Losing My Religion

30 Oct

“Mom. Dad. I have to tell you something…”
“Coming out of the closet” is a term usually associated with gays and lesbians announcing to their friends and family that they are homosexual. Few regret the action, having found a way toward a more open and satisfying life.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I live within my own closet.

No, I’m not gay.

But I have been hiding. Hiding from friends who might not want to be such if they knew. Hiding from persecution of my beliefs.

Because I do not believe in God.

There. I said it. I’m supposed to feel better now, right? Damn.

Okay, I’m guessing you all probably want more on the topic…

First of all, I feel the need to explain that I consider myself an agnostic, which means that I’m really just not religious/spiritual/etc. (versus flat out not believing there is a god).

Here is my view of the difference between Religious Folk v. Atheists v. Agnostics:
The Christian/God-Believer says, “Yes there is a God.”
The Atheist says, “No, there is no God.”
Agnostic just shrugs and says, “Eh?”

Okay, so technically an Atheist either (1) denies the existence of God, or (2) literally is non-theist or simply lacking a belief in God without actively denying God’s existence.

I personally prefer to consider myself an Agnostic non-theist. It is a belief related to the existence or non-existence of God and most agnostics believe that we (collectively) do not have any way of knowing whether a god (or gods) exist. Because there is no way for you or me to prove (or disprove) a god’s existence, then why fret over it. Eventually, maybe, I’ll find out but until then, I might as well just enjoy life (and football on Sundays).

Speaking of Sundays, I think my agnosticism started early in my life. My mom was never big in to going to church, but Dad took Sissy and I practically every Sunday. My only memories of church was that is was insanely boring and had creepy old people who insisted on talking to me.

But I did like the singing. Singing is good.

At 15 years of age, Dad let us make the decision of whether we wanted to keep going to church with him every Sunday or stay home. I’m pretty sure my reasoning was something like: “hmmm…go to boring church or sleep in? yeah, no brainer, dude.”

I might have thrown in a “Could church *be* more boring?” Give me a brake, Friends was big that year and I’ve always admired Ms. Chanadaler Bong. (You know you love him, too.)

In discussing this further with Sissy and Mr. Bee, I realized that besides just finding church unappealing, I really felt out of place. Just like when homosexual people say that they just felt “different” growing up, that’s exactly how I felt when I was at church. I’d be hanging out with the kids in youth group and thinking to myself, “Weird. They’re all, like, religious and whatnot…”

Since quitting church, God/religion/faith has never played a big role in my life. Well, I guess it didn’t really play a big part in my life beforehand either (besides church on Sundays). Since 15, I’ve never attended church. I didn’t get married at a church. In fact, our biggest requirement of an officiant for our wedding was that the “G” word not be mentioned. Baby Bee has not been baptised (and I don’t even know if I was, to be honest).

One of the reason I wanted to “come out of the closet” on my blog is because I think that people who are religious don’t realize how persecuted non-believers are. While I’ve been lucky enough in my adult life to find a spouse and close friends that share my beliefs, it hasn’t always been that way. I was already suffering discrimination for my beliefs by junior year of high school. I vividly remember being told by friends in high school that, unfortunately, I would be burning in eternal hellfire since I didn’t believe in God. Now, my friends were not happy about the turn of events for my eternal soul, but felt the need to declare my fate none-the-less. All this despite the fact that I lived just about the most pious lifestyle a teenager has ever lived (save for Joan of Arc, maybe). I didn’t even drink alcohol until my 21st birthday! AND I believed that sex should be saved for marriage. Okay, my opinion on that one changed as I got older…

As a non-believer, you get put in to this “box” by “normal” people. We must be sinners, immoral, untrustworthy, arrogant, hypocritical, self-righteous and (my personal favorite) liberal infidels. Some people ask, “Well, without the Bible/God, what authority do you accept as a guide to conduct?” Well, first of all, common sense is good. Just because I wasn’t raised in with overly-religious parents doesn’t mean that I grew up in a hedonistic sin-filled home. I grew up with rules…LOTS of rules. Seriously. Just because God doesn’t play a role in my life, doesn’t mean that I don’t have compassion for others or the ability to tell right from wrong.

But the persecution of non-believers doesn’t just stop with the assumption that you are a sinner with no moral compass. Even as I sit on my couch typing this with America’s Next Top Model playing in the background, one of the models declares that it’s unfair that a certain model won a prize that will feature Christmas accessories because “she’s hates holidays. She’s an atheist. I love Christmas! I’d love to do [the photo shoot]!” Just because someone is atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean they don’t like (or shouldn’t) celebrate holidays. For the record, I LOOOOVE Christmas. I just look at it as a time to celebrate family and friends, and most importantly, presents (kidding! Screw the family and friends; just give me stuff).

