I've been an atheist for quite a few years now (probably 10) but I grew up in the south and started life as a Southern Baptist. I'm sure you all know what THAT means: fundamentalism.

Today, I had a startling realization: In all those years as a fundamentalist Christian, I was always shy about talking about "my faith", talking about Jesus, or saying those things that Christians routinely say to each other -- things like "praise the lord", "god is great", etc. I was still a practicing christian, mind you, and I went to church every Sunday, but I could never talk about it without great discomfort. (In contrast, I've never been shy about saying other provocative things, or espousing opinions that go against the opinions of all my friends. I've always been a bit of a gadfly.)

I realized today that deep down, I must have known that it (religion) was absurd. I was embarrassed because those beliefs are embarrassing. But I was so brainwashed, I couldn't think objectively about them.

Now that I'm a non-believer, I'm happy to talk atheism to anyone without embarrassment (and it's not always a welcomed topic). In fact, I have what one might call an 'evangelical' zeal about it.

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Yeah, echoes of that feeling in my own life, Happy to do all the xtian things among fellow xtians, but not one to expose the faith to the outside world. Probably because i knew that it would get correctly ripped apart for being ridiculous !
Hey David. I was always embarrassed about it too, even though I believed it. I'm from Georgia.
I didn't believe it...I was also embarrassed about it...The only exception was praying at the table..My brother and I would argue over who would get to do it..It seemed strangely important.I think if we'd been reciting Jingle Bells we'd have even fought over who's turn it would be to do that as well.
I can definitely relate to those feelings. I was brought up fundy also, in an offshoot of mainstream presbyterian. One of the key factors to my own 'conversion' was remembering how I shyed away from proclaiming my belief, how I never prayed when I wasn't made to (and never felt that it was effective!), how I never enjoyed going to church. Deep down there must have been some real, skeptical mindset withing me. I can even see that I got it from my parents, ironically. I do have to say though, that if I could be so bold as to 'correct' you, it would be to say that it sounds like you really weren't brainwashed. It sounds as though you also had a skeptical mind during that time. Your distancing from the zeal and passion that accompanies a total release of free inquiry is a sign of that...at least from what I get from your discription. Ever helpful is the power of honest reflection. Thanks for sharing and forcing me to think as well.
Dan:

Thanks for the reply. When I said "brainwashed", I was referring to the indoctrination (that starts at a very early age) that is so effective that one doesn't challenge anything that one is told. I look at the bible now and wonder how I could have read it without noticing the barbarity, contradictions, and downright primitivism contained in it. You don't have to read very far; Genesis 1 is so fatally flawed (light on day one and the sun on day four) and I didn't see it. "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" was a phrase emblazoned on the entrance of my grammar school".
In that sense it makes perfect sense. I didn't do a lot of challenging either in my youth. Of course there were repercussions which no doubt discouraged it (in my case at least). Fortunately, there was an internal challenge to what I was being told.

Indeed, the old testament is filled with ghastly mistakes and horrors. Ironically the new testament fix is no better.
I was fairly similar, to be honest. Pretty much unafraid to speak about my other opinions (including my political opinions if anyone asks!) but rarely did I speak about my faith, except during one brief period towards the end of my believing years (which only really ended this year).

To add to this, for a number of years, I had a feeling, or gut instinct that something "wasn't right". I suspect this may have had something to do with that.
Bias seems to infect their every thought, and I don't mean just the obvious things like bias against gays, atheists, etc. Just thinking skewed toward belief instead of impartial judgement. Ken Ham (from Answers in Genesis) would unashamedly call this "god glasses". He doesn't realize just how transparently stupid this sounds to anyone with a with a working brain.

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