Hello, and: Lifetime or Converted Atheists (a poll, sort of)

Hi, I'm new here. Never had any idea that this site existed til yesterday when I accidentally stumbled upon it.

I realize I ramble a bit here, so if you just want to hit the "poll" portion of this, skip down a few paragraphs to where I talk about "the point."

Introductions. I am an atheist, a nontheist so to speak since birth (which at that time I suppose, technically we all are), becoming an atheist sometime later, I suppose, at about the time I was old enough to recognize that there all these improbable things called "religions" floating around out there.

See, my parents are atheists, "strong", "weak", whatever, atheistic to some extent. "Faithless" may be an appropriate term that removes some of the ambiguity of simply "atheist". As such, theist vs nontheist was simply a non-issue. We didn't talk about it, there was no explicit indoctrination into atheistic beliefs, simply the lack of any religious indoctrination otherwise. The concepts of god and etc never came up til much later on, probably when someone had to explain to us kids just who this "Jesus" person was and why the kids at school believed in these crazy stories about him.

Now, I've never worn atheism on my sleeve, so to speak, but it's never been something I've hesitated at any time in talking about. Similarly, I would never introduce myself as saying, "Hi, I'm Travis and I don't believe in invisible pink unicorns," but if my great aunt Sally informed me she was sending up some pink unicorn prayers for me I'd say something to the effect of, "no, you're not, Sally. Keep your religious nonsense to yourself TYVM."

So anyway, I'm an atheist browsing the internet. This site intrigues me. I sign up. Then I get here and I look around and notice something: a theme of sorts. A lot of people talk of this community as a sort of haven for atheistic ideas, a place where they can talk about atheism without fear of reprisal, a community of like-minded individuals that they're thankful for, and so on.

The point, long in coming, is that being a lifetime atheist, without ever experiencing any religious indoctrination or ever going through a period of internal conflict where I had to deny my family's faith-- I have never felt the need for such a community. Speaking my mind, in any situation, about my atheism has never been of the slightest concern. This community, to be honest, feels very much like a support group for those "coming out" as atheists. And this is by no means a bad thing! I am very (very) much against organized religion and I applaud people breaking from it. My intention is not to offend. It just makes me wonder about the demographic, as this place would never be something I intentionally sought out, nor will it probably be a place I frequent. It's just not really for me. (No offense intended. I was just curious about this community and I'm not normally the social internet type.)

So finally the point, really this time (as if anyone is still reading).

1.) How many of you who are active in this community are lifetime non-theists (from non-theist households, not just early converts), and how many are converted from some religion. And in either case, if you'd share, what benefit do you derive from this community? What keeps you coming back?

2.) How many of you come from communities where public knowledge of your atheism would have real consequences, e.g. social blackballing or worse. If the consequence is offending Grandma, well I'm sorry, but f*** Grandma. Tip-toeing around religion to avoid hurting others' feelings is part of the reason that religion remains a "sacred" topic. However if the consequence is your store getting burned down, or you being put up on the stake, well, then those are some defensible consequences. FYI I come from a religious part of upstate NY. It's not exactly the middle east, but it's also certainly not a community friendly to the non-churchgoer.

Anyway. Just thought I'd put it out there. Reply, flame, etc. Thanks for reading.

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Welcome Travis, I suspect if we compared notes on our upbringing we would find a lot of similarities.


Lifelong in so much as much as it matters, I have been an active atheist for a couple of years now.

To be honest what I enjoy about this site is the openness of discussion and the quality of discourse. Granted there are a few bulldogs around to keep the white noise of nonsense down, but don't worry they are a mostly harmless bunch.


So far no consequences for my atheism where I live, none of note anyhow. Canada is a funny place, I opened a similar discussion on that section of the site.

Religion isn't a subject for polite discussion in Canada, but most people who are more religious wear some sort of trinket or charm indicating which theology they follow. Granted we have an extremely high immigration rate, and we get a high volume of refugees, which drives up our over all religiosity.

We are decidedly multi-cultural friendly however, sometimes to our detriment. I suspect a lot of second+ generation Canadians are what I would term cultural verse active religionists, the idea that you should believe in something, even if you don't pay it much attention, cultural deists effectively.

Frankly I am more concerned by the increasing prevalence of woo here.

Anyhow enjoy the site, and once again welcome.
Hiya! I'm always really amazed by atheists who were never indoctrinated. There are a lot of ex christians here, myself included. I personally like this place because there aren't christian trolls hanging around asking stupid questions or making tired, debunked arguments. Sometimes it's fun to argue but sometimes it's nice just to discuss and vent.

