I'm sure that my de-conversion story is similar to many others, but it is a story that I haven't told that many times. Hopefully, though, there may something that is helpful to the readers.
Growing up within the bible-belt, I was raised christian and required to attend church at least three times a week. My parents had been deeply religious for as long as I can remember, and they had full intentions of making sure that I followed in their footsteps. However, even as young teenager, I was more interested in science than in religion. At the time, I wasn't really concerned with any conflicts between science and religion. I had no reason to doubt the existence of God, and hadn't noticed the fallacies of blindly following religion.
When I turned 18, I stopped going to church regularly, but I still believed in God. Having made it through high school without any challenges to my spirituality I continued to self-educate myself in matters of science. The more I studied the natural world the less I wanted religion in my life. For a while, I was content with a mindset that allowed for God, but that religions had it all wrong.
After my future wife and I got together our ideas of religion sometimes conflicted. At times, we had tried to force religion back into our lives, but it never really "felt" right. We would occasionally accept an invitation to church, but we always walked away afterward feeling disappointed. Out of respect for our families, we kept our doubts of religion to ourselves.
As time passed, my atheism became solidified by education of science, history, and a need for rationalism. I also began noticing the injustices and bigotry that is often seen in religion. During this time, my atheism solidified. I began really caring about the effects of religion on the world, and what kind of world would be left for my children.
Finally, during a visit to my parents house, in a discussion with my dad and my brother, I had heard one too many bigoted religious comments, and I broke the silence of my atheism. I wanted nothing more than to separate myself from an ideology that would condemn a person to an eternity of torment for being gay or for breaking what seemed to me as ridiculous religious rules. Coming out to my family about my atheism seemed to put a rift between my brother and I, who to this day remains very religious.
Being the only atheist in my family, I sometimes feel like they look down on me for decisions, but I have never been happier with myself. Now the challenge that remains for my wife and myself is to raise our daughters to think freely in this largely religious community.
Congratulations Wesafc...I know this wasn't the easiest thing for you to do. When it boils down to the essence of life, we realize we are born indivduals, alone, by ourselves, even though we have and rely on others for our survival. If we cannot be true to ourselves, then how can we live the life we choose to lead? It's about freedom....the freedom to be who and what you truly are. Kudos to you my friend...stay strong!