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Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
#1
Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
Hi all, I'm new to the forum. I posted a little about myself in the Intro forum, but here's my 'testimony'...

Being from the south, I come from a long line of Baptist generations. Growing up as a kid, we didn't go to church regularly, maybe on Easter, Christmas, etc.. But we were always taught Christian values. And I (like any child) believed what my parents and elders told me. I didn't really start attending church regularly until college. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) was an active Christian. She is what got me into church regularly. Around 1996 or 1997 I was 'saved' in church one Sunday, and swore to live my life for Jesus. I was pretty hardcore for several years. Never missed church, played drums in christian rock bands, did bible studies, tried to witness to people. (It's funny how sexually active we were during this time, knowing it was a huge sin!!)

We got married a few years later, started a family, career, etc... My shift work as an air traffic controller had me working on Sunday mornings in the early 2000's, so I got quite laxed in my church attendance. After a few years, my work schedule changed, allowing my Sunday mornings free again, so I started going back to church. Around the last year or two, I started to feel like I was just there to take up space. The sermons were not really meaning anything, I didn't go to a Sunday school class, I prayed, but they didn't seem from the heart - I just did it because it is what we were supposed to do! My life was in a rut!

Here is where I think the change started - I started asking questions! I asked them only to myself, but I wanted answers. Why does God do this? Why doesn't God do that? Are my prayers really heard? I would find good generic answers like, god is in control, it is his will, trust him, etc... So I continued trying to believe, wanting to believe... But something just didn't feel right.

About two or three weeks ago, a light suddenly came on and I said to myself - what the hell am I doing with my life - I believe what exactly?? And for the first time in 35 years, I looked at myself and my religion from outside the bubble. And WOW, what an eye-opener! I started digging into the Bible, trying to question everything I thought I 'knew'. And the deeper I dug, the more shocking stuff I found. Holy shit (pun intended), there is a lot of wacky stuff in that book. Stuff crazier than fairy tales and Santa Claus. This God that I always thought was loving and caring is really a mean, deceptive, selfish control freak. Why would we create such a character and force people to worship him??

I kept all of this to myself for a few days, but I was bursting to speak to someone. I told my wife. She took it well, but I could tell it broke her heart. Of course she said she will pray for me! (I thought about rolling my eyes, but being married for 14 years, I was smarter than that.) Argue
Here's where it gets complicated. My wife is on the staff at our church!! She is terrified of what the church will think if her husband is suddenly a non-believer. No one at my church knows, and I don't want my wife to be uncomfortable at her place of employment, so I have no problem lying to them... (They'll obviously believe any thing and every thing, right!) So I have told everyone that my work schedule is changing back to working Sunday mornings; therefore, I can no longer attend church...

I actually play drums for the praise band, and I didn't want to just leave them high and dry, so I told then they had me until the end of September. The last couple of weeks has been pretty awkward on Sundays, sitting there looking around at all the madness, listening to the absolute rubbish that everyone is soaking in... Well, this week is my last week before my "schedule change" takes effect, then I will no longer have to submerse myself within that flock of blind sheep ever again!

TA DAH!! I will be free at last!!

My wife is still praying for me and hoping I will come back or find some form of religion, but I'm hoping she will pull the wool off of her eyes. Our marriage is not in jeopardy, at least I don't think it is, so no problem there. I'm still the same person (only smarter), and she knows that. She is just worried about my soul.

I'm still very new to this new, free way of enjoying life, so bear with me. I'm learning more everyday. My biggest priority right now is to keep my family together and hope my kids grow up to be smart enough to think on their own!

I'm looking forward to reading books like The God Delusion, some of Sam Harris' stuff, etc... The internet has great stuff! I love comedy, and I have a whole new respect for George Carlin - he is hilarious!! Any references or books you can point me towards, I am like a new sponge!!

