Hello everyone. As my title suggests, I just joined the site tonight and have recently decided I am, in fact, an atheist. A little about myself, or maybe a lot depending on how long-winded I get. :D I am 33 yrs old, raised in a christian household (church of christ and sometimes catholic), and began questioning religion as a young child. I distinctly remember frustration at not having my questions answered sufficiently. I also remember, as I entered my pre-teen years, just how entertaining it was to frustrate the hell out of the pastor and the other elders with questions they honestly could not answer. The day I think religion became, well basically a joke, to me is quite clear. I was about 13 or 14 yrs old, and we were rehearsing a puppet show that we were to perform later in the day for the younger children. I had dated one of the boys briefly, and there was some animosity between us. We had an argument, he became angry, and his response was to hit me and run away. My immediate reaction was to chase him down, with the full intention of beating the ever loving crap out of him. Just as I was about to catch him, the pastor caught ME. He demanded to know what was going on. I informed him that the boy had just hit me. His response was, well that doesn't explain why you're chasing him and running through god's house. I was stunned. I honestly thought that maybe he just didn't understand. I felt I was perfectly clear in my explanation of my actions. I proceeded to explain, a little slower this time, that the boy had hit me and then run away, therefore I had to chase him in order to catch him and beat the snot out of him. This is the day that I first lost my religion. The pastor's response was "It doesn't matter what he did. Young ladies don't run, and young ladies don't hit." In other words, because he was a male he was allowed to physically abuse me (a female), and it was excused through temper, an accident, or what have you. As a female, I was to accept whatever the male dished out, and behave in a lady like manner at all times. My response got me grounded for quite some time, as the language I used was certainly NOT lady like, nor christian like, nor very respectful when speaking to an elder as well as the pastor. The boy escaped that day, but I got him back later out behind the church, where there was no pastor to protect him.
As an adult, I have waivered back and forth. At times, religion just honestly was not even something I thought about very often. I can think of 2 times as an adult when I "found" religion. The first was during basic training, and it started more as a convenience. When I discovered we could attend church on Sunday and actually sit for a while, with no one yelling at me, no pt, and basically relax...I was the first in line. Then I found out that each company needed a spiritual advisor, I volunteered. I got out of duty on Sundays, and we had meetings at different times throughout the week. It was a great way to get out of training. I blame it on the physical and mental exhaustion that I actually began believing. I even had my uncle baptize me within days of graduating. I didn't step foot in a church again for several years.
Fast forward, and again religion was not even on my radar. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and we lost everything. We still owned a home in the bible belt from when my husband was in the army, so we relocated. We were, and still are, surrounded by southern baptists. Our neighbors were very kind and helpful, and they eventually convinced us to join them for services. Within 2 weeks we found ourselves being baptized, yet again. After about a month or so, I found those same questions and doubts rising to the surface. No one could answer them to my satisfaction, and they almost seemed offended. Then they started showing up at the house, uninvited, and it seemed conveniently always at dinner time. We skipped church one Sunday morning, and no less than 3 different people came by to make sure we were ok. Several others called. Then it turned into "Sunday morning is a good start, but you should really start coming Sunday night". I went a few times, but then it turned into "We have services Wednesday nights too". Then the donation requests. Apparently, it is no longer the simple 10% tithe. Now it is "give until it hurts. It doesn't count if you're not truly sacrificing and suffering."
Our last day at church still pisses me off. We are huge animal lovers in our home, and take in strays and cast-offs on a pretty regular basis. This one particular morning at church was a hot August day in the deep south. By 9 am temperatures were already reaching 90 F. In the parking lot was a young, skinny white kitten. Everyone entering the church stepped over it, pushed it to the side, and ignored it. He was crying and trying desperately to get someone's attention. My husband and neighbor convinced me to go inside (after leaving out a bowl of water), and attend services. I informed my husband that should that kitten still be there when we left, he was going home with us. Throughout the service, over the music and the singing, we could hear this poor kitten crying from outside. I finally couldn't take it any longer, and stood to leave. My neighbor (a fine christian woman) asked where I was going. I told her I was going to get the kitten and then come back in to finish the service. Her response was "Do not bring that filthy animal into this church." I immediately turned to my husband and said I'm leaving, so unless you'd like to walk home or get a ride, I suggest you come with me. We brought the kitten home and left the church. I honestly thought we would have to shave our heads and join the witness protection program in order for them to leave us alone.
After Katrina, when people would find out we are from the New Orleans area, the usual response was "Well you're better off here than in such a sinful place. It was god's punishment to the city and the residents for being such awful people." I cannot even begin to count the times my husband dragged me out of walmart kicking and screaming at the person that made the comment. Approximately 2 yrs ago, a tornado hit the high school. Eight students were killed. A few days after, I was at work when the conversation turned to New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. The woman's response was the same (god's punishment, yada yada yada). I told her "Wow, then I guess god must have really been pissed at the parents of those kids that were killed." She shut up rather quickly, and yes after wards I was known as that bitch that made light of the deaths of 8 kids.
I am so thankful for finding this site. I have been reading the forums for a few days now, and it is so refreshing to find others that share a similar point of view. The local population around here are so brainwashed with religion that it is almost puke worthy. My daughter was once berated by another student (in 5th grade) when he heard her Green Day ringtone. Another child cried when she told him her mom doesn't believe in god. It's frustrating beyond belief, and I find myself nearly biting my tongue off on a daily basis.