Early Articulator But My Dad Still Does Not KnowI am 36 years old and first realized I did not believe in Christianity when I was 9 years old. To this day, I fear telling my father (and stepmother) because I am concerned that they might stop loving me if they knew.
I went to church for the first 15 years of my life, and by the Christian church definition I was "saved" at age 7 mostly because it looked really exciting to get attention at the front of the church and I was dying to try out the baptismal full of water at the back of the stage. It was fascinating but meant little else to me. By age 9 and 10 I started asking LOTS of questions. My mom even made sure that I could speak with our neighbor who was a minister. He was elderly and taught theology at a university in his younger years. He was very kind to me and surprisingly did not pressure me at all. In fact, he made me feel like my doubts were okay whereas my Sunday school teachers looked horrified if anyone asked similar questions of them.
By junior high school I knew that Christians were very different from me and I started to identify myself to friends as Atheist. That continued throughout my early adult life. I learned not to bring up the topic with most people, and I often just avoided answering direct questions from others regarding religion. It has definitely put a wedge between me and other people.
For over nine years, I was married to a man who also identified as Atheist. He had a lot of different views than my own though. For example, he saw little value in traditional "Christian" morals and values, things like charity for example. I consider myself very closely in line with those "Christian" values in the way I conduct my life, even though I am a free thinker and very liberal about things like homosexuality or abortion (for example).
In the past two years I've started to identify more as Agnostic. It's not that I've come closer to believing in gods. I just feel like there's a tiny, tiny possibility of some kind of (I hate calling it this) "higher power" somewhere...very unlikely, but possible. I just don't think we as humans can possibly know this, at least not with 100% certainty. I put much more stock in science than in spiritual thinking, however I don't believe that even science has explained everything in the universe...yet.
I feel good about my current "label", but still I cannot bring myself to "come out" to my dad and stepmom. My mom knows how I feel although at times she seems to be in denial about it. Other times, she shares thoughts with me that cause me to believe despite her self-labeling as Christian and attending church, she is actually more on the Agnostic side herself. I think like many Christians, my mom actively pushes away doubt and disbelief because of the comfort religion brings for her. I don't judge her for that, though.
Currently I am in a serious relationship that seems to be headed toward marriage. My boyfriend and I are both Agnostic. My first wedding (a decade ago) was completely non-religious, and this one would be also. I am adamant about no religious references in my wedding ceremony, however it does make me nervous that my dad & stepmom (and other religious members of the family) will bring that up. They didn't last time, so I am not so sure why it bugs me. But it does.
I really wish there was a greater amount of acceptance for Agnostic and Atheist persons in my community. I live in the Midwestern Bible belt and often feel shunned even when people around me have no idea of my beliefs. One of my coworkers at a former job actually said that she feels being Atheist is much worse than being a child molester! That was so upsetting to me.