A (hopefully) brief auto biography of a hiding Atheist.

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.

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Comment by Compelledunbeliever on October 22, 2016 at 2:23am

J. I have identified with much of what you have written. My parents have passed and my crazy religious relatives i have nothing to do with, in fact in the last 15 years I know almost nothing about them. Thank you for sharing your story, though the specifics of your situation are different, much of the struggles are similar.

About being Mexican; That's what Half-breeds are called in Southern Colorado. I really don't like or understand the term half-breed. Like some of us are Half-Human? Its so racist and stupid to call people of Hispanic descent Mexican. All the "Mexicans" are 100% American. Around here even the white people are "Mexican". I don't know how many actual people I know around here that are from very ethnically Mexican families that look just like any Caucasian.  The culture is a great mix of White/Hispanic so much one cant tell what is what. Luckily there just isn't racism  we are just to mixed up for that. By the way lets find one "Pure bred"  human on this planet and win the Nobel Prize!

Comment by BenGee on October 21, 2016 at 8:58pm

The real solution would have been easy. total isolation when I was at Time Warner Cable. no contact with my parents and just been ok being completely alone with no friends or family or support structure. SUPER EASY I KNOW everyone tells me how easy it is, i'm kinda sick of hearing how easy it is. 

Comment by BenGee on October 21, 2016 at 8:56pm

Please keep in mind, all of my problems could and would be over if I let my parents have total control of my life, something they constantly remind me of. My dad makes in one year more money than I'm likely to see over half my life, so they could help if they really wanted to, but that would come at a price. My parents bought my little brother a 40,000 dollar guitar, he's a music major but.... my little brother never rocks the boat lol. Both my brothers were also abused and I'm pretty sure at least one of them is also an Atheist, however he hates my guts, I was a pretty shitty older brother unable to give him support when we were younger, also he's kinda not the type of person to care about anyone but himself anyway. To be fair I think he hates everyone so... but he's always been the popular good looking one so his life has been pretty easy.

Me on the other hand I didn't like hearing my brothers scream so I'd often take the focus off of them and get into fist fights with my dad instead. You know how easily a 40 year old former marine can throw a 50lb 8 year old boy? how hard that wall is gonna be when he slams into it? I do....

Comment by BenGee on October 21, 2016 at 8:46pm

Keep in mind my aunt will always be mean to me cause I told her my dad has hit me with a 2x4 many times when I was little. A factual statement she refuses to believe.

Comment by BenGee on October 21, 2016 at 8:44pm

All of my accounts are currently in my name, I made sure of that before moving to Austin, however coming back has bled me dry and currently the idea of saving up seems unrealistic. I'm preparing to be homeless in the next couple of months if I can't figure something out. I sold my TV to pay for rent so I have about 2 months to figure something out. It's a messy situation that I shouldn't be in to begin with. I had a good job at Time Warner Cable, sure I was stressed and alone to the point of being desperate, and my lack of education (I only have an A.S.) was making moving up in the company or finding a better job challenging, but my bosses loved my work, it was over all a very good place to work and at least with an income I had options.

I was a fool to trust my parents, my father openly admitted my mom lied to me to get me to move back to California. This hurts in so many way's, aside from being stripped down to almost nothing and moving to an impoverished area with few options for and little hope for any employment I also have to face a huge setback caused by not holding a decent job at the moment and not being actively enrolled in any education, that is going to have a strong negative impact on a resume I had previously been working very hard on. The idea that I might have a hope of doing well in my life is threatening to parents that have spent over 30 years trying to have me diagnosed as retarded (I was even given an IQ test along with a battery of other tests). I had an aunt tell me I must be a retard cause "every time you open your mouth you sound like an alien to me."

My father works in bio labs selling microscopes for Thor Labs (previously he was with Zeiss), he spends his days talking to some of the most skilled intelligent biologists that have ever walked this planet has seen first hand the most amazing things that's going on in bio labs across the world. He also thinks that the earth is 6,000 years old, that DNA is set in stone (he seems to think that his DNA is the source of his whole identity, when I told him that the exchange of bodily fluids between people yes I mean sex along with exposure to viruses and other environmental factors changes his DNA he freaked out on me again with accusations of being a retard and a liar DUDE ASK ONE OF YOUR CLIENTS IF YOU DON"T BELIEVE ME I"M NOT CLAIMING TO BE AN EXPERT BUT I KNOW THEY ARE!) In short not even exposure to all that information can get through his thick skull what hope do I have of educating that pathetic looser (He's also an alcoholic abusive person who deserves to be called a looser regardless of his income bracket)

Comment by BenGee on October 21, 2016 at 3:05pm

Thank you Daniel, I've wanted to go to the Tulare Meetup for a while, I'm a bit too poor to ever make the drive up there. But eventually maybe I'll be able to afford it.

You're thoughts on Spanish, and Native South American interactions is something I have expressed when faced with racism from Mexicans. I can recall a specific example that cost me a job once, two co workers were constantly in my cubicle at a cell phone shop I worked at (this was a long time ago), they would harass me daily, call me a "mutt." One day one of them said "Hey Mutt" and at the time he had a pencil in his mouth the first thought that popped into my head was to reply with "Hey Roach" he got pretty mad, later the other co worker was in my cubicle she was also calling me "mutt" finally I said, technically I think we're all mutts since Mexicans are decedents from Native South Americans and Spaniards. I was fired within an hour. Good riddance, I was sick of that place anyway. The owners were Christians and harassed me constantly too. That is the only job I've ever been fired from.

