There is something I have always not been forthcoming with. I’m generally a TOO HONEST person and I shoot straight from the hip. I try to be very open with all of my friends as trust is very important. However, the one thing I have constantly danced around is religion. In my tight circle of friends they know the truth and have loved me always and support my way of thinking. With the general public and my wider circle of acquaintances, I have kept mum in fear of losing them as friends or harsh judgement. Second only to coming out as homosexual, admitting to being an Atheist seems to be met with anger and hate.
So there, I said it. I am an Atheist.
If you have not immediately left the blog I will assume you are interested in hearing my story. So here goes — I was born into an interesting family dynamic in South Korea. My uncle was an Atheist, my mom was an Agnostic, my aunt was a staunch Roman Catholic, my favorite grandmother was a Korean Buddhist, and the Presbyterians, Methodists and Moonies were all fighting for everyone’s souls in Korea it seemed.
My birth father was very Christian I found out in my late 40s. He belonged to a Hungarian Reformed church. In fact, my entire family on that side was VERY active in the church. My paternal grandfather was the organist for over 30 years, my birth father sang in the church and cooked during homecoming gatherings as well as tended the gardens. It is said that my father’s handmade sausage sold out every single time. Everyone contributed and enjoyed being a part of that church community. I’m not sure if it is even active anymore. There was hope it would be turned into a historical building but I am not sure if that ever happened.
You can understand my worry, then, when I met my Uncle Alex for the first time. I wanted him to love me but I wanted to be honest with him too. So I got as far as telling him I did not attend church. He was super smart so I am sure he figured it out but he never chastised me or pressured me about it. I did attend a Hungarian service with him and it was lovely. He seemed to be very accepting of people and I am sure he would not have minded had I told him but I never got a chance to, before he passed. I believe in my heart he would have loved me no matter what because he was just that kind of man.
I’m not sure why Atheist is such a dirty word to so many people. Maybe most people think Atheists are anti religion and that is simply not true. Just like religions have many many many different sects, groups and ideals, Atheism does as well. I am not a militant atheist. I am simply an humble person who disbelieves or has a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. I would NEVER tell anyone what or how to believe. That is a personal decision. In fact, I happen to believe that religion can be a wonderful aspect of some people’s lives.
Religious organizations can provide a sense of community, support and a belonging that some people may not get anywhere else. Believing in an afterlife and thinking that their loved ones are in a warm magical place after they pass away must be a relief to some. I happen to not need that but I would not take that away from anyone else who needs it. I have friends who are Mormon, Moravian, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholics (so many Catholics!), Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventists, Jews and Greek Orthodox. My best friends do not practice religion but many are spiritual.
One BFF has dabbled in Christianity, Satanism (do not judge it is not what movies show), Wicca, Scientology, Witchcraft, Voodoo and more and has settled on being a spiritual, moral person who loves people and animals but does not worship. None of the dogmas appealed to her and she is an amazing person. Some of my friends are Christians but only go to church on Easter and Christmas. My Daddy was a Christian but never went to church as he felt most churches were corrupt and he did not believe in tithing. He felt nature was the biggest best church and he believed in the Christian God and his teachings. He never pushed his ideas on us though.
Have I ever lost friends once they found out I did not attend church or was an Atheist? Yes, sadly. One lovely couple had a daughter that played with mine all the time. We shared meals at each other’s homes and we often had playdates for the girls. They were Catholics from New York and one day the conversation turned to religion and I let it be known I was an Atheist. They never said anything negative but they also stopped calling and bumping into them felt awkward. After that I never directly offered my religious identification. One friend did ask me point blank and I do not like to lie so I told her and she said she figured I was. She mentioned she had other Atheist friends and that my habits reminded me of her. She and I are no longer friends but it is not because of religion. Most people that do not know me well will try to convert me to their faith. Believe it or not, my Mormon friends are the least pushy even though everything in cinema would tell you otherwise. LOL They are a lovely bunch of people who have been very helpful in my life.
Is it weird that I chose to tell the world about being an Atheist on Easter? Not really. I guess religion comes up on holidays and when my friends started sharing memes I thought maybe I should just be more genuine and honest. At my age if someone is not going to be my friend because of my religious beliefs that might be a good thing to know. Whatever you choose to believe, I hope you will always open your heart and get to know someone for more than their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. While all of those things make up who we are, I think it is kindness, acceptance, intelligence and common decency that makes humans GOOD. Don’t miss out on a great friendship just because they do not believe in Heaven or Hell. However you celebrate Easter, I hope you are surrounded by people you love.