This I Don't Believe


I do not believe in god.

Whether you call him Zeus, Thor, Yahweh or any other of the so-called mythological names, I do NOT believe in god.

I'm an atheist. Coming out of the religious closet wasn't easy, but living inside the invisible burqa-of-politically corrrect was far, far worse. What a fraud I am, or so I thought.

How many excuses did I invent over the years to avoid going to religious services--whether they were held on Sunday or Saturday? I now understand why, because somewhere deep inside my head, buried so deep that even I hadn't dug down to there-- I knew. I did not believe, but couldn't or wouldn't admit that to even myself?

What would people think of me if they knew? I was raised on a Presbyterian diet of hatred toward all atheists, represented in the press by the ever present Madalyn Murray O'Hair. My mother's smirking comments still echo in my brain.

What a relief it was to finally say out loud, I am an atheist.

I came out in baby steps. First to my immediate family, then to my religious and accepting elderly aunt since I knew that if I could tell her, I could tell anyone. Then to the wider world via tee shirts. It wasn't the first time I was politically dressed. Over the years I've sometimes irritated people who later became close friends, right Fran?

I didn’t come-out as an atheist to be difficult or provocative; I didn't do it to irritate you. Or my extended family members and former high school friends, who defriended me on Facebook.  Really. It wasn't about you. It was about being honest.

I came out of the closet to unstick the door for others who stand behind me--silent--in the darkness. When door is opened once it is far easier to go through, so others may follow. With a reported 20% of Americans who are not religious, others can come out. Those who obfuscate what they believe behind Sharia-like veils of verbiage, calling themselves agnostics, doubters or seekers.

I understand the conundrum. Lacking the erudition of the recently deceased Christopher Hitchens or the scientific knowledge of Richard Dawkins, I felt a bit naked out of the closet at first. But I just knew--for me, I just did not and do not believe. And as you get older truth is easier to remember than lies.

Rightly or wrongly, I’d rather live with my own belief than other people’s imaginary friends. They are welcomed talk to them. I always felt like a hypocrite at the prayer thing. Talking inside my head to a god I didn't really believe in only reinforced that sense—only fools or madmen talk to themselves. Or children like I use to talk to my imaginary friend, Casper the Friendly Ghost. But hey, to each his or her own.

The saddest part about being non-religious is that although Americans tout how free we are, when it comes to freedom of religion, atheists are not free. Our constitutional desire to have freedom from religion seems to enrage the guardians of religion. Just one look at Freedom From Religion Foundation’s abusive hate mail is enough to make anyone wonder whatever happened to the golden rule and civility.

So to those who no longer speak to me, I'm sorry for your prejudice. I won't make too much Bill Maher-style fun of your beliefs, but leave me alone with mine.

As to the big question of what comes after life, I don't know and guess what, neither do you. For now in the 6th decade of my life, I'll stick with what my 4-year-old grandson suddenly came out with one day. "You live, you die—that’s all.”  After which he smiled sweetly to invite me “Grandma, will you play with me?” Of course I would, after all, what better way to spend whatever time of my life that I have?


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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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