Are you as angry as I am?

I left my hometown at 18 and never looked back. However, the anger I felt back then lingers nearly 20 years later.

A Childhood Oppressed by Christianity

Back home, Christianity permeated everything. I went to a public school but you would never know it. Sometimes religion was discussed in class. Teachers had religious symbols and posters in their classrooms and there was almost always a prayer at school functions and events. I couldn’t breathe.

I spent a lot of my childhood planning my escape but at the time I didn’t realize how many other children were affected by the oppressive Christianity.

LGBTQ Loved Ones in the Closet

I have since learned that I have many LGBTQ friends and family that spent years – decades even – in the closet living in a place where it’s unsafe to be yourself. I couldn’t imagine the pain and anxiety of being in that situation.

The people I know of are now out but how many more are still trapped in the closet?

Angry in Toledo

Living in Toledo is much easier than living back home even though my hometown isn’t far away. I prefer living in an urban area where my daughter will experience lots of opportunities and diversity.

But still, I get angry in Toledo, too. Many Christians are very outspoken here and it’s hard not to be offended. It’s the Midwest and judgments are never far away.

I’ve held on to this anger for years and recently found poetry to be a good outlet.

 

I want to hear about your anger. Tell me I’m not alone.

A Poem About Leaving Home

A big part of my story as an atheist is leaving the conservative rural area where I grew up. It’s often the focus in my poetry.

 

In the Back of a Pick-Up

Brittle bones chilled
beneath frost moon eyes –
she clings to the bed of a truck.
Sticky pebbles cling to the hungry tires –
rough road ahead.
Pink sunset flickers
through the singing leaves above.
Alfalfa fields pass by in a blur.
She tightens her grip
as her curls sail in the wind.
She’s imprisoned by a home with the biggest sky
but barely a pinprick on the map.
One day despair will grow wings
and a sheltered childhood will fuel her adventures.
She shivers in the cold
and never looks back.

How are you treated as an atheist?

Being involved with FtB has made me really curious —

How are atheists treated where you live?

Living in a more conservative area of the US I don’t always feel safe speaking openly and I know very few atheists in real life (three to be exact but two moved out of the area). I’ve learned living here that it’s easier to just let people assume you’re a Christian even though it feels miserable.

I know that there are places where atheists are the majority and are living openly and safe, but then I know there are places where you can be sentenced to death if you are believed to be an atheist.

Where does your home fall on the spectrum?

I love being an atheist poet.

I love writing poetry and atheism is a topic I visit frequently in my poems. Many of my poems are imaginative which sometimes creates an interesting juxtaposition. I write about common sense, the bible being a fictional work and logic all in flowery language and fantastical narrative. Sometimes my poems are really out there.

However, I also write poems about love, empathy, and resilience, which are also important parts of atheism. I write about my passions and I love being able to share the different aspects of my life as an atheist.

I’m an introvert and definitely not much of a talker. This is why writing is so important to me. It’s a way for me to share my story and connect with others without all the awkwardness and anxiety. I love writing articles and blog posts, but I’m definitely drawn to the freedom and creativity of poetry.

I hope you don’t mind me sharing my poems now and again. It’s nice to have an outlet.

God always gets all the credit.

I hate it when someone recovers from a medical condition and god gets all the credit. It’s a miracle! He’s either good or mysterious, right? If I was a doctor that would infuriate me.

But there’s something even worse.

A few years ago, a friend of mine overcame a hardship at work. This friend – who had never been religious in the past – credited god for her success. She said she couldn’t do it on her own so god must have been helping her. Well, obviously she could do it and it’s absolutely heartbreaking that she couldn’t recognize her own inner strength.

People are resilient and should take credit for their personal accomplishments.

Of course, this inspired me to write a poem…

 

You Didn’t Need God

You said you couldn’t do it alone
But you did.
We are all powerful
In our own lives.
Scale that jagged cliff,
Surf those tempest-swept waters–
You are in charge.
You’re secretly surefooted,
Resourceful with undiscovered confidence.
What you think is strength in god
Is really strength within yourself.
You are more capable than you know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reproductive Rights for My Daughter

I am a strong pro-choice supporter. Toledo only has one abortion clinic left, and it struggles with everything from vandalism to Ohio’s backward legislation. But they are hanging on with everything they’ve got for the reproductive rights of us here in Northwest Ohio.

Abortion in Ohio

Separation of church and state is a nice idea, but in Ohio, it’s painfully obvious that it doesn’t exist. Ohio has passed some of the strictest abortion laws in the country, and now many of our state senators are urging the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade.

The Religious Right Destroys Our Future

Without access to abortion, the religious right holds women’s fate in shackles. Since women are the ones who bear children, it is so important to our future that women are able to choose when and if they will have children.

