Hello to whomever is reading this letter. This year, I will be coming out about my atheism to my family.
I am turning 24 in late July, and have decided that it would make a good date to do this on. My whole immediate family will be present and so there will be no need for clarification or games of “telephone” with my words in my family. I have been an atheist since about the age of 10. My family didn’t purchase many books, but my appetite for reading was insatiable, so I read everything that I could. My father’s Merck Manual, the Webster’s Dictionary, and the Bible were the main books that kept my attention for about 3 years. I read the Bible through about twice in that time, and that is where my atheism was rooted, oddly enough. I couldn’t find myself actually believing in anything so absurd and violent as that book that my family loved so much. I think the irony of that is the best thing to ever happen to my sense of humor. “The holy book led me astray,” I’ll say. But I stayed silent about it, my parents weren’t quiet about their disapproval of non-Christians.
About a year and a half ago, I had an emotional breakdown from losing my job and home. I was admitted to a mental hospital for 3 weeks. While there I was good friends with a man who was there due to his own issues, which I did not pry into. But I discovered that he was a pastor. I spoke to him about religion candidly, and he did not take offense to my atheism, and was quite happy to have debates with me on the subject without it straying into pointless argument. It was some of the most rewarding dialogue I’ve had in my life. If only most religious people were that way. From my discussions with him, I decided to tell my family about my atheism. But they once again shot my resolve, when I finally came back to speak with them after being dismissed from the facility. The first thing they questioned was my belief, asking “You do believe in God, right?” As though a negative answer would destroy my chances of having a roof over my head in the interim while I found a job. So I kept silent once again. I am now firmly on my own, and have been for at least 6 months now, so my resolve has returned. I also now am aware of receiving a small inheritance from my grandfather on my birthday of this year. I have decided to use a portion of it to get Epicurius’s famous riddle tattooed onto my back. Conveniently, my birthday party will involve swimming, giving me a perfect opportunity to sport the tattoo publicly to my family and springboard the discussion.
But, most importantly, I thank Mr. Dawkins for writing The God Delusion, a most entertaining and empowering book. The book which gave me back my resolve to be truthful about my lack of religion to my family. To all the other atheists who still lock themselves into their own thoughts, I urge you to make a move. If your family and friends would drop you over something so petty, then they’re not what you’d want to be around in the first place.