There are so many things to say on this subject. By the way, I assume this is the best place for this discussion.

 

So, I used to be a christian (for about 95% of my life) and I am now an atheist (of course). I feel like it is messed up that the same person could be a brainwashed believer and later an atheist. It's just messed up. Then, between feeling hatred towards religion and religious people (which most of my family and friends are extreme southern baptist christians), I often feel this mix of hatred and confusion with MYSELF for being on the other side for so long (and only just coming out about it)! It almost feels like some curse or something. Has anyone else had problems like this?

 

I haven't had anyone else to tell this to, so it's nice to get to discuss it here. Thanks guys! :)

 

One other thing, how many of you used to be very religious and became an atheist the hard way?

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I can't say that I was ever *really* religious. My father's family never went to church as far as I know, though I did hear mention of "god" sometimes in the home of my Grandparents. Dad never talked about "god" to me, not really, except to say that I should believe there is one. I got the distinct impression from him that he was afraid that he might have to pay for things he had done, and insisted through his life that he was "going to hell." He was a Vietnam veteran, and I think he was talking about some of the awful things he had to see and do during the war.

I knew my mother and her family to be Catholic. Mom always said she was catholic, but our family never went to church. Mom went to catholic schools when she was growing up. We'd find ourselves in a church if times were hard and mom took us there as her little tagalongs when she's ask for help from the church. I can recall going to ONE church-sponsored easter egg hunt when I was about nine.

As a child I did have the belief that there was a god, as everyone said, and had this all-good vision of what he and this Jesus character were supposedly like. I never gave it much more thought than that--surface thoughts, as I call them, nothing deeper--until I was about 13/14. I don't know how it happened or his personal story of revelation, but my older brother was suddenly in this new and exciting phase of questioning the whole religion thing. It was new to me because I'd never heard anyone question the "god" concept like he did, and exciting because the points he was making one after another, after another, after another... made so much sense. I'd be in my room doing whatever I'd be doing, and stop what I was doing to listen in when I'd hear his arguments about "god" with my mother. That was when I really started to think about things differently--more openly, more questioning.

I didn't consider myself an atheist until I was probably about 21/22. Even then I considered it, but didn't say it out loud. I was still really guarded about my non-beliefs for a long time, as if the word "atheist" was a dirty one. And no wonder... tell any religious person you're an atheist and they get this horrid look of shock and disgust every time. It's discrimination, and I really hate that. I used to be afraid of it, so I would avoid letting on that I was an atheist for years. After a while I got tired of what I considered to be hiding. I was hiding, but what from, and what for? There they go parading around with their stupid little crosses hanging from their necks and spewing Jesus this and Jesus that without a second thought. Why shouldn't I have that feeling of freedom? Why not cut someone off while they're preaching at me and just say bluntly "I'm an atheist."? instead of just standing there smiling and nodding and then rolling my eyes when they walk away? The first few times I tried it, it felt most definitely strange but good! I am 31 now and am much more vocal about my atheism.

I can't say that I feel hatred for the people who are spun up in its web, but I can say that I do harbor hatred for religions in general. Sometimes it's hard not to feel anger or disgust for someone who is REALLY up in my face about their religious shit, and I find myself sometimes being pretty rude when I tire of being pushed. In the grocery store I was asked by a sweet, nice old lady if my sons--who were in the cart--attended Sunday school. I smiled and politely said "no, they do not." Her facial expression went from friendly to disapproving in a millisecond and she snapped, "well they SHOULD!" Somebody's grandma got told off right then about keeping her beliefs to herself, with some added commentary on the brainwashing of children. On a separate occasion--also in a grocery store--a woman asked my five year old his name. Sweetheart that he is, he offered his name and the name of his little brother too. The woman exclaimed "Ohh! Those are both names out of the BIBLE! How WONDERFUL! Do you KNOW the BIBLE!?" I wheeled the cart quickly away without a word until the woman was out of sight. This type of line-crossing where my kids are concerned boils my blood in a heartbeat. I mean, who are ANY of us to say something like that to a stranger's children? I'd never dream of walking up to a woman and her children and grilling her kids about who Mr. Hitchens is.

