I found this in drafts, and figured I might as well post it! It's old... But I had to finish up my coming out story. Which is really more of a... becoming an atheist story...
So this last fall I started college. Now I'm living alone 200 miles from home, but still very much in Utah. At first, it was great. I loved being by myself, having freedom, the weather was much better, school went pretty well, and the people seemed a lot nicer-- and less fake, particularly.
Coming back for this second semester everything is shifting. I'm lonely. I'm seeing more and more that I'm facing the same problems with religion that I was back home. The populous is still majority Mormon-- in fact, I see polygamists regularly and often on campus.
I've had such a hard time connecting with my peers. I'm been feeling ostracized for so long, and my identity as an atheist, feminist, humanist, non-bigot is so contrary to their teachings that the mere idea that they're Mormon makes it difficult for me to attach. After all, you're looking for someone to share your feelings with sometimes. And I'm not the type who cares about someone's favorite color or what so-and-so just did. I'm deeper. So if I can't have an intelligent conversation with someone, what's the point?
Technically I'm still a Mormon. And apparently they will never take your name off of the record, instead they mark you as being no longer a member. But I want to resign. I want it badly. I want to send in that golden letter that says I am not one of you. Not just to become completely unaffiliated, but for that chance to write out the words that I've wanted to for so long. To pretend that explaining on paper how awful this environment has been to me will somehow help free my soul. That it would be enough to finally rid myself of the bitterness and sadness, that it would shake off all the fears of men I had, my sexual frustrations, years of emotional isolation... and the lies. The lies that told me that man was at the head of woman and God was at the head of man. And the liars who would deny what that meant. The lies that made me pray every night for God to make me prettier.
In grade school, at a Mormon school called Ensign, once we were given a lesson on the power of prayer. The story outlined a girl who had warts covering her fingers and was nicknamed "warthog" by the kids at school. She prayed and prayed to get rid of them, and finally they all just went away. Although I was a little skeptical by now, I had this same problem. My hands were covered. So I prayed. Nothing. Prayer was such a hopeless feeling. Eventually I cried through the doctor's attempts at fixing the problem- burning them, applying irritants, softening the skin and cutting it off (I would even be forced to wear gloves to school sometimes), and the worst, liquid nitrogen. Thanks a lot, God.
Church was a nightmare from the start, but it went from a childish hate of tights and sitting still, to being a full-grown atheist forced to sit quietly as I listened to scripture stories that made me want to wretch, and being in the heat of the Proposition 8 battle. I didn't go to church often, but they were relentless. I was practically stalked.
Proposition 8 was disgusting. The source of several battles for me, and I think it was really the point where I stopped defending the Mormon church. Although I had been a skeptic or an atheist, I would still view Mormonism as part of my culture or heritage and I would defend them against criticism. Now I can't. And having lived with these people, who believe themselves to be so misunderstood, I think they deserved the political backlash, and more. The church deserves to be taxed. I still feel almost as if I'm living in a cult.
Because of things I read in the Bible, I was deeply questioning religion by 7th grade. I could not reconcile the sexism, the violence, etc. But I think these things speak for themselves. Most atheists can relate to that experience of actually sitting down, reading the Bible, and thinking to yourself, "WTF?!" I never liked the way the church in general treated women, and for the one true religion, something seemed iffy about that.
All of those things became the impetus of my shift to atheism, even if I was always something of an atheist in my heart. I don't remember actually saying to any of my siblings, "I'm an atheist" in such a succinct manner, but they all know, and most of them are themselves. I'm not out to my mother, though she knows I'm "not religious". I'm perfectly happy to be out to just about anyone who asks, however.