I hope I can fit this into one blog post, I have the motivation to try and don't know if I'll have the energy to continue if I don't finish tonight. (just thinking about doing this has me shaking a bit lol so much drama!), I'm going to try and tell the story without emotional bias and attempt to stick to the facts as much as I can.
Hello, my name is J. I was "born into a missionary Baptist family," I am the oldest son. Both of my parents served in the military and later graduated from Seminary (where they met), I also have an Uncle who was a pastor for most of my childhood. My family financially was reasonably well off, we had a piano and I was made to learn music from an early age. Dad worked, mostly mom stayed home to care for the kids. a 1950's kink lifestyle wet dream hehe. We went to church 3 times a week without fail, once on Wednesday and twice on Sunday. We even wore suits to church every time. I went to Christian schools, our family friends all had "brother" or "sister" added in front of their names. When people talked about the "non-believer" I honestly had no concept of what a non-believer was, I had never met one to my knowledge. Well before the "age of reason" I decided to walk down the aisle when the pastor did his emotional plea to become saved, I was near the age of 5 I believe, though I have no accurate way to measure time with memories so old.
I did the prayer with the pastor, confessed my nonspecific sins "I have sinned, I am bad and evil, I need Jesus to fix me, please enter my heart and life," I didn't do this because of some light or supernatural force or a schizophrenic voice in my head, I did this simply because the bible was all I had been taught at church, at home and at school, I learned quickly, I knew this was expected of me and so I just decided to do it. Because of my young age the pastor decided that I had to prove I understood what I was doing before I could be baptized and officially become a Christian, I was asked to write an essay, I had learned doctrine well (I tend to learn most things quickly), I remember being praised for the deep understanding in my essay, my understanding of core doctrinal tenants. As a result, I was allowed to be baptized.
I am aware that in previous posts I have told this part of the story.... but... I think it’s all worth including here.
After I was baptized I was suddenly afraid. Everything I was told about how I should feel when becoming saved didn't happen, I had no proof anything at all had changed. I didn't understand. I asked my mom how I could "know" I was saved, she asked me if I had said the prayer, confessed, asked forgiveness etc. and if I meant it, I said yes of course. Her response was, then you're saved. This of course didn't answer the question of how I could "KNOW" I was saved. I now know it’s because she couldn't have answered that question. But as a child I followed the steps over again. When I told my mom, I had done it again just to be safe she was upset for my "lack of faith" I realized that night that there was no god. I honestly struggled with this a bit, not for fear of hell, I've never been afraid of hell. But the idea that a god that loved me and wanted me not existing was very sad to me, after all in my entire life no one wanted me or tried to make me feel loved. That trend of feeling unwanted and isolated only grew more stark as I began my life of lies. I honestly wanted there to be a god, I honestly wanted someone to love me, but wanting something and facing reality are very different things.
I went to Christian schools where I never fit in. I was bullied, told about how strange I was. While my thoughts kinda sound like what Christians claim to believe (such as caring about other people), nothing I thought ever quite lined up with the Christian position, however I was close enough that no one suspected I was one of those "non-believers." At this stage in my life I didn't think much about lying to people, everyone said the god words, and I was genuinely interested in doctrine and theology, I still like those subjects as much as I like philosophy, history, computer science etc. My ability to learn quickly allowed me to hide better. I quickly stopped talking to other believers about god, or theology or the bible ect, instead I could only talk to pastors directly. One thing you may find if you're friends with a pastor is that they lie. ALWAYS. What they say in the pulpit is NEVER reflective of what they honestly think or believe. The fact of the matter is most Christians in America have no concept of what it means to be a Christian as the bible defines it. I heard things from pastors like "You don't understand, people aren't ready to hear that yet." or "You can't tell people that, they won't listen." When they responded to me like this it was never in response to my attempts to prove the bible wrong, I was far more focused on the structural integrity of what the bible said, vs the doctrine of the cannon, vs what most Christians have said and believed (all three are wildly in conflict with each other on pretty much EVERY point).
