This continued all through my childhood and through my teen years, during which my sister and I were both homeschooled and continued to be indoctrinated with right wing Evangelical material. This culminated in my taking a position as a 19 -year-old musical director at one of the largest churches in the Fort Worth area (I was a classically trained musician who started playing piano at 3). This was done concurrently with my attendance at a (non-accredited) Bible school. No "secular" college for me (in spite of my high GPA and SAT scores) - heaven forbid that I might be contaminated by worldly influences . . .
I ended up marrying an Australian girl I met through the church and moved to Sydney. I had moved away from the Evangelical dogma during my time in Texas - I also suffered some terrible mental abuse at the hands of some of the senior church leaders - and spent the next ten or so years with my wife fumbling through the labyrinth of Christian options - Assemblies of God, Baptists, Methodists, etc etc. I tried them all and couldn’t reconcile my feelings with any of them - so I went for the last resort and tried Catholicism. It satisfied some of the logical discrepancies I was struggling with in the other denominations and it seemed to be a decent path for me.
Enter infertility. We had been trying to conceive for a number of years with no result. Turns out I was shooting blanks, despite all our heartfelt prayers and offerings made to the Deity. The Catholics had issues with IVF which I won’t go into here - but it was confusing enough to delay things even longer.
Finally, after making a decision to break with Catholic dogma and go for IVF, we successfully conceived. We watched as all of the signs pointed to a successful pregnancy, right up until Michelle’s hormone levels dropped like a stone and our ultrasound revealed a black blob where there was supposed to have been a foetus. We were both crushed, and my faith took a hit from which it never recovered.
I wrestled with the pain of the miscarriage, as well as the apparent deafness of Heaven and the unfairness of the death of our baby. It was during a drive home from work with tears running down my face that I first heard myself say, “What if there is no God?”
That question took me deep into places I’d never been before. I discovered an entire community of intelligent, articulate individuals who confidently asserted that God did not exist, that Christianity was a fabrication, and that religion was dangerous. Dawkins. Hitchens. Harris. Hume. And many more.
I won’t go into everything I learned, but suffice it to say that it was enough for me to break free of the mental and emotional shackles of my childhood religion. The main thought running through my mind during this time was “if I were a father and I had the ability to save my son’s dying baby - and he was pleading with me to heal it and make it all OK - and I completely ignored him and let nature take its course - I would be branded a psychopath. But God did that to us, and we’re supposed to chalk it up to our own lack of faith?”
I discovered an entire community of intelligent, articulate individuals who confidently asserted that God did not exist, that Christianity was a fabrication, and that religion was dangerous.I’ve been a closet atheist now for nearly two years. We were lucky enough to conceive a second time and bring a beautiful baby boy into the world - without any help from a deity of any description. My wife knows of my apostasy and is actually just fine with it (for the most part) - she agrees with a lot of my newfound viewpoints and feels life is simpler without having to worry about Them anymore.
However, none of my immediate family know about my atheism. Luckily for me, they live in the USA still and the subject of church and God doesn’t come up all that often over Skype. But I still find it very difficult inside when I know that I’m carrying such a secret with me. Not only that, a lot of people from the old days that I keep in touch with on social media are still churchgoing folk.
I don’t have many friends who think like I do. In fact, not one. Getting through these Christian holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc) are quite difficult for me, because I miss the social aspect of celebrating them as well as the internal familiarity with having celebrated them from childhood (good memories attached).
I’m hoping to find a few like-minded folk here that I can keep in touch with and lean on for support when I need it. I’m happy to do what I can for anyone out there who might need the same thing.
Thanks for listening, and look forward to meeting some of you when this is posted.
Filed Under: Testimonials