While I'm a pretty much "out" atheist it does have some effects. Though I don't discuss it as openly as say, what I had for lunch, I am fairly comfortable disclosing my atheism to 'safe' people. I come from a community of churches on every street corner (usually across from a bar) of many different denominations. As for real consequences, I have had some concerns about things like jobs because of my unbeliever status. Fortunately I've been careful enough not to provoke anyone who would actually harm me.
1) I definitely didn't come from a non-theistic household. I deconverted about 3-4 years ago, but there wasn't much to deconvert (I'd probably be labeled an apathetic deist before I went full on atheist). I've only been on A|N for a short time, but in my short time I've followed some of the most interesting and thought provoking conversations, not to mention some hilarious ones too, that help me further my own critical thinking in the environment that surrounds me.

2) I have nothing to lose by disclosing my godlessness, and I say it with a smile on my face. I couldn't give two shits what my (extremely small and closed-minded, seriously...it's like you should hear dueling banjos driving through this small Texas town) community thought of me (been here a little over half my life, they know by now that I don't give a crap what they thought), and as far as grandma (and mommy) go, they know and they deal with it. Even asked my mom why she didn't try to fight (bring me back to the true dark side) me when I came out to her a few years ago and she said "What would be the point?", to which I said "Very true".

I'm a Black woman, surrounded by religious Black people everyday, and go to a historically black university, where I get an email everyday about something going on at the chapel (of which the university is centered around), and I say it loud and proud, I'm a fucking atheist!
1. I'm an atheist and have been one without ever having believed or subscribed to any religion.

I think this site has some great people and lots of resources. Useful.
Hi Travis, I'm new here too. Do you also find that the spelling and grammar here is remarkably better than on most sites? :-) Anyway, I'm 38, and live in southwest Virginia.

I'm not sure quite how to answer #1... I was also born atheist (as is every child), and was indoctrinated by my family into the Lutheran church. My father's family is traditionally Lutheran, but he never liked church much. My mother's family is Baptist, and she very much enjoyed church. I found it mostly confusing and extremely dull. I know that by the time I was 7, I was annoying Sunday school teachers with questions they couldn't answer. To be completely honest, my fondest memory of church is the many sugary treats they served after every service in the fellowship room. Other than that, church was something I had to get out of bed and go to, when I really didn't want to. As I got older, I would volunteer as often as possible to help in the church nursery just to avoid sitting through all that droning, singing, standing and sitting. Somewhere around 11 or 12 years old I started Catechism (Some kind of ritual (re?)"affirming" of your love for Jesus/the church or something - the Lutheran church is often called "Catholic Lite"), but never finished. I wasn't buying it anymore, it seemed too much like Santa Claus. I did, however, kiss my first girl at a church lock-in associated with the Catechism.

I haven't believed since 1986 (if I ever truly did), and as I got older, and the more I discovered about all the other religions, and how the bible was put together, and how religion truly poisons things (Read Christopher Hitchens :-)), this has only been reinforced.

2) My close friends and immediate family know I'm atheist, and I think some people at work suspect it, but don't care. My mother (& possibly one sister) is(are) the only practicing theist(s) left in our immediate family. My father, both younger brothers, and (I think both) my younger sisters are atheist. Of the close friends, some are Christian, some agnostic, some are Deist.
I don't know if my current job (delivery and deli work for an "upscale" restaurant) would be in danger if the owner knew I'm atheist. He's Catholic, and very Republican. I joke with him that he's the most Jewish Catholic I've ever met. I don't think he'd fire me for non-belief, but there is the possibility.

On a side note, my mother recently left her Lutheran church of 25 years (not the same one we attended when I was young, we moved in 1985) because they left the ELC (Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America) in favor of the more homophobic, political based LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ).

Her former church claims to base its doctrine on Sola Scriptura - "Scripture Only", for its preaching of hostility towards homosexuals, liberals, and progressives. It is interesting that they "preach" scripture only concerning Leviticus 18:22 (Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination), but NOT Leviticus 11:9-12 (These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you).

This church also has a female pastor, which violates their own claim of "Sola Scriptura", since 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 clearly states, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
1. This one is hard to answer. I feel like I fall somewhere in between. I was never a true believer by age 9 I was completely apathetic before that I really tried to believe in god but it just didn't work out. I guess I just didn't realize that not believing was an option. The religion that I grew up with to some extent was Roman Catholicism. My parents however never forced any of it on me, it was mostly my extended family which played a large role in my early life that were more forceful about religion. If you care to read the whole story I have a blog post about it: http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/my-story-6

What benefit do I get from this community? I like this community so far because it removes the element of debating with theists. I left many of my old forums because while they started out great the theists eventually took over and every discussion turned into the same tired debate of gods existence. This community has kept me coming back because we actually talk and debate about other things and aren't spending our time repeating the same arguments.

