Although she’s the founder of Minority Atheists of Michigan Bria Crutchfield said, “I haven’t always been an Atheist, unfortunately. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, baptized at 17.” Angry at being forced to be raised in a high control group, she walked away at 18 and was disfellowshipped at 20. For those of you not familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses and disfellowshipping, it’s an extreme form of shunning where your entire congregation is notified and it is understood that no one is supposed to talk to you thereafter. Having been raised one myself, I know it’s a very difficult thing to go through. Bria said she “later segued to Pentecostalism” in her 30s. She was very active and was “an intercessory prayer warrior, Evangelist & Prophetess.”
Justin Bonaparte, a 39-year-old Charlotte resident told me that he “was raised in a nominally Christian household.” He, along with his older brother, attended a K-8 Catholic school, but he feels that was because private school offered them a better education not because his parents sought to further indoctrinate them.
Although 38-year-old Vance Salley of North Carolina is an atheist now, that hasn’t always been the case. With an Islamic father and a Catholic-raised mother, there was confusion growing up. He says now that although he believed in a “higher power,” deist may have been the most accurate description of his beliefs until he reached the age of 15. It was at that time that he became interested in reading about Egyptian, Greek, and Norse mythology.