Being a non-believer isn’t easy. I’ll always remember four and a half years ago when I found out that Mr. Bee had pre-cancerous growths, had to have a full colectomy, AND found out that he has a degenerative, un-curable liver disease. One of the first things I thought was “this would be so much easier to deal with if I believed in God.” Having faith in someone/something that had a master plan or who could make everything better if I just prayed hard enough would have maybe made the situation a little easier to deal with. But I didn’t have any of that. I just had to sit with the realization that my fiancĂ©e (now my husband) might develop cancer and may (still) require a liver transplant. I had nothing to lean on but myself. And I think I’m a stronger person now because of it. At least I hope I am.

I have to be supportive/accepting of all religions, simply because I am in the minority. A 2001 survey found 15% of the adult population in the United States have no religious affiliation, still significantly less than in other postindustrial countries such as United Kingdom (44%) and Sweden (69%). The other 85% of the U.S. just think non-believers are jerks when we point out the “so help me Gods,” “under Gods,” and “In god we trusts” that are everywhere in our society. I get that our country was founded under those ideals, but let’s not forget that it was also founded while escaping from religious persecution.

In 2006, the University of Minnesota conducted a poll that found that despite an increasing acceptance of religious diversity, atheists were generally distrusted by other Americans, who rated them below Muslims, recent immigrants and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society”. They also associated atheists with undesirable attributes such as criminal behavior, rampant materialism, and cultural elitism. When participants were asked whether they agreed with the statement, “I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group,” atheists again led minorities, with 48 percent disapproval. “I know atheists aren’t studied that much as a sociological group, but I guess atheists are one of the last groups remaining that it’s still socially acceptable to hate.”

So you might understand why “coming out of the closet” was a difficult decision for me to make.

So there it is. I’m not religious.

Am I ready for the consequences? I’ve weighed the risks: I’m sure not everyone will accept me for who I am. I’m sure someone out there will be offended at my religious views and vice versa.

But please don’t think we can’t be friends because we have differing views on one aspect of our lives. We may have different schedules on Sunday and most likely are voting for different presidential candidates, but isn’t there more to life?

Like television?

Song title: Losing My Religion by R.E.M.

98 Responses to “Losing My Religion”

  1. Marie Greene September 7, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    I was a devout Mormon for most of my life until about 5 years ago when I woke up one day and wondered why I actually went to church. Up to that point I thought I believed it, but then I realized that I had spent the majority of my life just trying to be the woman that others expected me to be. When push came to shove, I realized that I didn’t believe a lick of it. But it took some major soul searching to get to that space of being ready to face the backlash from friends and family, and 5 years of on-again/off-again trying to talk myself back into it before I could accept that I am spiritual person who has no interest in religion. I agree with you that living outside the trappings of religion put one in an awkward space with regard to the opinions of others. This is why I am mostly “in the closet” still, even after coming to such a sure conclusion for myself. I am grateful for your honesty, and grateful to see that I am not alone out here. :) By the way, I found you from SITS!

    Marie Greene
    from Permission to Unwind

  2. Lorie Shewbridge September 7, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    I know just how you feel. But I was raised in a very religious (Jehovah’s Whitness) family. It took me until I was 29 to finally break free. By that time I was so disillusioned by religion that I’m not even sure what I believe anymore. I think there is a God, but not sure what power he really exerts anymore.
    Especially since I’ve lost all of my family (mom, sisters, etc.) because they will have NOTHING to do with me anymore since I left the religion.
    I’ve taught my children to respect and be tolerant of ALL religions.

  3. Mary September 7, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    EXCELLENT post! Such a great topic. I love the song, too…

  4. Laura September 7, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    Such a sad post.

  5. Holly @ Domestic Dork September 7, 2009 at 8:52 am #

    Great post!

    I’m an exMormon. I totally get where you’re coming from.

    And you know what? I miss the singing too.

  6. Sarah September 7, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    Very brave for doing this. I don’t know that I could just put it out there like that. I am struggling with a similar topic and just can’t lay the cards on the table just yet.

  7. Rhiannon September 7, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    I think this is great you brought this up as one of your three posts today because many people struggle with what they believe in if anything. I too, always felt like I didn’t fit into the church crowd and even now struggle to find what I believe in or stand for. I try to be a good person and to help others but what does that mean? confusing huh? haha I loved your post though!