2. So far I've had few negative consequences to revealing my atheism. I don't tell people I'm atheist unless the topic comes up. I tend to be quieter about my atheism than usual at work. I don't hide it per say but I don't discuss it with the kids (not like they'd understand anyways) or parents I work with. My supervisor knows I'm atheist but she's quite the oddball and has no problem with me or any other atheist. I am a preschool teacher and of course most of the children I work with come from religious families - some very religious. I'm barely hanging on to my job as it is (economy sucks where I live) the last thing I need is unwarranted complaints. Long story short I've never felt particularly threatened as an atheist and being an atheist has caused me few problems thus far in my life.
As a few have echoed in response to you, I'd say that you are definitely in a very small minority where you were actually sheltered from the indoctrination of religion, or you were not shunned or made to feel worse about yourself for not believing at some point. Living in the United States, I'd say it's a very very small chance to be born into a family that doesn't have its roots founded in religion of some sort. If your parents weren't religious, then certainly you had grandparents, aunts, uncles that were. We're surrounded by people that want us to believe like them, and essentially, that's why sites like this exist.
Hi all, thanks for your responses.

To those who mention the lack of arguments with theistic types as a plus, I totally agree. You can't argue with blind faith. "Debating" religion is a pointless and tiresome exercise.

I do have a terrible secret: I was baptized Presbyterian. All right, maybe it's not so terrible... rather inconsequential, actually, which I suppose is the reason my non-believer parents didn't object. Baptize the kid; appease the grandma. No harm no foul. I admit this fact to address T. Owens's point, that almost all of us, even if in some minimal and meaningless way, are exposed to religion early on. I didn't mean to suggest that I somehow came from a family with no religious roots.

My grandparents on one side were the churchgoing type--not exactly religious, but more about the community. E.g. they didn't demand baptism to save my immortal soul, etc, but rather because of fear for what the neighbors would think. Church for my grandma was more about hanging out with her gal-pals, less about prayer. I mentioned previously, this is rural upstate NY. Everyone is a protestant, varying only in denomination and degree of devoutness. Town churches are the community centers, and nearly everyone belongs to one or another, with the exception of a few super religious nutjobs who are in the smaller, more cult-like churches, and probably speak in tongues regularly (seriously) and home-school their kids to keep them out of Satan's clutches. If I had to describe the demographic, I'd say my county was ~97% white protestant, 3% "other".

Fortunately for me, and somewhat amazingly, baptism was about the extent of my religious upbringing. And of course, as I was an infant, it's not like it's something I remember. Following that initial splash on the head, there was *no* pressure of church/religion whatsoever in my family. For whatever reason, the rest of my siblings weren't baptized. Maybe someone put a foot down at some point behind closed doors; I don't know. Later in life it became a good joke: my good fortune in being baptized and heaven-bound while they were all damned. Suckers!

Anyway. I ramble on. My forum etiquette is terrible.

I just wanted to say, to those of you who were born into religious families and were able to turn from that and reject it, at whatever the individual cost, I applaud you. Seriously. It makes me feel so fortunate to have been brought up in a religion-free, hate-free home (in the middle of god-fearing, gay-bashing, ethnocentric rural NY, no less).
1. I'm an atheist. The benefit that I get is intelligent conversation and help with any problems I might have. I realize I could go to other sites for the latter, but the former is hard to find on the internet. I keep coming back to receive help, to give advice, and to read the hilarious stories that are on here!

2. Not with the people I hang out with, but I really wish it did. I realize it can be really bad, and I'm sad that those things happen to people who don't want them. I think there's something wrong with me. I enjoy any kind of social backlash that my atheism brings. It gives me more opportunities to debate and school theists in their religions. I live in the Bible Belt, so it's surprising things like that don't happen more, from what I hear about the Bible Belt. Most of my friends are at the very least agnostic.
Hello All!
I am always in awe of those of you that have overcome the indoctrination of church, society and family to end up at "this place"! I don't know if it is just my personality or what? but always feel somehow like a cheater for being a rational atheist without having to go through the process of throwing off the shackles and walking into the light! (I guess that protestant/catholic guilt will get you whether you ever believe or not!!;-)) Anyway, always have been a-theistic, and have become more and more anti-theistic with age.
I am thrilled to hear of all of your experiences and look forward to more to come! Thank science and reason that we are witness to this new enlightenment!
hey there. great poll!
1: I'm converted! Several times. Back and forth. Between "luke-warm" christianity and full blown nuttiness. Then, just a year and a half ago, I deconverted. And the rollercoaster stopped. It's amazing how much more one can enjoy life when it's not speeding by in a god-haze. I'm quite new to this community, so I don't really know what I'll get out of it. But the people here seem great!
2: Fortunately, I live in a very free and secular society. My circle of contacts through my childhood and youth has to a great extent been christian - including much of my close family. My closest circle took my deconversion just fine, fortunately. But the people a bit further out did not approve. (so they can stick their approval you-know-where, I have no use for false friends) So all in all, I've been very lucky! Not only can I express myself freely where I live, but I got rid of a bunch of false friends.




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