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. 

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Welcome to the site! :D I'm not sure if your first story really explains why you would lose your religion though - I mean I get the questions not being answered thing of course, that was my original experience doubting my religion as well, but from what you said, the pastor seemed sexist but that didn't necessarily have anything to do with the religion, you could disagree with him 100% and still believe...

In general though your story overall makes perfect sense and I'm glad you've found us all here! :D I'm sure many people can relate... and it was very well written. :D And I'm so glad you saved that poor kitty! ;) I hope to see more posts from you soon. ;)
"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." "
Wow, time to Google "how to become a religious leader", that sounds quite lucrative!

Those comments about Katrina were horrible. Are those people so dumb they can't see that it's the geographical location not the religion of the people who live there? Why apply that logic to some natural events and not others.

-North Western Europe never suffers from natural disasters - they are good people?
-The Middle East is blessed with an abundance of oil - favoured by god?

It must feel strange seeing so many brainwashed people, sounds like science fiction!
"Are these people so dumb..."

Honestly, the education level around here is horrid. The high school drop out rate state wide is above 40%. We decided to homeschool our daughter when we realized just how bad things are.

It is strange. I have never lived in a community so involved with the different churches. Southern baptist is the main following here, but we have a few catholics, lutherans and methodists mixed in. I've never lived in a community where the first or second question upon meeting someone new is "So what church do you go to?" You should see the looks on their faces when I tell them "Oh we don't do church."
I admire your courage.

I loved reading your intro and I can identify with "helping that poor kitty." My late father lived in Puerto Rico. When he fell ill I took a month off from work to help as best I could. Some evil bastard tossed a kitten onto the roof of the neighbors house. I erected a plank for the kitten to walk down from. My dad ended up taking him in. When my dad passed away my sister took the cat.

I'm now fond of torturing the tract hawking bible thumpers in the New York City subway. I love yelling out "Athiest!" when they approach me and then listening how Im going to hell and I need to be saved.

I'm new here too! Welcome
We didn't choose to homeschool to keep her away from religion as much as it was to try to shield her from the ignorance we are surrounded by. She is in fifth grade, and around here they have all ages of children ride the school buses together, from kindergarten to high school. Last year, there were 3 pregnant teenagers on her bus, she was introduced to pornography in second grade by a child on the bus, and one of the high school kids was smoking pot in the back of the bus this year. When I complained to the school about this boy bringing drugs onto the bus, I was told "There's only so much we can do. Unfortunately we cannot monitor the bus stops and unless the bus driver complains, we can't control the children's behavior until the reach the school grounds." I called bullshit, but I eventually got tired of beating my head against the wall.

She started fifth grade in public school, and came home the first day to tell us about the boy sitting next to her that kept his hand in his pants all day. We complained to the teacher and the school, so they moved our daughter to another desk in the classroom. We finally decided to pull her out of school. Private school is not an option, as we cannot afford it and they are run by churches or are faith based (baptist and the christian academy). Until I finish my degree and we can relocate to another state with better schools, we are pretty much forced to homeschool her. LOL...I'm pretty lazy, and would much rather be able to put her on the bus in the mornings and get an 8 hour break rather than having her with me 24/7.
I completely understand. Most of the homeschoolers do homeschool due to religious reasons. It was difficult to find a curriculum for her that wasn't faith based. Most of the homeschoolers here are very religious, so we tend to avoid meeting with them for field trips and such. One of the other mom's had given us a few school books to get started with, but they were quickly round-filed, as I have no intentions in teaching our daughter that rock music is satan's music, that god designed out bodies to require one full day of rest (which, according to the book, is why christians don't work on Sundays), or that her role in life is to be a "spiritual warrior". It's sad, really, to think that none of these children are required to pass any sort of state mandated tests, in Alabama at least. In this state, we're not even required to file grade reports or attendance records with the state as long as we are sanctioned through a church. We were required, by state law, to either enroll her in a state approved school, hire a private state certified teacher, or enroll her in a church based school. The only route secular families have is to enroll in a faith based system.
Welcome to the site, Stacye!

I have a particular soft spot for animals (particularly dogs and cats) and I'm amazed that you managed to keep from giving that woman a few biting comments on the total lack of 'Christian charity' the people of that church were displaying. Although, given some of the attitudes towards the world of some sects of Christianity (given to us to do with what we want), I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised.
Oh believe me, I have had more than a few choice words for some of the people I've run across. I've volunteered in animal rescue since I was around15, and for a while my husband and I were taking in and fostering every stray dog we came across. At one point we had 17 in my care. It turns out that this was my key to finally ridding myself of the pestering by the local baptists.

Due to the time constraints and work load involved in caring for so many animals (along with my husband, our daughter and our personal pets), socializing in any way shape or form became near impossible. After fielding several phone calls from church members concerned for our souls, as well as the donation requests for the new church they were building. Finally, one of the men stopped by the house to make his request in person. I told him "I'd love to help but..." as I led him around to the backyard. I explained to him what we were attempting to do, the costs and time involved, and that if the church members could help in any way we'd be forever grateful and would be able to return to church. He said they'd pray on it, and we never heard from them again.
"Pray on it" - Code for 'Do absolutely nothing but pretend we're being helpful'.
LOL...I tell them nah, don't bother, I'm going to hell anyway. Not that I believe in hell, but it sure is fun to watch them do back flips trying to "save" me.
Problem is, my dear (I'm talking to myself too) that mortality and stuff are HARD to bear ... but we suspect .. there aint no God ... see i was brave n didn't say G-d ... i'm not a jew, i'm jew-ish ... Jonathan Miller said that and my Mum said he was being anti-semitic ... he was jewish
... after the Holocaust I'M NEVER GONNA SAY I'M NOT JEWISH. Ok ... well that's me .... good luck with whatever you decide ... have fun while your here ... as we Yids say, Lechaim (TO LIFE!!!!) ok, you've seen Fiddler on the Roof, but Haile Sallasie, the Pope ... well otherwise ... I would pray for you but that's a bit patronising .. so ... wish you well, join the Club.
But William Zanzinger was prolly Jewish ... as was that Jew that wrote the bible ... just take the good things from your heritage ... love n peace n all that ...

Fancy Nancy ;)


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