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My Journey


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One of the most difficult parts of being an atheist is the lack of community and fellowship. Sites and groups like this help to fill this common human need for understanding and empathy.


Although I have never been a member of a specific religion I would like to share my story with others who may understand.


I am now 33 yrs old, and have been an vocal atheist since I was about 11. My journey with organized religion started when I was 5.


Quick background –

My mother was born and raised catholic. She left her faith behind when she got out of private school at 16. My father is Episcopalian and considered seminary as a young man, but he too walked away from religion at about 17 or 18. I was raised in a completely secular home with no real mention of religion except around kids in the neighborhood and my grand parents. Although I was not aware of it at the time, the religious differences ruined the relationship that both of my parents had with their families. I did not even meet my grandparents until I was about 7 because of the disapproval over the “mixed marriage”.


At 5, I was living in New Mexico as my parents attended college. A very nice older lady down the street was aghast to find out I had never attended church or been baptized. She asked my parents if she could take me to the Baptist church at the end of the street. My parents said it was ok only if I was interested. I agreed (all of my friends attended the church). Within two weeks I was kicked out, (asked by the Sunday school teacher not to return). I asked several questions that were not allowed, and that the teacher assumed were coming from my parents (NOT).


Here were my questions

1. If everyone who is not baptized goes to hell, what happens to babies who die at birth or by miscarriage. (My mother had a miscarriage a few months before. She cried for weeks. My parents worked very hard to make me understand that I had not upset my mother. Eventually they tried to explain why my mother was so sad.)


2. What about my uncle, who hates religion? He was one of the best people I will ever meet in my life. Honest, empathetic, caring, kind, loving, all of the best humans can try to be.


The answer I was given to both questions was, HELL!


I went home that day, excluded from the park activities with my friends. As a 5 year old this was very upsetting. As an adult, I am so glad they gave up on me. The Sunday school teacher told my parents that their heathen child would not be allowed back unless they taught me respect for god. I was told that last part when I was 16.


When we are young it is easier to imagine an all powerful / all seeing god. I lost faith in god before I even knew the mythology. I lost faith in god at the same moment I lost faith in Santa, and I did not even know it. I was in the back seat of my parents pinto (it was the 70s) driving to Mesa Verde to see the Native American ruins there. I was thinking about Christmas which was a month or so away. Santa is supposed to be able to see you and know every good or bad act you have done in the last year. SO somehow this big red guy is supposed to be standing over the shoulder of each and every child in the world and determine the intent of their actions. Impossible, no way. So I did something bad, just to test my theory. Christmas day Santa left gifts. There is no Santa. I was 6.


I had really not given much more thought to the idea of god after the failed attempt to attend church. At 11, I had a friend who was a devout catholic. We were new to the town, and Texas was a very different reality than New Mexico had been. I attended a service with them and they all stood up to go take communion. Sitting in the pew thinking about this body and blood of Christ ritual being performed in front of me, I understood that god was false. That all of these faiths were there to keep people in line, keep them from doing anything that the faith found bad or evil. I thought back to Santa, and thought, there is no god. I told my friend on the way back to her house of my revelation as I sat there in the church, her parents in the front seat never let us hang out again. There is no free thought in religion. I refused to be silent about my lack of faith, and was told the true name for my lack of faith in a god, any god was atheism.


I got the urge to understand more about religion at 16. I read the bible twice in that year. I never found god or peace of mind in the pages. I attended about 16 different churches over the next few years. Then, as I reached adulthood, I began to understand what I was looking for, community not faith.


We humans face several troubling truths about our psyci. One, we are a communal beast that seeks like. We need the feeling of being part of something, even if at times that means giving up some of our individuality. Two, as a social animal, many members of the population are sheep. That is just a fact. For this type of society to survive, some must be good followers. I am not nor have I ever been a sheep. Sometimes I wish I had the peace that comes from giving my power to another, to give up the responsibility for my life to a group or a ideology. I can’t do it.


There is my tale,



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I would like to know what "bad" thing you thought to do at 6. Maybe Santa, just laughed and thought you were being cute.

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The point was not to get caught, chef. Like say, it was the idea that santa could see everything you did.


I took (read "Stole") a fossil off a teachers desk in the science department at my parents university (ENMU).


I scratched up my glasses so bad they had to be replaced, telling my parents it was a freak bike accident. This was far worse for my parents. My parents were poor college students, and the glasses (corrective) were expensive. But they still made sure I had gifts under the tree. :wub: True, unconditional love.


There was something else, but I do not remember. I was only 6.


I got busted for the fossil well after xmas. My parents made me return it personally and offer and explanation to the teacher. His name was Jon, I think. When I told him why, he was not mad in fact he was pleased :huh: . Hindsight makes me think he saw the path I was on. Later that year I started helping out as much as a 7 year old can (March B-day). I learned about dinosaurs, natural science, and many other things. My parents are both artistic types, science was never their bag. I, on the other hand, am a much more analytical person. This was my first exposure to science. I ate it up. During this time, Jon asked my parents if he could have my IQ tested. That test haunted me for life. No one told my parents that it would be included in my school files. I heard the "not living up to her potential" line every year. Sad...


Anyway, these seem minor to me as an adult, but worked in my logic at the time.


I never bought the santa line again, and I think this set me on the path of a sceptic.

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