  8. San September 7, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    Honest post! I guess it does swing both ways. Being true to yourself is important, and I am happy you have found your ‘happy place’! :D

  9. Disney September 7, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    Let me just say that I’m so glad that you’re honest about your disbelief (or not-sure-ness?). I know a lot of “Christians” who really aren’t. And all that does is give genuine Christians as bad name.

    The very nature of a (true) Christian makes it so that you want everyone else to be one (if only so that they can share in the joy and peace that comes from knowing God), but it also means that you’re not going to frustrate people by trying to force them to be a certain way (because that doesn’t help them to know and love God at all, it just makes them avoid you, haha!). So rest assured, I’m not judging you or shaking my head in disgust. I love you just the same! Just like everyone else! Thanks for posting and being honest with everyone!

  10. Katrina September 7, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    Thank you for this post, and your honesty. I don’t think that anyone will hate you for this post or tell you that you will be burning in hell for all eternity, but rather that people will pray for you…I certainly will be praying for you and your family. And for your husbands continued good health!

  11. Chaotic Kristy September 7, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    This is a great post which I know had to be hard to write. I’m not very religious but I’m not sure I could announce it as openly as you have without the fear of burning on the cross for my ultimate sin or denying religion. My family (on my father’s side) in very religious and I think it would break their heart to learn my religious belief or lack there of and that my husband is agnostic.

  12. Lamonica Epps September 7, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Interesting blog post. It was very honesty and you were brave for taking the steps to post it. I think the problem with Christianity is that people get caught up in being very religious and following many of the rules that man has made up for the religion (such as can’t wear makeup, women can’t preach, etc). And what is sad is that Christians are so quick to judge people that act different instead of praying for that person because you don’t know what a person is going through unless you are in their shoes.

    Stopping by from SITS


  13. Kayla September 7, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    I’ve yet to write my non-religious post. But it’s true, you know…us non-believers are really discriminated against. Where I am from, being an atheist means being a devil-worshiper. No kidding!

    Way to go! You have inspired me to also write my (non) religious blog soon.

    -Kayla (found you on SITS and so glad I did!)

  14. deb September 7, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    Your post has substance.

    And heart.

    We’re way. Way different.

    Like your use of expletives.

    Like you don’t believe in God.

    Like maybe I should have just skipped leaving a comment on today’s FB.

    But I respect you for being honest.

    For sharing your heart.

    Because that’s what I do over at my place.

    Hope you’re enjoying your day.

    Sweet dreams.

  15. Roxy September 7, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    As one member of the Sitsahood to another, I am so proud of you for coming out. I’d rather deal with someone who is couragous enough to be honest about their beliefs than a coward who hides behind lies.

  16. Amanda September 7, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    I respect your honesty in this post

  17. Amethyst Moon September 7, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    You have earned a follower with this post! I was so happy to read it. As a new blogger,I often find myself stumbling upon many Christian blogs and I was thinking that beingchristian may be a requirement of blogging, that I would not be able to meet. I understand your struggle with “coming out” and have seen the persecution that “non-believers experience.” When my daughter ws in 7th grade she was told she would burn in hell when she announced she was atheist. Thanks so much for your bravery which I find very inspiring.

    Your Sitsta,

    PS love the song titles! I have a song theme over at my place.

  18. Andrea September 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Well done you! Say it as it is!!

  19. LinLori September 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Strange… you don’t have the horns and tail that I was taught nonbelievers have… O.O
    I think it’s awesome that you’re honest about your beliefs. Shoot, I think it’s freaking fantastic that you know what you believe in. I’m sitting here, almost 25, still searching for the special sauce that’ll rock my soul. Okay, not really as creepy as that sounds, but… I believe in *something.* I just don’t know what that is. I like to think it’s God, but I have a lot of issues with modern Christianity.
    Anyway… you’re not alone in the varying belief system. I know it’s that much harder to find people with beliefs that run along the same lines as your own, but on a broader “unable to *really* be classified” scale, you’re not alone.

  20. Kristen September 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    You have some major balls. I try to stay away from that subject on my blog. I figure that my spelling god in lowercase probably clues a few people in, but that’s as far as I have gone. I consider myself spiritual…but not religious, and apparently still in the closet…

  21. Margaret (Nanny Goats) September 7, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    Fantastic! I’ve always found it interesting that the loudest Christians are also the most hypocritical ones. They judge. Judge, judge judge. Which means they are playing God. Which means they are SINNING! What the hell is THAT about?

  22. Missy September 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    Many Christians are persecuted as well. In fact, in my experience, they are persecuted a lot more then those that are non-believers of any kind.

