This I Believe

Verena - Newark, Delaware
Entered on February 4, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in acceptance.

I’m a high school student who enjoys learning new things, riding horses, playing sports, being with friends, and volunteering at local places. One would never be able to look at me, or talk to me and tell that I don’t believe in God. Not believing in God is something that I feel comfortable with, but I think my belief is a private matter, and it is not my goal to see everyone become an atheist.

I believe in acceptance of one’s religious or non-religious beliefs, but as I’ve recently found out, to tell someone why I don’t go to church on Sunday, is almost to admit doing the worst thing in the world. It comes as a shock to some people that I, the sweet, funny, sometimes quiet girl that they have known for a long time, do not believe in God.

I believe many people have a preconception of what a person who does not believe in God should look or act like. Non-believers are the people starting trouble, the criminals who kill or rob convenience stores, and the deeply unhappy persons. In reality, non-believers are also the people working in an office somewhere, or the history teacher at some college. In other words, they are no different from people who believe in God.

I have been volunteering at a religion-inspired therapeutic riding program for about 2 years. During this time I have been told that I have God’s blessings, and I have been read quotes from the Bible. Although it felt slightly uncomfortable to be around so many people who worship God right in front of me, I was in no way harmed and it created a very peaceful atmosphere. I never told anyone there that I did not believe in God as I think it would have been awkward and a big surprise to the other volunteers and directors.

I believe one should be able to believe in what one feels is right without people reacting strangely or strongly against one’s beliefs. Although certain religions such as Unitarian-Universalism and Scientology have only a small following, telling someone that I was a Unitarian would most likely cause little reaction. But when I told people in my class that I did not believe in God, I was met with a simple “Oh, really?” sometimes and other times with a “How could you?” or “No, that’s not good.” Occasionally I have been greeted with hostility because of my beliefs. It is the twenty-first century, and I believe that, as long as one’s beliefs do not harm anyone else, one should be allowed to worship whatever one is comfortable with or not worship at all.

I am not a person who wants to convert people to have no religion, but I believe I should be accepted just as I accept others. Religion has not shaped me into who I am, but instead, my experiences and family have.