This is my first post here.

 

I have doubted my belief in the Judeo-Christian god (I was raised in a Baptist household) since I was 16. I know that I am skeptical about the existence of him and other deities, organized religion, and spirituality in general; however, I refuse to truly admit this to myself. Further adding fuel to the fire is that I am gay; while I am not sure I believe in Heaven or Hell, I am still fearful that I will go to Hell for my sexual orientation. As well, my family is all about Christ (at least in bark; their bite ain't on par), so if I told them I am an agnostic with atheist overtones, they would probably scorn me. I am sort of a unicorn of oppressed identities: black, homosexual, non-theistic, and (possibly) genderqueer. I am affirmed in these identities, but am unable to fully embrace them due to my religious upbringing.

What should I do? I am fearful of fully embracing my non-theism and skepticism. I am afraid that I might be wrong in doubting, and will suffer in death (Hell or any other penalties purported by other faith systems). I suppose I might not find the answer here, but I still thought to ask.

Tags: african-american, agnostic, atheism, bisexual, black, gay, humanism, identities, identity, lesbian, More…lgbt, multiple, multiplicity, non-theism, queer, social, transgender

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Hi Joshua! It is a long process for some people to truly identify themselves as atheists but don't despair. You are doing the right thing by coming here. It does take time to de-convert because it can be a frightening experience because as you mentioned, you live thinking you will go straight to hell even for thinking about considering atheism. At least that was my case. It took me 4 yrs after my de-convertion before I could call myself an atheist, much longer to come out to my family. Once you reach that point it is a great feeling. Then you will truly feel the relief of all that weight taken off your shoulders.

Belive it or not, the best way to go about this is through education. First, look for the answers yourself don't let people push you in this direction. You have to put all the pieces together and be 100% sure, you have to make sense of all of this on your own. For starters I would recommend you the book "Godless" by Dan Barker, an ex-evangelist pastor that is now part of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf.org). Also, if you could get your hands on it, watch comedianne Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God". It is a fantastic monologue about her de-convertion from catholisism to atheism. It is a comedy but it is moving. There is a world of information out there from books, to podcasts to this site, etc. Don't be afraid, when one door closes there are others that will open for you.
What you really need to do, in my opinion, is get involved with other people like you. Part of your issues is the fact that you feel isolated because of your perceived differences. Your profile says you're in Chicago, a large city where you can find plenty of other atheists and the transgender/homosexual communities to participate in. Being black in those communities will have you as still a minority, though. However, they are going to be accepting of you as you are because they know the stigma just as well. And as others have said, educating yourself on religion and atheism, on being transgender, being homosexual, etc. will play a huge role in helping you to better accept yourself and reduce the guilt.

Do you really think that a loving god would make you the way you are, and then condemn you for it? I know you did not choose to be attracted to your own gender, be black, be logical, fit outside black and white categories, etc.
@ I agree, "God is just too powerful a mental drug." I have no issue with people who arrive at theistic or non-theistic conclusions on their own; the issue is those who simply accept what is told to them, on either side.

@Jo Fiery - I am taking my time. I won't make any hasty decisions or declarations till I'm ready.

@Jennifer Anker - Thanks, and you're right. My hometown is Chicago, but I am in another state for college. Nonetheless, you are right; I do need to interact more with others like myself. What has stopped me, however, is the feeling of eternal otherness in any community I am (a person of color in largely white LGBT communities and non-theist communities; a non-theist, homosexual, (possibly) trans in largely heterosexual and theistic communities of color). Nevertheless, thanks for the response.
Too bad you're not in Atlanta. I know plenty of black LGBT community folks here and lots of them are atheist. No one can tell you what to do. You know what you have to do. Doing it is the tough part.
First, you don't embrace a non belief. You embrace a belief. You have a choice. Either embrace another belief such as a political or philosophical belief or you embrace reality. The former will cause just as much confusion as a religious belief. The latter will depend on your ability to understand the difference between a perception of reality and actual reality. It takes a true skeptic to embrace actual reality because there are so many people who think their perception of reality is actual reality. Another name for this is awareness. A good example between a perception of reality and actual reality is as follows. As we live, we accumulate experiences which gives us a particular take on reality. We like to compare our experiences with current situations. If I lived in Harlem and then tried to use those experiences to guide my behavior in the Hamptons, it would be disastrous.

The point is that reality is sum of all that is. We all are exposed to a very small portion of reality and because of our fallibility, we understand far less. That is what makes life so interesting. As individuals, as a society and as a species, we learn more about reality as we evolve. Unfortunately, too many refuse to question their own perception. Years of exploration were lost because of a perception that the world was flat. Even though, the glaciers are melting at a fantastic rate, many would rather believe the political rhetoric of the Republicans or the Libertarians. That is because we create beliefs based on what we want. That in a nutshell is the fallibility of the human race.

In short, embrace what is real and seek out what is real against what is not.
Thank you-all for your responses. I haven't had much time to respond with school and all.
Hello friend.

This is definitely going to sound hollow now but I feel it's worth saying anyway, "It gets better."

The more days you go where the universe doesn't collapse around you, the easier it will be to come to grips with a world where you are the ultimate arbiter of your destiny.

I promise you. You will be happier for it.
Just a question for an undereducated heterosexual here. What is meant by a transgender homosexual as opposed to homosexual? Simply wondering.
I had the same fears you have. I just got past them because I had to look at religion (christian) the way I looked at Muslim, and all other religion...as fairy tales. They were made to keep people in fear. Our parents were brought up that way so they want us to grow up that way. All I can say is respect your parents, studying the bible is not a bad thing because you can also study it's contradictions. Learn all you can about everything you can. The good part is no one can make you believe in something you don't. I went through the part of being scared of hell and what if I made the wrong choice. For me it just went away as I learned how christianity started, and why. I have no fear now. It gets better.

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