Right now I often feel trapped and alone, I also average maybe 3-4 meals a week. I was manipulated by my parents into quitting my job at Time Warner Cable moving back to California to continue school, unfortunately it was kinda a trap, I'm stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no job, no chance at getting a job out here, not enough money to pay my bills and no way to leave. I work part time fixing computers cell phones ect for the locals up here, but its not enough. This current state of affairs has me so stressed all the time I don't like the person I've become as a result prone to emotional outbursts and high level's of cynicism. Because of this the only reason I leave my house is to go to some local Christians house to fix their stuff. I've been trying to get some certifications that would open up doors for me to make money online utilizing my existing education but nothing in life is free. Just to survive I've sold almost all of my possessions, which is part of my manipulative parents goal. It's a pretty messed up situation and a messed up past with extreme physical sexual and emotional abuse in my family that's been going on since I was an infant. But I have no one else, can't exactly replace my family, no one would offer to take in a nerdy looser like me.

When I share my hardships I'm often told "well why doesn't your family help you," I've been fighting to be free of my family for 36 years. The first time was when I was a little boy and I told some family friends about the abuse at home. I was about to tell them about the sexual abuse but they creeped me out while I was telling them so I shut up and stopped talking. Later they told my parents every word I had said... Things I learned. No one cares what happens to me and if I talk I'll get my ass kicked.

Every time I've gained a measure of success in my life financially I move to cut my family out, unfortunately every time the greatest weapon my family has to bring me back in line, and the cause of all of the worst decisions in my life is my isolation. I get desperately lonely they use that to destroy me that way I have to come back to them. I graduated college against their will. I had a 4.0 GPA until my last term but they started with their manipulations calling me, emailing me, harassing me, using a joint bank account to hold money hostage (I don't have that account anymore for obvious reasons) I ended up graduating with a 3.5 GPA, when I received my second raise in a year at Time Warner Cable they did it again. That one was the hardest, I had moved to Austin Texas knowing full well I had no support, no friends or family. but I was determined to cut my family out of my life to make it, they emailed and called constantly, my mom would talk about how I should quit Time Warner Cable to move home and work at Wal-Mart. She tells everyone she meets I'm Autistic (which in her mind means retarded), Honestly I might be autistic, but I think its unlikely and irrelevant, the key issue is I'm not stupid and i wish she'd stop telling everyone I am "You have to understand he's Autistic, he doesn't always understand things when you explain them to him" (No, I understand and fully and I also understand you're wrong! My refusal to agree with you isn't a sign that I'm a retard. It's not that I'm too dumb to understand you I'm smart enough to be able to explain to ANYONE the reasons why you're thoughts don't stand up to scrutiny).

I'm reminded of an adult woman I saw on the news who ran away from her fundamentalist christian parents and they used the fact that they never got her a birth certificate to try to manipulate her into coming back in line. She was really pretty and seemed very nice, and had distant relatives that were willing to take her in to help her escape. I'm glad she was able to break free, some of us aren't so lucky.

When I seem super stressed out or sound a bit emotional and extreme when I talk, these are the roots, the turmoil behind what I face every day, and I know that as crazy as my fucked up life is, technically I am NOT alone, many children of christian households face the exact same abuse, even worse abuse every single day, they continue to be abused long into adulthood. But knowing they exist somewhere out there nameless shapeless figments of my imagination doesn't really make me feel better just yet (Imaginary until the day I meet them and can put a face with a name).

My few posts here don't even constitute 1% of the horrors and abuses I've seen first hand in so many Christian households. I appreciate your emotional support, its something I've experienced very little in my life. But I see no one rushing to help people who share struggles like mine, so I do still feel a little alone and sad, not just for myself but for the others who face the same nightmare every time they wake up.

I had this crazy idea I shared with a friend that I met through here. Atheist house, a place where people can come for support while they try to break free of family control. It wouldn't need to offer much, if a person has been financially entangled this place could offer lodging and food, counseling and group support while they go find jobs save up money and move out on their own. Christianity uses financial enslavement of children to keep kids in line. Almost every adult I know under 40 is financially slaved to their parents, many never try to leave religion and most of it is less extreme than what I've faced, though some of what I've seen is as bad or worse than what I've been through. I have a 20 year old atheist friend in Porterville, His parents require him to deposit all of his paychecks into an account they control (something my parents have done in the past and try to get me to do again every chance they get). I told him "at some point you have to treat yourself like an adult even if your parents won't" his response was "I know" I realize that he understand's the same hardship and realities as any person that grows up in iron chains like that.

Comment by BenGee on October 20, 2016 at 12:13pm

Thank you tom,

I am in Tulare County, the local farmers and ranchers here still suffer thanks to extreme drought conditions. I've lived a lot of places, including near San Francisco, I happen to like that city. Moving away from here currently isn't an option and might not be an option for a long time to come (Gotta have money and a job to move).

Comment by tom sarbeck on October 20, 2016 at 10:16am

BenGee, thank you for your post. I'm one of five kids my dad sent to Catholic schools and parts of your story resemble parts of mine, especially keeping my doubts to myself and the resulting aloneness. Quitting (while in  college) was like leaving a mental and emotional prison.

Curious about your location, I checked a map and saw you are near Tulare County, where farm workers several decades ago suffered so much.

In 1976, intending a midlife career change, I left Phoenix for San Francisco and found it a happy substitute for the Xian heaven.

More later, business intervenes.

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