The only reasoning for these laws comes from scripture. If you don’t like abortion – fine. Don’t get one. But don’t use your religion to control everyone else. You’ve been doing that for centuries.

Rights for My Family in Ohio

Ohio is my home and I don’t want to be anywhere else, but sometimes I feel guilty raising a daughter here. She deserves better.

When I was 16, I spent a year abroad in Denmark so I know first hand that there are places where reproductive rights aren’t contested. I don’t want to leave Ohio to attain rights and equality. This is my home and I want it here.

As a mother, I want what’s best for my daughter and I feel like I shouldn’t have to look far from home to get it. Reproductive rights are so essential to our future. I hope progress will be made and one day our oppressed reality will be the distant past for my daughter.R

Midwest Mom Coming Through!

Play Date

In a quiet neighborhood
Tucked between accountability and appearances
I live among you – the outwardly faithful

With my soccer mom SUV,
Weekly gymnastics classes,
Over-the-top birthday parties,

Picky eater battles,
Car seat wrestling,
And inevitable grocery store meltdowns.

My silent anger presses
Behind my warm, neighborly smile.
Your small talk is carefree and careless.

Would you let your bratty kid
Play with my bratty kid
If you knew I was an atheist?

 

 

 

 

 

The Inner Turmoil of Questioning God

I grew up thinking something was wrong with me. My family has lived in Northwest Ohio since before the Civil War and yet I’ve never felt like I fit in here. My feelings towards religion have always been a glaring difference between me and other people in the area; however, this difference was more painful and destructive in my childhood. Everyone else was obviously seeing something I couldn’t. No one wants to be different as a kid, so I kept my thoughts to myself. (Although, that changed when I was a teenager.)

Skepticism as a Child

It seems like many question the existence of god as an adult, but did any of you question as a child? I have always been skeptical but then again I didn’t have much religious influence from my immediate family growing up. I felt pressure from classmates and their families.

The Struggle of Questioning in Secret

I would go to church with friends and try to “force” myself to believe. My fellow churchgoers were probably unaware of my inner turmoil, but now as an adult, I wonder how many of them were in the same boat. There are more of us than we know. This thought inspired a recent poem of mine:

 

Stuck in the Closet

There are crowds of atheists
cloaked in the long shadows of steeples –
even more than we know.

They swallow the truth
Because they think they have to,
Because maybe they were raised that way.

One, two, ten years
In a dark closet –
Their thoughts echo in the loneliness.

They secretly question as
A tortured mind now liberated
But another voice suppressed.

They’re scared
But even more angry.
I know that innermost turmoil.

Let that anger fuel progress –
A passionate fire that lights the way.
The most liberated life is an honest one.

 

How common is Skepticism?

Humans are curious creatures and skepticism seems natural. You would think questioning god would be a normal part of growing up. It’s unfortunate that feeling skeptical at any age can be a painful experience – no matter how common it really is.

I wish I had the ability to tell everyone that has secretly questioned (including my younger self) that there is absolutely nothing wrong with him or her. Imagine how powerful that would be.

 

Did any of you have a time where you were questioning god in secret? Has being skeptical ever been a painful experience?

Thoughts on Baptism

We didn’t baptize our daughter. We didn’t give in to family and we didn’t do it “just in case”. I think it’s disrespectful when people know you’re atheist and think you should baptize your baby anyway.

 

 

I love to write poetry and I hope you don’t mind me sharing a poem I wrote on this topic:

 

Baptism

 

Every innocent baby
is born tainted
new to the world
but on a direct path to hell.

A cold splash of submission
followed by pictures and cake
saves their blank slate souls
and fulfills a family’s outdated duty.

The child has been marked
for indoctrination, brainwashing,
and conformity –
A fresh young mind in chains and shackles.

Water should just be water
in a meaningless ceremony
but it becomes a deadly weapon
recruiting for a dangerous army.

Let the well dry up.
Let the children free.
Let’s defeat the army
that has imprisoned us all.

 

 

Baptism is such a bizarre ritual. I’ll never understand it.

 

 

 

Uncomfortable Conversations at Work

I really don’t think it’s anyone’s business what anyone believes in at work, but let’s face it; many people see their beliefs as an important part of their identity. They carry it with them everywhere.

Most people where I work are Christian and they’re not afraid to very openly express their beliefs. There have been more than a few discussions that have left me feeling uncomfortable. I fear discrimination and ridicule so I keep my mouth shut. At the very least, throwing my two cents in would make things extremely awkward, and there’s no escape – I need this job.

There’s been so many times where I felt I should stand up and address the issue – being an advocate in my own life could pave an easier way for local atheists in the future – but I always choose to just go about my business and say nothing.

Sometimes I think that maybe I’m too sensitive and it’s not as big of a deal as I’m making it out to be. However, deep down I fear that’s not the case.

 

How do you guys deal with situations like this at work? Have you ever faced discrimination?