I suppose the best way to regard some of the religious people you meet is to remember that they are human too, and their hearts are usually in the right place. When someone tells me they'll pray for me--whatever the reason--I thank them and leave it. I do try to ignore the religious quirks and just see the person--but if someone gets pushy and crosses the line, I no longer hesitate to push back.

You say you feel that it is "messed up" that the same person could be a "brainwashed believer" and later an "atheist." To me that's like saying it's messed up that the same person could be a child and later an adult... the process is really just growth. For me, being able to finally remove myself from the insulated bubble of belief and really view religion objectively was like a breath of fresh air, a cool drink of water for my mind. I was asleep for so long, and feel so happy that I was able to shake myself from that slumber. My entire outlook on life was forever changed and I have been a much happier person because of it. I enjoy doing good things only for the sake of the good, not in the hopes of some heavenly reward I might get later on. I value this life not because I believe some invisible father figure gifted it to me and I should be grateful, but because I realize that in all likelihood it's the only life I may ever have, and it is precious and short. Don't waste time warring with yourself over what you might now consider lost years. You should be elated. The majority of people living today will never "wake up."
You grew up in similar religious milieu to my own. My mother viewed church as basically a social event and my father was at least an agnostic, strongly to the Atheism side. I don't ever recall a religious discussion in our house.
However, my mother came from a fundamentalist, Southern Baptist family and my father came from, what could only described as, a 15th century Catholic family.
So, in effect, God went the way of Good Ol' St. Nick at about the same time because there was no pressure from my parents (my relatives tried like hell to save my soul- to no avail.)
I have 2 daughters and 4 grandkids who are also Atheist because they were never exposed to the bullshit.
Good for your children and grandchildren! My grandparents had three children. Of those three, the most religious is my aunt. My father and his brother, the youngest, more or less believed in a god out there somewhere, but were never particularly religious as far as I can recall growing up. I can't recall if my aunt was always religious because I really wasn't around her that much growing up. When my grandfather passed away in May last year, my cousin and I were talking about the religious scene and how funny it is that all of the grandkids--every last one--grew up atheist or agnostic. There are 8 of us who are grown adults and consider ourselves non-religious. Some of us "awakened" at different ages and stages, and each unaware of any of the others' views until much later. Just the fact that we all just *happened* to grow into atheism gives me hope for the rest of the world!
I was raised Christian and say that I did believe for a short time at 17.We went to church every week then.Religion is a cult and people become programmed to the brainwashing.Religious people can't see it because they are caught in the middle of it all.Atheism is the deprogramming.
I'm very happy I have a mind free of supernatural beliefs.
Don't hate the people, hate the religion. In other words, don't hate the players, hate the game.

I don't remember ever being a really big Christian. I haven't been Christian since I was ~8. I've never hated myself for being part of the religion. I was never given a choice. And once I finally figured out that I got to choose, I ended up being an atheist.
Well I wasn't really religious to begin with, but once I got confirmed in my church I actually started thinking about what I was believing. I realized that I was only believing in all that stuff because people were telling me to, and I found myself disagreeing with over half the things they preached. I thought about it for awhile, maybe a month or so, eventually became agnostic, and now I am atheist. Yes, I was pretty confused with myself back then and had never dreamed of going this direction, but I have learned to accept it and am embracing it. I am actually much prouder to be an atheist than I was to be a Catholic, hahaha.
I grew up a devout Catholic,in an Irish Catholic home. Irish Catholicism is arguably the most intolerant,superstitious and hateful form that pernicious faith ever inflicted upon a gullible humanity.

I began seriously questioning some of the loopier Catholic beliefs at 16. EG the intercession of saints, limbo and Papal infallibility. My pastor pointed me at Aquinus,which was a mistake on his part.

I left the church at 20. It took another 20 years for me to arrive at the inevitable conclusion of atheism. I am now 62. My atheism caused a rift between me and my father which was never fully healed.(dad died in 2006)

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