When we learned about the former pastor Jerry DeWitt’s struggles with being an “outed” atheist in rural Louisiana, we realized for the first time just how difficult being an atheist can be in some communities, where religion is woven deeply into the social fabric.
In 2013, Jerry DeWitt, an ex-pastor formed an atheist congregation in a coffee shop. “People do not choose to be atheists,” he said. “They realize they are.”
People wonder why I chose to be an atheist. When I try to explain it was not a choice, most don’t believe. They say things like, “It was your choice to be an atheist, and you can choose to accept Jesus as your Saviour.”
No, I can’t. And I don’t want to any more. But when I realized in the fall of 1982 that my God was nothing but myth, I didn’t want to believe it. I believed it because I had to. It was the only thing that made sense. (I’ve told my story before, and you can find it under the Personal menu above.)
It had taken me about 12 years to come to this conclusion, but I admitted to myself one day at a specific time that I no longer believed.
It was not a decision to stop believing. It was an admission to myself that, against my own will, I had already stopped believing. At the time, it was extremely painful; but I got over it.