Why did I take so long to be convinced I was an atheist? Why didn't I just go "religion is clearly wrong, the proof for god doesn't exist, I'm done"? Why did I spend time being "non-religious" and call myself an apatheist? I didn't think I cared what people thought of me, yet I avoided what should have, in retrospect at least, been obvious. I am an atheist. I've been an atheist for longer than I realized it. So why didn't I admit it, even to myself?
Fear? What the hell was I afraid of ? That people would disown me? That my parents, my religious one at least, would be disappointed in me? That people on the street might complain if I wore a shirt that said "I think therefore I am an atheist"? Yes. Yes to all those things. It's unbelievable that I realize this now, and I mean just now, but I was afraid of calling myself an atheist. Now I'm angry.
I'm angry because it is unbelievable to me that I would let something as petty as a little fear keep me from being truthful with myself. I'm angry that what little religious experience I had when I was a child still haunts me to this day, and I count my religious upbringing as largely positive. Now it infuriates me that I realize I still feel like I have to walk on eggshells around certain people just because we disagree about something.
As an atheist I find I don't care what other people believe so long as what they believe doesn't actively hurt anyone. My Catholic friends who don't sweat the details are so far down the list from the people who mutilate and abuse women for religious purposes, I'm not sure I'll get the chance to worry about their beliefs in my life time. Yet to them, I'm the clear and present danger. I'm a threat to their friends, their families, their children... All because they believe something I don't.
This is lunacy. I'm worried about people a thousand miles away who can be stoned to death for something outside of their control and want to do something, anything to try to help. It feels like the people whose reaction I fear are more afraid of me than they are concerned about what religion is doing to oppress and kill people. If I bring that up, I'm the angry atheist.
It's time I stopped letting fear control what I do. I have something to say and it's damn well time I said it.
I am an atheist, and if you can't handle that because of your religious hangups, well that's *your* problem isn't it?