[ This is a response to Doing My Part for the Godless Future. If you'd like to submit one of your own — what you're doing to help the world, or just yourself, get free of religion — email me via the link in that post. ]
I’m 25 years old and I’ve been calling myself an atheist officially since I was about 19. I stopped believing in God before that, but the word atheist was scary at first – so final. It’s understandable to me why people are afraid of atheism. I was at first, in my early teens when I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong and why everyone had told me God was real when more and more evidence was piling up in my head to the contrary. I feel like religious people clutch their religion to their chests like a child with security blanket. The blanket is all ratty and worn out and dirty. So an adult goes to them and says, “Here … let me just wash that for you. I’ll clean it up, patch the holes, maybe add a nice pretty border to it.” And the child refuses. Refuses to believe anything could be better than their old, worn out, falling apart blanket. I cannot understand this refusal. Because it’s adults who are acting this way. Terrified to look past what they know and accept that something might be even more exciting and make the world seem even more beautiful and awe-inspiring.
I never feel like I’m doing all that much for the cause, but I try to at least be true to myself and share with others when I have the chance. I am “out” as an atheist to my friends and family – and to anyone who asks me if I believe in God, I am perfectly honest and respond with, “No.” I sometimes argue on twitter when someone says something blatantly false about religion or worse – something blatantly false about science in relation to religion. On facebook if someone jokingly posts a status about everyone being a vegetarian on Good Friday, I joke back, “Not me!” If someone says anything leaning towards atheism or makes a joke about Jesus being a zombie, I jump on it and encourage them that it’s okay to say things like that. I guess mostly I just want to put myself out there because I’m not afraid to and I want other people to realize it’s okay too.
It’s frustrating, of course. Because there is still this opinion that atheists shouldn’t be allowed or that they can be allowed as long as they shut up and don’t say anything. But that’s not fair. If you post something ridiculous about religion on a public forum, I have every right to mock you for it. I am in complete agreement with PZ and others that religions deserve to be mocked. That they do not deserve special treatment and should be questioned. What is so wrong with asking people to just think about it? To educate themselves? Read The God Delusion and then if you still want to keep believing in your God – fine. (By fine, of course, I mean that you can do what you want even though I will still think you are exceedingly silly.) But at least be aware that you have a choice – that there is material out there available so you can make an actual, educated decision. I don’t see how anyone can choose to really believe in falsehoods instead of in the glorious truth. I just want people to see that “there is grandeur in this view of life.” That the world is so beautiful and when you limit yourself with God, you can’t see it!
I really appreciate all of the freethought blogs. When I am sad or angry, I can always go there and remind myself that I am not alone. That there are rational voices out there who want the same things I want. A secular world where I don’t have to be terrified that the government will tell me I have to die because they won’t abort a fetus that’s killing me. A world where I don’t have to watch in horror as basic human rights are denied to people because the invisible man in the sky told our lawmakers that homosexuality is a sin. Religion is a real threat right now. It doesn’t have to be, but it is – and I just want to stand up and say, “No, you’re wrong.”
~Stephanie, New Jersey