Hello from Kansas
Hello, all. I'm an atheist in Newton, Kansas. If you don't want to read a long, boring, rambling story about who I am and how I came to be that way, read no further.
My grandfather was an Assemblies of God pastor, and I went to a Foursquare Church as a kid. Our local church was filled with people who believed in Foursquare and Pentecostal worship (like speaking in tongues), but who didn't do it much. There was some anointing with oil, clapping, raising hands while singing, etc., but usually it was pretty tame on Sunday mornings. (It was less tame on Sunday and Wednesday nights, when we had just the hardcore Foursquare folks there.) I never did speak in tongues, but I did try really hard to become "anointed by the Holy Spirit."
When I went away to college, I started attending a Nazarene church. I got married when I was still an undergraduate to a woman I had been dating since high school. About a year after getting married, I was trying to decide whether to go to KU Law School or Nazarene Theological Seminary after graduation. Around that time, I had to take a basic science course for a degree requirement (I was an English major). I was a young-Earth creationist, so I decided to take a geology course so I could see for myself just how deluded and disingenuous those atheistic geologists were, and how they twisted geologic facts to fit into evolutionary biology paradigms.
Within a couple of weeks, I realized that standard geology was not crap, and that geologists believed only what the evidence told them. I was shocked to learn that geologists knew Earth was billions of years old long before Darwin. And my faith quickly crumbled. I had been taught for years that the young Earth was crucial to the Eden story, and that the Eden story and original sin were the necessary back story for Christianity. Without Adam and Eve, there was no reason for God to send Jesus. Once I figured out that the young-Earth creationists had been lying to me about geology, I knew Jesus wasn't real and that Christians had lied about everything.
After a terrible two weeks of introspection and fear of hell, I finally (secretly) called myself an ex-Christian. After a few more days, I told my wife. This was right after our first anniversary. She was devastated, but in time she got over it, and now, although she doesn't call herself an atheist, she admits that she "lives her life as though there is no God."
A few things in my life changed immediately. I was no longer homophobic. I no longer hated "foul language." But I did not consider myself an atheist. I didn't want to choose a new worldview on the rebound, so to speak, so I decided to read about science (a subject I had always loved but been afraid of) and religions. A few months later, I realized I was an atheist. This was ten years ago.
Other changes took longer. I had been a member of the religious right, politically very conservative, like Mike Huckabee or the new version of Mitt Romney. I became something like what we Americans call a libertarian after my deconversion, but I was still very Republican -- on the side of power (police, big business, etc.). I was for the death penalty, against abortion rights, and in favor of a strong U.S. military imposing its will around the world. Over the years, I became more and more liberal, until now I'm a socialist, pro-choice feminist, pacifist, ACLU supporter, against the death penalty, in favor of strong unions, environmentalist, gay ally, animal rights supporter, etc.
Miscellanea: I sing in a barbershop harmony chorus, and I've sung in several barbershop quartets. I have bipolar disorder, and it has taken over my life. I rarely have manic symptoms anymore -- I'm just depressed all the time. It is so severe that I can no longer work (I've never been able to keep a job, but now I don't even have the energy to apply for them), and I am on disability until (if ever) I can find the right medication to bring me out of my unrelenting depression. I went to college for 9 years. I have degrees in Music Education, English, and Law. I am a licensed attorney. I have Asperger's Disorder. I've never posted on these forums before, but I've been posting on the About.com Atheism/Agnosticism forum for years. My online friends are atheists, and my real-life friends are Christians. I need some real-life atheist friends. If any of you live near Newton, Kansas, let's hang out!
If you've read all this, sorry it was so long and boring. But don't say I didn't warn you!
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