Thanks. I'm glad to finally join life in the real world!
- Marc
- Your friendly Air Traffic Control Atheist.
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#2
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
AtcAtheist Wrote:Here is where I think the change started - I started asking questions! I asked them only to myself, but I wanted answers. Why does God do this? Why doesn't God do that? Are my prayers really heard? I would find good generic answers like, god is in control, it is his will, trust him, etc... So I continued trying to believe, wanting to believe... But something just didn't feel right.

About two or three weeks ago, a light suddenly came on and I said to myself - what the hell am I doing with my life - I believe what exactly?? And for the first time in 35 years, I looked at myself and my religion from outside the bubble. And WOW, what an eye-opener! I started digging into the Bible, trying to question everything I thought I 'knew'. And the deeper I dug, the more shocking stuff I found. Holy shit (pun intended), there is a lot of wacky stuff in that book. Stuff crazier than fairy tales and Santa Claus. This God that I always thought was loving and caring is really a mean, deceptive, selfish control freak. Why would we create such a character and force people to worship him??

THIS.

I went through a similar thought process. I realised one day that my faith was based on what I kept hearing from other people, so I decided to find out for myself what it was that I believed.

Being so confident in my religion I thought I would kill two birds with one stone (YHWH style) and become an apologist as I learnt more and more why Christianity is flawless. Long story short, 'god' had different plans for me!
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" ~ Aristotle
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#3
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
I'm glad your marriage is working out well.
If I was married (to a Muslim women), I would have to have divorced her when I stopped believing in Islam unless I would've convinced her to leave Islam as well.
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#4
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
I knew there was something from your intro post that resonated... Again, welcome! I grew up in Arkansas and can sympathize about being a non-believer in the Bible-Belt. Hell, I worked at a church throughout high school. I watched the kids during service and on Wednesday night choir practice. It was a weird agreement that my mom and I came to, she couldn't deal with me being an atheist, said it was a phase, but I refused to go to church, it was our compromise (technically I was AT church). Best of luck to you and hope to hear more about how things are going for you in the future!
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#5
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
Welcome to the 'Dark Side' where we are not blinded by 'The Light'!

I, myself, live in 'Atheist Hell' also.
You make people miserable and there's nothing they can do about it, just like god.
-- Homer Simpson

God has no place within these walls, just as facts have no place within organized religion.
-- Superintendent Chalmers

Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins a movie by telling you how it ends. There are some things we don't want to know. Important things.
-- Ned Flanders

Once something's been approved by the government, it's no longer immoral.
-- The Rev Lovejoy
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#6
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
I'm sorry to hear that this has put some strain on your marriage, but there's actually some atheists around here who are married to believers, and they seem to get along just fine. Just remind your wife that religion is only a small part of the equation, that you are still you Smile
When I was young, there was a god with infinite power protecting me. Is there anyone else who felt that way? And was sure about it? but the first time I fell in love, I was thrown down - or maybe I broke free - and I bade farewell to God and became human. Now I don't have God's protection, and I walk on the ground without wings, but I don't regret this hardship. I want to live as a person. -Arina Tanemura

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#7
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
I am so impressed when I hear how people have been able to overcome a lifetime of brainwashing and you live in the bible belt, truly amazing.
I can only imagine what you are going through as I was brought up with no religion. When I asked about religion, my parents said some people believed in god and others didn't.
I would like to suggest a book by Ben Elton called Blind Faith.
I hope everything works out with your family and community.
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#8
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
(September 20, 2012 at 5:15 am)Waratah Wrote: I would like to suggest a book by Ben Elton called Blind Faith.
Thanks! Will add it to my growing list of new reading material!
- Marc
- Your friendly Air Traffic Control Atheist.
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#9
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
I will use some words you have heard before. Guard your heart on here. Their will be Christians trying to bring back the lost sheep. Don't have any of the nonsense and use your mind. You have started on a path of freedom and don't go back to that bondage. Look to science for some of your questions.
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#10
RE: Becoming an Atheist in the Bible belt
I strongly recommend "Jesus Interrupted," Marc. "Misquoting Jesus" is good too but spends a lot of time going over the details of the historical-critical method. To say that it is boring is akin to suggesting that slamming your nuts in a car door "hurts a little."
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