Ok, so of course I have to start off with why I became a christian in the first place. I was 'saved' when i was 14 at the end of June, right before my first year of high school. During my 6th and 7th grade years, I became very depressed. I had no true interest in life and in was due largely to the fact that I had no plans for my life. I didn't know what I wanted, and basically let everybody else, but myself, make my choices.
My 8th grade year, I went to a new school and was surrounded by completely new people. I joined in with people I somewhat knew from years ago and they accepted me. As the year went on, I became very interested in theatre and music. I was amazed at how actors could create those emotions and how musicians could be so talented and create such beautiful sound. My new friends were all either involved in band or chorus and pushed me towards being more involved in activities.
One friend, we'll call her Amy, became very close to me. Every single week she would invite my to come with her to church and eventually, I said yes. When I went, I was amazed at the way they treated each other there. They cared so much for one another, and they were so accepting of me that I broke down in tears the first night, I had never felt so loved. My parents were not abusive or anything, but I'm not close to them at all, and after spending two years in a serious depression, I wasn't used to that kind of caring from anybody.
Amy was so happy and made sure I would come again. I went, happily, every week, twice a week. And I loved it; I loved how they treated me with such care, how they helped bring me out of the last bits of my depression. I was saved during a youth meeting over the summer, and I was excited to go back to school and bring others to god, I was excited to bring others to be as happy as I was.
High school started, and I became very involved in my school's theatre and music programs. By the end of the year, I was one of the school's leading actresses, and a clarinet player. Nothing could compare to preforming. When I was on stage, it was as if everything inside me could come out and be free. I could do anything and I loved the freedom. My future was bright; I finally found my true talent and what I loved to do more than anything. I know it's a hard thing to get to, but I set out to become a professional actor.
Now, a few months after becoming a christian, I realized something; I realized that in my church, all the teens parents went to the same church, and all of their parents went to that same church. Basically, the entire family was rooted in that one spot, and they were preparing their kids to do the same; to never leave, to grow up and be exactly what their parents were.
Another odd thing I noticed; the teen class was entirely made up of girls, so our lessons always were mostly relevant to female issues. When we talked about our futures, it was always 'your husband' or 'your kids' there was no room to be single or to not be a mother. I personally did not want to marry or to have kids. I wouldn't have time to date and be an actor, and I would not be able to afford a child on that kind of career (yes, I'm aware that I will most likely not end up like Natalie Portman, I don't care, I just want to act)
One day we did an exercise; draw a picture of your life in 30 years. My fellow girls, including Amy, drew themselves as nurses or teachers who were married to doctors and lawyers and had 3 kids. They were praised for their pictures. I showed mine; me alone on a stage in front of a full audience, my reviews from the teachers were mixed, yet they were over joyed with the girls who drew themselves as nurses married to their DOCTOR husbands, or teachers married to their LAWYER hubbies.
They were being praised for picturing themselves under men.
They were being praised for NOT following what they really wanted in life.
Amy was a singer, a very good singer, and she loved it. She could become a professional, but instead she wants to give up her life and success and now only wants to be married and have children. Hmmm seems like the 'problem with no name' is being praised as the perfect life for a woman.
I really began to question my religion when it said that I must give up my life and must throw away my rights that make me equal to men.
As I was questioning my choice to be a christian, and as I was quickly becoming a feminist, I heard a story on the news. A boy had killed himself. He had come out to his parents and community and was hated for it. They told him he was sick and that it was his fault for being gay, it was his choice that he was 'wrong'. They drove him to his death. These people who are supposed to 'love thy neighbor as thyself' push their neighbor to kill himself. It finally hit me; this wasn't love my pastor was preaching, it was hate.
I have thought about killing myself before, and I have been through depression, so I knew how that boy felt. It's a kind of pain and emptiness that I wouldn't wish upon anybody. But what really hurt me was that I was part of what drove that boy to his death; I helped kill him, and it made me sick.
I took a step back and looked at what I believed; I believed that I was the gold standard of humans, everybody who didn't believe exactly the way I did was only good for hell, any thing that didn't support god should be destroyed, any movie or song that wasn't christian was of the devil. I never completely gave up my mind and believed that women were weaker and lowly, but every other person around me believed that.
In the end, I realized this; I was supporting a religion that taught that women were inferior, and a religion that drove people to kill themselves.
Everyday I heard more stories of gay teens who came out to their families and who were thrown out, damned, and pushed to their deaths. Everyday I saw women who were thrown under the feet of their husbands, who stood behind them instead of next to them.
So I decided for once to quit letting other people tell me what to do and what to think. I took control of my life and believed what I wanted to; nothing. And then I was free, I could listen to Lady GaGa without feeling guilty, I could watch The Shining without thinking about all the 'bad' things in it, I could live the life that I wanted. And, I could hug my gay friend without feeling like I needed to 'save' him.
I am an Atheist, and I am a Feminist because I believe that we have to right to live without hate from others. I believe that you have the right to chose your life because you do what makes you happy, not based on what others tell you to do. Once again, I am the odd one out, but this time, instead of letting people tell me I'm wrong and beat me down, I can stand up and be free from their rules.