    However, Jesus came here to teach us to love everyone, just as He did, no matter what their beliefs. IMO, that is the bottom line of being a true Christian.

    Happy SITS day!

  23. Julie September 7, 2009 at 2:57 pm #

    I agree with much of what you wrote about organized religion. Church being boring. I was thrown into the culture in 7th grade & was not a cradle Catholic. So, I didn’t feel I fit in with the crowd, yet I had/have faith. And I also hear what you are saying that basically, you ARE a good person with a moral compass. I no longer practice. I also don’t believe that God is a huge, human form of mankind. I do believe that there exists a powerful force, perhaps it’s termed *spiritual* because it’s not something that man can tangibly see & all of humanity needs a word to define *it* – thus, the different words in various cultures that mean GOD.

    It took a whole lotta sumthin-sumthin’ to *create* everything that exists here on earth & in the universe. Something powerful & spiritual. I Believe. And within our souls, & communities if we choose, those that believe celebrate in our own unique & culturally influenced ways.

    Wow – I’m being sooo philosophical! ;)

  24. Kim @ Fist Full of Dandelions September 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    Thanks for putting yourself out there and being so honest.

  25. Are You There Mom September 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    I applaud you for your honesty, it takes a lot of guts to say your true feelings to a bunch of strangers. Obviously (check out my blog….) I don’t quite feel the same way you do but I don’t judge you for it! It’s only God’s job to judge, we’re all just sinners trying to make it in this world. I happen to have found my peace of mind and spirit through Christ. If I imagine my life without him I’d have given up a long time ago, but in Him I found peace. My life’s not easy, not at all! Quite the opposite (try the loss of a parent, 3.5 years of infertility followed by 3 failed adoptions) but it’s just that in those tough times, He’s there and I can come out the other side with a smile. I hope you have a smile too, if you don’t, perhaps finding a church or even simply a non judgmental Christian friend would help. Sometimes I hate the church and I especially hate Religion! I guess it makes me sad that the ‘church’ that God intended us (believers) to be has failed you. If you ever need a peace you can’t find anywhere else feel free to stop on by! I wish you the best SITS sister!

  26. Over Thirty Mommy September 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    I am catholic but not the judgmental kind. I feel every one should feel like they can choose if they want to be religious or not and should not be made to feel bad about their personal choice. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Mountain Mama September 7, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    I, too, am agnostic, married to a born-again. Because I’m married to him, and occasionally attend church with him, it’s assumed I’m also Christian. People are so shocked when they learn my lack of faith.

    Is it so shocking us agnostics can still be good people?

  28. Star Forbis September 7, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing so honestly on this subject. I truly enjoyed reading it. I guess I look at motherhood as me wanting someone to pour my love into, and a way for me to leave my mark on this world. So, why wouldn’t there be a God who created us for the very same reasons?!

    Your post gave me a lot to think about. . . but, If their is no God, or no higher purpose in living but to have lived and then to be dead, what would the point be?

    (And BTW I loved your comment on music in the Church. My husband does all the music in our Church and he rocks! We recently did a series called the gospel according to U2, and he did U2 songs for our services. It was a lot of fun.)

    Thank you again for sharing so honestly and openly. You rock too! :)

  29. Holly September 7, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    Thanks for your authenticity!!! I really admire you and as someone who has found Christ to be my greatest treasure, it is still so good to hear your perspective and maybe learn how I can be more sensitive to others.

  30. Lani September 7, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    I totally applaud your honesty here are agree with so much of this post.
    Happy SITS day.. a little late:)

  31. Rita September 7, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    Well sounds like you went to a really boring church- sorry there are some good ones out there, contemporary music, charasmatic preachers and no dress code. I understand the akwardness, I have felt like this because of my religious beliefs. Anyways happy SITS day.

  32. Unknown Mami September 7, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    I’m so glad I got a chance to read this post. It’s brilliant. Perhaps you will inspire me to “come out of the closet” to more than just my close friends.

  33. La Belle Mere September 8, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    I think that anyone who discriminates against you because of your beliefs is not really being very “Christian”. You are entitled to your beliefs.

    Personally I don’t describe myself as religious either. I’m not arrogant enough that I would completely rule out the idea that there may be some higher power in play, all I’m saying is I don’t know what that is. I would describe myself as open-minded!!

    But I also know that there was definitely no mention of Dinosaurs in the Bible when God created the earth, and Adam and Eve!

    Great, thought provoking post!

    Happy SITS day! (1 day late – sorry about that!)

