I am Star.
I never grew up with a real religion in my formative years. My mother has been atheist as long as I have been alive, and my father was always questing for the right religion that would give his life meaning. He was a Buddhist until I was 9 years old. I used to go to Buddhist temple with my father at a small child, more to get a chance to spend time with my dad and feel closer to him than anything else. I still remember those nice old men and women with the shaved heads who used to give me sweets because I reminded them of their grandchildren. I remember at the age of 5 debating with my dad… who honestly was probably stoned at the time… about if this life is real or a dream, where we come from and the size of space. Then he met my stepmother who would not date him until he converted to Christianity. He began attending the local Lutheran church, the same church that I attended for preschool. My parents sent me there because it was a good school, and my best friend at the time was also attending. I remember coming home in spring and when my mother asked me what I had learned in school, after coloring and adding a rock attached by a brass brad so that is moved to a picture of Jesus’ tomb I replied, “Looking for baby Jesus under a rock.” I had just learned about baby Jesus that past December. Then my parents divorced and my mother abandoned me and my younger sister 3 days before my 10th birthday and we had to start attending church because of my father and my soon to be stepmom. She took us to her church, a “non denominational” born again church where they would wave flags with religious saying and images, and raise their hands up in the air during the singing and preaching. They had a kid’s church department called Super church where they would have us memorize the books of the bible in order, and then they had a man come in and thump us on the forehead in front of the congregation. Then they taught us to speak in tongues… who knew that the power of the Holy Spirit moving you to speak babble was taught in the course of 10 minutes? I actually never bought into any of this… but after having your mother abandon you because you were an inconvenience to her suddenly single lifestyle puts you in a vulnerable place, especially when you have a tyrannical stepmother running your life, and your father’s. I wished there was a God, but I felt silly and empty when I would try to pray. I began to skip church… I still had to attend, but I would hang out in the bathroom or wander the halls of the church during the kid’s service. Once I reached 16 I embraced my dark side, and became fascinated with evil, and the concepts behind it. I read books about serial killers and torture; Satanism (which I thought was a cop out, and hokey); and finally realized and settled on being agnostic. I had always been agnostic; I knew that the Christian idea of a God wasn’t true... I have now decided that I am not agnostic, I am actually atheist. I chose the title of agnostic because I didn’t know if there was a God. But now I know that I don’t believe in a God, so I am actually atheist. Also saying you are Atheist makes more of a statement for the same belief for me.
My husband recently died and I have been looking at myself and why I believe what I do. Death is where people really get heavy handed with the religion. This opened my eyes to my atheism and made me want to be a proud athesist. I didn't want to be the person that people knew was atheist, but didn't really talk about it. It was time for a change.