My hands tremble as I type these keys. It has taken me great courage to come out of religion, and I’m still new at this.
I was born and raised in South Carolina to a lukewarm Methodist family. However, when my dad developed the beginnings of a drinking problem when I was around 12 or 13, my parents reverted back to their Baptist upbringing (the religion virus attacks you when you are weak). My family was “transformed” overnight, and my dad even underwent adult Baptism. Apparently Methodist baptism wasn’t good enough. Anyway, they pulled my sisters out of public school and sent them to conservative, private, Christian schools. My parents became heavily involved in bible study fellowship, and eventually rose to be regional leaders. Somehow, I escaped the storm, and remained in public school because I was the oldest child, and they didn’t want me to leave the friends I had made. I would come home from school after learning about dinosaurs, evolution and various other sciences, while my sisters were taught that the world was 6,000 years old.
I bought into conservative Christianity superficially until I was a freshman in college. Once in college, religion simply became a non-issue to me, neither hot nor cold. I went to church when I was home with my family, and that was about it. Then, when I got to law school, I began dating a Jewish girl. As we got more serious, this caused me to question my own faith, and wonder, “do I really believe this Christianity stuff?” Between law books, I began devouring every book, movie, and lecture on “Why Christianity is right” that I could get my hands on. Dating a Jewish girl, I naturally studied their point of view as well. That’s when things began to fall apart; the dangerous “opposing view” had been injected into my mind. Shortly, I began to realize, “everybody KNOWS they are right.” The Muslims, the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus. They all believe they are right. This epiphany sent me into an out of control spiral over the next several years. My thirst for religious knowledge grew, and soon I was reading comparative religion on almost a daily basis. I forced myself to do mental gymnastics, making myself believe what I knew couldn’t be true, forcing the “round peg into the square hole.” I even attempted ultra-liberal Christianity for a while, but that was just the last checkpoint on my way out the door. Then, I stumbled upon Richard Dawkins.
Reading “The God Delusion” was a deep breath of fresh air, one like I had never felt before. Why subject myself to all the mental gymnastics and impossibilities? The truth had been obvious to me all along, I was just afraid to embrace it. Can’t we just say that a garden is pretty without saying there are fairies underneath it? Can’t we just admit that nobody knows for sure? Nobody gets a channel I don’t get (yes, I’m quoting Bill Maher and others here). I now don’t call myself Atheist, Agnostic, or Christian for that matter. I just don’t know; therefore, I prefer “free-thinker”. I now embrace the search, and not the certainty. Life is amazing, and perhaps moreso without the pseudo certainty that comes with religion. The Jewish girl is now my wonderful wife who I love very much. I’m proud to report that she is a fellow free-thinker! Both of us are in the closet for now, but we look forward to coming out one day when the timing is right.
Thank you, as one free-thinker to another.
Charleston, South Carolina