I am an atheist.

Something Easter-related came up and I was ignorant about the religious rituals around the event. I admitted this. It was a completely casual exchange which ended in me being asked if I was asked if I was an atheist and instead of saying “Yes, I’m an atheist” I mumbled and bumbled and said something along the lines of “Well, um, sort of, I, I wasn’t raised religious, I guess, I, um…” and I have been kicking myself ever since. “So you’re kind of on the fence?” the other person said, and I responded with “Um, I guess, yes.” Let me make this clear. I’m not on the fence. At all. You see, I didn’t know if the person I was speaking to was religious or not and I panicked because I feel like being an atheist is something that a lot of religious people look down on. In this particular exchange, I was speaking to somebody with whom I want to make a good impression. So some irritating little part of my brain decided that being labelled as a fence-sitting agnostic was safer than revealing the fact that I’m a total non-believer. An atheist. *doomy music*

I’ve been thinking about it non-stop since it happened, dying a little bit more inside each time. I even contemplated emailing the person in question and clearing it up. Of course I wouldn’t do that, but I’ve thought about it. I feel like I betrayed myself and everything I stand for. In between the cringing and self-hatred, I’ve also been trying to figure out why I did this; why I didn’t feel like it was ok for me say that I’m an atheist when religious people, generally, feel so confident in revealing their faith. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that throughout my life (particularly my school life) I’ve been told by many different people that Christianity is right, that you’re not a good person unless you “let Jesus into your heart”, that faith is something to be proud of and to sing about and to put on t-shirts. I’ve been conditioned to assume that I’ll be judged negatively if I haven’t accepted Christ as my lord and saviour. Of course not all Christians think this way, but I can’t help feeling a sense of unease about how my lack of faith is going to affect my relationship with them. I worry that if I say that I’m an atheist, they’ll think that I’m dismissing them as people simply because I’m dismissing their faith.

I’ve been an atheist since I was capable of thinking for myself. I began to define myself as such in middle school, when I was about thirteen years old. My parents never told me what to be. I went to Christian schools, but that was mainly because all the local public schools happened to be that way. My parents never told me not believe in what the teachers told me. They never steered me one way or the other. They simply let me go out into the world and make up my mind for myself, which is something I appreciate and respect them for immensely. I don’t form any of my convictions lightly. I think, I read, I observe, I question…

Anyone with half a brain cell knows that morality and religion are not the same thing. I’m a good person, and I know it. There’s really no reason for me to feel ashamed of being an atheist. I’m not ashamed. If anything, I’m proud. And yet I couldn’t admit to it. I feel a bit sick about it, and weirdly guilty. I owe it to the free-thinkers of the world to announce myself without fear, without shame. (I did it in the title of the blog post. See that? It’s a start.) I promise that I will be honest next time, even if it will negatively affect my relationship with the person asking me the question. If they can’t accept me for who I am, then maybe they don’t deserve to have anything to do with me. Because, actually, I’m awesome, and anyone who disagrees can suck it.

*cries pitifully into my egg-mayo sandwich*

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14 thoughts on “I am an atheist.

  1. Come to Scandinavia! šŸ˜€ Practically everyone our age is atheist, and pretty much assumed to be unless otherwise stated. It’s very unusual to meet someone young and religious and it makes most feel kinda awkward and uncomfortable to be around them actually. Having to tip-toe around their weird rituals, erk. On the other hand, a lot of the older people are religious, but mostly quiet enough to keep to themselves, but I think when this generation grows old there will hopefully be hardly any religion left here whatsoever, hoorah! Even though, I call myself a wishing-agnostic atheist, which means, I *am* atheist, but I *wish* there were things such as spirits and demons and other such mythical things which will me not to deny them and their spooky presence when I get freaked out in creepy places… I want to find them, but really I know it’s all just the incredible human mind playing tricks with me šŸ˜› But oh if only I could be a real witch, please please I don’t want to let it go yet, hnnnng!
    Hahahaha.

    • ā¤ I DEFINITELY want to visit Scandinavia some time. šŸ™‚ Jessica, you should totally write a book. So much crazy energy in your writing, it cracks me up. In a good way, of course. šŸ˜€ Thanks for the comment. ^_^

  2. It takes time to shake off the feeling you need to be diplomatic about telling people you are an atheist. But I make a point of telling people straight up these days. I was actually told recently that my lack of faith was too much of an impediment to a relationship (despite being somewhat diplomatic about it). But ah well. Can’t go around pretending to make others happy.

    Anyways, I hope the following webcomic will cheer you up: http://www.happletea.com/2012/02/28/consequences/

    Oh and *hugs* =) You are awesome as you are, so really, be confident!

    • So glad I blogged about this. The responses from friends have made me feel so much better. šŸ˜€ Thanks Richard. I shall check out that comic right away! (Slow day at work, in case that isn’t obvious from the existence of this post. :P) Can’t believe someone actually said that to you about your lack of faith! (Actually I totally CAN believe it, which is whole problem, I guess!) That’s exactly what I’m talking about! With some people I couldn’t care less, but there are others that I kind of can’t afford to alienate. Ergh! Anyway, I’m going to try to be more honest from now on. šŸ™‚

      • Well, she wasn’t mean about it and I’m not angry or anything (she isn’t a fundie or anything), I just made it clear that I can’t promise to ever believe in any deity. I think it is more for the sake of one’s own happiness that you make it clear you are an atheist and you won’t be changing for the sake of pleasing anyone.

        Glad to hear you are feeling better! =D Need to get back to work myself, eep! Let me know what you think of the comic. =D

      • Glad it wasn’t a mean exchange. Still, if it was me, I would’ve been super uncomfortable. :’/ Good luck with the work! šŸ™‚ Reading the comic now. šŸ™‚

  3. AMEN to that!!!
    You are awesome Laurie!……but you are the only one that needs convincing of that fact! šŸ™‚
    BTW you are a better person than/for being concerned not to offend, those “Christians” that do judge you.

  4. “Anyone with half a brain cell knows that morality and religion are not the same thing. ”

    Bingo. I’d say if we follow the Bible we’d be involved in much more immoral activities. There are a lot of things to kill people for in there. I would be stoned over some things I’ve done. *shiver*

    I am completely open about being an atheist if the topic comes up.

    • And I shall be too from now on! šŸ™‚ Yep. Very frustrating when people think you can’t possibly have any morals just because you don’t believe in their violent holy book. Bizarre. Thanks for the comment!

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