old hymn books and Bibles from before the Civil War era that belonged to my ancestors.


It was a bit rough being an atheist child. I found myself at a disadvantage and feeling like an outsider many times growing up in middle-class suburban America. It was like the rest of society was in on something important and no one was telling me what it was. We did celebrate Easter and Christmas in our house, but without the religious bent. Simply from being American, I picked up the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, Moses, the birth of Jesus (thank you Charlie Brown and Rankin Bass), and Jesus teaching and healing the sick, and finally being crucified through daytime television. I remember listening to Jimmy Bakker and wondering what he was on about. I just didn't get it.


I wasn't a very popular kid and other kids liked to take advantage of my ignorance about Christianity. I remember once in fifth grade and it was the rise of the AIDS epidemic and homosexuals were being especially persecuted. I didn't pay much attention to the news then, just briefly heard the word "Homosexual" and that it meant men had sex with men. One day in class someone stuck a sign to my back that said "Lesbian" on it. When I finally pulled it off and looked at it, and I didn't understand what the word meant. I asked another student, and they giggled and told me it meant I loved other women. I knew from the cruel sniggering this was some sort of an insult, but I didn't understand why. When someone finally told me it was taboo for girls to love girls or boys to love boys and we were supposed to hate them because the Bible said so, I suddenly laughed and blurted out aghast, "Seriously?! That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!" I could not believe that there was actually a "rule" out there over something so silly! I knew that people loved and had sex with each other, so why not girls with girls and boys with boys? It seemed like the most natural conclusion in the whole world to me that boys would fall in love with other boys or girls with girls. Especially since I actually DID find girls attractive. I thought that was normal. I had never heard otherwise.


Apparently that was really the wrong response, because the students got pissed at me, and I got a stern talking to from the teacher about respecting other people's beliefs, and I was not to call their religion stupid. My mother wasn't best pleased with that, and told me that I was the one who was right.


I also remember being asked in sixth grade "Are you a virgin?" and I blinked and asked them what that meant. Cue a lot more taunting about how I could POSSIBLY NOT know what that meant. Then they finally explained it and the virgin Mary, and how you are a virgin until you have sex for the first time. Again I thought that was pretty stupid. Why would anybody care enough about something like that to give it a name and make a big deal out of it?


My mother explained the origins of the word to me after school and how it used to be used to denote a woman who had chosen not to marry and handed me a book on Greek Myths.


It was instances like that and many more that sparked my interest in religions. Being a teenager however, I didn't just want to learn about them, I was awkward and wanting desperately to fit in...I was weak. I wanted to know this God I'd heard about all my life and this peace He was supposed to bring me. So I converted to Christianity at around age 12 and prayed to Jesus. My mother needless to say was quite disappointed, but she stood firm in her convictions that my spiritual choices were mine to make alone...just don't drag her into it.


I thank my mother for her own insatiable curiosity and vast education. I'll save my exploits as a newborn-for-the-first-time Christian (since I wasn't born "again") for the future, but that's the background needed for my further thoughts in this blog.


Thanks for reading, I hope to be mildly entertaining.



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I was interested because I have a child (soon 2) and plan to raise her as a freethinker. I wondered about how that would be when she grew up and already decided that we would have to teach her about the basics of Christianity and other religions just so she wouldn't get her first lessons from other people. Plus her grandparents are very much in her life and 3/4 of them are Christian so she'll hear about it anyway. I don't want her (them) to feel like they are on the outside of something everyone else is in on as you did. Hopefully with religion loosing in popularity it won't be as big a deal when she is older anyhow. And if she does at some point decide to give Christianity a try I won't be mad or judge her for it but I will expect her to think critically and logically as she was taught and hope she'd find her own way through it. I am interested in what lead you out again and how long you were a Christian. :)


In some respects I related to your post although I was raised christian. I was raised so sheltered, I didn't know what gay was and when told, I too did not understand what the big deal was. When I found out it was a sin it still didn't effect me much because all kinds of things people did were sinful and each being just as bad as the others made being gay as bad as any other kind of lust or sex that most people did not have a problem with. Plus I always accepted people for who they were and did not concern myself about the fate of their soul. If I could love a person, God surely could and I trusted that enough as a child not to judge other people. It was understanding that most Christians did not think this way that started me on my deconversion. I figure if Jesus was real and did come back he would be mighty disappointed in his supposed followers.

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... Sweet....


I am happy to know i was not the first person raised semi-atheist who became a born-again.


Today i like to say that my atheist mother taught me more about what a god would be than have my dogmatic friends.


My christian burden during my teen years was to be "the" reprecentation of jesus that she could not refute. I did not preach at her, but tried to live my faith with pure actions instead of words. We had our philosphical chit chats. But all I ever heard of about christianity from her was that when she invisions a "christian" she saw a most vile evil entity, whose belifs where the cause of misery in the world.


She had been a Christian growing up, even played in a gospel group.


She di dnto take to studying as much as your mother did, but my own children will have that to say about me.


I wonder if you are like me, in that during all the indoctrination you where missed? I found myself wondering why these people did nto seem to CARE about applying the lessons Jesus taught. Why they where not as concerned about growing wiser and overcomming their sin, like they where supposed to?


very nice blogging.



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I grew up an atheist as well however I had little to no knowledge of Christianity (or any other religion for that matter) until my late teens. Over here that isn't much of a problem as most people here are either non-practicing or agnostic/atheistic. I'm pretty thankful that I can raise my kids however I want without much worry about how they'll integrate with society.


Thanks for your post, I look forward to more! :)

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