On being a black atheist in the South

As time goes on, I feel more and more like a strong atheist.

Whenever I am in church or hear anyone speak of God, I instantly think in my mind “Oh, they haven’t matured yet. They still believe in fairy tales.” I nod my head out of respect and I still capitalize “God” out of respect, but I feel myself giggle a little inside. I do not agree with their beliefs, but I do try to respect the beliefs of believers… Even though they rarely respect my own beliefs. But I suppose that just shows who is the more mature person.

Being an atheist is very hard. Sometimes I just want to give up and convert to Christianity just so I can fit in with everyone else. Being an atheist in Southern Georgia is almost as hard as being a black man in Ireland. I know my feelings are prone to change though. My beliefs have changed throughout my entire life. They’re like a kaleidoscope. I was born an atheist, but I grew up as a Christian. Baptist denomination. And I was a very, very strong Christian. I don’t think there was anyone who was more Christian than I was. I didn’t curse and I dressed up like a nun every day. My mom would joke and call me the “Mormon girl”. But somehow I changed. Believers may say an “evil spirit” got into me, but I just say “No, I learned better than that”.

I tend to not call myself an “atheist” though. I try not to put a label on myself. I would say “agnostic” or “Taoist”, but no one knows what those are and it just makes things complicated. Christians usually classify anyone who is not a Christian as being an atheist anyway. They do not understand the difference between an “agnostic theist” and an “agnostic atheist”, or the definition of “Buddhist” or “Wiccan”. Heck, most people probably don’t even know the difference between a “theist” and an “atheist”. Most people only know about their own religion and their own beliefs. They are ignorant to anything else.

Usually when people think of “atheist” they think of a moral less heathen with no proper upbringing. It’s kind of funny to see how people’s opinion of you changes once you tell them you are an atheist. They could have been friends with you for years, but as soon as you tell them you are an atheist they then treat you like you are a disease. It’s funny how people judge so easily. Some times I like to switch it up as a joke. One day I’ll say I’m an atheist, then the next I’ll say “agnostic” just to confuse them. One year I’ll say “Wiccan”, the next I’ll say “Unitarian Universalist” (that really confuses them!). Then the next year I’ll say “Christian” just to see how they react. I notice that they treat me better.

“I am just natural”, I should say. We are all born as atheists. We know nothing of “God” until we start reading fairy tales. Just as we knew nothing about the English language or what our favorite Disney movie is. What do babies know about God? What do they know about English or Disney? They know nothing of any of those things until we teach them. Meaning that all our beliefs are learned and that all the beliefs we have learned were at one time created by man. And anything created by man is open to any flaws.

Being an atheist is very natural. I am a realist.
I have never seen a fairytale come true.
If anything sounds too good to be true, then more than likely it is not true.

“You’re basically killing each other to see whose got the better imaginary friend.”- Richard Jeni

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3 thoughts on “On being a black atheist in the South

  1. I have had a few occasions when a person will talk about their beliefs to me when I told them that I am “non-religious”. I am sure it bothered some people but they never said anything to me about it. Luckily for me my family can tolerate that I am not a Christian. Though so of my family were not happy when I kept falling asleep during a Baptist church service.

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