Thursday, September 27, 2007

Freethought Coming Out Day CASH Event Notes

This is my collection of notes I wrote while at the latest CASH Event for Freethought Coming Out Day. Visit for more information about Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists.

Freethought Coming Out Day Notes


This speaker was raised Catholic, and questioned his faith around confession. He didn't really feel relieved after confessing all the bad stuff he did. He went on a few mission trips, eventually identified as agnostic after talking with a philosophy teacher. Later he worked with Jehovah's Witnesses, and eventually became a Jehovah's Witness. As he studied in high school and college about history, he had a problem trying to reconcile history with religion.


This speaker met a girl in sophomore year in college. After dating for a few weeks, he told her he was in the National Guard, so he might be called up. She was OK with that. He then told her he wasn't religious. She wasn't OK with that. She hoped that Jesus would revile himself to him. This all turned out for the best, because he met his current girlfriend at C.A.S.H.


Speaker #3 was raised by atheists.


This speaker was raised Mormon, and really didn't want to go on a mission when he was 19. This has been hard for him, because of how his family has reacted.


Speaker #5 was raised atheist, and had a hard time with people who were religious when she came to college. When she heard that people actually believe in God, she would say, "You're kidding, right? People still believe that?" She has since learned to be more tactful.


This speaker was raised Catholic. He lapsed because he didn't like the bureaucracy. He later became more evangelical and established a personal relationship with Jesus and followed a God is Love philosophy. Later this came to a head when a girl he dated killed herself after an argument they had together. He felt empty, that God had left him. The more he studied philosophy, the more atheistic he became, and the happier he's been.


This speaker was raised Catholic and became an atheist at college.


This speaker wasn't raised religious, and identifies as an atheist.


This speaker identifies himself as agnostic. His mother is Jewish, his father Lutheran. He's a political science major. He attends Unitarian Universalist services, and was one of the only people there during a "Coming of Age" service who was agnostic, with most people identifying as atheist. He respects other's beliefs.


Speaker #10 always had doubt. She read the Bible, and thought that God acted like a child in the Old Testament. She hated going to church, and started going to C.A.S.H. in college. She eventually identified as an atheist, but hasn't told her mom because she's afraid it would ruin their strong relationship.


This speaker was raised Catholic. His dad is passionate about God and Jesus, but doesn't go to church. His mom had a problem with the church, so they didn't go much. He attended a Catholic elementary school and felt like when he was praying, that he was talking to himself. He read the Bible by the time his was 12, and came to the conclusion that God acted like a child, choosing to smite whole groups of people just because they didn't believe in him. He thought the idea of heaven was great, but was terrified of hell. He really wanted to believe in God, but just couldn't. He didn't come out to anyone until he was 15 during a religious studies class. When he told his mom, it sparked off a two year fight.


Speaker #12 was always skeptical, and became an atheist after reading more about it on the Internet.


This speaker argued moral philosophy in school, and identifies himself as agnostic.


This speaker wasn't raised religious, but identified as an atheist after reading Bertrand Russel's book, "Why I Am Not A Christian."


This speaker has been called stupid for being an atheist and thinks that praying to God is similar to making a wish list for Santa.


This speaker's dad is Jewish, his mom is Catholic. They weren't really that religious, and didn't attend church, until they moved to Georgia. She liked the idea of God, that there is this being watching over you, but when it came time to really believing the rest of Christianity, she couldn't do it. She'd get curious, and go to church with her friends, but think it was all nuts. She read the Bible and thought it was ridiculous. She identified as an atheist after reading Sam Harris' book, "The End of Faith."


This speaker was raised Hindu. She doesn't like the concept of being born into a religion, that people should choose for themselves what they believe. Her parents didn't push religion on her, even though they are devout. She doesn't have any problem with people who choose to practice a religion.


Speaker #18 was raised Methodist. He started having serious doubts in 9Th grade, but felt like he couldn't come out. He was still terrified of hell. He began to feel more comfortable in college, and started a group called Campus Atheists and Agnostics in Nebraska. He didn't tell his parents, they happened to find out from reading a campus paper which featured his group.


This speaker was raised Catholic. Her family thinks she's just going through a phase. Her atheism has caused some problems in her family. For example, her sister is having a baby, and is upset because she can't be the baby's godmother.


This speaker was raised Catholic and went to Catechism. She felt guilty and didn't buy the whole idea of God. She later identified as pagan, then attended an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America church, and really liked it. She enjoyed talking with a priest who showed her that really smart, rational people can be Christian too. She identifies herself as an Atheist/Buddhist. She's OK with whatever people want to believe, just don't be a jerk about it.


