10/11/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Ashley Brown ~
My entire family is extremely religious. They go to church every Sunday and God is the center of their lives. My grandparents would often talk about Jesus with me and would continuously express their fear that I would someday stop believing. They warned me about "evil atheist professors" who would teach evolution and bash Christianity.
I was raised to believe that atheists and pretty much anyone who wasn't a christian was an evil person. I was the girl in school who invited my friends to church if they didn't believe in God and would try to convert them.
I had an obsession with praying; I prayed for every single thing that I could. I had anxiety that something bad would happen if I didn't.
Once freshman year of high school came, I started to step back and look at my obsession with prayer. Whether I prayed or not, bad things would happen to me. I was severely bullied in high school, and even though I prayed desperately to God, nothing changed. It only got worse.
I read the entire bible, searching for anything that would help me keep my faith in God. But all I found were contradictions and lies.
But despite my growing doubt, I still told myself over and over that I believed in Him. Was it a test of my faith?
There were three things keeping me back from being an atheist:
- the fear of Hell. I realize now that this is an excellent fear tactic, and it really did work for a long time.
- the fear of there being no after-life. I was so afraid of dying, but now I have a different perspective. Life is short and that's what makes it beautiful.
- my family. for obvious reasons.
I began talking with other people who were atheists and researching different religions online. I found that there were striking similarities between many of them. But one thing got to me the most: When I was reading about the Mormon faith, I couldn't help thinking about how hilariously fake it was. And then I realized.. I would think the same thing about Christianity if I was raised as Mormon.
The whole religion just sounds ridiculous if you actually step back and look at it.
When I was a junior in high school, I came out to my friends as atheist. It felt good to finally acknowledge it and it was liberating.
I still have not told my family, as they would literally disown me. When my mom noticed I started to be less enthusiastic for church, she forced me to memorize bible verses and recite them every week. She constantly talked about God and my grandma started stalking my FaceBook page, looking to see if I posted anything "bad". By bad, I mean anything pertaining to atheism. I posted something from a science website, and she called my mom telling her that she was "worried about my faith". The post was element jokes.
I'm now in Secular Student Alliance and have never felt so happy. I can finally have a place to release my feelings and thoughts about religion. It is still hard being a closet atheist, if you will.
But I hope that someday they will accept for who I am and what I believe, or in this case, what I do not believe.
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