Growing up, I was raised in a Christian family. We did not go to church much and I hated going when we did. I was raised to believe in Jesus because “that is just how it is supposed to be.” Easter used to scare me because I just knew that someone died and came back to life–that only happened in horror movies!
During my teen years I went to church with my friends when they would invite me. For me it was more of an excuse to hang out with my friends, rather than a time to learn about God. I definitely learned nothing because me and my friends were just mostly hanging out during church because that is how the youth groups went–do a lesson, then play. That was fun. That was just playtime.
When I became old enough to make my own decisions, I sat down one day and came to the realization that I did not know if God was real or not. I mean how can someone love everyone, but say that if you do not obey him you will go to Hell? How does Hell even exist? How is Heaven even possible? These are just a few of the many things I asked myself daily. Not soon after this I became Atheist. There was no proof for me. Science held every answer that I needed.
I was never too vocal with my Atheism. I respected that people prayed before they ate and I bowed my head with them out of respect. I never outright said “you are crazy to believe in an imaginary being.” A lot of people didn’t even know that I was Atheist. I didn’t think it was something that people needed to know.
One day a friend invited me to her father-in-law’s church and I went. It was very awkward and I felt very uncomfortable. I mainly went because her husband was my friend too and he wanted me to see him play the drums, so I obliged. His dad was super nice to me and invited me back. I went a few more weeks because I enjoyed watching my friend’s husband play the drums and we were all very close! I stopped going abruptly because I just could not take the messages anymore. It was all such a lie to me and I just could not get past my own personal beliefs to enjoy the music much longer. That strained that friendship but I honestly did not mind at all. She constantly told me that the way I dressed, what I said, how I acted–everything about me–was just not biblical. I told her that it was because I am not religious and after a while, she completely stopped talking to me.
A year after this, I decided to visit a church that some of my coworkers went to in order to actually study Christianity and the most popular work of fiction in the United States–The Holy Bible. I enjoyed the times spent with my coworkers outside of work. I went into a role-playing mode while I was there. I was under the ruse of someone who wanted to become a Christian. This was so that I would be accepted into the church crown initially and not preached on all the time for being Atheist. I went to their Sunday evening youth services and also their community groups which went into the bible more in-depth. I also attended their bible study at Tidewater Community College.
I learned a lot about this church’s interpretation of the Bible. It was not at all to glorify Jesus. Each meeting was a topic, then bible verses that pertained to that topic, even if the verse in-context had nothing to do with it. They also were very judgmental about anything that was not what they agreed with. Example: There was a wonderful gay man who was a great singer that was not allowed to be in their praise band because he was openly gay, yet there was another openly gay man in the praise band and they only let him sing for the simple fact that he wanted to “fix himself because that is what God would want.” I didn’t understand what the problem with homosexuality is especially since Jesus Christ himself never said a word about it. It is mentioned in that holy work of fiction, but nothing that was quoted by Jesus. His words are in red. That is not in red.
As people learned more about my personal life, I was gossiped about more and more. I lived with my fiance (now husband!), I had sex, I didn’t pray before I ate, due to knee problems, I rarely stood during the praise and worship, I asked a lot of questions, I spoke up when i disagreed with something–basically everything that they did not approve of. I was not learning in one community group because of the amount of gossip and side chatter. This led to me switching community groups and it led to even more gossip about me. When I got to this group I learned a little more, but clearly I was a topic in this group as well.
The leader messaged me on Facebook one day to basically tell me that she did not agree with my lifestyle. She said that me working on Sunday mornings was not good because I was missing the main service. She said that I should do what she does and put my faith in God that I would have enough money to pay my bills. Last I checked, I have to work to make money to pay bills. My work requires weekends. Why should I be made to feel guilty for working? She also told me that the lifestyle I led (supporting homosexuality among other things) was not biblical and that I should find another church to attend. I was floored that she had the audacity to tell me this, but I did not mind at all for the simple fact that I am an Atheist! Not a Christian. This just gave me more negative opinions on Christians.
Recently, I had become more outspoken with my personal views. I joined the Secular Student Alliance and also, I have been posting more things on Facebook about my views. A lot of people have questioned me and I have told them that I do not believe in any gods. Usually the reaction is negative and then interrogative. They want to know why I believe what I do. Then, they try to preach to me and tell me why I should believe in Jesus and I politely ask them not to do so because they are not going to show me any proof to why their god exists and other gods don’t. I don’t believe in any gods at all and they can not change that. They do not understand Atheism and they don’t seem to try. Someone asked me if I worshiped the devil. I told her that the devil is just another work of fiction as well.
Being Atheist does not make me a bad person. I just believe differently than you. To me, believing in Jesus it is just like believing in Santa Claus. Also, don’t assume that everyone you meet believes what you do. And don’t act so shocked when they say that they don’t. An individual actually told me that “Since you are black, you have to believe in God.” I did not realize that religion was a racial thing. That is news to me!
I think the worst part of telling more people about myself is the amount of friends I lose over it. It is ridiculous really. Also, very depressing.
People say that Christians are persecuted all the time–try being an Atheist. Then you will really see persecution.