My Double-Identity, Being of Color and An Atheist

Slowly in my years of development, I peeled away my Christian thinking and realized that at heart, I always was an atheist in some capacity. But I'm scared to death to come out to my family. My mother was the only one who understood I may be an atheist and accepted me anyway, especially being a southern black baptist, this warmed my heart beyond bounds. Now that she's gone, I feel that security to be myself is gone.

Being black and an atheist has ostracized me from my family, friends and myself, because I fear 'coming out,' so to speak. But I feel once I cross this fence, I will become fearless in speaking about anything. I can finally be myself. 

Is there anyone who struggle with this, black or white or anything, woman or man, that may have advice for me, a book to read? 

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thank you for the courage to be who u truly are. or rather, to think out loud and not shy away from discrimination. was it easy to alter your speech and habits or did u struggle with it? this past week has been an eyeopener for me. I catch myself now before I conform to everyday speak, like "pray on it" or "He has a plan." One of my co-workers, a black woman, is going thru some deep stuff, kicked out of her home, little time to find a new place. Turns out she found a new place for her and her kids just in time. She says to me "I prayed on it and god was there for me." and i replied with, "Maybe your determination and strong will got you thru this. Don't forget to thank yourself." She paused and said, "yeah" in a very discerning way. But I meant it. SHE found a house. This god shit with black people have got to go. We can't do anything without praising a christian god. WE need to come up. And I don't want to exclude any other race anymore. My white/asian/latino brothas and sistas struggle with this too, across the board! maybe I should stop saying "brothas and sistas," sounds a little "cult-y." maybe not

I have to say I was always the least religious in the family of me, my sister, and parents. I only really prayed when they expected me to such as pray over food and at night. The thing is that I never liked praying, going to church, or talking about the Bible. Besides doing it for my parents, I would sometimes pray silently because of something I felt ashamed of doing.

I kept doing this till I was 14-15 and just started high school. It was the time when I really got into masturbating because of hormones and I also discovered I have feelings for the same-sex. This was the ultimate guilt trip of my life and I tried to look to see if these things were a sin. I was torn and I don't know the exact day, but I just decided to give up praying and hopeless and I was going to go to Hell. I started watching Atheists and skeptics on Youtube which helped me realize how ridiculous religion actually was. I considered myself as just an agnostic for a while yet I would suffer from the "what if I'm wrong about this?" a lot. Now I do much better with that.

When I was 15 during the summer, I told my parents about my same-sex attraction which unfolded into some drama for certain moments few and far in between. By the time I was 16 I came out about being an agnostic atheist to my mom after not going to church 2 Sundays in a row (I'm currently 18 years old). I told my mom up front that I didn't believe in any of it and she was kind of upset and said "But I want you to come to Heaven with me". Later on, she had told me that she couldn't save my soul and that I'm responsible for it. Not for a moment was any of this stuff easy.

Surprisingly though, my parents and sister haven't been to church in a couple of years and I have not been since either. They are still moderately religious and they pay tithes to the church. I let them talk about their religion and don't say a word about it. I'm not at that level where I can criticize their beliefs because I don't want to stir up any feelings, including my own. I feel free but whenever religion is brought up, I try not to cringe in the face. The only person I can talk to in person about my atheism comfortably is my former psychology/sociology teacher who is also an atheist.

So yea that's about it. :) 

Oh yea- The most recent mannerism I got over saying was "Bless you" whenever someone sneezes. All of the praying and stuff stopped since I stopped believing and haven't done so since, but the "Bless you" thing stopped about maybe over a year or 2 ago. I really think that when you sneeze, the sneezer should say "Excuse me", if anything at all. Other people shouldn't be obligated to excuse you for an interruption you unintentionally created. It gets especially annoying when people say "Bless you" for every time the person sneezes. That was the only habit that took me a while to drop. ^.^

oops I meant to say I got lucky my family ISN"T super religious. :)

First, I'm so sorry to hear that you mother is gone.  It sounds like she was a wonderful support and model of love in your life.

