I'm only 22 years old. It seems most people like to use my age against me when I tell them I'm an atheist. I'm also married and the mother of a two-year-old.
I live in the heart of the Bible Belt. Always have, probably always will. I've never known anything other than churches on every corner and Christians at every turn. I was raised in a Christian family. I went to church. I read the Bible. I sang hymns and Christian-themed children's songs. I couldn't tell you what exactly drove me to atheism. It was a long process, and it's been a hard road.
My husband is 25 and is agnostic. He comes from a fanatical Christian family. They're the type that condemned Pokemon and Dora. My family wasn't that bad, I was actually allowed to listen to worldly music and play violent video games. He was too, but his family tried their best to stop him.
When we were dating, we had many debates about religion and belief. I claimed to be a Christian, not devout, but still spiritual. He asked me why. It stumped me. Nobody had ever asked me that before. I had heard terrible stories of nonbelievers, atheists, and agnostics who turned against God and sinned and, I don't know, ate babies or something. But here one was, dating me and loving me. He wasn't bad or evil or sinful, he was good enough for me and he would eventually become my husband and the father of our child.
Anyway, I told him I believed "Just cuz." He said that wasn't a good enough reason, and he began to take me through the arguments against Christianity. I didn't want to admit that it made sense. It would be a few more months until I actually admitted to myself that I was no longer a believer.
When I became pregnant my fate was sealed. By then I was a full blown atheist, but nobody knew about it. Everyone told me that God was punishing me for living with a man before marriage. I also heard plenty of "Well, you better not abort it, because that's against God!" (I never planned on aborting her in the first place.) Just six months earlier my husband's mother died after a long and painful battle with ovarian cancer. Everyone told me that "her soul had left in her body and come back in my baby's." I don't know...I found it horribly absurd.
So now here I am, two years into my nonbelief, and I just find it getting stronger. I no longer fear those who would wish me harm by saying, "Oh, I'll pray for you, and I hope you don't burn in hell." It still stings when people attack my daughter and talk crap about her. The worst thing anyone ever said to me was during a long bout of depression. They told me my daughter would be better off without an atheist mother, and that I should just go ahead and slit my wrists. I spent a week in the psyche ward shortly after, because I really thought my life wasn't worth living.
I think I feel anger more than anything. Anger at wasting 20 years of my life on a religion that means nothing to me. Anger at watching my friends and family worship a god that does not exist. Anger at their vehement dislike of me. It's like I can taste the disdain in the air when we speak to each other, as if I'm going to somehow deconvert them just by standing next to them.
Being an atheist has made me free. The truth has set me free. But being an atheist has made me free. The truth has set me free. When I finally sat down and told my husband that I was an atheist, a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. I was almost giddy with excitement. For the first time in my life I felt right and honest and true. It's extremely difficult raising a secular child in a nonsecular culture, but that's another story.
I'm glad I found this site. I feel I can speak candidly and freely without fear of backlash. I look forward to reading other people's stories and telling more of mine.
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