I was raised Jewish. When I was 16, I participated in a ceremony at my temple that celebrated the fact that we had chosen to continue our Jewish education for three years beyond our Bar/Bat Mitzvahs (many students chose not to). As part of the ceremony, we had to write essays discussing an aspect of what it meant to us to be Jewish. My essay started with, âI do not believe in a personal G-d.â [Dash included in the original] I felt connected (and I still do) to Judaism through tradition, but there was no part of me that believed that God came down and dictated the Torah to Moses. But I equivocated – I ended the essay with a vague presentation of God as the âforce that makes the whole of humanity greater than the sum of its parts.â I didnât write that because I believed it. I wrote that because here I was, trying to give my honest opinion to community members, and I feared what they would think about me. At 16, I was scared that people would judge me negatively based on my lack of belief. At 20, Iâm still scared, but the only way that we can live in a world without that fear if people start to speak up. With some inspiration (and some reassuring arguments) from Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, PZ Myers, and Sam Harris, I feel confident telling people that I'm an atheist. It ought not to be as radical a label as it tends to be – all it means is that I don't believe in a god. And I intend to show the world around me that there shouldn't be a negative connotation attached to that.