I had my doubts as a young child, I revolted against going to my father protestant church as an eight year old, and my mother’s family was too far away to force the Jewish issue. I doubt they ever would have as they seldom went themselves. I was dropped off with my grandfather who took me visit family, or play golf. On rare occasions we would go to a soul food place in the downtown area of the coastal town we lived in, these were rare treats, and developed my love of soul food. The time with him was an education, and one I still value 50 years later. Nothing was ever said about my not going to church by him or the other family members. I am sure it is due to the stress I had been under as a child and one which they understood returning to the site of the stress was not a productive action to take. As a high school student I knew I did not believe the Christian teachings. I rejected the bible as false and myths based, adn was open about my distrust of religion. As I entered the mid to late teens I studied eastern religions and liked Buddhism but again saw it was not a god, just a human. During my military period I was already an open Atheist. I had None for religion on my dog tags in the late 1960, war or no war. I was not the only one with none on my tags, and in that period, unlike today, no one cared. I returned to College where I became an active Atheist. I regressed after graduation as I entered the working world and recognized the discrimination I would have to put up with if I professed my views on the Christian faith. As I continued working, climbing the corporate ladder, and gathering more education I discovered I was working with many non-religious people. Life became easier, and I came out of the Atheist closet.
My sister was the only one who seemed to not recognize or accept my lack of religion. After a very stress full period with sick parents where I had a day with too many religious statements pressed on me; I sat down and carefully wrote her a tactful letter expressing my surprise she would use this period to press her views on any member of the family. I knew she recognized most of us were Atheist. She sent me a nice letter back and with unsurpassed southern tact and said she recognized we had different views, and she was just hoping to make things easier not more stressful. The exchange of letters was the end of the religious pressure from any family member in both directions, and we seem to be closer without the question of religion hanging over our heads. Family now will make off color jokes about the” Science Side of the Family” and their views while the Science Side makes fun of the wasted time dealing with myths. Looking back on the process I think both sides just evolved into an acceptance of each other.
I look forward to the time when I can retire now. I plan to become active in the Atheist movement and now have joined three local active groups in my area, and one national group out of DC. We have six Atheist groups in the Research Triangle area of NC. The members in those groups have to be pushing the 2000 mark. Not bad for an area in the bible belt.