    LBM xxx

  34. Joy September 8, 2009 at 4:30 am #

    Very interesting read and brave of you to talk about such a personal topic. Happy belated SITS day!

  35. Holly Ann September 8, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this post… my experience with the church as a child was this.. “YOU BETTER STAY OUT OF THERE OR GOD IS GOING TO GET YOU”… i grew up in a small town; they didn’t lock the church ~ ’nuff said… recently i have had the overwhelming urge to “come out” to my family and friends… this pushes me a little closer.

    again, thank you!!!

  36. Jessica September 8, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    I’m so sorry you had experiences in church that were unpleasant, and that you’ve experienced such negativity from people close to you when you shared your heart. It doesn’t have to be that way, and it SHOULDN’T be that way.

    I do believe in God and am a follower of Jesus, and if we were neighbors I’d like to think that we would be friends in spite of our differences. You seem like a sweet and genuine person, and THAT’S what I look for in a friend.

    Congrats on being featured on SITS, by the way! Have a terrific day!

  37. Keri Dito September 8, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    I believe your post is thought provoking. Obviously. You ask the good, hard questions, I like that.’


  38. samsstuff September 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    Stopping by SITS to say hi!

    This is a lovely & well written piece, about a difficult subject. I appreciate your honesty in “coming out.”
    While I do believe in God, I do not necessarily believe in a specific God, as defined by an organized religion. It’s always interesting to read the views of others, with an open mind & to study the multitude of belief systems that are out there. I started out Catholic & decided, at a young age, that this was not the religion for me. I would say, that like you, I am an agnostic & that I lean towards a non-defined type of Christianity.
    I am glad to see that there are no truly negative comments here. It seems that we could all be friends, no matter what our individual beliefs are & that’s as it should be.

    Congrats (a little late) on your SITS feature!

  39. foxy September 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    I really appreciate your honesty. And your thought-provoking post.

    I’ll be back…

    Oh – and happy day to you, sitsta!

  40. Charmaine September 9, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    Well, we’re pretty much opposite. I actually studied Religion in college (all religions, but my focus was Judaism). And let me tell you, one of the greatest things that my studies taught me was tolerance – an ironically, a huge dislike (dare I say hate?) of intolerance and people who say they believe something, but then can’t back it (ie – Christians who nothing about Christ). So, although we disagree with our belief in God, I must say that it is very refreshing to hear someone with a different belief who is still very respectful and has very logical reasoning to back up their opinions. So, great post!

  41. Jessica September 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    I appreciate your honesty! Happy SITS!

  42. Lisa September 9, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    Great post! From reading the comments, it sounds like there are many out here just like you. I enjoyed reading about your perspective-it is not mine, which made it all the more interesting to read. I would never have thought that it was so difficult to be an athiest, or that people really cared.
    While I am deeply religious, I prefer to judge people based on the life that they live, not the God(s) that they may or may not believe in.


  43. a H.I.T. September 11, 2009 at 8:18 am #

    Bravo for coming out of the closet. It must be hard to have a different view from so many Americans (although it’s quite popular in some places in Europe). As long as you stay true to yourself, no friend should find fault in that.

  44. Mox September 12, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    Hi! Here from SITS – I think you are very moxie for your post – ironic, though, I am a Christian and I can tell you that I feel persecuted sometimes for being one! It’s not hip, I guess, to have a relationship with God, but I don’t know what I’d do without Him. No, I cannot ‘see’ him, but I know he’s there – it’s kind of like air.
    p.s. Anyone who claims to be a Christian and gives you guff is a hypocrite and has a lot more ‘reading up’ to do on what it means to be one!

  45. Ms. Mama September 16, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Hi, back from SITS…

    Ha ha.. I love the comments from christians in your post. Ha. The religious and even the mildly religious spread their thoughts around like Wilt Chamberlin’s semen. BUT still you say one tiny post and it gets people’s interest.

    Thanks for posting.

  46. Yolanda March 27, 2010 at 2:15 am #

    I was a “devout” Catholic for most of my 50 years, up until about 5 years ago when I stopped attending services for the most part. And yet, I feel more connected to God than ever.
    My fiance is not a believer in the true sense of the word..as a matter of fact, I’m not even sure he believes in a higher being. But, he is a truly good man. It was difficult for me at first to accept his nonbeliefs, but the more I get to know him, the more I love and respect his views.
    I think you are a funny person, honest and to the point. As a believer but TRULY not “holier than thou” woman, I find your honest refreshing. Yes, there is a lot of hipccrisy among believers and nonbelievers alike…too many people trying to be what they’re not…
    Thanks for sharing..!!!

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