Being raised A Latter-day Saint (more commonly known as a “Mormon”) I spent the first fourteen years of my life going to church and scouts, being told to question but taught not to, and was constantly bombarded on all sides by dogmatic teachings and guilt-laden accusations whenever I questioned “my” beliefs. I use quotation marks on the word “my” here because, the truth is, they weren’t mine, they were spoon-fed to me from birth and ingrained into my mind as unquestionable truth almost from the moment I gained a basic grasp of the English language. But at the age of fourteen, I was beginning to establish myself as a unique individual, and not simply what was placed upon me by my mother and her church.
The conflict of interest between my parents and me
In my home, there has always been a conflict of interest between my parents. My mother was raised by very, how should I put it, old school parents. They taught their children what they perceived as right and brokered no compromises. Therefore, my mother attempted to raise me in the same fashion, trying to dictate to me what my beliefs are and how I should act within society. However, my father was raised in a more libertarian family, which gave him room to question what he was taught.
He, like my mother, was raised Mormon and chose to remain Mormon for many years, even taking two years of his life to go on a mission to spread the word of the church. When he returned, he attended university, where he gained a master’s degree in psychology and minored in philosophy. The key tenet of these areas of education is to question one’s belief, which he did thoroughly, and eventually chose to leave the church.
As a young child, it was very confusing to have two parents teaching me separate ideals, one demanding respect and telling me that the only way I could live a good life would be to do as she commanded, the other asking me to question everything, and make my own decisions in life. Obviously when I was younger, the domineering power of my mother kept me in line, but by the age of fourteen I was beginning to grow tired of this, and I began to look into the reasons that I believed what I did, and was at first surprised by the fact that I really didn’t know, besides the fact that I was told to believe it.
Deciding not to spend the rest of my life following this doctrine
I quickly decided that if I was going to spend the rest of my life following this doctrine, I would need something a little more substantial to sustain my belief. My quest quickly led me to read through the whole Bible, and the book of Mormon in its entirety, something we had never done in a church, where the teachers tended to pick and choose select stories that would appeal to a young mind. I am not writing this to talk about the horrific violence within the bible (although if you are interested this site, though biased, is accurate http://www.evilbible.com/) nor it’s many contradictions, but suffice to say that a young boy looking for reasons to believe what I had been taught, it was a shocking wake up.
I soon ceased going to church and church activities, and despite the dozens of missionaries, teachers and bishops who contacted me, remained steadfast. But after having religion for so many years, I thought perhaps I had just been born into a mistaken religion. I began my quest anew, reading the Qur’an first, and then moving on to the multitude of smaller religions and sects. Although I found no religion worth joining, I kept running into articles on Atheism and quickly realized that I didn’t need religion to be happy or have a fulfilling life, and soon thereafter made the choice to abstain from religion completely.
Thus an atheist is born.