But I feel once I cross this fence, I will become fearless in speaking about anything. I can finally be myself.

These words resonate with me strongly.  My siblings (who are not religious themselves by any means) often wonder why I couldn't just keep quiet and keep the peace.  They didn't know what a relief it was to finally stop the lies of omission, say my thoughts out loud, and well just be me.  It took strength and it was awful for a while, but it freed me to explore the world without fear.  From that moment, I've grown so much in so many ways.  I don't regret it one bit. 

My advice: I always try to focus on the similarities.  We all have so much in common, but it's the differences that tend to draw attention and focus.  Hopefully, there will be others in your life - like your mother - who see those commonalities and love you as you are (not in spite of it).

Hello K,

I'm South African and so called "coloured", meaning mixed race. Though I don't really care about ethnicity or race, and mostly disregard it because we're all human first - the rest is just mostly non-sense. However, I can accept that "ethnicity" has promoted social groups and culture within human beings. In SA most "coloured" people are christian of some sort or muslim. Honestly, I don't know any other "coloured" Atheists, which can sometimes become an issue when everyone looks at you "funny" because you are the only Atheist in the room. in a recent discussion about some odd religious questions, I was outed as an Atheist. A young "black" lady looked at me with surprise and then said "That makes me so sad". I asked her, "Is that a judgment or view about you or me? Because I love my life and am at more peace than believing my life is some test."

I'm a proud Atheist! I remain true to my core no matter what.

This My story :I come a very religious family - a grand father who was instrumental in building the New apostolic church here in SA, my father and uncles were/are ministers and aunts who are still involved in some ways, my mother is stoic and active, and my brother is a priest - My family was respected and edified by members of the church, even if we traveled to other cities. My struggle started when I was 14 when, while 'testifying' (spreading the gospel), I was asked "Why do you believe this is the way?" - I couldn't give an answer other than that it was what my parents taught me.

I was still in confirmation class, which my father conducted, and was so torn between my doubts and loosing my connection with my family, so I just didn't say anything about my uncertainty. I was confirmed at 15 and in the church youth group meetings I asked lots of questions. I once received a retort : "To question your faith is wrong and shouldn't be done at all" to a question that I really wanted to explore and discuss - this was the deciding moment for me, that religion (but not the belief in god) was wrong for me.

I finally spoke to my parents when I was 17, telling them that I had real doubts about being a christian. They were less than impressed and I was told that as long as I lived under their roof I would go to church, participate and follow what they said I should. This was so counter to the conversations I had had with my father about what it meant to be a "good" person, that it disturbed me and broke my trust in him and my families teachings.

The year after my father died after a long illness, and just before I turned 22, I couldn't take it any longer and told my mom that I was done with church. For a year things were tense and we often fought about the issue. Even though we lived in the same house, we seldom spoke and I often ate alone in my room. But I felt relief and for the first time, I could go and explore the question of what I believe without the burden of secrecy.

My mom eventually spoke to one of the ministers, his advise to her allowed us to move past the bickering and constant aggression.

I've been privileged to have friends who come from different "faiths" and have respected me for my convictions, a brother who still comes to me for advise on how to grow community within his area. I practice respect for all people, and in turn I have received respect from them.

My advise to you, stand tall about your convictions.. you are already an example of this by sharing your story here. Even according to christianity, you are the only one who can decide how to live your life. If anyone casts judgment on you and tries to beat you with their god, remind them, "Though shalt not judge" as written in their book. But fundamentally, don't be an aggressor of hate or prejudice, show people and family and "friends" (though I don't regard people who can't accept me as I am as friends) that you are a good person irrespective of not accepting "god" and that you can respect their lifestyle.

P.S. When I get a bless you from someone for sneezing, I say thank you. When someone else sneezes, I say 'gesundhuit' - german for "Good health'.

I wish you well on your journey, and we're all here :D with you.


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