Speaker #21 was raised a conservative Catholic. In 8Th grade she became a "Bible Thumper." She started questioning things about God, like, "Why does God exist?" She answered that for herself, "He doesn't."


This speaker was raised Buddhist, but found it hard to learn much about his religion in North Dakota. He's still seeking out his identity.


This speaker was raised Catholic. He started to question his faith in college. He didn't think that Catholicism had all of the answers, that there was something missing. So, he started attending every church service he could find, seeking truth. He still believes in God, and is still searching for truth.


This speaker was raised atheist.


Speaker #25 was raised Lutheran. He just didn't buy it. He started wondering why we believe what we believe. He went through Confirmation. He came out on Darwin Day last year, and came out to his parents by leaving a copy of RichardDawkin's book, "The God Delusion," in their car.


This speaker was raised Episcopalian. He started getting into science and rational thought at an early age. He would study all he could about the natural world. Kids at school started calling him an atheist in 6Th grade because he didn't believe in God. He's kept that identity to this day.


This speaker was raised Catholic. He was an enthusiastic Catholic and grew up in a small town where the church kept the social order. He started questioning God's miracles, and how could they balance with the physical laws of nature. Then he went to college, felt like God wasn't answering his prayers, became agnostic, and now identifies himself as atheist.


This speaker was raised as a conservative Christian and questioned why he was Christian. His parents are really rational people. He calls himself agnostic.


This speaker was raised by non-religious parents. He has never gone to church, and is proud to not know anything about the Bible. While his immediate family is non-religious, his extended family is, which causes some problems.


This speaker was raised Catholic. His parents are really rational. He believes that his father only practices Catholicism because it would negatively impact his business if he wasn't seen attending church once in a while. His grandmother is a radical Catholic. He recalled how difficult it was when another family member became a Jehovah's Witness.


This speaker was raised Christian and still identifies as Christian. She doesn't like the structure of religion, but believes there is something there.


Speaker #32 was raised Catholic. Her family left the church when she was young. She started to think about God in middle school, and really wanted a personal relationship with God. She just couldn't do it. She calls herself Unitarian, not atheist.


This speaker was raised non-religious. His crazy grandmother scared his dad from religion. He identified his beliefs as "nothing," and then started to think there was something there. He did attend a meeting of Campus Crusaders and they scared him off when they started singing songs about Jesus coming back soon.


This speaker was always skeptic. The parents of kids in the neighborhood didn't like him because he put thoughts into the kids heads in church. He calls himself a secular humanist.


This speaker was raised Catholic by Polish immigrants. Her mom was an atheist. She went to an all girl Catholic school. She took religion classes for 13 years, and got tired of making stuff up about faith. She feels relieved to find a group of people she identifies with.


This speaker works for Atheist for Human Rights. He read a piece he wrote about coming out as an atheist. he explained his people don't come out out of fear, that change is too great a challenge or people try to avoid conflict.


This speaker was raised an Evangelical Lutheran. He couldn't find the answers he was searching for even though he as very active in church. He later became a theology major to find answers, and only found more questions. The definition of who he was started to fade from Christian to atheist. His mom found out, but he hasn't told the rest of his family.


This speaker was raised as an Evangelical Lutheran, but his parents we not really that religious. He's on the fence on the issue of the existence of God. He doesn't believe in heaven or hell and calls himself a humanist and a skeptic. He has not told his parents about his identification.


This speaker was not raised in a religion. His father had served in World War Two, and became soured on religion from the Nazi's. His family went to church now and again. He suffered from a snowboarding accident which resulted in frequent muscle spasms which required hospitalization. During 10Th grade, he was admitted into the emergency room 3 or 4 times a week. He was told by doctors that he probably wouldn't live through high school, that he would have a heart attack. On that realization, he thought it would be good to find religion. And he did. With zeal, he became a model Christian. He talked with Jesus like his was his buddy. He attended church as often as possible, including Bible study, and youth group. He ignored friends who cared for him to read the Bible or attend church. He was so concerned about getting into heaven, that it began to stress him out. Heaven was all good, but what if he did something to get into hell? Would that passing glance at a girl cause God to give him a heart attack, and send him to hell? This stress became worse, and he did have a heart attack. Christianity almost killed him. He drifted towards Deism, and notices that the further away he drifted from Christianity, the better he felt, and the less stress he had. He started getting involved in Christian groups again, and had another heart attack. Seeing this as a sign, he hasn't looked back on the narrow path Christianity had for him, where nearly anything you did caused you guilt and stress. He studied evolution and cosmology, and just couldn't buy the whole "God of the gaps," idea where the answers of unknown questions is always God.

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