Call Me Heathen

Janine - Newark, California
Entered on June 13, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: atheism
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I have no religious beliefs. I don’t believe in God. I am an atheist.

There. I’ve said it. It’s out and now I can get on someone’s list for being a heathen.

I remember one time when I was in 7th grade or so, young but not that young, old enough to not doubt myself and my thoughts, and I went fishing with my parents. There isn’t much to do in a boat for hours and hours except read, listen to the radio and talk.

Somehow we got on the subject of religion and God. I very adamantly stated that I didn’t believe in God. My father questioned me, as adults tend to do to children, about why I think that and don’t you need something to believe in?

What’s wrong in believing in….yourself?

Starting at a young age, about the age I had the discussion with my father, I began to suffer from serious bouts of depression. The depression has followed me to my current age, has manifested itself in various ways, but I’ve finally got it under control and am the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’ve managed to keep the same man in my life for 16 years now, which believe me, is more a sign of his dedication to me than anything I’ve done to keep him around.

Never once have I felt the need to turn to faith or religion to help me get through any rough patch. I’ve never been perfect at taking care of myself, but with the love of others and my constant and almost egotistical view of my successes, I managed to keep living. And keep doing. And keep succeeding.

I can understand how an adult, especially a parent who does hold some sort of religious belief, would doubt that a child, their child for darn sakes, could come up with such a belief of non-believing at a young age. I’m sure I too would have questioned my child and thought, ah well, she’s young, she’ll soon realize the world is bigger than her and there is more out there than we know about.

Well, I’m 34 years old now, and I still don’t believe in God.

However, I am intelligent enough to understand why other people would believe in God or some type of religion. I’m not one to run around denouncing religion and other people’s beliefs. In fact, I rarely discuss how I feel with other people. Part of it is I don’t want to be questioned or treated oddly for what I do believe in; the other part is I don’t want to be preached at by someone who does hold strong religious beliefs.

Now that I have a child, and I’ve had this child with a man who does hold varied religious beliefs, I wonder how my beliefs will affect my child. I don’t plan on sharing my beliefs with my child unless he directly asks me. I want him to grow up being open-minded and able to make his own decisions in life. I grew up with no set religion, meaning my parents didn’t decide for me what religion I should follow, nor did we go to church as a family. This seemed to work out well for me, so I have to assume it will work out for him too.