Again, everyone was a Christian, I was a Christian, just one that didn't think god, angels, supernatural bullshit was real. Of course, this means I was an Atheist, but that word wasn't even in my vocabulary, I wasn't taught that word, or sex ed, or history (outside of roman/Greek/colonial American history), I was never taught swear words. Since I was socially awkward I didn't have friends to teach me those things either. I had my books, music (which was mostly Christian or propaganda music), pastors for company and the limitless bounds of my thoughts and imagination. In short I was always alone hehe. For a long time that was my life. In the 1990's I was introduced to America Online (and other internet sources), I had made it a habit of stealing computer equipment from my dad's work since the mid 80's but it wasn't until the 90's that I found the internet. I didn't steal because I was rebelling or anything, in fact I didn't even look at it as wrong, I loved computers and just wanted to learn more about them, so I'd hide them in my room and take them apart. When I discovered the internet, I did learn "bad" words, and sex ed haha. I'd like to gloss over my teen years, it was much like my younger days except with the typical teen angst of being a nerd that can't get girls to like him, I didn't have friends for the most part and I continued to mostly keep to myself. It was far darker than that I admit but I’m not ready to talk about that here. I'm also not willing to turn this post into a very dark story.
I was deeply involved in the church, mostly through music, when I was 21 I married a "good" Christian girl, I loved her deeply, I still do in fact though I've not seen her in over 10 years I think. we taught Sunday school together, I always had this weird relationship with Christians where I didn't quite fit in (a death sentence as a Christian), while being respected for my knowledge and understanding (mostly from pastors and church leaders I admit). Throughout all this time I had never knowingly met another Atheist. My entire life I never openly praised god, or gave credit to god for the actions of humans or nature, somehow this fact went largely unaddressed.
Before my divorce, I got sick of Church and all the lies and the politics and the changes within the believers (over time they have continued a steady march towards a very dangerous level of extremism). As a result, I eventually went to church less and less and by the time my wife left I had already stopped attending completely, though I still had many pastor friends I would talk to regularly.
Today I live in a place where I finally know some Atheists in real life (4 in fact!), my nonbelief has come out sort of, but mostly everyone myself included ignores the elephant in the room there. However, in general I present myself in an ambiguous way so Christians can pretend I'm either a really bad Christian, or just a non-practicing Christian. Thanks to needing an income I have a Facebook for my customers which is nonstop religious garbage. I try very hard to keep my family far away from my Facebook. Mostly I only use it for work communication with customers. When I go to a client’s location, often if it’s a new client the first thing they ask me is "Do you believe in Jesus," My response is basically, "Um.... I'm just here to fix your broken stuff, can we talk about that please, I don't have time for anything else right now” 24/7 if I leave my house all I hear is anti-Atheist, Homophobic, racist hate speech, I'm quite tired of it. I don't ever bring those topics up instead every second they see me they beat me with it hoping that somehow, I'll talk about it and share that I agree with their nasty hate filled ideas. My neighbors brag about how they plan on waging personal wars against people they hate. Openly talk about overthrowing the government to institute a Theocracy. And even now all I do is lie, lie, lie. Try to downplay, try to twist things so that they don't turn their attention against me. I hate this.
It's honestly not easy to spend a lifetime lying every single day to every person you meet. To live in fear of what will happen if anyone finds out, or reacts badly. I was prompted to share this story when speaking with a Christian friend from up north, far enough removed from my life that I can afford a degree of honesty. I told her its hellish, like being African American surrounded by KKK and having to put on a white mask for fear of what they will do to you if they find out what you really are. I wouldn't wish a life like that on anybody. And in a deeply fundamentalist Christian community like where I currently live the fear of losing my life in addition to the limited wellbeing I currently have is a very real possibility.
I told my friend earlier "I'm an Atheist, Bisexual, half breed, it’s like I'm just begging to be murdered."
(I'm half Mexican, half White, which is frankly worse than not being white in the eyes of a racist, and around here not being white can get you killed, if you wander into the wrong place by accident. Thankfully for me I am light enough skinned no one really notices. usually. Instead I get to hear their openly racist talk, I've heard from their own mouths what they think of half-bloods like me. Of course, I don't know what a pure blood is, since everyone has "mixed" heritage by now, such a dumb thing to judge a person on, but I like staying alive so I'm not gonna kick the bear if I can avoid it).
I wouldn't wish the hellish nightmare that is my life on my worst enemy.
My only real hope is someone will take my begging for aid to get out of this country seriously and help me go to a place with fewer religious people.